Swickard: Assuming our way to school change

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   Let us look at assumptions. They are the building blocks of change. American public schools provide an example. Not everyone agrees that they are broken; some just think they should be improved.
            As to public schools: in the past and now, there are calls for educational change by political leaders wanting to make political hay and get votes. Some say we need to innovate while others say we must reform the schools. What is the difference?
            Innovation assumes things can be better. Reform assumes things are so bad that they must be changed. Now assumptions do no harm so long as no one acts upon them. Unfortunately, people are acting. There are many attempts to reform schools when what is needed is innovation.
            Worse yet, many attempts to reform schools are not tied to research. One of the most problematic assumptions people make is that educational research is not essential. The truth is that any school change not research-based will be a disaster.
            Want proof? Every politically driven reform movement in the last fifty years has not been research-based. Constantly some politician has an idea for changing schools and everyone jumps on to the fad.
            The change may not make things better or the change will make things worse. It is like when an airplane is flying along and the pilot finds something isn’t working quite right. The pilot may fiddle with it to the point the aircraft quits flying completely.
            The standards and accountability movement is not research-based. Someone thought, hey, let’s try this. The public schools are busy accounting for themselves without a clear notion what it means when the accountability numbers vary.
            The general assumption is that the schools did something wrong when the numbers are poor. However, research assures us that schools can only teach students who want to learn. No one is attending to this truth.
            So, what is the accountability movement really measuring? The school’s effect is comingled with out-of-school influences. Do the people in the accountability reform movement realize this? No, they assume poor scores are automatically the school’s fault.
            A change should be made in the way we change our schools. Since students ultimately benefit or are harmed by educational change, those political leaders changing the schools should have to put something in escrow before making sweeping changes.
            Then, if they are right, we should reward them well. If they are wrong, they should pay a penalty. Make them risk their retirement. Then we will see how sold they are on school uniforms or quarter hour math ladders or whatever new fad.
            There would be a rush to use research. It would then be more dependable than just driving down the road, running over a turtle, and thinking that Flat Turtle Math Programs are the answer.
            That is not to say that the public schools are not ripe for innovation. Schools can be made better or worse. It completely depends upon the research assumptions. And please ignore the political school change fads.

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Swickard: The need for vocational education

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  Imagine that a wave of brown smelly sludge starts pouring over the edge of your toilet. Oh no! That is not the textbook way brown sludge should be handled by the toilet. When you press the handle the “product” should just disappear out of sight, mind and smell.
            But it is overflowing and coming down the hallway. There is the immediate necessity to find someone competent in plumbing. We are not looking for conversations about academics. We need plumbers, not professors.
            I was thinking about this because many public schools, starting even in kindergarten, are pushing all of their students to go to college. No exceptions. But someone needs to be trained and ready to fix the biffy along with other repair professions.
            If every child goes to college there will be a huge problem. Millions of young adults can look at the human waste coming down your hallway and comment on the Peloponnesian War of 431 BC which had minor similarities to the crisis you are facing.
            When they are through talking about Greek history you still have a mess unless you find a plumber. The brown stuff will just keep on keeping on down your hallway.
            So many young people will know right where to put the comma, but nothing vocational. When trying to fix things you ask: what about using a screwdriver? No, not the liquid kind. And plumbers are not the political leak finders in Washington, they are those professionals who make the plumbing work as advertised.
            I was lucky that vocational education was for all students in the 1960s so that I am mildly competent in most repair situations. Even better, I know when not to tackle a problem other than tackle it with my wallet and someone who will fix the problem correctly.
            As a society, we are looking down our academic noses at those people who work with their hands and come home occasionally smelling like low tide at the swamp. The only thing we will know in the future is what we know now: everything will break at the least useful moment.
            We should bring vocational education back and put every public-school student through some of it so that minor things can be fixed by each of us. The wave of crud backing up from the toilet will take a real plumber. I hope we still have them in the future.
            It is wrong to push all students to college. Rather, we should make students aware of the possibilities without pushing what we think and let them decide what interests them. I understand colleges are worried by dropping enrollment.
            Partly this is due to the incredible increase in college costs plus a stagnate job market. They need skills that our world will support financially.
            Many young people do not want to go deeply in debt. Be a plumber first and then use those dollars to explore other professions. When the brown sludge overflows you will know what to do other than worry.

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No jokes

© 2016 Jim Spence - Read this column a few times over the last few years and you will see repeated charges lodged by me that not only has American journalism sunken into being a propaganda ministry for the Democratic Party, but the entertainment industry, Hollywood if you will, is nothing more than a megaphone for Democrat causes too. The trouble with this sad decline, as my idol Mel Brooks so aptly said just a few days ago, is that this process is killing comedy. Comedy took another few nails in its coffin just yesterday.
Every late night talk show host does a joke monologue. They all have done so for several generations. In fact they have made fun of every sitting president relentlessly……until the arrival of Barack Obama. Suddenly for fairly obvious reasons, Obama became off-limits. Make fun of Obama and somebody is bound to call you a "racist" instead of a hilarious comic.
One thing that has returned with Donald Trump is the great American tradition of seeing comics have their fun at the president’s expense. Too bad many of us stopped watching late night talk show hosts once we realized the fix was in across the board for Democrats.
Enter stage left (pun intended) one Hollywood icon Harvey Weinstein yesterday and an amazing revelation that not only has he engaged in sexual harassment for decades, but he admits it. We also find from a former New York Times reporter that simply because Weinstein is a serial contributor of millions of dollars to the Democrat Party, the New York Times squashed all investigations into Weinstein’s reprehensible behaviors.
Say what? Yes you heard that right, the New York Times refused to run the well-documented stories simply because Weinstein gives millions to help Democrats. The reality here is we have little more than sham journalism and a sham entertainment industry. 
Let's take an even closer look at the late night talk shows. While the clowns have rediscovered how funny it is to make fun of the president……the Weinstein news should have also triggered a barrage of monologue gags raking ole Harvey Weinstein over the coals. This should have happened last night and it should go on for at least a week or so. But instead, for the opening night at least, there was deafening silence on the Weinstein outrage. Let’s see why this is hypocrisy in the extreme.
Consider what a field day these same comics had with the unproven allegations against Bill O’Reilly. I’ll spare you the details of what he was accused of since it has never been proved. Suffice to say that what used to happen in these situations, and still does with GOP types is that they suffer from the rule that famous people from all walks of life are fair game for the late night joke tellers should their name get soiled by some unseemly news. No more is this the case. Now comedy is political.
Late night talk show hosts are no longer comedic artists. They are not playful people who are willing to needle anyone who is famous who gets embarrassed by allegations. What we have now are hardcore Democrats who will only go after accused sexual predators known to have conservative leanings. This is comedy?
Not so much as a peep was heard from the comics on Weinstein, despite his own ludicrous statements being enough to fill the Rose Bowl with pages of written jokes.  It would seem that sexual-harassment/assault allegations that Weinstein essentially copped an absurd plea to, along with suggesting he was “seeking help” for his ways, was not deemed fertile ground for the one line gags.
Where is Johnny Carson and Jay Leno when you need them?
How does this square with these comics handling of less unseemly, but still provocative admissions by Trump? The same comics and their army of joke writers have jokes ready for any Trump “news” with little more than a moment’s notice. And they pound away for days according to my sources.
People tracking Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and Stephen Colbert made note of the fact that every single one of them passed on the Weinstein news in their monologues. Perhaps these clowns will mix in a few Weinstein barbs tonight. Who knows? Don’t bet much on it. Either way, I won’t be watching any of these scabs. As for the New York Times quashing the stories years ago? This what journalism has come to. Most reporters are not doing their jobs anymore…..nor are the late night comics. No wonder newspapers and talk shows are dying a slow death.
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Always doing what we always do

© 2016 Jim Spence - Michael’s column this week strikes up a conversation we have had many times over the years, dating all the way back to his solo radio show days. It is wise to scrutinize the idea of whether NMSU’s scheduling of football opponents for big paydays makes sense. Michael and I have opined on the topic for years and neither of us thinks it is a good idea. We have suggested that if NMSU cannot schedule a home and home arrangement with another school, NMSU should make no scheduling deal.
We have watched NMSU the institution, operate for the last fifty years. The case made by administrators for playing “money” games, which Michael better describes as “selling losses” goes something like this: "NMSU needs the money because NMSU simply does not have the resources to compete." This is basically the argument. Amazingly, NMSU the institution, has chosen to be a money whore for two or three games each year to ”make ends meet.” Unfortunately this is pretty much what prostitutes choose to do. They sell themselves to "make ends meet."
Let’s give NMSU administrators some credit. Let’s assume there is some logic to playing money games. If this tactic is reasonable, the process should eventually lead to a positive outcome. It has not. Instead, playing only enough money games to “get by” each season has resulted in NMSU making ZERO bowl game appearances for more than fifty years. This is unmatched futility. It does not merely suggest institutional failure, it confirms the false premise of thinking playing the role of prostitute a couple times a year is a legitimate long-term strategy.
To be fair, the current administration at NMSU inherited a big mess that has been snowballing. A.D. Mario Moccia is still paying for the previous A.D.'s mistakes and Moccia has no authority to implement a long range plan. None of the predecessor presidents at NMSU, who were responsible for decision-making for NMSU football, ever implemented a plan for success. The atrocious hire of Barbara Couture truly accelerated NMSU’s decline, including the loss of several conference affiliations, which is the surest sign of institutional failure. One cannot overstate the horrific damage previous A.D. McKinley Boston did to NMSU athletics through neglect.
Why did Boston and Couture fail so miserably? They always did what NMSU always did.....or worse.
Let’s assume selling losses/prostituting the program for money games makes sense. If this actually makes sense, and the Aggies are going to loose their conference affiliation after this year anyway, why not play only UTEP and UNM each season and use the rest of the schedule to arrange ten huge money games. Why settle for two paydays to merely get by? The Aggie Athletic Department with the blessing of the administration, could pocket close to ten million dollars per year (after cutting expenses to the bone), and move towards the goal of building a quarter of a billion dollar football endowment over time. In perhaps fifteen years or so, NMSU could have a gigantic permanent endowment that would be capable of funding a competitive football team EVERY year. There would be no more “getting by” or living hand-to-mouth until the end of time.
Strangely enough, I floated this idea in the early 1990’s. The responses were predictable. Successful business-people who have built winning organizations and understand the need for adequate long term capital liked the plan. They saw the wisdom of committing to a long range self-funding plan, to one day accumulate the resources required to be competitive. However, virtually every highly paid bureaucrat immediately searched for reasons why instituting a long range self-funding plan just couldn't be done. It is the classic “Can’t do, stay inside the box,” mindset. I am not sure why people who think like this should be paid $275,000 a year by NMSU. But that is roughly what the institution paid Boston to find ways to do nothing.
If this strategy had simply been implemented in the early 1990’s, when the idea was first floated, NMSU would ALREADY have a gigantic football endowment. And it would have accomplished this without having played any fewer bowl games over the last twenty five years....than NMSU played anyway.......with nothing but lost conference affiliations to show for it.
In the end, NMSU the institution seems plagued by the same sort of inertia that leads to always doing what it has always done. And NMSU the institution, also seems destined to always get what it has always gotten.
Doug Martin has done a great job this year with impressive football wins over UTEP and UNM. But there is still no long range plan to get competitive financially.

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Swickard: Taking money to lose games

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
             On page C5 of the Sunday, October 1, 2017 Albuquerque Journal is a headline: Aggie offense shows well in money game.” While some weak football programs do it, I object to the ethics of selling losses in “money games” to national powerhouses.
            It is certainly the right of NMSU to engage year after year in this ethical morass of selling losses. But it is not right for them to do so. The football team plays mostly unwinnable games a couple times a season for money.
            Over the last forty years NMSU has sold losses in a sport entirely judged by the team’s win-loss record. I have spent those forty years complaining about this to no avail.
            In the modern NCAA Football era comes an unethical practice of strong national teams spending millions of dollars for an easy week while weak teams collect millions providing a loss. This last week the University of Arkansas paid NMSU $1.35 million to go there and lose.
            Over that forty years NMSU has won twice and lost more than a hundred times. Many Aggie Football coaches have been fired because of their win-loss record.
            Three concerns: first, it appears giving two losses a season keeps the Aggies from going to Bowl Games. NMSU hasn’t gone to a Bowl Game since Eisenhower was the President in 1960. I see a trend.
            Secondly, smaller teams playing physically larger teams often get players hurt. This is not a strong team in your conference, these are national teams.
            Finally, it is a thumb in the eye of home fans. Not going to Bowl Games because of selling losses makes selling season tickets harder.
            Partly personal: I have watched NMSU football for fifty years. My first year was with legendary coach Warren Woodson in 1967. I have had season tickets most of the time including this year.
            The NMSU Athletic Department have spoken to me over the years due to my criticism. They say I don’t understand Higher Education. I always respond I have a Ph.D. in Higher Education from NMSU. But they don’t listen to me.
            Former NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells wrote, “The only way to change people is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what they’re doing wrong. And if they don’t want to listen they don’t belong on the team.” This is true at NMSU where the same old strategy has failed for so many years.
            The way to change the fortunes of the NMSU Football program is: first, never ever sell a loss. Secondly, play teams you can beat. Finally, with enough wins go to Bowl Games. Any Bowl Game The program will pick itself up and success will follow.
            As Bill Parcells said, “Success is never final, but failure can be.” The NMSU Football Program will be shrouded in failure so long as they continue to sell losses.

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The leader of the take a knee movement

© 2016 Jim Spence - Colin Kaepernick played for the San Francisco 49ers. That is past tense. The stands at the 49ers stadium in San Jose, California were half empty last week even after people made it through the traffic jams. 49ers season tickets priced at $85 a pop could be had on Stub Hub for $14....with no takers.
The downturn in NFL popularity was underway long before Donald Trump weighed into the fray by calling out the league and the players for injecting politics into their games. The Packers play the Bears tonight. We will see how that goes. All weekend the TV networks, who forked over billions of dollars to broadcast the games kept their cameras off the booing fans. It was classic censorship of that which they did not want folks to see. The booing will continue.
If there is one thing all of us should have learned long ago, it is that talking politics at inappropriate venues can be very dangerous. I have in-laws who insist on taking political jabs at me virtually every time we get together. While I have my views, and they know them, I keep my mouth shut, because it is not good for the family go there. Funny thing is, since these folks have continued to insist on injecting their political views into the family dialogue, we don't get together any more.
I remember my own son telling me a few years ago that he did not really want to talk about politics. Ironically, we were off to lunch together to discuss our selections in the football pool we both participate in. I have never brought up the subject of politics with my son again. If you value a relationship, you have to respect the wishes of others, or risk permanently damaging the relationship. Since I value my relationship with my son, I refrain from any mention of politics.....ever. I certainly never engage in discussions with customers about politics either. It is fine if they bring the subject up. If I agree, then we can explore ideas, but if we don't......I keep my mouth shut......period.
There is a certain level of arrogance that comes with those who think that they should be allowed to impose their political views on everyone else in inappropriate settings. Again.......MOST settings are inappropriate for political discussions.
Back to the NFL. Not only was Colin Kaepernick arrogant.....he was stupid. Kaepernick walked away from a generous contract that would have paid him millions, after he pissed off fans and played poorly. He thought he was worth more. He wasn't worth more. The market says he is considered worthless as a player because he is a jackass. 
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Colin Kaepernick's socks seems to be where all of this NFL crap started
It is amazing that Kaepernick is the FATHER of the "take a knee" movement. I remember seeing an article on a football website suggesting that my hometown Baltimore Ravens were considering signing Kaepernick because their quarterback, Joe Flacco, was injured. My cousin sent me a text to that effect. I told him if the Ravens signed Kaepernick, I was done with them. They must have been flooded with calls because they didn't sign Kaepernick and neither has any other team.
Amazingly, a bunch of Baltimore Ravens took a knee during the national anthem just before their game in London last Sunday. In effect, it turns out there are a whole bunch of Kaepernicks on the Ravens and all over the NFL, not just one. Guess what? I am done with them. I won't buy the NFL Sunday Ticket package.....ever again.
Some people blame Trump for starting this. Let the record show that Trump did not start this fight, he just put up his dukes and challenged the league's integrity. Amazingly, the league started swinging instead of reflecting on how rude it was. The NFL claims to love first amendment rights. It is a bogus claim. The NFL refused to allow the Dallas Cowboys to put stickers on their helmets last year to honor FIVE fallen police officers who were killed by Black Lives Matter people while defending Black Lives Matter protesters. The Dallas cops were ambushed by people who supported the BLM protests.
This NFL cataclysm must be viewed in the proper context. Make no mistake that cops and members of the military see both the flag and the national anthem as symbols of what they risk their lives and limbs for. Yes, they also risk their lives to protect freedom of speech. However, nobody has the right to run off business customers while hiding behind freedom of speech.
Check out Colin Kaepernick's socks pictured above and tell me who began dividing America, Trump or NFL players like Kaepernick. They want to trot out their senseless grudges against all law enforcement officials during business hours. Nope.
The families of the cops who were killed by cop haters not only find the taking of a knee offensive, they find the socks that started all of this repugnant. Context is everything and the NFL has endorsed the mentality that comes with those who wear those socks.
Some people refuse to connect the dots here. They think people who want to shove their political views in your face should be permitted to do so by employers who will pay the price. Nobody can stop cop haters from being who they are......but in entertainment venues were fans have options.....the market is going to teach these spoiled bastards a real lesson. It is going to be priceless to see the NFL get what it has coming to it. Ever since these socks were worn by Kaepernick, the NFL has been "choosing poorly."
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A follow up

The rules are found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

Jim's note - It looks like the NFL is mimicking Barack Obama's take on immigration law. When it doesn't fit your narrative, ignore your own written rules.
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Avoid pissing contests with skunks

© 2016 Jim Spence - There is an old saying. Don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk. You both will get hit, and the skunk will like it.
For several decades the GOP found itself in battle with progressive skunks. GOP politicians have never quite known how to deal with them, since outside of Fox News the progressive skunks have thousands of friends in the media. In short, these progressive bullies have gotten their way in America for some time now with very few cultural victories had by those who dare to challenge them.
Along comes Donald Trump. The first thing Trump did in his new career as a politician last year was to engage in high profile pissing contests with Republican candidates. Both Trump and his targets seem to have gotten hit, but Trump liked it and he won easily. Not sure? Just ask Jeb Bush.
Before we explore the latest pissing contest between Trump and NFL players and teams who held the mistaken notion they could get political at football games without being called out, there are some things about the NFL that most people do not know. The NFL made a deal with Obama’s Defense Department a few years back to “Support the Troops.” The Defense Department handed over tens of millions of dollars to NFL owners to “stage shows” of their patriotism in the hopes for the D.O.D. that it would be easier to recruit. Before these deals were made, many NFL teams stayed inside during the playing of the national anthem to talk strategy. However, once the taxpayer money went into NFL coffers, the NFL made it mandatory that every player be on the field during the anthem. Essentially, the NFL sold images of players applauding military heroes, who were introduced prior to the anthem. So.......just in case you think the NFL decided to be a little more patriotic on its own, think again. They got paid to put on a show. And a portion of this money ultimately made its way into the pockets of the players in the revenue sharing deals their union made with the owners. Only in America can you sell faux patriotism at an enormous profit.
If there is one thing that we can all agree on it is this: Trump loves to fight. And the NFL, which wanted to have things both ways, finally got called out on its incredible hypocrisy. Trump, like many of us, became disgusted with the politicizing of football. But unlike the rest of us, Trump is in a position to expose the way in which the players and the teams wanted to litigate their partisan politics right before kickoffs.
The clueless NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and about 150 clueless players took the bait yesterday. However, not every player took the bait. It seems that Pittsburgh Steeler coach Mike Tomlin wanted every Steeler to stay in the locker room yesterday to avoid the "appearance" of being involved in a pissing contest. It was sort of a pissing, without actually claiming you are pissing sort of strategy. Tomlin wanted to do a passive-aggressive piss at the national anthem, if you will. Apparently, the consensus to do this was REJECTED by U.S. Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva, a Steeler, was not having any of it. The three Afghanistan-tour veteran left the Steeler locker room by himself, and stood visibly in the tunnel with his hand over his heart while the anthem played. The image was startling and not at all what the would be pissers in the NFL wanted to see. It was however, precisely what pisser in Chief Trump wanted to see. The progressive Democrat media is going berserk with this battle as is Fox. 
Rest assured Trump is going to win this tussle. The NFL was already suffering from declining ratings thanks to its politicizing. Now the NFL finds that the spotlight is shining brightly on what they have been doing. And instead of the players finding more appropriate forums for expressing their political views, they have doubled down on stupidity with more than 150 scurrying out into the open.
Watch how free markets work here. Contrary to what the players think, nobody “has to” watch the NFL games and nobody “has to” buy a ticket to watch them live. The markets are about to teach the NFL that it is not “entitled” to scoop billions of dollars out of the U.S. economy. Instead, the NFL must re-earn customer loyalty. Predictions?
Watch for season ticket sales to plummet next year. Watch for advertisers to re-think the bloated prices they have to pay to align themselves with the NFL, a venue that is starting to reek. Ad prices on NFL games are going to plunge followed by bids for rights to broadcast the games.
Something about the NFL was starting to stink last year. We all thought it was just Colin Kaepernick. The stench spread. And now the entire NFL, minus Alejandro Villaneuva, smells like a skunk. It would seem that the NFL has chosen to get into a pissing contest with a skunk.
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Swickard: Political disrespect and making positive change

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   “I think Dr. King, if he were alive today, he wouldn’t disrespect the flag or the anthem; he would use his words and his voice to send a message for positive change.” Kimberly Guilfoyle
             The National Football League has players who are taking a knee during the national anthem. They are expressing their displeasure with American injustice. Worse, young people who are just imitating these icons are being disrespectful to our country without understanding the issues.
            My response has been to shun them. For this reason, I am not watching NFL games this year. Know this: if a high school or college team has players disrespect our flag and anthem, I will be out of that stadium quickly.
            It is the right of those athletes to make these gestures. And it is my right to not give them any money or attention. Should there be a law against disrespecting our country? No, each of us has free speech rights but we cannot exercise those rights without responsibility for our actions.
            There is only one of me so just one person shunning the NFL will have no effect. Still, it is my choice to respond. They don’t have to even acknowledge my actions.
            I am curious why they think this will address their perceived injustices and make changes. It would seem that we as a nation must make positive changes if our nation is to prosper.
            The world is so much better because of our country and the leaders of our country including the founders. As I wrote previously in this column they were all imperfect people. However, we are better off because of them. But, of course, we can always improve our country.
            In the above quote, there is the thought that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have used his words, his voice to make a positive change. I like that. We do need positive change in this society that has fallen into the grasp of hate speech and fake news.
            Dr. King died in 1968. Unfortunately, his greatest thought seems to be forgotten: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
            These protests and much of the politics of our society today is about the color of skin and not the content of character. We do have voices telling us the way to make our country better.
            Morgan Freeman said, “Dr. Martin Luther King is not a black hero. He is an American hero.” He also said, “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”
            That is a direction for change that will make a difference. Let us not divide our country and the people of our county. Rather we need to come together as a nation. We must do so one citizen at a time.

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The market will sort this out

© 2016 Jim Spence - Freedom of speech is a wonderful concept. The reason you know freedom of speech is great, is because the countries you don’t want to visit let alone live in, tend to ban freedom of speech. Not surprisingly, the worst nations on earth employ the harshest punishments whenever someone says something the dictators don’t like.
The 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is pretty simple. It protects American citizens from our government. It reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
How far does the guarantee of freedom of speech go? It is an interesting question to ask. Courts have established the idea that yelling “fire” in a crowded theater and causing a stampede, is not protected speech. However, organizing a political rally and chanting, “Down with this, or down with that,” is protected. The dividing line seems to be when people begin to infringe on the property rights and/or personal safety of others.
Again, because freedom of expression is a delicate matter, the courts almost always side with the citizens instead of the government, unless free speech endangers the safety of others. Of course, rioting protesters who destroy the property of others, are not exercising free speech, they are committing crimes.
This brings us back to the increasing presence of the culture war in America. Half the players on Baltimore and Jacksonville took a knee this morning before the game in London. It seems that the NBA and NFL think it is OK for players to exercise freedom of expression……sometimes. Taking a knee during the national anthem is OK, but certain forms of celebration, say after scoring a touchdown etc. is deemed illegal. 
It is important to remember that sporting events are not peaceable assemblies, they are entertainment events with customers paying to be there. Interestingly, the NFL players union has decided that players decisions to engage in political protest during the national anthem should be protected.
Let’s be clear about the customers here. Tens of millions of people find the taking of a knee during the national anthem to be offensive, just as tens of millions of people find both racist rhetoric and race baiting rhetoric offensive.
Do players have the right to offend during the course of business with customers? Do private businesses have the right to fire people for exercising freedom of speech, if the exercise itself financially damages their business? We are not talking about a government attempting to ban free speech……we are talking about private sector interests being allowed to protect their interests by keeping their customers happy with the overall business transaction/entertainment experience. These are interesting questions.
The courts have held that businesses have the right to fire people for offending their customers. ESPN fired Curt Schilling because he tweeted, not during a broadcast, but on his own time, the idea that he thinks men should pee and poop in the men’s room.
The point here is actually pretty simple. Americans all have a right to offend our elected officials, but Americans also have the right to protect their businesses from moron employees who insist on offending the customers. This explains why Colin Kaepernick does not have a job. He runs off customers in droves. If I have an employee who runs off my customers, I am going to fire that person.
It is going to be fun to watch all of this play out. NFL and NBA owners have shown themselves to be quite tolerant of political speech being inserted into their business relationships with customers. We will see how far this goes now that it looks like the NFL is finally starting to pay a price for allowing millionaire employees to question the fundamental fairness of American citizens who are sitting in the stands with expensive ticket stubs in their pockets.
Never one to keep his mouth shut, Donald Trump has weighed in. He suggested that employees who offend customers should be fired for doing so. Sounds like Trump is siding with the customers. And the response from both the NBA and the NFL was swift. It seems that when it comes to answering the question of whether or not America is basically fair, the debate is on and the NFL thinks the national anthem is a suitable forum. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who makes about $15,000 per concussion each season, suggests that it is Trump who is divisive. This seems strange. Trump is simply suggesting that the players who insist that America is unfair actually created the "divide." Trump has sided with the tens of millions of fans who are offended because they think all in all, America is pretty darned fair.
How did we get here? Essentially, these cultural wounds were healing nicely until Mr. Obama came along. Obama’s primary emphasis in governing was to encourage socialists to use phony racism accusations as battering rams against anyone resisting the failed policies of socialism. It looks like the cancer of the Obama era is in stage four in America. It is my prediction that professional sports businesses that allow millionaire employees to offend their patrons, will find that their businesses deteriorate. It is already happening. A steady decline from here seems imminent because no business can allow its employees to routinely insult the intelligence of its customers without paying a steep price.
What should we do? Let's sit back and watch. Let the whining millionaires galvanize around freedom of expression during the course of business, and let the customers who disagree, weigh alternative entertainment options. The free market for expensive tickets and commercial laden television broadcasts will sort this out, just like the market sorted out the competing views in the 2016 election. It is now the NFL and NBA that want to sew politics into the fabric of their businesses. We shall see how that works out for them.
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