Swickard: Do homeschoolers have summer vacations?

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  At the coffee shop someone asked an interesting question: Do home schoolers take summer vacations like students in public schools? My reaction was that home-schooled children do not take three months off from learning and camp out on the couch with their smart phones.
            Over several days I thought about the question. I know several home schooler parents. All indicated there was no summer vacation for their kids, but some learning tasks are focused on summer opportunities.
            Obviously, going to Yellowstone National Park is a learning activity. And Yellowstone is closed during the winter so you must go in the summer. Importantly, none of the home schooler parents said that when summer comes they just turn the kids loose to vegetate.
            Home schooling is one of the most contentious issues in our country. The public receives conflicting messages. On the one hand, they hear that parents are the most influential force in children learning.
            But, on the other hand, many education leaders say that learning at home is different and inferior to “real” education. Especially that education done by professional educators who have teaching degrees from college.
            Also, education is different in a school setting. That I agree with but I do not agree that public school education in and of itself is superior.
            Home school parents forego the benefits of a tax-supported education for diverse reasons including religious, social and achievement concerns. Additionally, there are people in rural areas where the trip to the nearest school is too far a journey for young children.
            For most people, outside of those with strictly religious concerns, the primary reason to home school is a concern about the culture of public education. Currently it is almost entirely focused on taking tests to check on teachers. What a waste for students.
            Others say the pace of instruction in schools is focused on the entire class rather than on any one individual. Home school parents pace their instruction specifically to their children.
            One objection to home schooling is that parents are usually not professional educators. How then do we ensure that their children are learning? What should be done if a home-schooled child reaches majority without sufficient academic skills? Discipline the parents?
            Is it the parent’s right not to educate their children? Sticky questions. We already face the same questions with public school graduates. Shall we dock the teacher’s pension if the students do not learn?
            Some parents are not suited for teaching just as some students are not good candidates for home learning. Sometimes, the combination of parents not willing to work hard at teaching, and students not driven to learn can lead to bad situations. Overall, this is not the case.
            Home schoolers do not turn off their minds when they leave school. Learning occurs at all hours of the day and night. I like home schooling when it is done correctly. Public schools can learn more from the methods used by home schoolers than home schoolers can learn from public schools.

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What Americans Want

© 2016 Jim Spence - It takes serious reflection to make sense of all the puzzling things that have taken place in America over the last ten months.
GOP primary voters elected an outsider in Donald Trump to head a winning ticket last year. The GOP wins did not stop with Trump. The GOP scored big victories in the House and Senate. The Trump stunner also resulted in Neil Gorsuch going to the Supreme Court instead of yet another progressive stooge. There were major scores in governor’s races and state legislatures all over the country. Special elections since the Trump ascendancy have seen the GOP score more impressive victories over insanely well-funded Democrats. In short, the Democrats have been decimated.
The win by Trump was bigger than advertised. He never tried to win "popular votes" in cesspools like California, Oregon, and Washington, where socialist rot has set in and the GOP does not even field candidates for Senate races. Instead, Trump won the critical contested states. He wound up carrying sixty percent (30) of the states. Trump also won the vast majority of counties in the U.S.
Here is the point. You would think the GOP would be thrilled to be so broadly accepted by the U.S. voters. Instead, the GOP alternates between gross irritation and timidity mixed with fear. It is clear that far too many elected officials and staffer Republicans in Washington D.C. have been trained to piss and moan instead of lead.
Meanwhile, the Democrats haplessly rage every day. They are led not by their shattered and discredited leadership, but by asinine advocates in the news media. Disguised as journalists, the major networks and newspapers serve up Trump hatred by the bushel twenty-four hours a day. It is an onslaught the likes of which nobody has ever seen from our news media. The media runs undocumented stories as a matter of routine. Citing “anonymous sources” has become a way of life during the Trump assault.
It is quite comical that the Democrats are puzzled by why they have lost the American heartland. The DNC is actually conducting studies to learn more about the strange folks who live in obscure places like Indiana and Nebraska instead of hip places like Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco where rioters destroy public and private property to protest their loss to Trump while Democrat leaders shrug.
Somebody should send the Democrats a memo. It should read as follows: 
Most Americans do not believe that global warming is the greatest threat to America. Most people think it is a joke for most Democrats to keep saying so. What most Americans believe instead, is that higher energy prices, fewer oil and gas industry jobs, higher tax burdens, more onerous and costly government regulations, and outrageously lax border control policies are the greatest threats we face. Most Americans don’t want more "refugees" from places where both sides of warring factions teach all children to hate America.
Very few Americans are buying into the idea that government should promote the interests of people who are not white, by accusing all whites of enjoying some sort of special privileges. Most Americans have made themselves familiar with the plights of whites in Appalachian country who were literally economically destroyed by the idiocies of Obama. Oh yes, and by the way, most Americans know that O.J. Simpson was a murderer who was freed by a jury full of progressive Democrats.
Most Americans want the freedom to select the kinds of health insurance coverage they want….rather than think of themselves as so stupid they need Washington to craft one-size-fits-all health insurance policies for everyone.
Most Americans don’t think grown men dressed like women should be allowed to pee or poop in the same restrooms where their daughters go.
Most Americans know our public schools are failing. Most think those who fight for more taxpayer dollars to be thrown at a failing education system, tend to wind up padding even more lavish pensions for bureaucrats.
When most Americans travel to Europe and see $7 per gallon gasoline prices, they know something is inherently wrong with socialism. They know this regardless of Democrats and their calls for our nation to be more like socialist Europe.
Most Americans know that Democrats have a direct connection to the cop-killing movement known as "Black Lives Matter." They know Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were violent punks who were the aggressors in attacks that led to their demise. They also know twenty Martins and Browns are killed in Chicago every week.
Still the Democrats in media can’t help themselves. They pump out a continuous Trump-hate bombardment each day. 
Sadly, while Trump has rolled back dozens of Obama's stupidest regulations, appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and made other common sense policy changes, he has been vilified behind closed doors, not by clueless Democrats, but by GOP elitists. Even sadder, Trump does little to help himself with senseless twitter barbs tossed in the direction of some of the few loyal men he commands, like A.G. Jeff Sessions.
These are indeed strange times we live in. Democrats don’t have a clue what Americans want and poor Donald Trump is learning that the “art of a deal” is not as easy in a place where nobody works for the nation’s interests but instead, engages in back-stabbing, to fulfill their own petty little wants and needs. Trump himself back stabs too. Integrity and respect are in short supply.

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Swickard: Racing ducks, how about Llamas?

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “A peasant has to stand on a hillside for a very long time before a roast duck flies into his mouth.” Chinese proverb quoted by Paul Theroux in Riding the Iron Rooster
            New Mexico has the challenge of a falling economy. Many New Mexicans are standing around waiting for something good to happen. It might or might not. Other people have looked at tourists as a way to perk up the New Mexico economy.
            It’s a place to get new money. Especially if New Mexico appeals to tourists with lots of money to spend. Problem: some New Mexicans don’t want more people in our state.
            There is a conflict between bringing people into the state and people who don’t want New Mexico to grow at all. These people like the lonesome feeling and don’t want any more people coming here.
            My grandfather wanted to live far enough away from his neighbors so as to not hear their dogs bark. And he did.
            First there was Lincoln, the little town that developed a great Billy-the-Kid festival. Then Albuquerque adopted the balloons. Roswell got the aliens celebration going. I asked someone from Roswell about the aliens. He smirked, “The tourists come bringing hundred dollar bills.”
            Years ago, some people in Deming were looking for something to increase the money in their town. Using alliteration, it turned into the Deming Duck Races. If they were in Lordsburg, I wonder if it would have been the Lordsburg Llama Races?
            Perhaps next the Raton Rat Races, the Taos Tuttle Races, the Alamogordo Alpaca Races, the Carlsbad Camel Races, the Artesia Ant Races… well, I could go.
            Again, part of the problem involves the people already in New Mexico who don’t want the state to grow in size. Many people in New Mexico like what Oregon Governor Tom McCall said back in the 1970s. Eric Cain in OPB.org wrote about this in 2013:
            His (Governor Tom McCall) focus was quality of life and so in a 1971 speech said to the people who come to Oregon, “Come visit, don’t stay.” He added, “I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.”
            While some people might think that rude, I understood. Tourism is a nice relatively clean industry. But come, look, take pictures, eat Green Chile, go home. How pleasant.
            And truth be known, I really don’t mind more people coming here. I would just like them to take a pledge:
            “I (state your name) promise never to tell anyone in New Mexico how we did things back home and that it was so much better back home.” Amen.
            Maybe we can think of some more festivals: Dust Days in March comes to mind. A celebration of people baking on their car dash would be interesting. There are plenty of possible celebrations. Consider a Snake Racing in Springer celebration. Then we have lunch. Tastes like Chicken, eh?

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The United States Senate

© 2016 Jim Spence - A person would be hard-pressed to locate 100 people in one location who are more self-centered, ego maniacal, and astonishingly arrogant than those who refer to themselves as United States Senators. It is virtually impossible to overstate the gulf between what these 100 people are actually worth and what they think they are worth.
For seven long years New Mexicans listened to GOP Senators from other states promise over and over that on “day one,” when Republicans regained control of the White House, they would repeal Obamacare. Most Americans realize that Obamacare is a bureaucratic monstrosity that is wrecking both the quality and pricing of health insurance for millions of Americans. It has been a great financial atrocity that those Americans who actually set aside money in their family budget to PAY for their own health insurance are getting screwed daily because the GOP Senators are no better than Democrat Senators who also refuse to fix this horrific problem.
Senators have a curious way of making decisions as to what they will support and oppose. They don’t actually care what works or what fails. And they will often vote against what they said they would support five minutes earlier.
GOP Senators are particularly infuriating these days. While they talk a good game at their fundraisers, ultimately they do not care how all-encompassing the control by Washington D.C. becomes when it comes to running the lives of Americans who are more than capable of running their own lives. There is a fundamental truth here. GOP Senators are cold calculating bastards who serve themselves first, last, and always.
The system stinks. Senators live lives that are all about unearned privilege. They don’t pay for much of anything. Instead, practically everything Senators need is paid for by someone else. So many Senators go to Washington with very little, only to retire five or six terms later with great gobs of money. Retired New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is a prime example. Bingaman and his wife milked the system like few others ever have.
Last week a really bright man, Jamie Dimon, who is the CEO at J.P Morgan, admitted it is actually embarrassing to be an American who travels abroad. He indicated this is true because of all the stupid excrement (I cleaned up what he actually said) that goes on in Washington. What Dimon was alluding to is all the really simple things that could be done to solve problems in America……that never get done. Again, I think you need look no further than the U.S. Senate for an explanation as to why America cannot do even the most simple things like tax reform and health care reform.
GOP Senator Mitch McConnell is supposedly the majority leader of the Senate. He is neither. He cannot lead and he has no majority. How this guy continues to head up the GOP in the Senate speaks volumes for what the criteria is to be voted in as a Senate “leader.”
And of course here in New Mexico we contribute mightily to the dysfunction in Washington D.C. in general and the Senate in particular. In Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, New Mexico sends two of the most deceptive and disgraceful politicians to ever occupy public office to a place where 100 of the most disgraceful politicians from other states congregate. Udall and Heinrich do nothing but fundraising when they are not telling bald-faced lies and pissing away other people’s money.

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Swickard: We are addicted to our addictions

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “We aren’t addicted to oil, but our cars are.” James Woolsey  
            While that sounds good, it’s wrong. Our cars are inanimate so they can’t be addicted to anything. It is we, ourselves, who are addicted to transportation. This is not a bad addiction like to drugs, speeding or ignoring railroad warning lights which can get you killed.
            The transportation industry is addicted to energy. Electric transportation is more addicted to coal than oil but all transportation other than sailboats are done with energy. They only work for us when the energy is abundant, dependable and cheap.
            Most people are unaware of how important energy is in our lives. But know this: without energy, there would be little available food or water and most people on Earth would die.
            We are so accustomed to having energy at our fingertips that we do not normally think about it. Flip the switch and the light comes on. Maybe some few people living out off the grid could survive for a while. The rest of us will perish without energy.
            There are more addictions in our society that we do not think of often. Driving much of our society is the entertainment industry. It is so pervasive that we, as a society, are ignoring great threats to our society because we are enmeshed in our entertainment society.
            Many people are more concerned about the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys than the threat of a huge asteroid killing off life on our planet. Or global thermonuclear war. Or some disease with no cure extinguishing the human race.
            The social networks all run on devices that are operated using electricity. Many people are so addicted to these social connections that they will risk death while driving rather than put off looking at the device for a few minutes.
            Imagine the day that the electricity quits. Millions of people will stare at their dead cellphones in confusion. There’s no way to lodge a complaint without electricity. They will have to speak to real people around them instead of being in their own world online. How awful.
            My Great Grandfather came from Sweden to New York and then New Mexico at a snail’s pace. However, I could get on an airplane and be home in New Mexico in one day. Amazing.
            People are very concerned about whom is dancing with whom but not how redundant are the systems protecting our electrical grid. Or with the environmental push against coal and oil what we would do instead of coal and oil?
            The first thing we must do is admit our addictions and if they are good addictions make sure every effort is made to protect those energy resources. The point is that we should not look down our noses at those people who work in the oil patch.
            Especially just because they are covered in black gold and are a bit wiffy after working all week. We should thank our lucky stars that someone is making our addictions work.

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Jane Sanders was a target of Clinton oppo research

© 2016 Jim Spence - Sometimes you write a pair of columns that seem to be unrelated, only to see them become related as new facts come out in the open. Two columns back, I wrote a piece on the corruption and/or incompetence of Bernie Sander’s wife Jane, when she ran Burlington College into bankruptcy. In my last piece I wrote about the essential realities of opposition research. It seems that these two themes are now inter-related.
Bernie Sanders, the Venezuela-style socialist from Vermont has been dodging questions surrounding the terrible scandal his wife is embroiled in this week. Bernie is lying through his teeth when he claims that an FBI probe of his wife Jane, is simply based on partisan politics. How can Jane’s deep troubles be partisan, when the investigation into her bogus loan application for Burlington College, began under President Obama’s DOJ?
What does seem chillingly ironic is that the investigation was all part of the hopes of Hillary Clinton’s opposition research efforts. Hillary’s oppo research strategies on Bernie were revealed as a result of Wikileaks exposing the Clinton campaign’s email communications. It is particularly rich that Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta and his Clinton campaign team wrote a memo entitled “Sanders Top Hits-Thematics.” In this memo they discussed the damaging truth about Jane Sander’s role in the college’s demise.  Of course the same FBI investigation that was going on in Loretta Lynch’s DOJ is now going before a grand jury. It is possible Jane Sanders will be indicted for making false statements on a loan application. We shall see.
Here is an excerpt of what was in the Clinton Campaign’s opposition research memo:
“I think our first question is how are we going to defeat Sanders. … he's not who he says he is -- gun votes, DSCC money, Jane. There may be other options too but these seem to be the strongest attacks to consider. How we undermine Sanders candidacy is our threshold question. We have a meeting scheduled on Thursday to discuss next steps on Bernie Sanders … we'd like for everyone to come having reviewed the material and ready to discuss which hits and themes we want to deploy. (Jane) O’Meara Sanders brokered a risky and potentially fraudulent purchase that nearly bankrupted the college. After several years as the president of Burlington College, Jane O’Meara Sanders resigned amid speculation that she conflicted with the board and [didn’t] bring in enough money for the school. Critics later tied her to the school’s financial trouble after she brokered a deal to borrow $10 million to buy land for the college. Members of the lending agency expressed concern over the college’s ability to repay the loan, and one suggested that if O’Meara Sanders was not involved, the loan would not have been approved.”
Despite the fact that Jane Sanders drove Burlington College right into bankruptcy, she took a $200,000 golden parachute when she left the college dead and broke. This special treatment doesn’t quite square with Bernie’s penchant for claiming he is all for the little people. People who did what Jane Sanders did don’t get golden parachutes for failing……..they get fired and they get sued.
Opposition research should be front in center in the political discussions in the media. But it isn't.
Instead of learning more about how Democrats used oppo research on Bernie, we are watching the media circus try to crucify Donald Trump Jr. for meeting with an attorney/lobbyist well known by Obama’s DOJ. Despite the fact she could not deliver the kind of dirt on Hillary that the Clinton’s have mined for against their “enemies” every day of their political lives.....the media thinks this is.....get this......"Russian collusion."

Can you say “absurd hypocrisy and double standard?” I knew you could.

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The Master - A.F. Branco Political Cartoon
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String him up!

© 2016 Jim Spence - Opposition research. Want some? Let’s review what opposition research is. According to Wikipedia, “Opposition research (also called oppo) is the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to discredit or otherwise weaken them. The information can include biographical, legal or criminal, medical, educational, or financial history or activities, as well as prior media coverage, or the voting record of a politician. Opposition research can also entail using "trackers" to follow an individual and record their activities or political speeches. The research is usually conducted in the time period between announcement of intent to run and the actual election; however political parties maintain long-term databases that can cover several decades. The practice is both a tactical maneuver and a cost-saving measure. The term is frequently used to refer not just to the collection of information but also how it is utilized, as a component of negative campaigning.”
For the record, let’s give credit where credit is due. The Clintons wrote the book on winning elections with opposition research. They used it often until the mainstream media chose Obama over Hillary in 2008 and stopped running stories planted by the Clintons. Yep......the Clintons had all sorts of dirt to throw at Mr. Obama in 2008 and they threw and threw it. But the mainstream media wouldn’t carry most of the stories. And if they did carry them they mentioned them in passing before moving on quickly. No harping away every day.
Any successful Republican over the last century has also used oppo research, though only Richard Nixon and Barack Obama dared to use the government to gather information on political opponents. Nixon was justifiably demonized and impeached for this nasty practice, while Obama got free passes. This is part of the reason why most people have no interest in getting into politics.
What about the media? The media seems to forget that the practice of gathering oppo research is common place. Now that Trump Jr. was caught hoping he was going to be given some oppo stuff to toss in the direction of the Clintons the media is SHOCKED by this behavior.
Under-publicized facts about various Democrats and Russia are everywhere. Remember when Clinton campaign manager John Podesta was business partners with the Russian government and his company got $53 million from the Russian government investment fund called Rusnano that was started by Vladimir Putin and is referred to as "Putin's Child"? The reason you don’t remember is this situation was damaging to Podesta and the Clintons.....so the mainstream media ignored it.
Remember when Bill Clinton received $500,000 for giving a “speech” in Moscow? Clinton was paid by Renaissance Capital, a company tied to Russian Intelligence Agencies. The reason you don’t remember this story is because this is not the sort of thing the Democrat dominated media was ever interested in reporting on either.
Remember when Hillary Clinton approved the sale of 20% of U.S. uranium to the Russians while she was Secretary of State? This transaction gave control of nuclear material to Rosatom the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation. Of course you don’t remember. Russian collusion was never the narrative the Democrats wanted the media to advance when these deals were being made. And remember when Hillary lied through her teeth about this deal and said she wasn't a part of approving it……before her emails were leaked showing she actually did approve it and then lied about it? Once again, how could you know this? Did NPR, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, or the New York Times report this story? Forget it. It wasn’t going to happen, because it would have hurt the candidate these "reporters and editors" wanted to beat Trump. Remember when $145 million went to the Clinton Foundation from the shareholders of the uranium company sold to the Russians? How could you? No reporting of this either. Remember when the Clinton Foundation accepted millions in donations from the Russian chairman of the company that was part of the Russian Nuclear Research Cluster? Of course not. How about the money that came from the wife of the mayor of Moscow, who was a puppet of Putin's and went to the Clinton Foundation? Of course you didn't. There was not a peep on this story either. The mainstream media had no interest in any Russian stories.......until recently.
Remember when Barack Obama told Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign that the 1980's called and wanted its “Russian policy” back. Obama scolded Romney during the campaign repeatedly and scoffed at Romney’s assertions that the Russians were a serious threat. This was widely reported by the propaganda ministers back in 2012 to prop up Obama and make fears of Russia brought up by Romney seem silly. Obama kept lecturing us that the Cold War was “over.” Well, apparently the Cold War got started up again right after Hillary lost to Trump.
Now Donald Trump Jr. has been caught trying to snag some juicy oppo research from a Russian lawyer. It turns out there was none to be had. He got duped into taking a meeting with a bogus come on from a lawyer.
Well, it is obvious what we need to do. Get a rope and string Donald Trump Jr. up right now!
Is anyone sick of the way we get manipulated every single day by the media as it pursues its vendetta with anyone who beats a Democrat in an election?
I am.

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The Sanders ran out of other people's money

© 2016 Jim Spence - My oh my. It looks like Jane, the wife of avowed Vernont socialist Bernie Sanders, ran out of other people’s money. Of course this is what happens when socialists are put in charge of anything. Basically they run things into the ground and then……..they run completely out of other people’s money. Puerto Rico is a great example of this.
The story is all too familiar. For some odd reason Vermont keeps sending Bernie Sanders to the Senate to represent them. And for an even odder reason Jane Sanders was chosen to run Burlington College. Jane Sanders, who never saw any government proposal to manage something she did not like, decided that Burlington College needed a new ultra expensive campus on Lake Champlain. And apparently Jane Sanders became so ego invested in this idea, she began to make promises neither she, nor Burlington’s small list of donors, could keep. The results were predictable. The college closed and people lost their jobs while millions of federally insured bank deposit dollars were lost.
The investigation into the ways that Jane Sanders duped bankers into giving her control over millions of dollars that Burlington could never repay is escalating, while both of the Sanders claim the entire process is about politics. Sadly, all of the lost jobs at Burlington and the money lost by the taxpayers on the defaulted loans are the farthest things from the Sander’s minds.
The Washington Post picked up this story and quoted David Dunn, one of the school’s trustees, as saying that although Sanders’s fundraising figures were inaccurate, he thinks she had, “good intentions.” Dunn also said, “For me, personally, I don’t believe she (Jane Sanders) had malicious intent. I don’t think it rose to that level. Jane had an agenda that she wanted what was best for the college," he said. "And she stretched it beyond its capabilities.”
That pretty much sums up what happens with Democrats and socialism. Their intentions are good. Kind of like the lovable idiots we all know who piss their money away as a matter of routine. There are almost always gross miscalculations made by Democrats with an agenda, that do not have to include any financial realities. We see this process unfolding everywhere. Places like Detroit, Chicago, the entire state of Illinois, Puerto Rico, are pretty much the same. These locales are either bankrupt or moving quickly towards bankruptcy by people like Jane and Bernie Sanders. It is sad that Sanders devotees are so clueless they refuse to even acknowledge the possibility that Bernie will run out of other people’s money........like Jane did at Burlington College.
Oh and get this. After moves that bankrupted and closed the school, moves that cost taxpayers a fortune, both Bernie and Jane have decided to blame......get this.....it is so creative........Donald Trump.

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Swickard: The surprise of that surprised look

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   It seems odd to me that some of the most learned people in our society should look surprised when in New Mexico over the last six years college enrollment has dropped fourteen percent. What bothers me is the look of surprise on their faces.
            Instead, they should have a knowing looking, “Yeah, that makes sense that fewer students are enrolling.” After all, they are a big part of why college enrollment dropped.
            It isn’t just one thing that is changing the enrollment. Let us count the reasons enrollment is dropping: first, tuition in New Mexico’s colleges and universities has risen steadily for twenty years. We are talking dramatically.
            Twenty years ago, when I was at New Mexico State University, it was about $600 a semester for tuition and fees. Now it is more than $3,500 a semester for tuition and fees. In the old days, you could pay the tuition and fees out of a part-time job during the semester. No longer.
            Yet the wages for college graduates have not risen. So, it costs more to get a professional job that pays the same. And, colleges don’t discourage students taking coursing in majors where there are few if any jobs.
            Graduates are ending up with tens of thousands of dollars of debt in a slowing economy. There are less jobs. Recent college graduates are finding themselves living back at home because no one has a professional job for them.
            Some graduates have taken minimum wage jobs but with the minimum wage rising businesses are cutting back which further makes get a job harder, especially that first professional job. It is somewhat a spiral of problems: it costs more to graduate and pays the same or less today or even worse, there are no jobs.
            Now it might surprise you or me that the rising tuition prices and a falling job market could influence college enrollment but the wise people in our society at those institutions of higher learning had to know that pushing the tuition up would cause a drop in enrollment.
            Which is why I wonder about that surprised look. The retailer J. C. Penny recently had a great commercial, Dog House. It showed men who thought that a vacuum cleaner was a great birthday gift for their wife. They found themselves in a Dog House with other clueless men, all of them having a surprised look on their faces.
            Not that I will give love advise often, but if I was to buy a vacuum cleaner for a woman it would only be if I had a note from said woman indicating the brand and model with instruction to bring one home. Otherwise it is flowers, chocolate and jewelry.
            You can do as you like. Just don’t look surprised if you end up in the Dog House like the commercial shows. Especially don’t stand there with a surprised look on your face.
            But here we are with our colleges acting surprised right after they raised tuition - again.

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International standards for "nationalism" are a one way street

© 2016 Jim Spence - Having been around 61 years now, I’ve either observed or participated in athletic contests of one sort or another for almost my entire life. Athletic contests, like music contests, chess contests, orchestra competitions, choir contests, dance contests, etc. are great character developers for young people. All around the world young people learn that life is competitive by playing games where the idea is to KEEP SCORE.

Even with all of the commercialization of the Olympics, the bottom line is the event tends to bring countries together, which explains why radical Muslim terrorists did their best to destroy the Munich games in 1972. Many forms of competition are constructed by civilized societies to bring out the best in human beings. Drawing out the best in people occurs through lengthy processes. These processes gradually produce attitudes stressing dedication to excellence through work ethic. The key to getting the most out of competition is to understand that it is the process and not the results, that produces the performance wonders.

It is interesting that Mr. Obama said recently that he really appreciated George W. Bush's silence during his administration. It is interesting only because Obama opens his yap nearly every day to criticize his successor. He shrugs off his lack of silence he admired in Bush by saying he still has "responsibilities."

More than bad-mouthing Trump, Obama lectures all Americans on the dangers of too much patriotism and nationalism. When we hear Obama pontificating on nationalism, Kristi and I are reminded of our experience at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in New York back in 2002. We watched match after match on the old Grandstand Court one day during the first week of the tournament. When an Argentinian player won a crucial point, the flag of Argentina came out and was waved relentlessly by a row of Argentinian fans who chanted in approval. Everyone thought it was cute. So cute in fact, that we all chuckled. A match later, it was a Croatian player's turn to get support from his countrymen. When he made a big shot on a critical point, the Croatian fans, who also brought their nation's flags into the arena, chanted loudly for their player. In fact, they continued to do so after every winning point late in the match. Everyone in our seating section thought the Croatian boys who were chanting were sort of cute too. As we continued to watch the matches throughout the day, we realized that very few people in our section were actually speaking English to one another. It was truly an international event that brought everyone to New York to root for their favorites from their countries. Still later in the day, a match involving an American player was played. At a critical point in this match, the American came up with a brilliant shot and took command. When he did, a half dozen American young men, seated in a single row near the top of the stadium cheered loudly, waved the stars and stripes, and chanted U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!  Immediately there was a remarkably obnoxious groan coming from the majority of fans in our section. Kristi and I looked at each other and wondered what had just happened? Here we were in New York, surrounded by international fans who thought the nationalistic chants throughout the day were "cute"......until the American fans joined in. It was then that the attitude of the international crowd shifted 180 degrees. It seems that the Americans were boorish for doing exactly the same thing as other fans.

This essence of this story is absolutely true and it is a microcosm of the world we live in today. A little good old fashioned nationalism disguised as rooting for your guys and gals in athletic competitions is fine......unless Americans do it. It is the same double standard that most of the international community applies to our relations with them. Trade is supposed to be one way.....we are supposed to yield to their way. Military obligations go one way. We protect and they enjoy the benefits of our protection. Immigration views are one way. Our borders should be open and theirs closed to whoever they say they are closed to.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is pretty simple. Democrats don't even notice this double standard exists. Republicans do notice the one way streets and resent it. Of course I am speaking of Republican voters not elected officials. GOP voters get branded by Democrats and non-Americans as being jingoistic for their awareness of the hypocrisy. And of course, Mr. Obama epitomizes the hypocritical people from most other nations at tennis tournaments. His attitude reflects that of his mentor, Jeremiah Wright. Obama is a horrible self-appointed referee who would love to see America stifled and cheated in every game we play.

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Saying it doesn't make it so

© 2016 Jim Spence - Barack Obama once said that the minimum wage should be enough feed a family of four. Of all the stupid things Obama has said, this is the dumbest. It is as if Obama thinks that the level of SKILLS one has developed is unrelated to basic compensation levels. This is classic Democrat ass-backwards thinking. In their fantasy worlds, Democrats insist that the government should determine the wage levels first, and the skills of the employees are an afterthought for the market to figure out.
Here is a little advice. If all you are qualified for is a zero skill job, you might want to develop some more attractive skills first, and put off the procreating until later, because minimum wage laws won't help you.
What are employers willing to pay young, inexperienced teenagers, with no skills? The answer is so much less than what government's artificial minimum wage, that employers simply won’t hire them. And if they are on the payroll when artificial pricing of wages kick in, many lose their jobs. Regardless of what Democrats wish for, the minimum wage is zero. It will always be zero. Employers live in the real world not a fantasy world.
Democrat-dominated Seattle passed a law that hikes the minimum wage to $15 an hour in steps over the next couple of years. The results were predictable. Too many workers who were not worth what employers had to pay to keep them, began losing their jobs. The law should have been named, “The incentive for self-service kiosks and robot development law.”
Not long after the Seattle wage law was passed, the University of Washington engaged in a lengthy in-depth study on the effects. Predictably, researchers were poised last month to issue a report that found the law actually hurt instead of helped, the wage earners at the bottom of the skill ladder.
Remarkably, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who did not “like” the advance notice of what the scientific findings were, contacted University of California Berkeley professor Michael Reich. Reich, a research findings for hire guy, was willing to come up with "different" findings for Mayor Murray on short notice with no data. Reich agreed to counter the effects of the University of Washington study. Unfortunately for the quashing of science, the emails between Reich and Murray were made public. The response by the Democrats was to attack the real researchers despite the fact they used authentic data and employed academic rigor while Mr. Reich played the role of scammer.
What the likes of Barack Obama and the Seattle mayor rendering young people unemployable actually does, is increase the idle time for young people. This happens during the stage of their lives when young people should be learning to develop solid work habits.
We all know young men and women who don’t have jobs. We know that many of them are up at all hours of the night. What many do not know is millions of young people are addicted to and playing video games instead of developing useful skills. For many hours every day, instead of focusing on academics, millions of young people, mostly young men.....play games. Sadly, the technology/programming associated with video gaming has progressed faster than young people’s job skills. The result of combining artificially high wage laws with the availability of nifty gaming programs is a sociological disaster. We have millions of young people who are unemployable.
Kimberly Young, PsyD, clinical director of the Center for On-Line Addiction and author of Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction -- and a Winning Strategy for Recovery says, "I've had so many parents call me over the last year or two, particularly about the role-playing games online. It's a clinical impulse control disorder." It is becoming obvious that gaming can become an addiction in the same sense as compulsive gambling. It is clearly an epidemic.
Here is the point. With the help of Democrats, who dumbly think they can simply make a law that artificially jacks up the value of unskilled labor, we are screwing up our society. Because many forms of unskilled labor are NOT worth anywhere near minimum wage, young people are economically excluded from entering the workforce. Instead of developing skill they develop entitlement mentalities. And they have plenty of time to get themselves addicted to playing video games. This insures that they will remain non-productive for many years.
Nobody can GIVE a human being real self-esteem. Real self-esteem must be earned though fulfilling potential in the work force. We deny our young people the opportunity to gain all that comes with a understanding work ethic. And as we do so, we all pay for this stupidity. Even those of us who already knew, without a government research project, that "saying" an hour of unskilled labor is worth $15........doesn't make it so. What a travesty.

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"Fake" is everywhere

© 2016 Jim Spence - Independence Day is here. America finds itself in the most bizarre circumstances. There is a collective hatred of Donald Trump in pop culture the likes of which has never been seen. Democrats openly hate him in ways that are almost unimaginable. So many people say such astonishing things.
It does not stop there. The ruling GOP elite, which strangely enough, neither rules, nor is elite, can’t stand Trump either. Elected GOP officials who hang out in Washington won’t lift more than a finger to fix our problems. Perhaps it is for fear that Trump might get credit......or they will get the blame from pop culture. Those of us who pay attention to all of this simply shake our heads every day.
One of my friends used to say that in America we have a rule. “Anything worth doing, is worth over-doing.” And with this American penchant for overreach, comes a conundrum. Not everything is phony these days. But almost everything is phony. Hollywood purportedly abhors violence, but Hollywood sells violence every day in the theaters. Not only does the American entertainment industry sell violence by the bushel, it does so while pretending to be morally superior.
The news media now refuses to be independent reporters of the facts. Instead, while pretending to present facts, the news media actually advocates a wide range of very bad public policies that are proven failures because it is the collective opinion that socialism is good despite all the evidence to the contrary.
The education system has morphed from teaching fundamental truths to brainwashing kids to oppose free market capitalism. Curiously, public education officials wonder why home schooling has proliferated. We have a friend that works at a university nearby where budget cuts have been a way of life the last five years. He told us there were several of his colleagues touring Hawaii on the government dime last week. It seems that the cash strapped university still has departments that empty out the remainder of their reserves near the end of the fiscal year to avoid facing budget cuts. The idea that all the fat has been trimmed from higher education is a sham.
Republicans pretend they understand the insidious nature of government over-reach, but cannot unite and govern around such a basic principle as stopping over-reach. Most Republicans who go to Washington in the House and Senate are presidential wannabe phonies. 
Apollo, the dog formerly known as "Trump"
And then of course there is Donald Trump. Trump was such a crass showman, such a ridiculous exaggeration, that when my little labradoodle puppy arrived with the name “Trump” on his name tag in 2012, we changed his name. We have never been fans of the phony also known as Donald Trump. However, when faced with the idea that Hillary Clinton would occupy the White House and name Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court, we held our nose and voted for Donald Trump.
The point to be made here is pretty simple. Almost everything you see out there these days is phony. Hollywood actors, actresses and producers are mostly fakes. They sell the same things they decry. GOP Senators are a bunch of phonies. They swore the first thing they would do if America elected a GOP president was repeal the ACA (Obamacare). They have done no such thing. Public education is a crass system designed to promote socialism and undermine free market capitalism. Heck, even the Weather Channel tries to con us. The dangers of every storm are promoted for ratings. Their meteorologists promote the idea that we should build our lives around our ability to contain the variability of weather patterns. There is sort of baloney being shoved our way every day.
Late night talk show hosts, who have made fun of every president, refused to lay a finger on Obama for eight years. Now they are back, lampooning Trump every day. Fakes.
Let’s finish up by explaining the Trump phenomenon. Trump is show business. He is just like every other segment of society hoping for influence (Hollywood, the news media, primary and secondary education, the GOP Senate etc.). It is all just show business. Every other influence-seeking segment of society hates Trump because he is show business too. I suppose most of these types think we don’t know they are all fakes too.
Some might wonder how anyone can defend Trump. Actually it is pretty easy. At least Trump has signed a few intelligent executive orders rolling back the idiocy of the Obama years. And at least Trump has proposed a number of very helpful public policy changes.....which are now stuck in the do-nothing GOP Senate. Trump is popular with millions of Americans because millions of Americans are sick of all the phonies out there. It takes a phony to fight a phony system seems to be the idea. Trump seems to be the only one trying to get something done. Those who hate Trump seem to do so because they hate him more than they love America. It’s a tough 4th of July. Watching fake unfold every day is no fun.

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Swickard: They will insure you lose on insurance

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. “Most of the great problems we face are caused by politicians creating solutions to problems they created in the first place.” Walter E. Williams
             Healthcare is the battleground today because one set of politicians today are creating solutions to problems Congress caused in 2009. Shall we fix those problems or create even more problems?
            Caught in the middle are the American public who pays more and get less service. Why? Because the political healthcare plans are financial redistribution plans, not actual healthcare plans intending to provide better service for less money.
            The current healthcare plan in our country known as Obamacare came into being promising to lower costs. But the first action was to hire millions of lawyers, consultants, account managers, technical directors and bureaucrats to run the healthcare system. It suddenly costs more for healthcare.
            Who can possible looked surprised when healthcare cost much more because of it being the feeding bucket for millions of political people who are creating solutions to problems they created in the first place. They will insure you lose on insurance.
            One fact about healthcare not being discussed is that the political pushers of these new plans have and are making out well. When we have dysfunction in our country we should note who is making out well in the chaos. Namely: the politicians of both political parties.
            So, let me ask: why would either political party come to the aid of the country when both sides are doing well themselves with the chaos they are creating? They will not.
            My older brother Bill was born at home. The home in question was twenty miles south of Carrizozo on my Grandfather’s ranch. He was born in the front bedroom with Dr. Klump attending. The bill in 1947 for Bill was forty dollars. It paid for the doctor to attend.
            There was nothing in the bill for any account managers, tax consultants, primary attorney, secondary attorney, the lead consultant on births, the yada yada yada. Just what it cost the doctor to attend the birth.
            What I have is Dental Unsurance. It looks like insurance but doesn’t work. But there is millions of people in the company making money while not doing anything of value for the customers. Why? Because the politicians have set this system up.
            How to make healthcare better? First, stop making it worse for political gain. If you are in a hole and don’t like it first stop digging. That is what America must do. Rather than come up with a more involved system of bookkeeping and rules and regulations, we must step back.
            The media will make every step toward less government sound like the Black Death of 1346. It will not be but the scaremongers will point out that any reduction of government intrusion will kill at least 700 Billion people this week.
            There’s only 7.5 Billion people alive now, should I react to politicians saying 700 Billion people will die if we pull back on government intrusion? Nope.

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Denial is the great enabler

© 2016 Jim Spence - Consider all of the losses at every level of government that have occurred under Nancy Pelosi’s House leadership and Obama’s stay in the White House. The totals are staggering. The net loss is 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts. This includes congressional and state legislative seats, governorships, and the presidency. And with all of these devastating losses came the appointment of Neil Gorsuch instead of a Ruth Bader-Ginsburg clone to the Supreme Court.
When you dive down into the details it is amazing. Democrats have seen their 55 U.S. Senate seats fall to just 46. Their U.S. House seat count has plummeted to just 194.... down from 256.  Democrats have just 16 sitting governors, down from 28.
Ohio Democratic Party House member Tim Ryan said before he failed to depose Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader, “We’re not even a national party at this point. We have some support on the coasts, but we’ve lost the support of middle America, and we’ve got to make some changes. So I’m pulling the fire alarm here, because the house is on fire.”
There are two basic questions that need to be answered by onlookers 1) Why is the Democrat's house on fire? and 2) What are Democrats doing about it?
There is an amazing head scratching "denial" situation unfolding. It is inexplicable until you start to realize there has been an epidemic of denial within the Democratic Party for several decades. At any level of human endeavor, denial is an intellectual cancer. Sadly, the Democrats have had if for quite some time and now it is spreading like stage 4 cancer.
Their house is on fire because they insist that government is the solution to every problem. They have insisted on pretending that big government actually works when it doesn’t in the vast majority of instances. Democrats deny that illegal immigration is a problem and argue for ignoring basic border security. Democrats use the tax laws to punish productive workers and use excessive regulation to punish productive employers. Democrats pretend weather variability is new. Then they pretend they can control weather variability by punishing energy companies and increasing energy costs for consumers. Democrats resist welfare reform insuring that able-bodied adults are not forced to either work or do without. Democrats defend criminals with long arrest and conviction records and throw law enforcement officials under the bus.
Most important of all, Democrats pretend most white people should be treated with suspicion because any opposition to failed Venezuela-style socialism is linked to whites and their persistent racism. 
Once a political party has made pretending a way of life, there are no boundaries on dysfunction. Witness what is happening now in the wake of all these devastating losses that Democrats have taken at the polls. Efforts to unseat Nancy Pelosi continue to fail. It should come as no surprise that Democrats in Washington continue to cling to Pelosi, despite all of the telltale signs that she is suffering from the onset of dementia. Democrats deny what everyone can see in Pelosi's public appearances. Pelosi gets lost in mid-sentence, engages in nonsensical pauses, and then veers off on irrelevant ramblings. She jumps from topic to topic, often unable to articulate on a fundamental level let alone finish her thoughts. You can see the sad unraveling of what is left of Pelosi's mind in many of her recent public appearances, including this one.
Why won’t Democrats gently nudge Pelosi aside, if such a thing can be done in politics? The answer is simple. Once Democrats get comfortable with engaging in habitual denial that their public policies are working, it is very easy for them to watch Pelosi, as she is today.......and be completely comfortable arguing that she hasn’t lost her mind. This is the essence of denial.
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