26 July 2005

Soccer crunch time

Both our boys won their district tournaments last weekend and are on to state. Pix up here, here and here, though can't imagine anyone would care...

Happiness is a warm bed ...

I listened to the Wendy Wild show last night on the way home through a downpour. Her guest was The Factman - a professor at a local university.

They covered several topics mostly dealing with economics - he's not professor of economics, of course, but he's the Factman so it's okay. One of the arguments they made was that the American Dream is essentially over. While it may have been true in the golden days of yore, now the disparity between the super rich elite and the common person is so great that if you're not already rich you may as well resign yourself to a life of serfdom.

Sorry, not buying any of it, thanks.

Obviously, not everyone can be rich. In order for the word rich to have meaning it's opposite must exist. There will always be some people who are more asset-endowed than other people and every attempt to make things otherwise has failed miserably.

They cited a report that Europe has recently passed the US in terms of economic mobility (sorry no link). This was their evidence that poor people can't become rich anymore. I can't address the report other than to quote Twain - "lies, damn lies, and statistics". If you have an agenda it's easy to find numbers to support it. I don't know if that's the case here, but I'm just sayin'...

The US as portrayed in 1950's sitcoms may be only a pleasant memory - to whatever extent it ever existed - but look around. People in the US are doing okay, today. Not just the super rich. And most of them start out at less than zero.

My wife and I are both college grads and we came out of school with a bunch of student loans. At the age of 22 I was an unmarried college grad working as a waiter with a child on the way. When my girlfriend (eventually my wife) and I moved in together we took my bed from my parents house and I think we had a card table and chairs. That was it for furniture. For our first Christmas I bought us a microwave and a television.

Money was tight for a lot of years. There was nothing easy about it. I went back to school (twice!) and worked full time. Our story together started out some 17 years ago and we've had our share of ups and downs, but today we live in a really nice house.

We're not wealthy (yet), but we're successful by most any measure, and frankly, we're happier than anyone else we know. But we're no happier now than we were when we started out with less than nothing. We just kept working and believed that things would eventually be better. And they were.

That's the American dream. You can get pretty much anything you want if you're willing to work and wait for it. It's not easy and it shouldn't be. But the dream is definitely still alive and flourishing. So the rich have gotten richer. So what. The poor have gotten richer, too.

25 July 2005

Churchill, youth, idiot ...

We moved recently and had a lot of stuff to unload. Over the weekend I put some ads up on Craigslist and got a great response. I had heard of the site a few years ago, I guess, but never spent much time looking at it.

As I was clicking around on it last night - in between responding to emails about my big internet/garage sale - I took a look in the Rants and Raves section and there was a post (language warning) from a (presumably) college student who was offended by a group of pro-life activists on campus.

By and large I don't disagree with much of what he had to say regarding abortion. My own nutshell thought on abortion (which was similar to at least one point made by the poster) - is that whether abortion is legal or not it's going to happen. Either it happens in a clinical setting with counseling services or it happens in back alleys with coat hangers. I think the whole late-term abortion issue is something of a straw-man. It's good PR for the anti-abortion folks, but I just don't think it happens very often. My wife is actually an OB nurse and she agrees.

Anyway, my point was that I agree with his view on abortion, but I had issues with his broad generalizations about Republicans as basically evil - " because lets face it, if you’re die-hard pro-life, you’re a fucking republican."

I'm neither pro-life, nor a Republican, although I have voted primarily Republican in the last few elections. I lean more to libertarian than either of the big parties.

Here are his arguments that pro-choice=Democrats>pro-life=Republicans(=devil):
"1) The person is poor. They cannot afford to sustain themselves and a child without adversely affecting the quality of their already shitty lives. The pro-choice left seeks to offer the lower class tax breaks and transfer payments from the upper class. The left increases funding to social welfare programs and public assistance. Republicans burden the poor with taxes while passing tax cuts to the wealthy. Welfare programs are eliminated."
The poor don't pay taxes - at least not income taxes. I think it's the bottom 20% of earners pay $0 in taxes, and of course the highest tax rates are on the wealthy. As a society, I think we need to take care of the less fortunate, but with the provision that being lazy doesn't make you unfortunate. If there's a good reason somebody doesn't have a job then they should get help. And kids should always get help - food, medical care, education. Young mothers, too, as the caregivers of the kids should get some help - food, medical care, daycare, education.
BUT I'm pretty sure the government is not the right organization to handle all of that. There's no reason that kind of thing can't happen in the non-profit sector - churches and other organizations already do a lot of charitable work and more efficiently than the government ever could.
"2) The person is uneducated. They aren’t aware of birth-control options that are at their disposal. They are unskilled laborers and therefore have little to no potential to “make-it.” The left seeks to educate high-school students over birth control, offer birth control to teens, and make plan-B available without a prescription. The left supports education by increasing funding to schools. Republicans tend toward the opposite. Children are, with a degree of futility, taught to “wait until marriage” and are fed mis-information that claims birth control can lead to infertility. Public education programs are cut, creating more working class individuals while manufacturing jobs are exported to exploitable regions of the world. "
I have a son in high school. Last year I handed him a box of condoms and told him that his mom and I would prefer that he wait until he was older before having sex, but that we didn't expect that he would consult with us and we wanted him to be prepared. I don't expect him to wait until marriage. I'd rather he wait a year or two at least, but I know that's not realistic. If some girl wants to have sex with him, I don't see him saying, "No, thanks". I know I wouldn't have.
And as far as education funding - it's a bottomless pit. We've been throwing money at it for a lot of years and it has made no noticeable difference. Education needs help, but there's no easy answer for providing that help. School administration needs to get more efficient so that money that's spent on administration can be spent on classroom teachers.
Outsourcing is a touchy issue, but the reality is we live in a global economy and manufacturing can be done a lot cheaper in other countries than here - at least for some things. It's not about exploitation, it's about cost of living. I don't think the people who are getting the jobs are feeling too exploited. There will always be outliers and so there will always be instances of evil being done, but by and large I don't think that most US corporations are looking to exploit their foreign workers. They're just looking for cost savings.
Many on the left seem to be all for a Global Community, but not so much interested in a Global Economy. I'm not sure you can have the one without the other.
"3) The birth is unsupported by friends and family. Meaning the abortion seeker is afraid of alienating themselves from their friends and family, school and workplace, and their entire community. Leftists offer support centers and their families tend to be much more accepting. Right wing nuts threaten the woman with the wrath of god, disown her, or send her to a hospital where the child and mother are nurtured in a concealed and unfit environment. "
We seem to be talking primarily about younger mothers here - most likely teens. I think there's almost always some stigma attached to teens - especially high school or younger - becoming pregnant, no matter your position on the political spectrum. I think the number of 'right wing nuts' who behave as described is pretty small, but he seems to be applying the label to anyone who's right of left. That's just a silly generalization.