Saturday, April 20, 2013

Foreign Aid by the Federal Governemnt

I get a little irritated when I hear about our federal government giving money to countries that hate us and burn our flag when our debt is approaching seventeen trillion dollars and we have to borrow from foreign countries to cover our extravagant spending. 
How much does the federal government give away in foreign aid?  That is a good question.  After a week of research, I have numbers as low as 13 billion or 1% of federal spending, and as high as 38%.  If we use the low 1% number, a large part goes to fighting aids.
It depends on what is counted as foreign aid and who is doing the counting.  As the saying goes, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”  Do we count loans that will never be paid back?  Do we count military aid or just humanitarian?
We just gave twenty F-16 fighter jets and two hundred Abrams tanks to Egypt as part of their annual aid, which tops $1 billion dollars.  This is to an unstable country with a Muslim Brotherhood President who has called our President a liar, hates Jews and Israel.  I may call our President a liar, but I don’t like countries we are giving a billion dollars a year doing it.  This is at the same time some people in government want to ban responsible citizens from owning gun magazines that hold over ten rounds.  How stupid is this?
Regardless of the number or percentage we use, we do know that a large portion is wasted.  Congress wastes some.  Foreign political elite steals some for their personal gain and it never helps the people it is indented to help. 
We also know that private US charities give generously to foreign humanitarian aid.  This number may be twenty times what the government gives in humanitarian aid.  As I have stated many times, I believe most aid should come from the private sector charities that are much more efficient in most cases than our federal government.
We cannot afford what the federal government is currently giving to foreign governments.  I also question if we are getting good results diplomatically.  I wrote a blog called “Isolationism – Internationalism – Separatism” on 9/18/2012.  I don’t advocate isolationism, but I don’t think we can continue to financially support the world or be the world’s police force. 
This may be academic anyway, because if we don’t reduce the size of government to get our spending and debt under control, many decisions will be made for us.  I hope and pray we wake up before that happens.  God bless America.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Education Changes in the United States

One of my sons was looking at some of his deceased mother’s report cards from high school.  He noticed she had mostly C’s and B’s for grades.  We were talking one day and he commented on how he always thought his Mom was smart and was surprised by the C’s and B’s.
Don’t get me wrong; he knew his Mom was smart.  She had skipped a grade in school and graduated from high school at the age of sixteen.  The dilemma was that by today’s standards, he expected to see all A’s on her report card.
I explained to him that when his Mom and I were in high school, there were no four-point students.  I’m not sure, but I don’t think there were any in my high school.  I remember one student that was a four-point student in engineering at Iowa State University, but was not even close to that in our high school.  Iowa State was one of the best and toughest engineering schools in the country at that time.  
Teachers graded on the curve then.  If someone got an A, someone got an F.  If two people got a B, two people got a D.  Most students were in the middle of the bell curve and got C’s.  I had one teacher from that time period tell me that the criteria for an A was that the student had to be capable of teaching the class without supervision to earn an A.
So why are there so many A students today?  One teacher told me it was just easier to give the grades and keep the parents happy.  The problem is that grades no longer mean anything.  Why do we have the ridiculous idea that we can’t have winners and losers in school?  That’s not real life.
Standardized testing is important because grades have no meaning.  Colleges must look at test scores instead of grades.  Schools and teachers are evaluated on student test scores.  Schools and teachers may even receive bonuses for excellence based on test scores.  I totally agree with rewarding excellent teachers. 
You may have heard about the teachers of a high school in the Atlanta, Georgia area that made changes in students standardized tests to improve the student’s scores and their bonuses.  This scam went up to and included the superintendent.  Some of these educators may actually be facing jail time, and rightly so in my opinion. 
Rewarding individual teachers and schools is good, but hard to evaluate.  I believe this has to be done on a local level and not dictated be the state or federal government.   The federal government gave states money to reward excellent teachers several years ago.  It was left to the states to determine how the money was distributed.  I know some states distributed the money to all teachers based on seniority.  In some cases, this rewarded the tenured teacher, which probably should have been fired, more than the excellent dedicated teacher, which may have even been let go. 
There was a time that the United States had the best education system in the world.  That is no longer the case.  What happened? What changed?
I think it is pretty clear that as the federal government got more and more involved in education, test scores and world ranking have gone down.  Some programs like “No Child Left Behind” have not been successful. 
I know there is federal funding for some good programs, but why send $20 in taxes to the federal government to get $5 back in some educational grant.  This is a joke.  Some past heads of the Department of Education have stated that education in this country would be better off if the Department of education did not exist.  Get rid of it. We must get control of schools back to the local level. 
One of my personal complaints is that schools put too much emphasis on the arts and sports and not enough on emphasis on the 3 R’s.  We defiantly don’t teach civics or accurate American history.  I am ashamed of the misconceptions I had about some of our founding fathers, and I am even more ashamed that our schools are still teaching this creative interpretation of history.
The problem does not stop with K-12 schools.  Our universities perpetuate the same problems.  I find it disgusting that an individual like Bill Ayres, who is a convicted felon for what I would call terrorist activates, can be a tenured professor at a major university.  I know he served his time for his crimes and deserves a life, but to teach our kids and say he did not do enough back then is ridiculous, and he is not the only one.  We should be outraged.  
        We better concentrate on taking back control of our schools and teaching our kids the 3 R’s and what made this country great.  We need Real Change now.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Invincible United States of America

        I have lived my entire life in the great United States of America. As Francis Scott Key wrote, it truly is “The land of the free and the home of the brave”.  We have been blessed in many ways. 
        Living in this great country of luxury and opportunity, I can see how many people can assume we are invincible and can never lose those freedoms and opportunities.  I often talk about how amazed I am at the intelligence and foresight of our founding fathers in forming the great republic, but what were some of their major concerns? 
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” - Thomas Jefferson
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those that are willing to work and give to those who would not.” - Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is probably my favorite President and founding father.  What was he saying?  What was the warning he was trying to give future generations?

“Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.”
- Thomas Jefferson

Our founding fathers were afraid a large and powerful federal government could be a road to creating a political elite ruling class.  This could lead to tyranny.  This fear was the primary reason for the Second Amendment.

What have later generations thought of a large federal government?  Ronald Reagan said, “ Government is not the solution, government IS the problem.”
Even President Obama expressed an opinion on the growth of government as a US Senator.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its bills.  It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.  Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally.  Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’  Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.  America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.  Americans deserve better.” – Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

        If our political leaders are aware of the potential dangers of the growth of the federal government and government debt, why do they continue down this path?  Are they just passing the problem to our children and grandchildren, or are they intentionally trying to create a political elite ruling class and a socialist country. 
I know people don’t like to hear the word socialism, but that is the end result, by any definition, if we don’t reverse the growth of the federal government.  Maybe Nikita Krushchev was right when he said, “America will fall without a shot being fired.  It will fall from within.”

        I understand how someone raised in this great country of freedom and opportunity can think, “It can’t happen here”, but wake up.  It is happening.  We need Real Change now.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

God Country Family

        What made the experimental republic called The United States of America work?  Many of our Founding Fathers believed in God, Country and Family.  This attitude remained strong through WW II.  It seems to be changing since along with the country’s work ethic and morality. 
        Political correctness seems to demand God be silenced in this country.  If we are politically correct we have a holiday season and not Christmas.  The Easter bunny now is just a bunny.  What has happened? 
        This idea of separation of church and state has been distorted to the point of violating our First Amendment rights.  Our founding fathers never wanted to take religion out of government.  They wanted to take government out of religion to insure that expression of religious freedom was never restricted.  We now misinterpret Separation of Church and State to the point of violating our First Amendment rights.  How did we get it so screwed up?
There was a time when people took care of their neighbors and their fellow countrymen.  They did not look to the government for help.  I was raised on a farm.  When there was a fire, or a tornado, or a farmer got sick or hurt so he could not work, neighbors, friends and relatives showed up in droves to take care of his crops and livestock.  They did not look to the government.  How did we get so screwed up?
The traditional family was an essential part of this country’s success.  History clearly shows that the decline of the traditional family has not been good for the country and the government has come in to totally support some of these people.
If we take a critical look at the people of this country, many are not as interested in freedom and equal opportunity as they are in what they can get for free.  People seem to expect a certain life style without having to earn it.  What happened to our work ethic?  How did we get so screwed up?