The Root Cause of Gun Violence

Since the mass shootings in Roseburg, Oregon where a lone gunman singled out Christians and killed them, I have given much thought to the plague of mass murder this nation has and is experiencing.

I waited for the predictable calls for an end to gun ownership. I was not disappointed. There are many in government who fear the guns belonging to the people. While the atrocities committed by gunmen are bad, they pail into insignificance when compared to the atrocities committed by governments against an unarmed populace. Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot killed millions of unarmed civilians. There are many other similar examples.

Armed populations have probably prevented similar atrocities in free nations. In the USA we have some examples. In 1993 a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians were attacked in their compound near Waco, Texas and destroyed. Seventy four people were killed by the FBI when they attacked these people because of unproven charges of child abuse. Who needs assault weapons? Maybe the Branch Davidians did. I don’t know much about their religion, but you don’t attack a any community with tanks and flame throwers and kill all the innocent children there to save those same children from allegations of child abuse.

Guns are not the problem, evil is the problem.

I remember going to school in 1962. I was in the second grade. One morning the teacher stood up and announced that we would not start school with prayer that day. A group that I knew nothing about; The Supreme Court, had said that we had to stop. I remember thinking of something that my Mother had said; “King Nebakanezer of Babylon had made it against the law to pray to any god but his god. Daniel was tossed into the lion’s den because he broke this law.” My Mother then said that because of our constitution that could never happen here.

Now more that 50 years have passed since that ruling. When you make prayer in school illegal, and attempt to prohibit any religion in school and the public square, you also give the impression that there is something wrong with religion. When you also mandate that evolution, with all its flaws, be taught in public school, you also teach that there is no God. If there is no God, then there is no ultimate accountability. It also follows that there is no good and no evil, only nice and mean.

It is self evident that you cannot trust people with self government if they will not govern themselves. Christianity and Judaism teach that there is a God and that we are all ultimately accountable for our actions. Religion also teaches that we have an internal compass known as a conscience. The conscience helps us to know right from wrong. Everyone attending public school used to receive a basic religious education. They were taught right from wrong. This is no longer the case. Theodor Roosevelt once said; “To educate a person in mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” That is what this nation has been doing for over 50 years.

And now we wonder why we have mass killings in school.

Go figure.

Last Night I Shot an Elephant In My Pajamas and Other Dangling Participles

Ah yes, the dreaded dangling participle; the grammatical error that frequently results in hilarity. Now just who was wearing the pajamas? Was it the elephant or the shooter? If it was the elephant, just how did it get into those PJs?

Wearing is the participle and it is dangling because it is not clear if it is modifying the elephant or the shooter (the word “I” in this case). Participles are words that modify other words, usually nouns, and they usually end with –ing or –ed. The easiest way to fix a dangling participle is usually just place it closest to the word you want to modify with it. For example we could rewrite the sentence as follows: While wearing my pajamas last night, I shot an elephant. While this is grammatically correct, it just is not as much fun as the error.

Here are a few other fun Dangling Participles:

The boy was playing with the dog in short pants.

A hunter hid behind a bush waiting for a mountain lion to come along with a bow and arrow.

The guest speaker had dedicated his new book to his dog who was an archaeologist.

We saw several fish swimming on the way to school.

David saw the rock walking to the store.

The ballerina saw a hippo in a tutu.

These dangling participles can be great fun. See how many you can come up with, then correct them.

A few of my favorite education quotes

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
? Mahatma Gandhi

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
? Mark Twain

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
? Oscar Wilde

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
? Brigham Young

Homeschooling Family Sends Six Children to College before age Twelve.

Anyone who has homeschooled for long comes to realize that this lifestyle can be controversial.  People are always questioning your sanity. Sometimes we question our own sanity.  Homeschooling can be tremendously successful and the converse is also true.

A family in Alabama with a dozen children seems to have nailed the formula. They make learning fun. It must be working. They have sent six of their children off to college before age twelve.

Read more here.

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

A psalm of Thanksgiving.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving

Fires of Faith

Here is a great educational opportunity:
BYU TV recently put together a three hour non-denominational documentary on the history behind the King James Bible. There are three one hour installments.
You can watch it here

 

America Must Focus On Creating Wealth

On August 15, 1971 Richard Nixon imposed a 90 day wage price freeze with a simple wave of his hand. It used to be that governments could not create money out of nothing. They had to at least pay for paper and ink and go to the trouble of printing the money. Today it is a simple matter of changing a number in a computer.

What if we had a President who decided that it would be a good thing to just double the money that everyone had and so with the wave of his hand he ordered all financial institutions to double the balance in every checking and savings account? The only thing this would do is turn every dollar into a 50 cent piece.

Money is not wealth. Wealth is created with hard work.

There are wealth producing activities and wealth consuming activities.  Virtually 100% of all wealth is created in the private sector, usually in manufacturing, mining and agriculture.  Government consumes wealth and has a ravenous appetite.  Creating a government job just deprives the private sector of the wealth it requires to create more wealth and transfers it to the government where it is destroyed. To put is simply, this is why you cannot rebuild an economy with government jobs. Any recovery must take place in the private sector.

New Study: First Two Years of College Largely Wasted

USA Today is reporting on a study published in a book titled Academically Adrift.  The study that included twenty nine unnamed universities found that students showed little or no learning for their freshman and sophomore years.  Those who graduated did only slightly better.

With parents shelling out between #30,000 and $35,000 a year to send their little darlings off to an elite private university you would think that the institution could deliver value close to the cost.

As a hopelessly left brained engineer I insist that things make sense.  Let’s assume that the average class size in college was 20 students and the tuition was $5,000 a semester ($10,000 a year).  That would mean that the university would get $200,000 per classroom. It is difficult to calculate exact costs at the university level.  Research Professors only teach one or two classes.  Many classes are taught by graduate students (almost slave labor wages for what they do).

I would love to see a performance audit on some top public universities.  The results would be very revealing. With many professors only teaching one or two classes, they are only in the classroom for three to six hours a week and they are paid for forty hours.  It would be more reasonable if they spent twelve to fifteen hours in the classroom each week.  If they did this, and used graduate students for grading assignments where reasonable, etc. the cost of a university education would tumble quite quickly.

The study indicated that many students don’t even have twenty pages of writing assigned to them in a semester.  That is less than one page a day. More traditional majors, such as math, chemistry, biology, engineering, etc. are producing much better results.  Nontraditional fields of study (women studies, Latino studies, etc.) appear to have about as much academic value as they have in the job market.

It would seem that even our university system is in dire straights at this time.

Conclusion:  Choose your child’s university carefully.

By Paul R. Stone

Balanced Budget Amendment

Thomas Jefferson once stated that if he could make any change to the constitution it would be to deny congress the power to borrow money.  How much better off would we be today if Jefferson had his way?

A balanced budget amendment is not as straight forward as one would think.  We would have lost World War II without the power to borrow money.  Jefferson himself called congress into a special session when Napoleon Bonaparte offered to sell 828,800 square miles to the US for $15,000,000.  This was a good deal and Jefferson wanted to execute the purchase before France could change her mind.

Another thing to keep in mind are the shell games politicians play. When a state goes to the people to get approval for a state lottery or other revenue increasing scheme, they almost always include language stating that all the revenue raised will go to some virtuous cause, like schools or to care for the elderly.  This leads people to believe that the revenue raised will be on top of the revenue the schools (or other virtuous cause) already receives.  In fact this is never the case.  If the lottery raised $100,000,000 dollars for the schools it merely frees up $100,000,000 of education funds to go back to the general fund.  It just becomes more play money for the politicians. Any balanced budget amendment must prevent this.

One thing we do not wish to allow is perpetual debt.  We cannot allow congress to mortgage the future of unborn generations.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment

1. The United States government shall have two budgets; one for national defense and one for everything else. The defense budget and the general budget shall have separate revenue streams. Revenue may be transferred from the general budget to the military budget; however, money shall be be transferred from the defense budget to the general budget.

2. Congress shall have power borrow money for national defense with a simple majority of both the house and the senate and with the signature of the President, upon the following conditions:

  • Congress has declared war.
  • Actually combat is taking place.
  • There is a draft and the children of congressmen are being drafted.

(The war has to be real.)

3. Congress shall have power to borrow money for the purchase of new territory, up to the purchase price of said territory) with a simple majority of both the house and the senate and with the signature of the President.

4. Congress shall have the power to borrow money for any other purpose with a simply majority approval of both the house and the senate, plus two percent for each consecutive year that the United States has carried a debt.

Explanation:

If the US was debt free and congress wished to borrow money they could do so with a 50% plus one vote majority in both the house and the senate. If they wished to borrow more money the next year and they had not paid the debt from the previous year, it would require a 52% majority.  If they had carried a debt for ten years then a 70% majority would be required.  If they carried a debt for twenty five years it would require a 100% majority, plus one vote to borrow more money.  The party is over.  At this point they cannot borrow any more money until all outstanding debts are paid off (unless they chose to purchase Siberia or they needed to finance a war).

Bogus Budget Based on Bona fide Bottom-line Bucks

Back in the early 1990’s, before I even thought of homeschooling, I became appalled with what I saw regarding education funding in my school district.

I live in Federal Way, Washington.  I had always believed in supporting the school.  My father was a teacher as were his four brothers, my grand mother and great grand mother. I know the value of an education.  I had always just automatically voted for any and all requests the schools had for money.

Then I did some digging.

I learned that schools were spending $5,500 per student. (That figure today is $12,500 per student).  That seemed a bit high.  Schools are exempt from property taxes and they enjoy several other benefits that should help keep costs down.

I decided to prepare a budget for a single classroom of 30 kids.  I called this:

“A Bogus Budget Based On Bona fied Bottom-line Bucks”

Let’s see, the schools get $5,500 per student and there are 30 students per class so $5,500 X 30= $165,000. So we have an operating budget of $165,000 for a class of 30 kids.

The building is paid for out of another budget. So are school lunches. So what does this $165,000 cover?

  • Teachers Salaries ($60,000 including payroll costs to the district).
  • Books (Six classes so there must be six books at a cost of $50.00 each for a $600 total per student or $18,000 per year). This of course assumes that they never reuse any books.
  • Utilities (Heat, water, lights, maybe $1,000 a month for ten months).
  • Bus Transportation.  Let’s assume $3.00 per day per student and that half of them will travel by bus.  This comes to $8,100

So far we have successfully spent $96,100 of the $165,000.  Only $68,900 to go.

To make a long story short I could not think of enough ways to spend all the money they had so I went to a school board meeting and asked for their help.  I gave them all a copy of the Bogus Budget and they just sat there staring at it.

Today they have a budget of $375,000 per classroom.  The costs have not changed significantly from what they were in the early 1990’s.  I am still wondering where all the money goes.

Sure, schools need principles, librarians and libraries, counselors, etc.  I still cannot conceive of anything that could result is a true need for $375,000 for a class of 30 kids.  Just imagine how much money could be saved if families were to homeschool.  Per Pupil costs drop from $12,500 to $1200, unless they are using A2 Curriculum in which case it can easily be accomplished for $500 a year.

With our nation facing massive deficits as far as the eye can see, isn’t it time that we stop and examine what we are doing as a nation, and how we are spending our financial resources?