Monday, December 24, 2012

Rejoice! Rejoice!

The grandson was one week old in this photo; the granddaughter is three.

This is what it's all about--the good news of our Savior. And once we know this, we pass it on to our children.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
This second photo is one of the outtakes, but I love it, because "Mother Mary" was rejoicing loud enough to startle "Baby Jesus," but she really meant it. It is something of a follow-up to last year's card photo, where she portrayed the angel bringing glad tidings to the shepherds.

"For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy..."
Already looking forward to what the next year brings. Wishing blessings to come to you all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Savagery

At Spherical Model, the cultural/social sphere has civilization in the northern hemisphere and savagery in the southern hemisphere. What we saw in Connecticut on Friday with 28 deaths, mostly children, was savagery. This is something so far down at the southern pole of the sphere that recognition of it as savage is virtually universal. Any philosophical argument about right and wrong being relative, that one person’s “bad” might seem “good” to someone else, is clearly vacuous when you see such a worst case scenario.

I don’t know how this particular perpetrator became so savage. It is a relief we don’t have to suffer through a post-tragedy trial, but it would have made closure easier if there were some explanation. Yet the simple explanation for unspeakable evil is choosing, time after time, against guidance from God.
The path away from evil is toward God. May we ever follow the path leading us closer to God, and may we lead all children there with us.
God bless the families suffering the loss of a beloved child, family member, or friend.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Indivisibility


The word “secession” has been tossed about a bit since the election, maybe more here in Texas than in some places. It’s not something to toy with, and I don’t intend to do that. But I hope to add some clarity as to why it shouldn’t be casually considered.
There’s a nice little video spelling out whether Texas can secede; it’s worth viewing for some context.
 

 

With that background, I just want to add this analogy. States join the union of the United States with the intention of permanence—indivisibility—the way most people throughout history have entered marriage. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Divorce is not supposed to happen, but it does. Historically, just cause has been reserved for the big A words: adultery, abandonment, addiction, abuse. Irritation, anger, disappointment, disagreement, and other failures are a difficult part of life, but not just cause for breaking a marriage covenant, if the marriage covenant itself is to continue to have meaning for society.
So, by comparison, a state in the union is meant to be a permanent part of the United States. That covenant should not be broken without just cause. Again, irritation, anger, disappointment, disagreement, and other failures are not just cause. However, there is this contract, the Constitution, that is essentially the marriage document between states and the federal government. If the Constitution is violated—and I think this must be in a clear, incontrovertible, unrepentant violation—such that the just cause for separation listed in the Declaration of Independence become true again, then the contract is by the union, and the state has the moral right to separate.
A marriage that expects one party to remain bound when the other feels free to violate repeatedly various parts of the covenant is nothing more than slavery. A Constitution that binds states to a union that violates many or most of the guarantees of freedom agreed to in the contract is nothing more than slavery. No state has made such an agreement. Our Constitution, unlike those of other countries where a constitution is viewed as merely some nice suggested wording about governing, is the supreme law of the land. Honoring the contract protects us all.
While the contract has been violated, and repeatedly, I don’t know that we are beyond all the other stages of correction—the marriage counseling parts. If we, in the various states, stand up against unjust laws, refuse to allow imposition of actions that break the contract—then we might find that the bully government backs down. There might be a renewed respect from the federal government toward the individual sovereign states. Until those steps (what we might call nullification in some cases) are taken, then we don’t know that dissolution is the only recourse.
Could there come a time when, as the Declaration of Independence says, “it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another”? Yes. Some may argue we are there already. I say first, let’s as states stand up for ourselves and refuse to tolerate abuses of the Constitutional contract. Because, in the way divorce damages the family, divisibility would damage the union. And, without a divorce court to settle the division, that would be settled by whoever is the stronger force in war. In other words, if we’re not yet willing to fight to the death for our independence from the union, it’s not time to talk secession.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cliffs, Valleys, and Flash Floods


Every now and then I get annoyed that the opposition to freedom has control over the national vocabulary. So I’m striking back a little bit with my own small force. What I’d like to do away with is “fiscal cliff.” The term implies that, at a certain point (and this time it’s at the end of the year when the Bush tax cuts expire and everybody’s taxes then suddenly rise to previous rates), there will be financial freefall. It’s looking like a game of chicken.
I want to change the metaphor to something closer to what is about to happen.
Back in late 2008 we went off a cliff—we had the sudden drop of a severe recession. What do you expect after a recession fall? That’s right—a bounce back up to where we were. Under normal circumstances, when the economy hits bottom, it heads back up with about the same amount of energy, sometimes climbing higher than previously. Unless, of course, there’s interference “to help.” I wrote about this in “Parabolas” and “The Trampoline Effect.”
Winter Camp Slot, Near Moab, UT
photo from here
Government interference took away the bounce back up. The trampoline metaphor would look like jumping off a cliff onto a bouncy trampoline floor that would just as robustly put us back up where we had been. But the “help” meant someone stopped the bounce from happening, and we found ourselves pretty much stuck down there on the valley floor. Nothing for it but to walk along the cliff wall until we can find a path with enough possible foot and hand holds to allow us to climb back up.
So we’ve been walking along the valley floor, kind of wandering, for four years. Sometimes the floor of the valley has been heading very slightly up, so we’ve tried to follow that direction, moving along this valley as we go.
But now what is about to happen—the sudden across-the-board tax increases—is we get stuck in a tighter canyon; we’re running out of valley floor to walk on, and the cliff we’re inexorably approaching is even more sheer and imposing than the one we dropped down originally. Can it be climbed out? Maybe, with the right  equipment, some skill, and a lot of determination. As Westley said, while climbing the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride, “Look, I don’t mean to be rude, but this is not as easy as it looks. So I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t distract me.”
Private sector business is the climber; the distractors, a combination of Democrats, liberals, media (redundant, I know) are pointing out that they’re waiting to kill the climber when he reaches the top, which “does put a damper on the relationship.”
[We could also see the distractors in this climbing scene between Vizzini and the Fezzik the giant:
Vizzini: You were supposed to be this colossus. You were this great, legendary thing….
Fezzik: Well, I’m carrying three people….
Vizzini: I do not accept excuses. I’m just going to have to find myself a new giant, that’s all.
There are so many ways we can apply The Princes Bride to our world.]
It’s a precarious situation we’re in. What’s even worse is that climbing the economic canyon wall, while necessary and difficult, is made more treacherous by an additional looming danger. We hear distant thunder. That means rain, which, in this terrain, means FLASH FLOOD. If there is enough “rain”—quantitative easing, or printing of money that is not backed by wealth created, as well as debt along with mounting interest, now at higher rates because of our twice-lowered credit rating—then we get hyperinflation. We get washed away down the economic canyon.
Flash floods in this terrain are much more dangerous than in, say, a flatter plain, or more gentle slopes. The tight canyon walls direct the path of the flood and speed it up. Everything in the narrow canyon gets washed away. Occasionally there are survivors [the link is a news story about the 2004 Antelope Canyon flash flood and its one survivor; not about economics, but a fascinating story], but deaths are common. In our analogy, the deaths are business closings and more lost jobs.
Is this for certain going to happen? We don’t know. We just know the conditions to watch for, and we see them. Darkening clouds loom above. Thunder rumbles not too distant. We’re up against the cliff wall, struggling against great odds to get to higher ground.
So, in not-very-cheerful summary: the expiration of Bush tax cuts (which, after a decade simply translate as a sudden tax increase) are a huge sheer wall in the way of recovery. But the real fear isn’t a sudden new drop, or recession; we’re already there on the valley floor, so we’re not about to step off a ledge. What we have to fear is the flash flood of hyperinflation, washing us down, down, down the ravine, with plenty of inevitable drownings.
Congress shouldn’t be overly concerned about the looming cliff wall. Dithering about whether we’re going to walk into the wall isn’t the least bit useful. Better would be to put out warnings: get to higher ground. Now! Save yourselves! Government can’t do anything useful at this point but get out of our way.
In a related mistranslation: tax increase does not equal revenue. I wrote about the Laffer Curve here. This video, from Prager University, is one of the better explanations.
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Family Ties to Economics


We’ve talked here before about the formula for success in America (which I wrote about here and here):
1.         Don’t have sex before age 20.
2.         Don’t have sex until after marriage.
3.         Stay married.
4.         Obtain at least a high school diploma.
I first had this formula spelled out in a speech from Richard Wilkins in 2001, the first time I met him. While going through various tributes following his early death (this is a good one, from Sharon Slater, who worked with him for Family Watch International), I found a link to one of his last speeches (full speech here) Richard Wilkins was the keynote speaker at the June 2012 UN event Standing for the Family: The Family in the Context of Human Rights. The speech is called “The Family as the Cradle of International Human Rights,” and again he asserts that the necessary solution to poverty and other social and economic issues worldwide depends on strengthening marriage and family. As always, it is clearly laid out and well documented.
He points out the founding UN documents that validate the family as the basic unit of society, and then laments the failure to abide by those founding principles.
During the past 65 years there has been great (and laudable) progress in individual rights and freedom, particularly with regard to equality for women. But the family—and the associated civic virtues of hard work, tolerance, patience, kindness, forbearance and forgiveness that are taught to children by wise and loving parents—has been ignored. It is well past time for the international community to acknowledge the fundamental roles played by the family and to take appropriate action to strengthen and support the family.
He spends the body of the piece outlining the specific benefits to men, women, and children—and to society as a whole—provided by marriage and family, well-documented by mounting social research. He then outlines social problems stemming directly from family breakdown. And ends with a call to strengthen family:
Because families are the fundamental unit of society, governments and other social assistance actors should not bypass the unit that can best strengthen society. Fathers and mothers, by and large, love their children. Policies and assistance that permit fathers and mothers to work together to strengthen their families to improve the condition of their children will not only be more successful than other possible approaches, they will strengthen society itself. By building a healthy family, we build a healthy society and—ultimately—a healthy world.
In the shadow of some looming economic catastrophes in our own country, I think we need to make the connection to family breakdown as the root cause and stronger families as the ultimate only solution.
Paul Rahe
Photo from Uncommon Knowledge interview
While I was thinking this, I happened to be doing a little catch-up watching of things I got behind on, and tuned in to Glenn Beck’s November 30th show—last Friday. Glenn wasn’t there that day. BYU History Professor Paul Kerry  hosted, and his  main guest was Professor Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College (I recognized him from Week 3: “The Greek Miracle,” from Hillsdale’s free online History 101 course). Much of the hour talked about the need for a long-term view, and what perpetuates that view. Family is one of those things. Starting at about 21 minutes in, the discussion gets somewhat specific:
Paul Rahe: Let me give you some statistics that I think will shock you and surprise you. In 1940 what was the rate of out-of-wedlock births, in other words the percentage of children born who were not born to people who were already married? The answer is somewhere between 2 and 3%. That was true in 1950,2-3%. It went up to 5%, a shocking number, in 1960. And, among African-Americans, it went considerably higher than that, to about 12%, which caused Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was an assistant secretary of labor, to work on the so-called Moynihan report about the crisis of black families.
Paul Kerry: And a Democrat as well…
Paul Rahe: Yes. By 1980 it was 18.4%. Last year it was 39.6%. Now, think about that. We are approaching a situation in which half of the children born in the United States are born to young women who are not married. This is a very good example of a lack of long-term planning. Because they’re taking on heavy responsibilities that it’s hard enough for two parents to manage, especially with one working full time and the other at home (which was the old pattern) to manage. And they’re doing this without thinking.
Now, it’s even worse than I say. Because, if you go back to 1940, there’s almost no form of contraception available. So, in the absence of contraception, the out-of-wedlock birthrate was 2-3%. With the presence of contraception, it’s 39.6%. And I’ve left abortion out of the picture. In 1940 there are almost no abortions; last year in the United States there were three-quarters of a million abortions. There have been 50 million abortions since 1973.
So the pattern, which is among young people—because 50-year-olds aren’t having this problem, since they’re not giving birth—the problem is a lack of impulse control. The problem is a lack of long-term planning. The problem is that a moral revolution has taken place.
So a question you  might want to ask yourself is, can a republic sustain itself in a world in which people are acting on impulse and irresponsibly—and I say irresponsibly, because there are other human being involved, not only the sexual partner but the offspring—can a republic be sustained in those circumstances? Because the women who have children out of wedlock are in fact going to be dependents on the state. And what they’re going to do is call upon other people to pay their bills, to take care of them. Not the father of the child, but welfare, food stamps, things along those lines.
It was a nice connecting of the dots. Who teaches impulse control and encourages a long-term outlook that helps individuals and communities? Families do that. Who does it in broken homes or single-parent households? No one. Especially if the broken family situation happened because of choosing short-term impulse over long-term perspective. In those cases the burden to teach the values falls on someone who does not hold those values.
The solution to economic problems is not to forcibly take income from successful people and hand it unearned to people whose behavior led to dire circumstances; the solution is to strengthen families, where the formula for success is taught. A backup is for churches and schools to also teach the values traditionally inculcated in families, rather than working against them. The social problems caused by an out-of-wedlock birthrate of 2-3% are much easier for society to solve than the overwhelming 39.6% rate. Too many problems, and too few successful society members to make up for the problems.
We know the formula for success. We know the path to take. Some of us will take that path no matter what. The question is, why isn’t that the direction followed by everyone who ever sought to be a leader? Because a leader moving people in any other direction cannot lead to success.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Each Life that Touches Ours for Good


This is Part II of Remembering Richard Wilkins. Part I is here.
Richard Wilkins, photo from
World Family Policy Center
I first met Richard Wilkins when he came to Houston to speak about defending the family, back in 2001. I took copious notes, which I still have. After the event, I got to enjoy a conversation with his wife, Melany, talking about music and a whole lot of other things. Very fun. He was busy talking with a long line of people, so my conversation with him later was brief.
In 2003, the year the Texas legislature voted on its DOMA legislation, I found much of Richard Wilkins’  information useful when I testified before the House Committee, on a day when 700+ supporters attended and many testified. DOMA passed, but a month later the Supreme Court essentially wiped out the people’s will with the Lawrence v. Texas case (states are not allowed to make laws against sodomy was the specific ruling, but the vague language led to many future attacks on marriage).
In summer 2003 I suggested Richard and Melany as speakers at a homeschool conference, as the keynote speaker to which we invited the public—again to talk about defending the family. We got several hours of information from them, and were able to spend more time together. (They even attended a workshop I taught on literary analysis, which Melany later told me they were using with their youngest son, whom they were homeschooling at the time.) Sometime after the keynote speech I talked with Richard about what to do, now that we had this information. My skill is in gathering information and being able to write it in a way that people can understand, but I had no connections or credentials to get anything published. He said it was good to have the viewpoint of a mother, and that I shouldn’t let that stop me.
Within a couple of months I had written a piece, using much of the information he gave me, and we exchanged emails during an editing process so I could get the references for all the data I included. The piece got published because of his recommendation. In fact, every piece I wrote over the next couple of years, in the defense of marriage, was published because of his recommendation—with the exception of the Houston Chronicle piece shortly before the 2005 Texas Constitutional Amendment to define marriage. But even that was published because he gave me the credential of a voluntary position as writer for Defend Marriage. 
This past spring I re-published some of those pieces on this blog, with links to their original publications:
·         In Defense of Marriage 
·         Defining Marriage and Making Cream Sauce (I co-authored with Richard Wilkins)
·         The Gay Marriage Fantasy
·         Why Texas Will Vote to Protect Marriage—No Matter What You Call Us

Richard was the one to introduce me to historical scientists of marriage: Vico and Unwin. Information about them is included in several of my published pieces, also at Spherical Model. I’m not sure where he learned of them, but they are now oft-quoted. We both needed to see some original information, so he asked me if I could get hold of Unwin’s research. I did an interlibrary loan and was able to obtain a copy of the near-century-old study and send it to Richard. I wrote a three-part blog post on what we learn from Vico and Unwin, starting with “Devaluing Marriage and Family = Decay of Civilization”    
In addition to specific protection of traditional marriage, Richard opened my eyes to the demographic changes leading to lower and lower birthrates worldwide. I wrote about Demographic Winter in June 2011; the diagrams in this post were first shown to me by Richard Wilkins, which I recorded in my notes.
If there is any single source of information that has affected what I write at in defense of marriage, and in fact the entire “Family Is the Basic Unit of Civilization” section of Spherical Model, that source has been Richard Wilkins. That will continue to be so, because he has shown me where to go for continued information. Defending marriage was something he did as a personal calling, as a service to God. There were so many ways he could have been making money instead. He joked about it being “our expensive hobby of saving the world.”
Richard and Melany had a home near Brigham Young University, where we started taking college kids in 2005 (and our daughter still attends there). Plus, I am from Utah and still have family there, so we started visiting them when we were in town. I always felt honored if they could find time to see us. They are gracious hosts (and good cooks), beyond anything our friendship could offer them. Conversations were always lively and valuable. And they included our children, as well as us adults, as having opinions totally worth listening to.
Richard preparing for role of Scrooge,
photo from Salt Lake Tribune
We only spent a relatively minimal time talking shop; there was so much else the Wilkins’ were interested in. I learned along the way that Richard is very musical. He had taken piano lessons from a teacher who lived just two blocks from my childhood home (the teacher had a couple of kids my age that I knew through school and church--it's a small world). Melany is also musical, which I knew from our first conversation, and I found out her field was theater.
Eventually we learned of their participation in the annual Hale Community Theater production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Richard started playing the central role of Ebenezer Scrooge back in 1985, when he was in his early 30s, way too young to look the part without a lot of theater makeup. We left Utah in 1984, and never got the chance to see him perform. He managed to keep performing even during the years in Qatar; he had a month’s leave every winter. The cast began rehearsals without him, and he would arrive ready to go just days before performances began. The local news stories following his death centered on his relative fame for this role, with the worldwide protection of marriage only in the background. But the performances were about to start for the season. The stories talked about how he relished the role of Scrooge (among other theater roles he performed over the years).
He had a voice that worked well for theater, but also for speaking. This last month there was some discussion about the Daniel Day Lewis performance of Lincoln, with a higher, more piercing rather than basso voice of earlier portrayals. The description reminded me of Richard. When he gave a speech, his voice shifted in pitch, toward tenor from baritone, and carried easily through a big room. In normal speech, he was still animated and lively. And he had a marvelous booming laugh—such that it was almost startling in a small room. At the last dinner we had with him in May (myself, my daughter and her fiancé-now-husband), Richard told us a memorably funny story, with full animation and laugh, and we have repeated it to each other several times since. What a delight!
There’s that image of Scrooge, when he wakes up Christmas morning and becomes aware he hasn’t missed it—and he has more time to live differently and happily. That happy, joyous Scrooge is how I picture Richard: “And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge,” “as good a friend…as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”
It is a blessing to find such a friend, who served so well. I recalled a quote this week, from another man who lived such an exemplary life. The Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted yet another prophet, Spencer W. Kimball: “President Spencer W. Kimball, who was such a great example of this principle, once said to me, ‘I feel that my life is like my shoes—to be worn out in service to others.’”  Richard was such a man—worn out in service. He was so energetic, so effective, he accomplished whatever the Lord asked of him, and, at only 59, he did it in fewer years than we would have preferred. We will miss him. But we feel privileged to have known him, and look forward to a next-life day when we can joyfully get together again.
_____________________________
* The title "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good" is hymn 293 from Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Remembering Richard Wilkins


I’ve been traveling since a couple of days before Thanksgiving, with only sporadic computer access and writing time. I don’t usually check email on my phone, but Wednesday morning I sort of accidentally did that and was shocked to find an email letting me know of the death of a friend and fellow warrior.
Where to start? Back in 1996 Richard Wilkins was a professor of Constitutional Law at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School (one of the first graduates of the school to come back to teach). He often worked on law cases concerning how international law affects our Constitution and warned about the trend toward allowing international law to trump our sovereignty. I’m not sure of the exact reasons, but he felt the need that year to travel to a UN conference in Istanbul. He was concerned about what he was hearing there and took the opportunity to speak.
He told me that he spoke about the Proclamation on theFamily, issued shortly before that by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which he was a devout member (as I am). At the time it came out, the issues in the Proclamation were such standard doctrine to us that he said he wondered at the reasoning. Since that time, he says he sees it as prophetic; every line in it is challenged in the world today. But in 1996 he happened to take a brochure of the Proclamation with him and had it in his pocket. When he shared those ideas, the opponents to the family (the previous speakers) hissed their disapproval, but the room at large gave him a standing ovation. They came up to him afterward to thank him for speaking what so many of them believed, and they formed long-standing alliances to work toward protecting the natural family from the international onslaught.
Richard formed the World Family Policy Forum, an annual workshop of international interest in protecting the family, which continued for a number of years in various places around the world. (I believe he worked in association with Alan Carlson of the World Family Policy Institute.) He also founded Defend Marriage, which became a project of United Families International. Around 2006 he took a sabbatical from the law school to found the Doha Family Policy Institute. This was to be a three-year project, but as it neared an end, he decided to retire from teaching and stay on in Qatar indefinitely.
I expected that to continue until he was ready to retire, but last spring he suddenly announced that his position had been Qatarized, and he would be returning home. I didn’t know what that meant until I asked him in person in April. The Doha Institute was a project of the Sheika (essentially the first lady) of Qatar, and she chose to convert his position to an appointment to a Qatari citizen. It happens. He was disappointed but not terribly surprised. But he was not hopeful that the Institute could do as much worldwide good without experienced guidance. One of the things he was able to accomplish was setting plans in place for the 2014 Year of the Family celebration. I understand they will honor him there with a moment of silence.
Looking at it now, I think it was a blessing that he got to return home for a relatively relaxing half year surrounded by family. No one could have predicted there was so little time left. The morning after Thanksgiving he suffered a sudden massive heart failure. Extraordinary efforts were spent for three days, trying to revive him, but he finally passed Monday evening, November 26, with family around.
For friends reading this in Utah, funeral services will be held at 11:00am this Saturday, December 1st, at the LDS Chapel at 2445 North 650 East, Provo, UT 84604. There will be a viewing at the same location this Friday evening from 5:00 PM-8:00 PM and this Saturday morning from 9:00 AM-10:30 AM. I’m sorry not to be able to give more notice; travel this week has prevented me from posting regularly, and will also prevent me from attending the services.
I pray for blessings of comfort to his dear wife, Melany, and their children, all of whom I have met and have heard about with each visit and Christmas letter. Not only was Richard a champion of the idea of family as the basic unit of society, it was the central personal joy of his life.
I’ll continue this post with a Part II about how I knew him and how he profoundly affected my writing.
For additional stories about his passing, I suggest here, here, and here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Liberal Twinkie Dilemma

Let me start with the childhood memory of a favorite lunchbox treat. My mom used to put Twinkies in the freezer, and then they would not only help keep the sandwich cool (before icepacks were invented for lunchboxes, as far as I know), but would thaw enough for eating just about by lunchtime. But they didn’t always totally thaw, so my preferred way—the real right way—of eating a Twinkie was to eat the outer pound cake first, and then the semi-solid creamy filling last. (I also ate Oreos the authentic way, by eating the outer cookie first and saving the creamy inside for last.) Good times.

But suddenly this long-time lunchbox standard is about to become a fading memory only. Hostess, the maker of Twinkies (and Ding-Dongs and Hostess Cupcakes, and other high preservative bakery treats) has gone under—the victim of a combination poor economy overall for too many years and outrageous demands for employees by their labor unions. The labor demands could not be met; the unions refused a reasonable pay cut to protect jobs. So the result is the total loss of 18,500 jobs. Another example of labor unions doing what’s best for employees (seriously, they would describe it that way).
Dipped Twinkies and Ding Dongs
in a chocolate shop on Cannery Row;
We asked how long they could provide these, and they
said only until the ones they have on hand are gone
So the question comes up—and I’m not making this up—about whether the federal government should step in and “bail out” the troubled bakery company. After all, isn’t Hostess too big to fail? Isn’t the public’s need for Twinkies, from the only provider, greater than any principles of economics? And, most important, shouldn’t the government back up union workers whenever it must?
This must be the liberal position, right?
Except that, pretty much simultaneously the First Lady is crusading for the federal government to gain greater control over school lunches. Not only should sweet bakery treats with creamy fillings be banned from school lunch menus and campus vending machines, in some areas school officials monitor foods sent from home. A cupcake (or, Fed forbid, a Twinkie) instead of an apple might be a big no-no, and could be confiscated, with a disciplinary note sent home to the bad parent.
So, in liberal world, there should be cheers for the demise of an evil corporation offering foods that could lead to childhood obesity. But…the way liberal world is supposed to happen is, because of the federal government’s positive influence on our food choices, the public would then pressure the company to discontinue the evil food production and turn toward making delectable veggie burgers, if they plan to continue their existence at all—which they are pretty much required to do, because their purpose is to provide employment, right?
Twinkie memorial found on Facebook
But that isn’t what’s happening. Demand for fattening bakery snacks at low prices is still fairly high—at least judging by the series of memorials I’ve seen on Facebook. Plus, the loss of those union jobs is bad optics in a campaign (oh, wait, the campaign is over—except that among liberals, the campaign is never over).
What is a liberal to do?
May we humbly suggest the full big government assault on all fronts: insisting on federal government bailout and production of a product simply to preserve union jobs—while simultaneously outlawing the product in school or in places where anyone under 18 is allowed to make purchases, while making sure the media tells this story in some relatively surreal way. Yes, that would do it.
Because the free market alternative is totally unacceptable: high demand for this particular product could lead some new enterprise to buy up the company’s assets and begin producing the product elsewhere—maybe even with the same name and packaging—but without the restraints of overpriced union labor. And the product might become even more available as a result. And this is why many of us prefer living in free market world instead of liberal-controlled world.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks in All Things

We’re traveling this week. Thanksgiving we’re spending at our son Economic Sphere’s little base housing duplex in Monterey. It is the first time we’ve seen him since we dropped him off at the swearing in ceremony last February, when he joined the Army. So this is very good. His wife is taking on the whole Thanksgiving feast cooking performance, including soaking the turkey in brine all night (I have never been so adventurous in cooking a turkey).

We spent a day with old friends before we arrived, friends who lived in Houston a decade ago before moving to northern California. We used to live in this part of the world; Economic Sphere was born just up the road a couple of hours’ drive, during that era of our lives. It was surprising to drive through some of the same places, still looking the same. From the roads, California doesn’t look on the verge of economic collapse, and it’s hard to picture imminent disaster. As for our kids, I’m glad they’re here when they don’t have to pay in-state taxes (military are assigned to their home location instead of the state they’re stationed in). And housing, which can be outrageously priced here, is taken care of for them right now. And they don’t have kids in schools that I could not trust to appropriately educate any grandchild of mine. (Although, I would like to hint that, now that they are somewhat settled, I would love to learn of a grandchild coming to this little family, before they’re stationed overseas somewhere beyond my reach. Am I allowed to bring up such suggestions?)
I’m thankful we can still travel. I’m thankful for our beautiful family and friends. I’m thankful I can still get internet access. I’m thankful for a few days off. I’m thankful that turkey and sweet potatoes are not on the extensive list of foods I’m allergic to. (No pumpkin pie this year, alas. Nor apple pie.)
I’m thankful we have this special day where we pause with our family and friends and together celebrate saying thanks to God, the giver of all the good.
I wish the same for the same sense of gratefulness for all of you. It makes for a better life.

This is an aside, but I'm also thankful for good humor. One of my favorite Thanksgiing moments is this old episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. I hope you enjoy.
 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Non-Riot Revolution

This has been a several part series on the election and what it means. First I posted my report as a poll watcher on Election Day, which contrasted with overall reports. Then I collected a list of evidences of voter fraud. So now we can get to the question: Given massive voter fraud and an illegitimate presidency, what do freedom-loving conservatives do in response?

There will be a number of legitimate efforts to pursue legal prosecution of fraud, as there should be. This effort, such as is carried out by True the Vote (who trained me and thousands of other poll watchers), is quixotic—dreaming the impossible dream of having free and fair elections. I think that needs to continue. We do not consent to Venezuela-style elections, where the outcome is decided by the dictator and any “election” is just a token gesture to mollify critics around the world. That is what we experienced this time, but it is not what we have consented to. As with all rulers not chosen freely by the people, the tyrant is an illegitimate ruler; the people have not consented. Rather they are enslaved. Hayek’s title The Road to Serfdom makes more literal sense now.
I expect others will pursue the impossible recourse of “proving” the illegitimacy of the election before the electoral college vote, and using the electoral college as an opportunity to overturn the fraudulent results. This is also quixotic, but even less sensible. Imagine if the other side saw the electoral college as merely a way to manipulate an outcome that they didn’t approve of. I wouldn’t mind seeing this play out in fiction or a movie, but I see it as not realistic in response to this election.
Unlike the anti-freedom, anti-civilization radicals, we who love and honor freedom and civilization will not riot in the streets, essentially throwing a tantrum that we can’t have our way.
What we will do—no magic formula, no perfect easy resolution—is to live individual lives following the rules of civilization, and where we can, rules of freedom. We will not lie, cheat, and steal like our enemies. We will value innocent life. We will value and preserve the family as the basic unit of civilization. And we will honor God as the provider of our inalienable rights and obey the laws He has given us to preserve them.
Most of the people in the history of the world have lived under tyranny. While I believe God has had a special purpose in allowing freedom to flourish in America these past couple centuries, His larger purpose is to turn His children (all of us) to Him. Hardship more often turns broken hearts to God than thankfulness for abundance turns hearts to Him. Unfortunately.
Good people show up everywhere. While following the rules of freedom, free-enterprise, and civilization lead a people to thrive, living these laws individually will not guarantee success amidst an oppressive regime. But they can lead to individual happiness despite the oppression.
Photo of honeybees from Hinode Farms
There are those who are reframing the political game for the next election. I will let them. I am not particularly interested. Until enough hearts change in this country that a critical mass of people actually choose freedom and civilization, winning the political game from time to time will not solve the underlying cancer. Not that we should abandon all efforts in the political world, but let’s be realistic about the limits of politics.
My suggestions may not seem like enough. But there’s a story about honeybees, where each individual bee gathers practically microscopic amounts of pollen from hundreds of individual flowers, making maybe a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey per bee. Not much by itself, but added together with the hard work of others, the result is abundance of sweetness. So, while my individual efforts, and yours, may not seem to be enough under the circumstances, if we do our part anyway, let’s trust that God can make something of our efforts.
In short, here’s what I suggest:
·       Keep doing your part as a good citizen. Vote intelligently for the best candidates you can find.
·       Keep voicing your opinions, and find more and better ways to express the philosophy of freedom and civilization to those who do not yet understand. (This is my purpose at Spherical Model.)
·      Stand up against tyranny where the laws have not yet been ruled against us. Encourage state and local leaders to respond to your desire for freedom.
·      Avoid mollifying and appeasement while also avoiding contention. Living better lives than those who don’t know how to follow God’s law is a better convincer than sharp words.
·      Defend family, and defend religious freedoms—we haven’t lost yet. And whatever the culture around us does, we must nevertheless resist the acceptance of evil.
·      Find others to connect with, and strengthen one another.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Not Fair and Square

There was voter fraud this election. No question about that. And it appears to be massive. Enough to change the outcome of the election? I don’t know, but probably. As an obscure blogger it’s probably safe for me to go out on a limb and say, “Yes, I believe the election was stolen and the president wields power illegitimately.” With that knowledge/belief, what should happen now? We'll get to that question eventually.

First, let’s catalog a bit of the evidence (at this point reported and under investigation but not publicly verified), to establish reasons for this personal belief. That will fill the post for today (it could fill up several, but I’m just touching the surface). Then we’ll take on the “remedy.”
As I said, the catalog of fraud is more than I can easily cover here and still talk about the overall issue. But here are a few lists:
This piece from RedState is from a month before the election, outlining the likely tactics based on holes in the system and current and past practices. Turned out this was prescient. The list includes:
·        The SOS Project (Secretaries of State were put in place, by election or appointment, with George Soros approval, because they are ultimately the vote counters).
·        SEIU shenanigans (ACORN and Project Vote are additional names; there are many).
·        11 million illegal immigrants.
·        Fake ID industry, and inability of acting on information of info mismatches.
·        Voter Registration system flaws.
·        Union GOTV strategies.
·        Early Voting.
This collection, ObamaVoterFraud blog, was put together in the few days following the election. With links for each included in the piece, here are just a few of the many claims:
·        10 counties in Colorado report from 104% to 140%  voter turnout.
·        Philadelphia polling stations that kicked out legal poll observers had 90% voter turnout and 99% of vote going to Obama. (Overall turnout in Philadelphia was a realistic 60%.)
·        70,000 reports of observed fraud turned in by end of Election Day.
·        Voter fraud reported in Wisconsin.
·        Obama won dozens of Cleveland districts with 100% of the vote.
·        Ohio residents show up at polls only to be told they already voted (someone illegally voted in their name).
·        Boston reports 129% voter turnout.
·        Nevada unions are registering illegals and forcing them to vote.
This piece from World Net Daily lists several additional evidences (20% of Ohio registered voters are ineligible, for example) and concentrates on illegal foreign donations as something to follow up on. But the author, Joseph Farah, a former liberal radical himself, reveals some of the philosophy that leads our enemy in power to justify their cheating, which I think is germane:
If anyone has a balanced approach to the realities of political life in America, it’s me. I’ve looked at life from both sides. I know the arguments of the other side and can still spout them before most of today’s practitioners of so-called “progressive” thought can.
I also know that the reigning ethos of this movement represented so ably today by Obama is this: “By any means necessary …” It was first articulated by Jean Paul Sartre in his play, “Dirty Hands.” But it became popularized as a slogan of the revolutionary left by Malcolm X.
What it means, in short, is that the ends justify the means. It means violence is fine in achieving a worthwhile objective. It means lying, stealing, cheating and all those other bourgeoisie “sins” are appropriate means of furthering the cause.
Is there any doubt in your mind today that this is now the reigning ethos of the Democratic Party and its various tentacles and allies?
There is no doubt in my mind.
And that’s why stealing the vote is not only an acceptable practice by these people, it is a moral imperative in their twisted worldview.
This collection tries to summarize, as of a week after Election Day, the litany of evidences. Additional reports I didn’t list above include:
·        Voting machines in several states reported “flipping” ballots to Obama during early voting. While much of this was probably user error, there was video evidence of the repeated problem in Pennsylvania, and machines did indeed “flip” to a default Obama vote.
·        In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 50 precincts showed Romney receiving 2 votes or less, and in 100 precincts, Obama received 99 or more votes for every Romney vote.
·        In Broward County, Florida, Obama received 99% of the vote in many precincts.
·        Wood County, Ohio, has a voting age population of 98, 213 (not all necessarily eligible to register as voters), but on Election Day they somehow had 106, 258 registered voters.
·        In Wisconsin there were reports of people being bussed in from Chicago to vote. The link for this unbelievable (anecdotal Facebook) story is here, and here’s an excerpt:
The Democrats stationed a self described “BIG Chicago pro bono attorney” as one of their two observers at this small polling place. He remained at the polling place from 7:00 a.m. until well after 8:p.m. …..A high priced CHICAGO attorney, sitting in a Sheboygan WISCONSIN polling place, observing wards comprised of 1500 voters? …. WHY???
Why would someone from Chicago be observing in Sheboygan Wisconsin? And WHY at such a small polling place? Finally, isn’t it interesting that this would occur at the VERY polling place in which all of the above described events ALSO occurred? AGAIN WHY WOULD A CHICAGO ATTORNEY BE OBSERVING AN ELECTION POLLING PLACE WITH FEWER THAN 1500 VOTERS IN IT, IN SHEBOYGAN WISCONSIN? Of all the places where there has been suspected voting irregularities, and OUTRIGHT FRAUD throughout the ENTIRE United States, WHY HERE? WHY SHEBOYGAN? WHY THIS SMALL WARD?
This lawyer spent the day running in and out making, and taking calls, which coincidentally then coincided with influxes of groups of individuals by the van and bus loads, coming in to register, AND VOTE, using what appeared to be copied Allient energy bills. These individuals often did not have photo I.D.’s, could not remember their own addresses without looking at the paper, and became easily tripped, confused and annoyed when questioned.
Many of these same individuals, just so happened to be dressed in/wearing CHICAGO BEARS apparel, and whom openly discussed “catching busses back to Chicago” with each other, with poll workers, via their cell phones in the lobby area just outside the polling place, as well as in the parking lot, both before and AFTER registering and voting.
One woman was dressed head to toe in CHICAGO BEARS apparel including perfectly manicured BEARS fake fingernails!
She complained because registering was taking too long and she had to hurry up to catch her bus back to Chicago.
We have photos of these people in vehicles with plates from different states, photos of them leaving the polls, and other irregularities.
Let’s not forget about the military (as the federal government apparently did), with military absentee ballots reportedly down by70%:
The conservative-leaning military vote has decreased drastically since 2010 due to the so-called Military Voter Protection Act that was enacted into law the year before. It has made it so difficult for overseas military personnel to obtain absentee ballots that in Virginia and Ohio there has been a 70% decrease in requests for ballots since 2008. In Virginia, almost 30,000 fewer overseas military voters requested ballots than in 2008. In Ohio, more than 20,000 fewer overseas military voters requested ballots. This is significant considering Obama won in both states by a little over 100,000 votes.
If you follow some of the links within the above lists, you’ll find Project Veritas videos—James O’Keefe, who seems to never fail, even though they should see him coming by now. Also, I left out reports of 140% voter turnout in Florida, as reported early on. It turns out Florida is yet again incapable of voting and counting votes as humanly expected. They had a two-page ballot; instead of reporting how many ballots were reported, they reported how many pages, in other words two pages per vote. When the 140% was cut in half, the turnout was a more believable (but still high) 70%.
Remember 2000, when Democrats claimed Al Gore had been robbed of the presidency—because attempts to cheat in Florida failed to put him over the top in every count, so they just kept counting and changing the count—recounting only counties that had already gone heavily in his favor but had not guaranteed his win as expected? Remember the outrage of the left? Just imagine (actually you can’t imagine, because it doesn’t happen) if conservatives were guilty of so many evidences of fraud? The opposition would simply take to the streets and refuse to accept the legitimacy of the presidency. In fact, even when Bush clearly won, they spent eight years claiming he was a usurper (actually not using that word; they don’t have the vocabulary).
Conservatives are genuinely upset. But I see no riots forthcoming, nor would I favor such a response. Next post the question is, Given massive voter fraud and an illegitimate presidency, what do freedom-loving conservatives do in response?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Standing Guard

The past few elections I have reported my adventures (here and here) as a poll watcher. I’ve waited a week to gather some information about election integrity as a whole, so I can see my experience in the larger picture. I had the opportunity Monday evening to run into my fellow poll watcher and the Alternate Judge, to verify some of their experiences as well.

I volunteer as a back-up poll worker. I show up at headquarters (in this case True the Vote headquarters at the King Street Patriots location in Houston) as soon as I can get there, which with traffic was a little after 1:00 PM.
While I have been trained and qualified several times as a poll watcher, and was signed up online for training, for some reason the system had not accepted my login. Various other trainings, like researching voter databases, were available (some of which I had gone through at home), but the actual Poll Watcher Training wasn’t there for me, and so I couldn’t certify by taking the test online. I had given TTV a heads up by email, and I had prepared at home by reviewing my training from last year.
At headquarters we were still unable to get me online to take the qualifying test, at least in a short timeframe. When we got impatient waiting for a new password to be sent to my email, that I could receive on my phone, we finally decided to have me do the test on paper. (Isn’t low-tech great!) I got 100%, which means my training from past years was pretty thorough. They also provided me with a printed version of the training book for my state, which I should have had access to online, and I was able to take that with me. I also got supplied with other poll watcher helps in a packet.
They were ready to send me into the field as soon as I got credentialed. So we signed the paperwork. I was actually sent out as a poll watcher representing one of the candidates for judge. In Texas each party is allowed two poll watchers per polling location, each candidate is allowed two poll watchers, and any organization involved in an issue on the ballot would be allowed two poll watchers. So it could get crowded if volunteer poll watchers were more ubiquitous. But the goal has been to make sure each polling location was watched, preferably with more than one poll watcher.
Our polls are set up with a Presiding Judge, who runs the polling place; this person is from the party that won the majority in that precinct in the last election (I don’t know whether that means it could change theoretically every two years, or only every four years). Then there is an Alternate Judge from the opposite party. There are usually several clerks; we had four. Law requires the PJ to choose at least one clerk from the opposing party (if a list of such persons is made available), but ours were all Democrats. These are all paid positions—low pay, but they receive something a little above minimum wage for their hours, I believe. The county registrar’s office is the source of the pay, I believe.
Poll watchers are unpaid. Our job is simply to observe the process and report any incidents or irregularities—or to verify the accuracy of the process. Anyone trying to carry out a free and fair election has no need to fear from well-trained poll watchers. We help the process, and our presence tends to make things go more smoothly. Poll watchers do not interact with voters, do not interfere with voters, do not observe how a person votes, other than to watch the process when a voter is being aided by a poll worker, to verify that no influence is taking place.
I was sent to an area in southeast Houston, an ethnically black area, with some Hispanics, and not many whites. The PJ and all of the clerks were black; none spoke Spanish. The AJ and poll watchers were pretty obvious because of our racial difference.
There was only one poll watcher, Patsy, from the beginning of the day. She was there for the setup, with her credentials, well trained. The PJ through a screaming, harassing fit about her being there and hindered her in every way but throwing her out. (I have been sent to replace poll watchers who have been thrown out, so this is milder.) There were numerous irregularities and illegalities before I was sent. I don’t know what those were, except that the PJ insisted on allowing the vote of someone who had been sent a ballot-by-mail and did not bring that with them. Legally, such a person must turn in the paper ballot to make sure it is not counted, if they want to vote in person after all. Otherwise, it would be easy for a person to vote by mail and also vote in person, which would be illegal.
The Alternate Judge, Brenda, handled all eligibility calls to the county, all day, which probably saved us. The PJ said, at one point, “We don’t stand on such formalities here.” Her clerks, though, did seem to me to be doing their best just to do their jobs. We had a number of provisional ballots (not counted votes, but to be reviewed later for eligibility), but not an unusual number.
I was treated respectfully by the PJ and others. Maybe it was having a second poll watcher there that made her take things seriously; maybe she had been contacted by the County about complaints received about her and was told to straighten up. I don’t know; I only know that things were not nearly as bad after I got there as Patsy had suffered early in the day. I took only one 10-minute break, for food, just before 6:00, and during my break a third poll watcher, Linda, joined us through the closing of the polls and counting; it was her first time.
I handled one special case during the day, right after I came back around 6:00. A woman came in with her father, who could neither read nor speak English. No Spanish-speaking poll worker was available, so the woman was sworn in as a poll worker to help her father vote. This is according to protocol and not particularly unusual. The PJ asked that someone who spoke Spanish observe. I was going to do that anyway, but it’s funny that the PJ actually wanted me to closely observe. For the most part, I don’t think the woman was trying to influence the vote, but she did illegally handle the machine. I tried nudging her at the beginning, but didn’t get her attention, so I continued observing. Our e-slate machines have a wheel to move from frame to frame, and then an enter button, and a final “cast ballot” button. She handled the wheel the entire time, and then had the voeter press the appropriate buttons. There were several propositions on the City of Houston ballot, and for a couple of those she simply read the title and said, “You wanted to vote for that, didn’t you?” which, again, isn’t strictly legal. But based on how the rest of the ballot had gone, it appeared to me she was verifying their previous conversations and not telling him how to vote.
When the ballot was cast, I pulled her aside and explained to her about not touching the machine, if she did this in the future, and she seemed to appreciate being told. There was no animosity. I did write up the incident report, but included that I did not think she was trying to act illegally but was simply not well-enough trained. Maybe I should have interfered more forcefully, but it seemed pointless. A man between 50-60 who can’t read (any language) or speak English, but is a certified voter and therefore a citizen—it does not surprise me how such a person votes.
At the end of the day, the official count of signed names was 20 lower than the official count of legal ballots cast on the machines. That is supposed to reconcile; it didn’t. The PJ seemed not at all concerned with the discrepancy. The likely explanation is that someone failed to write the names of voters 20 times during the day. That’s a lot, actually. I was watching up to four clerks at a time, so I could have missed something, but I didn’t notice any voters whose names were not written on the list. The AJ said she would let the county know of the concern, and I wrote it up on an incident report.
Here’s why I’m concerned about such a small thing. The national vote difference was 2,828,267 (by the count I saw Monday evening). The number of polling places nationwide is approximately 250,000. Divide the vote difference by the number of polling places, and the result is 11.3 votes per polling place.
  2,828,267      vote difference
÷ ±250,000      polling locations
_________________________

              11.3 votes per polling place 

There is another thing I noted about voting day. I voted at my precinct late morning. The first 2-hour count posted on the door was, as I recall, 232. I left probably just before the 11:30 count was posted, but if that held throughout the day, then you’d expect about 1392. So that is my perspective of what was normal on Election Day, in addition to early voting.
At the polling location where I watched, the counts were as follows:
 9:30     117
11:30    227      (111 votes since 9:30)
 1:30     364      (137 votes since 11:30)
 3:30     432      (68 votes since 1:30)
 5:30     549      (117 votes since 3:30)
 7:00     670      (121 votes since 5:30)
There were no extraordinarily long lines. Sometimes all the booths were full and people were waiting to vote. But generally the clerks were able to keep up with the flow of incoming voters. There was no line at closing. In fact, the final half hour was very slow. Two people walked in a few minutes after 7:00, and the clerk turned them away, because they had not arrived by the closing of the polls—this was appropriate.
Word across the country was that the Democrats had taken full advantage of early voting. However, in Harris County (where Houston is), Republicans clearly outnumbered Democrats in early voting. But Democrats won the Harris County vote because of their Election Day turnout. And yet in a highly Democrat area, I saw light voting, about half the size of the vote in my home precinct. That’s anecdotal, I realize. But you can imagine my surprise when I got to my car around 8:45 PM and turned on the radio to find out that everything was other than I had seen. Odd.
I had expected to be able to do my report as well as talk about fraud generally in one post. But this is enough for one day. There’s more to say about the value of free and fair elections, but I’ll save that for another post.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paradigm Shift Underway

I’m in the process of gleaning through information and data, and simply trying to process the paradigm shift. I no longer believe we live in a free constitutional republic; we live in a socialist-leaning democracy, with the majority ever voting to take more from the producers and give wealth to the non-producers. That is a big piece of news to process. (My son Political Sphere said, “Oh, yeah, I already knew that’s where we were.”)

Here are a few observations from the midst of the shift:
·        The president’s re-election resulted from voter fraud. When more than 100% of numerous key voting districts vote for one candidate—in addition to those votes for the other candidate—it is a given that voter fraud has taken place. They did not even bother with subtlety so that there was only suspicion but not clear evidence. Some estimates I’ve read are that 5% of the Obama vote is fraudulent. But there is nothing to be done, because the Department of Justice is required to prosecute, and they have been refusing for four years—because they are in on the game.

·        The president’s position in power, therefore, is illegitimate—as is true in nearly all despotic regimes. There are probably (almost certainly, just from what we know of Fast and Furious and the Benghazi cover-up) multiple reasons for impeachment. But it won’t happen, because we are in a nation that either tacitly or overtly supports the regime.

·        While much is wrong in this country, the status quo this week is not very different from what it was a week ago. So far I am still able to publish my opinions online. Hyperinflation has not yet taken all our belongings. In many ways, life slogs on as it has the past four years. While dangers loom, today is still scary but tolerable. While we still have the ability to act with some freedom, we should do so.

·        Those of us paying attention have some advantages the enemy does not:
o   We have a good work ethic and a larger supply of common sense.
o   We are much more likely to rely on God for help and guidance.
o   We value family and safeguard it. With the difference in replacement rates alone, we could overcome the opposition in a generation, simply because they don’t raise offspring.

·       Since the enemy does not raise replacement offspring, they plan to control the next generation through control of education. [Here is the part you’re probably not ready to hear yet, because your paradigm is still shifting.] The way to avoid the loss of the next generation is to pull our children and grandchildren out of public schools—either into private/parochial schools, or, better yet, homeschooling.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this last point. I came across this article the day after the election, which refers to another article, “TheLast Radicals,” from National Review, of all places. One of the paragraphs in this piece reveals why homeschooling is so frightening to “progressives”:
The problem is not educational outcomes: Students in the Seton program tend to score on average in the 80th percentile on standardized tests. The problem is that progressives operate as though the state owned children as joint property. Dana Goldstein, writing in Slate, urged her fellow progressives to resist the temptation to homeschool, arguing that the practice is “fundamentally illiberal” and asking incredulously: “Could such a go-it-alone ideology ever be truly progressive?” She went on to argue that the children of high-achieving parents amount to public goods because of peer effects—poor students do better when mixed with better-off peers—meaning that “when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.” She does not extend that analysis to its logical conclusion: that conscientious, educated liberals should enroll their children in the very worst public schools they can find in order to maximize the public good.
One of the outcomes of last week’s election was that our local school board, in a conservative area of the very red state of Texas, now has seven out of seven non-conservative teacher-organization-controlled trustees. The largest most local taxing entity, with the most effect on our everyday family lives, is controlled by people whose ideology is at odds with the people paying for schools (not paying their salaries; school trustees are unpaid—which adds to the puzzlement about how much money got put into their campaigns). If we cannot have a say, even at the local level, at our own school district, in a conservative area, it is time for that government institution to be abandoned.
This will not be a popular idea. It will take a while for this sad reality to sink in to people who still see schools as this great social opportunity, where their kids are building lifelong memories. But wishing to give our children what we had does not make it so; some of those memories are still available for some students at some schools—but becoming educated in the philosophies of our brilliant founding fathers (all of whom were homeschooled), along with the ethos they lived, is no longer an option in most public schools.
We began our homeschooling journey in 2000. It was something we saw as essential for our family at the time. It turned out there were benefits we had no idea we would get. It was a wild decade-long ride, and required so much energy and dedication that parents have to be truly committed to the holistic education of the children they love in order to meet the challenge. So I haven’t up till now done much proselytizing about homeschooling.
But with the paradigm shift, while we still can, it might be urgent to give this next generation the truths about freedom that we know but they are not being taught—before such teaching is prevented.
If you have even an inkling of interest in the possibility of such a drastic lifestyle change, there are a few places to explore:
·       A ThomasJefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of leaders for the 21st Century, by Oliver Van DeMille.
 
·       TheWell-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer (I got my copy signed by the authors when I heard them speak).
 
·        THSC.org (Texas Home School Coalition); sign up for their free weekly online newsletter, and get the handbook, which is specific to Texas law, but since Texas is a groundbreaking state for homeschooling, it would probably be helpful to any homeschooling parent.
·        Miracle in Texas, a video telling the amazing story from the early 1990s when the courts declared homeschools to be private schools, which paved the way for homeschooling freedom across the country.
 
At some point I’ll post more of our experiences, which might either make you want to dive right in or scare you off, depending on who you are. But, consider, for the sake of life, liberty, and family, whether the next step for you is to escape from government institutional indoctrination schools.