Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Public education

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Little_Greenbrier_School.-1936I have a confession to make. At one point, fifteen years ago, I was on the verge of being a Libertarian. Up until then I was a left-leaning independent raised in a Republican household. My friend and roommate Scott sang the virtues of libertarianism and some of it appealed to me. I like the idea of personal responsibility and wasn’t too fond of the massive growth of government. The idea of Al Gore as President didn’t wow me and I’ll never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look George W. Bush showed during a debate when the question of foreign intervention was raised.

So I voted for the Libertarian Harry Brown. Ever since, I’ve blamed my miscast vote for the subsequent Presidency of George W. Bush, Iraq, and the current drift of America. But that’s a post for another day.

But back in my pre-kid days, libertarianism sounded intriguing. Why shouldn’t everyone do things for themselves? AFter all, I was successful. If I could do it anyone could do it, right?

Then slowly I began to consider the enormous advantages I’d had growing up, with a loving family, a decent education, a safe home, and little want for anything. I realized that not everyone shares the same advantages. No one ever really makes it on his own. Not in this world, anyway. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

Privatizing veteran’s care? I don’t think so

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Journalist Charles Lane

Journalist Charles Lane

Washington Post opinion writer Charles Lane suggested today that “market signals” can do a better job than the Veteran’s Administration in taking care of our nation’s veterans.

Without market signals to help allocate resources, long waits and other patient frustrations are inevitable, no matter how sincerely, or how threateningly, Washington orders their elimination.

Ah yes, market signals. That must be why every hospital in America is clamoring to staff its cardiology department, since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Cancer is #2, so cancer centers are springing up everywhere, too. There’s a huge market for these services but do they do anything to actually advance medical science? The vast majority of them do not. They are, however, unbelievably profitable for the hospitals that have them.

“Market signals” would say every hospital needs heart and cancer centers, but what about the other diseases that are just as deadly if not as popular? ALS was off the public’s radar until last year’s “Ice Bucket Challenge.” The fad brought in more research money for ALS than ever but will the interest remain? Should we not pursue research and treatment because the “market signals” say it’s not as profitable as cancer? Do you tell your loved one with ALS, “sorry, dear. Our death panels, … er, I mean “Wall Street analysts” … say you should’ve gotten cancer instead.”

Liberals and the racist label

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Our local, world-famous RPD beat officer posted to the East CAC Facebook page today about his upcoming meeting with the owners of the local shopping center and asked neighbors what things he should discuss with the owners. Several citizens posted thoughtful, helpful critiques of the shopping center, though a few noted how some teens who sometime loiter in the parking lot make them nervous.

This made one neighbor uncomfortable. She responded:

“I’ve shopped at [this store] regularly for five years and I have never–not once–been solicited, approached, or bothered in any way, shape, or form by teenagers or loiterers. I’m confused as to where this concern is coming from (and yeah, I know there was that big fight there a month or so ago) Frankly, it’s making me a little bit uncomfortable, as this thread seems to be a bunch of white people talking about how to make the neighborhood shopping center a better place. A good conversation, for sure, but are (black) teenagers hanging out outside of a local grocery store really a safety concern?”

This led me to dryly remark on Twitter:

“The community discussion made it all the way to 31 posts before a white person accused the other white people of being racist.”


Dependent Verification programs are a stupid idea

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Many employers are implementing audits of those employees using their company’s health insurance to verify that the dependents claimed are eligible to receive health insurance benefits. I think this is … well, evil.

Sez the Pittsburgh Post:

Employers like the audits because they are often able to help save on health care costs overnight without reducing benefit levels for employees. One in-depth study by the University of Colorado showed the return on investment for its own audit was 13 to 1, in the first year.

But employees targeted by the audits aren’t always fans.

A handsome exhibit

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

It would make a cool art project to cast the hands of people who work in various vocations and display them together.

Wake Forest police address concerns about ‘stranger danger’ cases ::

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Wake Forest Police have expressed exasperation with citizens sharing information on Facebook about a recent spate of “stranger danger” incidents. The incidents involve men driving a silver or gray SUV and trying to lure kids into the vehicle.

It’s a very frightening situation and any parent’s worst nightmare. People are afraid and rightfully so. They want answers, and if the police aren’t giving them then these folks will fill the void using social media outlets like Facebook and NextDoor.

I’ve seen how social media can help solve crimes. It works. Nothing helps police efforts like citizens working together. Instead of blaming it for “heresay,” Wake Forest PD should embrace social media as a “force multiplier” to solve crimes. If there are rumors that should be quashed, they should go online and set the record straight. It’s a new world we live in, after all.

Leonard said the police department has received other reports on social media that investigators have looked into, noting that they have had to use resources to track down "inaccurate information and hearsay.""If you see something that looks suspicious in your neighborhood, call the police department first rather than posting it on Facebook," Leonard said.

via Wake Forest police address concerns about 'stranger danger' cases ::

How does he know?

Monday, January 19th, 2015

I witnessed very interesting behavior from our dog, Rocket, this evening. He was napping on the floor next to me while I read in the recliner and Hallie surfed the Internet from the other room. Kelly had been at work all day and was bringing Travis home from his piano lesson.

Everything was quiet in the house so I was wondering where our dog was going as he suddenly hopped up from his nap and walked over to the door leading to the garage. Seconds later, the garage door went up and Kelly and Travis walked in with Rocket greeting them.

I sat there astonished. Could it be the dog had somehow known they were coming home? How? He clearly hopped up from his nap and went directly to the door as if he knew they would arrive. I can’t say for sure what his intentions were but to my eyes it certainly seemed like he was ready to greet someone at the door.

The fine line of classroom discipline

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Today is Martin Luther King Day, honoring a great man who pushed America to honor its commitments to everyone. It’s got me in a contemplative mood.

A well-meaning liberal friend forwarded this article from the NEA about the “school-to-prison” pipeline. It portends to raise alarms about how a kid who gets suspended often winds up taking a path towards crime. This is indeed a serious issue with troubling implications. I was disappointed, though, to see the article missing an important point. For example:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, which last year ordered school districts to respond to student misbehavior in “fair, non-discriminatory, and effective” ways, Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than White students, while Black and Latino students account for 70 percent of police referrals.

Who built this country?

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

My friend and new Wake County Commissioner John Burns was at the N.C. Association of County Commissioners where the state’s commissioners were given a presentation of the state’s changing demographics. Demographic trends show that white people will soon no longer be the majority.

One commissioner took issue with this and, according to John, announced “so we’re just going to take what built America for 200 years and throw it in the trash can, I guess.”

Of course, it was the immigrants who built America. Blacks, Chinese, Irish, Mexicans, and many others. The people who did the jobs that no one else wanted to do (and in the case of slavery, that they didn’t want to do, either).

Fortunately, everyone around this guy rolled their eyes. And it makes me glad that idiots like him are getting left behind.

Impossible odds

Monday, January 12th, 2015

See this gentleman? He was arrested last month for a string of burglaries around East Raleigh. Before was busted in December he had been arrested six times since September. This photo was taken today at the county jail, when he was charged again with possession of a stolen firearm and possession of stolen goods.

Now here’s the mugshot of his mother, taken the same day her son was arrested. Note the shiner. Mom was charged with marijuana possession and possession of a stolen firearm. She has a rap sheet stretching back to 1995 with a few larcenies, license revocation charges, and minor drug charges. In each case her sentences were suspended and you know what? She managed to largely stay out of trouble since 2003.
Though I’ve been quite willing to send kids like this one on his way to jail whenever one’s been caught stealing in my neighborhood, it has made me wonder how a kid can wind up in such a situation. It’s a damn shame to have to send a kid to jail.

As a PTA president, I hear a lot of stories of sad cases, absolutely heartbreaking cases of completely dysfunctional families. I heard one today that will haunt me into my dreams tonight, a story of a child whose parents are apparently no longer interested in being parents and want the child gone.

What kind of world is that for a child to grow up in? When you have no advocate at all? And no love? What kind of future does that child have?