Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Conservative Republican's Moral Morass

Many of us who are registered Republicans and have a conscience have had to search our conscience as we review actions taken by our leadership over the years. To express how we feel is difficult without betraying the leaders we must trust and do so without undercutting our troops abroad, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, I read an article that quotes Cathy Young of the Boston Globe who pretty much expresses how I feel. She is quoted as saying: “The bombings in London on July 7 were a powerful reminder that terrorism remains a clear and present threat in our cities. But they were also, to me, a reminder of something else. As annoying as I find the right these days, with its cynical partisanship, its arrogance of power, and its politics of religious zealotry, my discontent with conservatives will never send me into the liberal camp—because the response to terrorism on the moderate left remains an egregious moral muddle.”

Yes , there is discontent within our party but we show it in words and actions that do not give encouragement and solace to our enemies.

We are in Iraq and the reasons why we are, come in multitudes of documents, words and actions. Those who give solace to the enemy either do not know or disregard the past history of Saddam and his murder of hundreds of thousands of his own people. They have not read enough to know the threat the religious zealots and Muslim terrorists in the Middle East have become to all humanity.

We are there and we will not leave until the Iraqi peace loving people (and they are the majority) are able to separate government from religion, establish their own security forces and set a government in place that can represent all of Iraq.. Under any circumstance, there will always be terrorists who, in the name of religious fanaticism who will continue to prevent peace seeking people from having a feeling of security and freedom that can only be attained thru democracy, unique to them in their entire history.

We know that many monarchist types of government will need to move toward democracy at a faster pace. We know there is unrest by all the illiterate and the oppressed. We know that change must be made but it must be made in increments in these monarchies that have supported us in the war against terror. Drastic change such as in Iraq is made by force as a last resort. Now we must support the efforts this drastic change, with all its errors of commission, to allow democracy to succeed or face chaos.

Weapons of mass destruction are all around us and have always been. One religiously confused terrorist armed is a WMD. One ignorant or confused human being can destroy thousands of people and destroy labors of a millennium. For those of you who think WMD will go away if a change is made in our administration, you will find out in 2008. They will not go away no matter who is the president of our county.

Every letter or article published, every march by pacifists and extreme liberals, causes only more bloodshed in the Middle East of our people, people from other countries, and the Iraqi people. They claim to support our country but not its administration. They, of course, are liars. Giving encouragement to the enemy is traitorous and they continue to betray the country they claim to support.

In today’s JS, a letter by a “chatterer” and a “pacifist” named Jane Johnson from Gilson calls for a “confrontational strategy” against our president. Disagreeing with our government and its leadership, made up of both Democrats and Republicans, has always been the American way. It has also been the American way to run for office, read all you can by writers who have made more background study than most of us, and by supporting your party, even when you disagree, and vote and help get out the vote. Slanderous attacks only help those who would kill you if given the opportunity. This country’s leadership is trying to save the lives of even those of you who support the enemy.

My next blog will list the names and authors of a few books that will give both biased and unbiased information as to the what, whys, ifs and where these authors think we are heading. They assess the present world situation and how the involvement of our past and current administrations has placed us where we are and were at the time these books were published. Read up.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hawaii and Reno - County and Peoria Park Board

I said I would get back to you on how much Peoria County spent on sending its administrator and two board members to the National Convention in Hawaii. The JS beat me to the figures but I have an excuse. My 94 (almost 95) year old Mother-In-Law passed on last week and her burial was in a beautiful old cemetery in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Her passing was extremely difficult for my wife who was very close to her as the older of two daughters. Evelyn Borer had been living with us for the past two years and she will be greatly missed. I went into another “bloggers block” but believe you can read me again as I have a lot of material of interest.

Back to Hawaii, the total cost was approximately $6500.00 for all and at least our administrator came back with no tan at all.

In the meantime no one has shown an interest in the cost to the taxpayers by the Peoria Park Board in sending 8 or more Peoria Park Board members and staff on a junket for several days in Reno, Nevada where the object was to watch Bonnie Noble accept on behalf of the Park; a National Gold Award for the outstanding job she did in getting the RiverPlex built, a project that had lost approximately $7,000,000.00 by December 31, 2004.

Ignored in the news was the PPD Budget for 2005 of $44,800,000.00 and raises given to park employees a full percentage point higher than raises given county employees? Ignored in the media is the fact that the PPD superintendent salary was raised to $128,000.00 plus health insurance, vacation time, sick leave, a pension plan and a park vehicle to use. Ignored in the media is the fact that the park took in $11 million dollars of property tax money last year and expect when the new zoo construction is started, when the $5 million dollar Children Playhouse project is completed and the PPD headquarters is relocated maybe not just once but twice, your PPD taxes will go much higher each year for years to come.

Our county administrator makes less than $100,000.00 and oversees a budget of $92 million. The county has balanced the budget every year but 2001 (I voted against the property tax raise because the deficit was incurred during the term of my predecessor.) without a referendum approved tax hike. Yes, I know assessed valuation has gone up raising your taxes, but you have a right to appeal your property tax if you think the assessed value to be too high.

You will be pleased to know that the county will not raise your property taxes this year except by assessed valuation and the 4-H referendum in which you recently voted a small tax hike.

Back to the $6500.00 spent in Hawaii on business, you will be pleased to know the National Convention will be held next year in Chicago. Maybe I’ll get to go. And who knows maybe when we are thru with all the enhancement building in Peoria, the National County Convention might be held right here in Peoria!!

School District #150 Using Common Sense?

“Study Shows Uniforms do Not Improve Discipline” was a title of an article in the Observer Wednesday. Most of the residents served by Dist.#150 have been concerned that while student enrollment has shrunk drastically, administration has not. This is a prime example of wasted taxpayer dollars. I could have told anyone asking me the same correct answer quoted by Carrie Wahlfeld, who is very active at Northmoor-Edison where uniforms became policy last school year. Mrs. Wahlfeld said “From the parental standpoint, you are always dealing with the have, have-not issue. In our minds, it was more about having a level playing field. I’m truly a proponent of school uniforms district-wide”

Amen.

As for uniforms improving discipline, probably not, but I do know how to improve discipline and have been saying it in “letters to the editors”, blogs and to school board members.

We have a new year before us and let’s say a “new beginning.”
I could say “good luck” but the answer lies elsewhere.

Some well meaning people at District #150 seem to lack the most common ingredient for success. Common sense.

As for the new advertising campaign to boost the image of #150? Alicia, I supported you for office. Good grief!!

Books Our Teachers Are Using Revisted #1

The Observer picked up on my blog, “Books Our Teachers Are Using.” DeWayne Bartels wrote “It is hard not to agree with Widmer.” DeWayne states he called District #150 and says some interest was shown by assistant superintendent Cynthia Fischer who said she would look into the idea.

While doing this Dr. Fischer should realize that any taxpayer living in Dist. #150 has the right to come to any school and look at any book that is being used in that building. However, the process could take all day and cause much disruption because these are the steps the interested party would ordinarily need to take.

1. Go to the office and receive permission from the principal who may or may not be in the office at the time.
2. After securing permission, each class would need to be interrupted while the teacher found the proper books and the teacher would feel obligated to answer any questions asked. This process would need to repeated for each book in each classroom on each subject being taught.
3. The requester may be delayed in each classroom visited because this is valuable teaching time for the teacher and while this review could be done after school, many teachers have extra-curricular activities or may have other duties or may even wish to meet an obligation at home.

I realize that Dist. #150 has a new curriculum director starting Monday so I did not plan to pursue my idea for 45 days. However, I believe the Observer and others may get involved with me. If not, then it is no wonder why our school system and the “finished” product it turns out, have been under attack for many years.

(This idea came to me after visiting some schools and being in total disagreement with two of the books being used. At White School, the teacher spent the entire period reading out of a book that appeared to me to be written to make some of the kids in the class feel that mistreatment of the underclass was standard operating procedure since early days of immigrants passing thru Ellis Island. Another book made no sense at all but its message was to convey to the underclass that people had power over them to make them do stupid things like constantly digging holes in the ground for no apparent reason other than to find riches for the upper class. Interest in the subject was poor and the teacher spent much of her time keeping the classroom settled down and trying to poorly discipline one unruly kid.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Poverty Revisited

Being poor is no disgrace. Being poor and able to work but not working and using the old clich├ęs about “the job offered doesn’t pay enough money or I have too much self esteem to take that job, or there are no jobs out there”, is a disgrace. A “Letter to the Editor” in the WSJ sums up my feeling. “People tell the same old story time after time, how difficult, how hard, how depressing, how underprivileged, how pressing and ugly life is in America. Balderdash!!”

The sorry lives of the “new generation”, actually not new at all, are most often caused by bad decisions, by people who lack drive, people whose parents didn’t raise them with drive, (how about at least three or four generations) people with no ambition or a sense of optimism and people who seem not able to learn it later in life.

There is probably no country on earth that offers people more chances to learn and earn. Why do so many legal and illegal Mexicans risk death to reach our country and take any job at about any wage offered them? Because it is better than the life they live in Mexico. An article in the WSJ today is titled “Once Here Illegally, the Laras (name of family) Savor Children’s Success. Mexican Family Tale Suggests Strides Made by Migrants; Hurdles for Today’s Kids.” They sometimes lived four in one room, everybody took some kind of a job and they saved until they became successful middle class Mexicans, none of who want to go back to their roots. They take jobs that some class of U.S. citizens feel are below their self-esteem and they work their way up thru the system. Many of their kids go to college and actually make use of the degree they receive. They don’t wallow in self pity

Because of our “open immigration policy”, a policy that could be remedied if some of our politicians got out of the way or show some guts, we allow many people to illegally enter our country and move freely about our country; people who should not be here and will eventually lead to much larger problems than they are already creating. But that is another subject. I’ll blog on immigration pros and cons soon.

A friend suggested a book “Nickled and Dimed” which I read but I do not recommend reading this book because the author has slanted the context in such a manner as the reader is inclined to believe we oppress people into poverty. The author is also anti-male, anti Wal-Mart, (she says people who work at Wal-Mart are so taken advantage of that they can’t afford shoes, they walk all day in flip-flops, (I spent an hour at Wal-Mart’s on University today and I didn’t see a worker in flip-flops; however, many of the customers were wearing flip-flops),I talked to managers and employees including one woman with 11 years experience, I asked people how they liked working at Wal-Mart and never got a negative answer and not one employee could tell me of an incident of harassment or mistreatment. I asked customers why they shopped there and the answer was always they were able to get more for there dollar.

The author talks about exploiting 12 year old in Honduras or some third world country. What other option does this child have? Poor or no schools? And what does an education get you if there are no opportunities to use it? No farm work because they can import foodstuffs from American subsidized farms cheaper than they can grow their own, so maybe some think prostitution, hanging out or slave labor would be a better option for these children. By the way, all eight of my brother and sisters were born on a farm and we all went to work at 9 or 10. It never killed any of us not a one of Donat or Lillie Widmer’s kids accepted welfare. Some of my sisters worked as maids in the homes of wealthy Peorians and one attended Peoria High and one Woodruff. Did we have too much self-esteem? No, our dad and mom had more common sense than most of the esteem teachers will ever have. Self-esteem was earned in our day; not bestowed.

Another letter says that “here in North Carolina, 47% of my home county’s high school students don’t graduate with their class. They are “toast” in the global economy. My kids went to the same public schools but we pushed them to pay attention in high school, and we pushed them thru college in four years. Both have been employed continuously at rising wages since graduation. Note the writer says “we” and goes on to say that many of their peers weren’t fortunate to come from intact families."

Why do people travel such hard roads? They are their own worst enemies. I see them sit in classrooms occupying desk space that is when the teacher could control them long enough to get them to sit for a few minutes. I could pick out in one day the ones that will not make it in today’s world and would bet if I could track them, I would be right 80% of the time. All this opportunity offered and all this mind set being drummed into them that it is not their fault; they are “victims” of the system. All I can say is balderdash.

I started my business with $5,000 of borrowed money as a farm boy from Congerville with hardly any connections in Peoria. I was 39 years old when I hung out my shingle with three employees. During my business career, I interviewed hundreds of people many of them absolutely unhireable. Some I recommended some to apply for a government job because they weren’t suited for the competitive world of private industry.

Of course I realize there are people with mental problems and disabilities that restrict their potential earning ability, but we are far larger welfare country than people care to believe. We have hundreds of safety nets including over 70 agencies in Peoria not including the dozen of churches and food and clothing pantries. I served on a “homelessness” committee for a couple years. Some on our committee though there were so many homeless with no place to go that we sought cooperation of all the fire stations and advertised these 24 hour open stations as a safe haven for the homeless to go to in event of emergencies. One person showed up in over a year and we scrapped the program.

I’m sorry but “Nickled and Dimed” was written by a wealthy divorcee turned “bleeding liberal” who tried to pose as a poorly educated poverty stricken person, I’ve traveled the world and never stayed in a second rate motel with conditions as bad as she described. Half of the book is fiction. She complained of the sorry plight of minorities like the Haitians and Puerto Ricans. If third world people don’t like it here, they are welcome to go back to where they came from. Same is true of all people who hate this country. As we used to say on the farm, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. I suggest the writer is a wealthy liberal who always pictures the underdog as some victim of an evil conspiracy between the Republicans and big business.

Sorry, but I am a caring person and do contribute my services and some of my retirement dollars to worthwhile causes. But I’m getting pickier.

Today I learned from a Boys and Girls Club board member that Boys and Girls Club members are barred from using the RiverPlex because of misbehavior. Another blown opportunity by the so called “underprivileged” and another chance to blame this rejection on “someone” else. What a shame. But I’ve never understood why many of these kids are wearing $200 shoes while my $44 dollar Reeboks serve my feet quite well. But if you were never taught the value of a dollar, what should I expect.

I wrote many years ago that this country was on a slow slide to socialism. I voted for George Bush as the best choice out of two mediocre candidates. George seems to have not been able to stop or slow down this slide. Unfortunately, even though Laura was a school teacher, neither George of Laura has grasped the transformation encompassing our public school system. Neither the Democrats, dominated by self serving unions or the so called conservative Republicans have a good grip as to what is transpiring. As an American with free speech rights I have the right to respectively disagree and criticize any elected official. You have the right to criticize me. That doesn’t mean we do not respect this nation and its leadership.

The next presidential election is not that far away. Maybe we will be lucky and have a strong candidate from each part. Forget a third party: no way, Perot proved the closest to make a presidential run and no one close to him is even on the horizon. (Later events showed that Perot would not have made a good president). We will remain a two party system and the closer the Democrats and Republicans come to emulate each other the worse off the voter will be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Bureaucrat's Guide to Smaller Government

This letter was sent in by a federal employee who asked to remain anonymous so she can keep her cushy government job: (Approximate start time of the reign of George W.) “Does tough bureaucracy-busting talk from the new Congress and the White House scare the average federal worker? I’m a federal employee and have yet to see any fear among my colleagues. Perhaps that’s because I have yet to see any signs of real change in federal government. Budgets always continue to grow, hiring expands, and people get paid more for doing less.

I recently asked a few of my federal-worker friends, “How will you know that the government if truly shrinking?” Here’s our top 10 list:

10) When the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office has a layoff.
9) No more paid time off for diversity of charity events. I’ll know the cuts have an impact when agencies like mine no longer can afford to have an $80,000 a year employee take “a few months off” to work on the United Way fund drive.
8) When upper managements is replaced for not making cuts fast enough.
7) When the entourage for agency heads disappear. (My agency has about 600 people-small by federal standards. Even so, the guy who runs the place has a scheduler who’s paid $70,000 year, a public-relations staff to write his speeches and press releases, and a clutch of assistants and advisors.)
6) When the newspaper subscriptions stop. Why does the federal government need to buy thousands of subscriptions to the Washington Post or the New York Times?
5) When somebody gets canned-and quickly-for running a business from his desk.
4) When top management takes cuts too.
3) When nobody says “because we’ve always published this report. Hundreds of federal documents are published out of habit, not need.
2) When they take “solitaire” off the computer.
And (drum roll) the #1 way federal workers will be able to tell when big government is being cut: When there’s nobody in the cafeteria at 2 p.m.

I believe the federal culture can change. But does the GOP Congress have the guts to give the federal bureaucracy a long-overdue kick in the pants? Some of us will be watching for signs”.

So here we are today. Same old, same old. You can hardly tell which party is in power.
Smaller government? Dream on!! Only until a largely apathetic public pays more than lip service to the increasing problems will there be significant changes in the way our government is run, but by then the powers may be so entrenched that the political system we use today may be outdated. Its past time for us to teach our kids the history of America; even if we only go back 200 years or so.

A Lesson in Smaller Government

The subject of the April 2004 issue of “Imprimis”, a mailing I receive monthly from highly recommended Hillsdale College is “Rolling Back Government Lessons from New Zealand”. The author is former New Zealand Cabinet Minister, Maurice P. McTigue. His message was part of a series of lectures on campus on “The Conditions of Free-Market Capitalism.” I quote this Distinguished Visiting Scholar as follows:

“What we are seeing around the world at the moment is what I would call a silent revolution, reflected in a change in how people view government accountability. The old idea of accountability simply held that government should spend money in accordance with appropriations. The new accountability is based on asking “What did we get in public benefits as a result of the expenditure of this money?” This is a question that has always been asked in business, but has not been the norm for governments. This was the basis of successful reforms in my own county of New Zealand. When a reform government was elected in 1984, it identified three problems: too much spending, too much taxing and too much government. First you have to see what you are getting for dollars spent. Towards this end we implemented a new policy whereby money wouldn’t simply be allocated to government agencies, instead there would be a purchase contract with the senior executives of those agencies that clearly delineated what was expected in return for the money. Those who headed up government agencies were now chosen on the basis of a worldwide search and received term contracts- five years with a possible extension of another three years. The only grounds for their removal were non-performance, so a newly elected government couldn’t simply throw them out as had happened to civil servants under the old system.

The first purchase we made from every agency was policy advice. That policy advice was meant to produce a vigorous debate between the government and the agency heads about how to achieve goals like reducing hunger and homelessness. I didn’t mean, by the way, how the government could feed or house more people – that’s not important. What’s important is the extent to which hunger and homelessness are actually reduced In other words, we made it clear that what’s important is not how many people are on welfare, but how many people get off welfare and into independent living.

The fundamental first question was “What are you doing”, the second question was “What should you be doing?” Based on the answers, we then said “Eliminate what you shouldn’t be doing” that is if you are doing something that clearly is not a responsibility of government, stop doing it. Then we asked the final question: Who should be paying – the taxpayer, the user, the consumer, or the industry?” We asked this because, in many instances, the taxpayers were subsiding things that did not benefit them. And if you take the costs of services away from actual consumers and users, you promote overuse and devalue whatever it is you are doing.

When we started this process with the Department of Transportation, it had 5600 employees. When we finished, it had 53. When we started with the Forest Service, it had 17,000 employees. When we finished, it had 17. When we applied it to the Minster of Works, we had 28,000 employees. When we finished, it had one. In the latter case, most of what the department did was construction and engineering, and there are plenty of people who can do that without government involvement. When we sold off the things that government shouldn’t be doing, productivity went up and the cost of services went down. We did that to about 35 agencies that used to cost us a combined one billion dollars per year, now they produced about one billion dollars per year in revenue and taxes.

In 1984 New Zealand sheep farmers were receiving about 44% of their income from government subsidies. We did away with all sheep subsidies within one year. The sheep farmers were unhappy, but once they accepted the sheep subsides weren’t coming back, they put together a team. Its major product was lamb and lamb was selling for about $12.00 per carcass. Go into the best restaurants in the U. S or New Zealand today and you will be paying $35 to $60 per pound.

New Zealand had an education system that was failing as well. It was failing about 30% of its children-especially those in lower socio-economic areas. We had put more and more money into education for 20 years and re received worse and worse results. The first thing we did was identify where the dollars were pouring into education. We hired international consultants (because we didn’t trust our own departments to do it) and they reported that 70 cents of every dollar was being swallowed up on administration. Once we learned this we eliminated all the board of Education in the country. Every single school came under the control of a board of trustees elected by the parents of the children at the school, and by nobody else. We gave the schools a block of money based on the number of students that went to them, with NO strings attached. At the same time we told the parents that they had an absolute right to choose were their children would go to school. It is absolutely obnoxious to me that anybody would tell parents that they must send their children to a bad school. We converted 4500 schools to this new system all in one day. We made it possible for privately owned schools to be funded in exactly the same way as publicly owned schools, giving parents the ability to spend their education dollars wherever they chose. Everyone predicted that their would be a mass exodus of students from the public schools to the private schools. It didn’t happen because the differential between schools disappeared in about 18-24 months. Why? Because teachers realized that if they lost their students, they would lose their funding; and if they lost their funding, they would lose their jobs. We moved from being about 15% below our international peer and rose to about 15% above our international peers in terms of educational attainment.

We resolved that we would have only two mechanisms for gathering revenue – a tax on income and a tax on consumption. We lowered the high income tax rate from 66 to 33% and the low end from 38 to 19%. We set a consumption rate of 10% and eliminated all other taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes, ect. We carefully designed this system to produce exactly the same revenues we were getting before and presented it to the public as a zero sum game. But what actually happened was that we received 20% more revenue than before. Why? We hadn’t allowed for the increase in voluntary compliance. If tax rates are low, taxpayers won’t employ high priced lawyers and accountants to find loopholes.

We solved our deer problem by telling our farming community that they could catch and farm the deer as long as they would keep them within an eight foot high fence. And we haven’t spent a dollar on that day forward and New Zealand now supplies the world with 40% of the world market in venison. By applying common sense, we turned a liability into an asset.

One last story, we abolished the whole system of drivers licenses expirations and a license is good until the age of 74 after which an annual medical test is required. We abolished a whole department. (New Zealand requires everyone to have an identity card)

Now consider this: In the United States, there are currently 178 federal programs designed to help people get back to work. They cost 8.4 billion dollars and 2.4 million people are employed as a result of them. If we took the most effective three programs out of these 178 and put the 8.4 billion into them alone, the result would be likely that 14.7 million people would find jobs. The status quo cost America over 11 million jobs. The kind of new thinking would build into the system a consequence for the administrator who is responsible for this failure of sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars. It is this direction our government needs to move.”

No, I’m not moving to New Zealand but I like their way or thinking. We are almost totally out of control with big government, bloated bureaucracies and entrenched elected officials. Anyone with more information on the success of New Zealand or other democracies that are reducing and simplifying our public management systems, please blog on this site. In the meantime, point out to me where I could help make county government more effective at less cost realizing that approximately 70% of our 100 million dollar budget goes for salaries and benefits.

To receive copies of Imprimis write to Hillsdale College, 33 East College St. Hillsdale, Michigan or call 800/437-2268.

(In the interest of holding your attention, I had to leave out most of his comments. But the idea of privatizing more government activities of at least letting the private sector bid on more works considered untouchable by power brokers and unions, is not new. Our problems in the U.S. are problems of entrenchment and power. Not an easy problem to overcome but the public will demand that government will become less unwieldy and costly and sinks under the sheer weight of bureaucracy abuse).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Bloated Government

Washington doesn’t have a budget deficit problem, it has a spending problem. Every elected official including our own go to Washington to bring back the money we shouldn’t have sent them in the first place. Using an average for every dollar we send as taxes to Washington, 30% of that dollar is used up as operating expense and overhead. So every elected official in every state tries to bring back that reduced portion in any way they can, highway dollars, education dollars, food stamp program dollars, museum dollars, safety dollars and a zillion other project dollars, some necessary and a whole lot not necessary. Each community would be better off keeping more of the whole dollar and using local expertise to determine how to spend it.

Here are some examples of our bloated federal government: The USDA was created in 1862 when more than 80% of all American families earned their living from the land. Today that figure is 1%. Most of departments could be eliminated or transferred to the Dept. of Interior. The USDA and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services are among 16 different agencies involved with food safety. (I’m not going to talk about our subsidized agriculture products because it is apparently too painful to go to a free market where third world countries could compete against our exports. Please don’t call me to debate this statement because I am a good reader with a fair modicum of common sense!!)

The federal education bureaucracy runs more than 788 programs in 40 different agencies at an annual cost of over one billion dollars per agency. Programs to address problems associated with juveniles stretch over 10 departments, 3 independent agencies one federal commission and one quasi-official agency. Separately, they administer 131 juvenile programs and cost over 4 billion dollars annually. There are 342 economic development programs managed by 13 agencies with little or no coordination.

At least 70 programs across 57 different departments and agencies receive more than 16 billion dollars a year to fight illegal drug use. Among the most blatant examples of government waste and mismanagement are the 19 drug “intelligence center” dispersed among 10 departments. Much of the information gathered is “off limits” to other agencies. (Our battle to stop drug user growth, drug imports and distribution to the end user, is a colossal failure. But those in authority refuse to admit it because such a huge number of bureaucracies have been created that it would be next to impossible to move that money into prevention and treatment programs. Someday, someone will have the guts to try.)

(Most of this information was taken from a syndicated columnist who occasionally appears in the JS. He is far too conservative to appear as frequently in the JS as say the liberal Clarence Pitts.)

These next statements come from an article in the WSJ 7/18/05. “In any given year the National Institute of Mental Health supports between 10 to 20 studies of pigeons, its portfolio bulges with grants given to examine marriage, adolescence, happiness and other aspects of human behavior. Now in its 19th year one noteworthy award fuels the quest to determine why male Japanese quails are attracted to female Japanese quails”.

The National Science Foundation was created to fund basic research, such as how pigeons think.

On economic grounds alone, NIMH’s failure to do more research on severe mental illness is foolish; they should also be working on is whether bipolar disorder is increasing in children, whether SSRI antidepressants really cause suicides, or how to find more effective drugs to treating schizophrenia. The annual cost of these illnesses is now more than 40 billion in federal Medicaid, Medicare, SSI and SSDI funds and is rising.

As a Peoria County Board member, I accept part of the blame for our County Budget growing to almost $100,000,000 dollars. The public has to give me support by insisting that more government functions should be bid out, privatized or combined. Spending will not stop until those in the private sector insist on changes needed to make government smaller and less costly.

My next blog will be on an article on how New Zealand rolled back government.

Friday, July 15, 2005

What Books are our Teachers Using to Teach (#2)?

I promised to get back to you yesterday but hit a snag. Dist #150 doesn’t have a curriculum director right now; another apparent screw up of the recently ousted administration. Art Ellis from the Champaign area is slated to take over 8/1/05.

Mary Spangler, my major contact on the school board, says that the state is involved in the selection of many of the books used by 150. Administration is reshaping the curriculum department and its procedures department and has many plans to improve the entire system, the method of reviewing books in use and how the new books are to be ordered when funds are available. She likes some of my suggestions. Give Mary and this new board and administration the time it takes to get their house in order.

I like many of things shaping up in Peoria Public School District #150. It is a shame on the elite leadership of this community that they let this school system evolve into the sorry situation faced by relatively new board members and administration.

The lack of at least one school board member with a strong midsize business background is apparent and has been apparent for a long time. Mayor Ardis has asked for names of business leaders who might agree to run for a position on the school board. The success of our public schools is most important to the City and County of Peoria. Past mayors had some successes but the system as a whole has slid downhill. With a budget of over $135 million, business experience on the board is an absolute necessity.

I will look forward to the day where anyone interested can visit one location and see every book being used as a teaching tool. We all should be concerned about what is being published and accepted as learning tools in this community. I wish Mr. Ellis the best success in our community and hope someone sends him a copy of these blogs with additional input from the sender.

Mary Spangler is a dedicated member of the board and is always looking for citizens input. She looks forward to the success of all the strategic planning that has been going on for sometime now and the successful implementation of all this effort.

I believe the community is paying more attention to what is going on in our public schools. The involvement of new leadership in this community is way past due. I believe the recent mayor and city council elections portend well for our future and encouragement for an emerging group of common sense leaders in Peoria. I believe new leadership will realize that less than half the kids who start first grade will ever graduate from high school and make the NCLB more than a slogan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What Books are Being Used by our Teachers?

Have you gone to a classroom lately to look at the books the teachers are using to teach your children? Here’s a way to do so and not have to visit each class.

• Ask administration to set up a room with some library shelves and ask that a copy of each book or text being used in the whole system be placed on shelves. For example; a copy of each book or text used in each freshman class at Manual would be on a shelf and identified by subject and class. If Woodruff, Peoria High and Richwoods are using the same book or text for the same subject and class, just state so on a card placed in a plastic card holder on the front of the book or text. More detail as needed could be entered on this card.
• If the same book is used to teach math in, say, all the 8th grades, one book with the multiple school users would be all that would be needed. If some schools use a different book to teach the same, say, 8th grade math class, this book or text would also be on the shelf in the proper school category and reasons why entered in a single master binder, properly indexed by school and class. This master binder and the books on the shelves, could be viewed by all visitors, whether they are parents, guardians, grandparents, the business community or just people like me who wonder why are kids aren’t learning more for all the money and time being spent on education.
• As stated above the library shelves would be indexed by school, grade and subject. The master binder would be indexed in exactly the same manner.

Why do this? If we as a community aren’t interested in what book information is being placed in our kids heads, it no wonder we are often disappointed in the finished or unfinished products that comes of our schools. If, say, Dist. #150 is already doing something like this, I doubt if many people know about it. I will find out tomorrow by stopping by Administration and asking and I will comment on this later with exactly what administration is doing to inform the parent, ect., what books are being selected as teaching books and what message these books are saying to our kids. Some of you, if you go look, or look at the books your kids are bringing home, may be surprised and in some cases, you may be disappointed or disturbed. You can have a say in what books your school is using, but only if you are informed.

Each year publishers bring out new books and too many times these books are tailored to the “dumbing” down of our teachers, administrators and kids. Each year, each school district decides whether there is enough money for new books and each school is responsible when they do buy new books for accepting the contents put forth by the publishers.

Don’t you believe you and the public should know what these books are saying without visiting every school and every class in the district?

I look for your informational comments on this blog. After my visit tomorrow I may find the Administration I am most concerned about, is way ahead of my thinking.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

It Could Have Been Us

They know we have enough cowards, Pacifists and ACLU in this country to scare us by attacking England first so that our white flag wavers can screech their pitiful voices thru weak kneed newspapers like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Daily Tribune, USA Today and the Journal Star, just to name a few. Count on it, go hide now because their WILL be a terrorist strike of some size in this country. They are letting us worry because they know we cannot stop them. (We can’t even stop gangs in Peoria from terrorizing parts of our city.) We let our underbelly get soft, we let our public school system all but collapse. We let the liberal intelligentsia take over our colleges and we opened our borders to almost anyone except the type of early settlers who fought hardship and settled our country from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Abolish the death penalty! Go to bat for the terrorists, ACLU, be sure they get a 10 year taxpayer funded fair trial. We are above the other countries that practice torture to save lives. We are too civilized. We will become barbarians like them. Our reputation for fairness will be ruined.

Bullcrap!! Death is too good for those who are perpetuating terrorist strikes against innocent people all over the world!

Let me tell you America, wake up. We must fight terror with terror. The barbarians are at the gate; throw the peace-niks over the wall first. Then let those of us with guts, fight these murderers with every weapon known to mankind. For those of you who still think these murderers want peace, I suggest you offer yourselves to them as doves. In fact, do it thru your “Letters to the Editors”. Only give them your real name and addresses.

The Muslims say these terrorists are a small minority which is probably so. You Muslims and people of Islam and who are American citizens must step forward and condemn the murderers. Help us find their financial sources and point out the ones who applauded and abetted 9/11 and other worldwide bombings such as the cowardly attack in London. Those who do not honor, respect and are not willing to defend the country they live in, should be asked to leave and if they don’t leave, ship them to places like Iran or Dafur.

For those of you who compare Guantanamo to the Japanese interments in WW2 show your ignorance of history. The Japanese were interred because of their race which we all know was a mistake. We painted all Japanese with a common brush. By leaning over backwards to protect the rights of Muslims and people of the Islamic faith, we may have the opposite effect in failing to separate the good citizens from the bad. The terrorists interred at Gitmo were rounded up in terrorist sweeps or actual battle. We know that many Japanese, Italians and German citizens and residents of this country have always served honorably in conflict supporting the USA in wars against their countries of birth or origin. We know most Muslims who live here support us. It’s the ones that are using our freedoms to destroy us and are the ones that should be in prison or deported. Our problems are not with any one race of people, it has been with those who do not respect our laws and our rights of freedom.

We need to get new laws into effect that allows us to use the military tribunal system because we are in a war, no matter what some of you may wish to call it. Justice should be administered with a heavy hand for those who seek to destroy us.

Just as on 9/11, today becomes another day on which we will give up more of our freedoms because of the actions of a few. Remember our school days when we had to give up the ones who created the problem lest we all lose our freedoms?
We are in a much, much, more serious situation. We are and have been in a long term battle for survival. Get used to our “toughening up” or get out of this country or at least get out of our way.. AS THE OLD SAYING GOES, WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING! We have let our softness and greed and in many cases our egos put us in the situation we are now in. Few wanted us to be where we are now and pacifism methods should have never been solutions. The enemy has no respect of their own people’s lives, let alone any care about ours. It’s not too late to get tough!!

There are enough of us supporting our government to help it rise to the occasion. We have no other choice except to live in terror the rest of our days..

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed / and everywhere the Ceremony of Innocence is drowned.” (W. B. Yeats)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The "Chattering Class"

Scott Wolland of Arlington, Va. wrote an intelligent “letter to the Editors” appearing in the JS on 7/1/05. He said he had recently spoken to both military and civilian personnel who have worked at Guantanamo about those being held for eventual trial. He says what we already know, that those being held would like to get out and murder more Americans. He stated the prisoners are being treated incredibly well with an average gain in weight of 18 pounds. On 7/05 a “Letter to the editor” in the JS from “chatterer” Bill Ohlsen presents no facts in his attempt to discredit Mr. Wolland. This guy Ohlsen, if that is his real name; he’s not listed in the phone book and the only other Ohlsen listed never heard of him, has written venomous letters to the editor before that liberal Mike Bailey evidently can’t wait to print. Note the “chatters” letter appeared only four days after Mr. Wollands sensible letter yet Bailey recently said that he had a backlog of letters, so many in fact that he could not print them all. “Ohlsen” still can’t believe that Bush is President. Most of us realize George is president and we support him and this being a free country, criticize him at times. We do not, however, do so in a manner that gives encouragement to the fundamentalist terrorists. Only the “chattering class” gives solace to the enemy and kills our citizens abroad.

We also believe that Bill Clinton will go down in history as the best lair and least effective president and we did not elect Al Gore or John Kerry because we felt George was the better choice. Still do.

Every stupid letter appearing in print written by the “chattering” class gives solace to the enemy and costs our service people their lives. I hope the parents, wives, husbands and children of those serving are country are saving these letters to show their sons and daughters so they know who the traitors are in our country and those of us who gave our troops support on the home front..

The “chatterers’ do not want to admit that much of the information given to our president, came from holdover bureaucracies of previous administrations. Mistakes were made in the aftermath of the removal of Saddam that have caused more problems than ever anticipated. There will be another election in 2008. In the meantime, a limited number of troops have a hard enough time trying to protect and train these freedom seekers and protect them from their own terrorists without having “chatterers” undermining them at home.

Those imprisoned and receiving adequate care at Guantanamo are some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world. Eventually they will have their day in court. If released before all information is gathered for their trials would only cause more deaths of innocent people. These fundamentalist terrorists made their bed; let them lie in it. Our leadership has them stored safely and humanely until all the facts are ready for eventual successful prosecution. In the meantime, our leadership’s time is taken to prevent more 9/11’s in this country and free the people in Iraq and Afghanistan, keep the economy moving, help the people in Africa and hundreds of other duties that are of greater importance to the well being of our citizenry. If a few are wrongly held I suspect it is no different than the 2,100,000 people incarcerated and probably occasionally mistreated in our jails and prisons in the USA. The “chatterers” should redirect their venom to matters in our own legal systems; but probably not, they would still be the same ignorant people with little or no facts to back up their charges.

A somewhat too silent majority support the efforts to help the Iraqi people escape from fundamentalist religious slavery. We know that if we leave Iraq too soon, civil war will worsen and the MidEast will turn into chaos. To give the enemy an exact timetable would result in more ignorant people killing themselves along with innocent people. We understand that mistakes were made by many of those in leadership positions. It is easy to blame the president. He did not make these mistakes alone. You may recall that almost all of the leadership of the Democrat party was involved one way or another in our countries efforts to forestall further acts of terrorism on our own soil. So far both parties have done a pretty good job of protecting all of us including the “chatterers”.

Monday, July 04, 2005

More Ramblings

I just finished the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, received as a birthday present from my sister-in-law Dale Bowers. Dale is Asst. V-P for Extended Programs at Clayton College & State University at Morrow, GA. The books theme is “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” Some analytical thinking that confirms some beliefs you know but don’t spend much time thinking about. I suggest it is worth your time to read it. Not too heavy reading and some parts you can skim. Thanks Dale & you tested me to see if I saw what you pasted on the back of the 2nd page. I always read the covers of any book and then go right to the contents to see if I am interested. It was interesting and when I completed the book, something in my mind remembered seeing something out of place so I flipped back to the front of the book and there was a picture of a Clumber (?) dog with three tennis balls in its mouth. Dale, you are creative! I did enjoy the book!

“Where to be smoke-free”, was the title of a recent article in the JS. Here are statistics quoted by the JS. “Out of 274 surveyed restaurants in Peoria County, 181 classified themselves as smoke-free. That’s 66 percent non-smoking.”
“Out of 281 surveyed in Tazewell County, 78 classified themselves as smoke-free. That’s about 28 percent non-smoking.”
“Out of 86 surveyed in Woodford County, 29 classified themselves as smoke-free. That’s about 33 percent non-smoking.”

Each of you can read into these statistics what you want.

I have an article somewhere that claims lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the USA. It is estimated that tobacco will contribute to168, 140 cancer deaths this year. Half all these deaths could be PREVENTED says the American Cancer Society. (About 570,280 people are estimated to die of cancer in the USA this year.)

In talking about potential candidates to run against Aaron Schock, Dan Silverthorn said “the district (Shock’s) has a large number of blue-collar workers.” Read into that what you want too, also. Then remember we are going to bring more culture to this region by building more entertainment for the masses.

For some of you free "speechers"(sp) showing your stupidity in your “letters to the editors” appearing in the JS and I want to correct the latest one appearing with Mike Bailey’s special OK. (He’s the editor who puts his blessing on whether your letter gets printed and supposedly makes you verify your figures.) A Judith Goodwin says in this Bailey approved letter, that “If we stay in Iraq for another decade so that is another 17.000 dead Americans.” Bad arithmetic, Judith and Mike!! A decade when I was in school was known as 10 years. Approximately 1700 Americans have died from all causes since we invaded Iraq. As Bailey says “do the math.” since we have been in Iraq approximately two years.

An article appearing in the WSJ on 11/04/03 says “When I left Iraq in mid-June 57 mass graves have been found. One with the bodies of 1200 massacred children. There are credible reports of murder, brutality and torture of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqi citizens. One Shiite watched helplessly as police plucked out the eyes of his three month old baby.”

Now to Judith and her ilk I give you these statistics. Right here in the good old safe USA, 161,000 people died in accidents in 2002. 161,000 dead in one year and what have all you Bush haters and Pacifists done about it?? A dead, disabled and badly injured person has the same effect on families, no matter how they occurred. (Our family grieved just as much for my niece Claire, who was killed by a drunk driver, as we did for my 1st cousin Richard Witzig who was shot down by the Japanese in the Pacific Zone of WW2.) Judith, who lives at 2914 W. Scenic Drive, said in regard to this letter, “Oh dear, I hope I didn’t get my figures wrong.”

Ain’t this a great country we live in! A misstatement like that in Iraq would not get you a pass into a safe haven like Gitmo. It would get your head cut off and stuck on a pole.

Just a few more statistics, motorcycle deaths rose to 3,661 in 2003. Nationwide 720 people died in farming related accidents in 2004. Home fires claimed the lives of 2,670 last year. Pool drowning was in the low hundreds. Vehicle accident deaths were over 43,000. Injuries of all types were in the high millions.

People who complain about soldiers dying should put things in perspective. The USA armed forces are all volunteers, they have a cause and I am proud of every one of them, even those who thought joining a service was all fun, games and some extra income. (My nephew had one year at SIU and found college wasn’t for him. He is now serving his country in the U.S. Air Force.) Our whole extended family of mainly Republicans is proud of him. If we were Democrats, we would be just as proud of him.

Were mistakes made in all wars? You bet! How about Lincoln and his generals in the Civil War, Lee and his generals, Vietnam, North Korea, (wasn’t Truman a Democrat?), WW2, (wasn’t Roosevelt a Democrat?). Every war ever fought had innocent people die thru bad decisions on a personal level or by those in charge. What’s new about bad decisions? Do they all cause lives to be lost? Who knows? How many college kids have been driven to suicide by professors teaching pliable minds “that there are no truths”? Bad decisions should be corrected by those in charge. Run the armed services, our schools and politics on the model of a successful business and there will be fewer “bad decisions.”

The terrorist we are fighting have no regard for YOUR LIFE and your spouting your venom largely in ignorance, gives the cowardly terrorists more ammunition to kill us all. Regardless of actions taken or not taken by George H. W., George W., Bill Clinton and our bureaucracies, these terrorists would hate us anyway because they envy our freedom!! Their idea of freedom is to put all who disagree with them in prison or just kill them.

Trying to do a little figuring in my head, I believe counting all the armed services in the USA, State Police, FBI, CIA, Border Patrol, policeman of all kinds, deputies of all kinds , financial guards, Brinks type guards, school security officers, public and private property guards, park police and a dozen or so security forces I left out, we probably have over 4,000,000,000 people guarding us and yet we are murder capital of the world. Yet only 150,000 people are trying to free the Iraqi people from there own tyrannies. That figure includes all those doing paperwork, inventory, supply, transportation and other details in the whole country of Iraq.

Get real, some of you people. I’m tired of you undercutting our armed forces abroad as you bemoan Bush’s win over Kerry. As far as bankrupting ourselves, worry more about our pork spending at home than money spent on our security forces overseas.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Right College For Your Kids?

I just finished a book that is a must read for all parents who have just sent or are sending their kids away to college. The book is titled “Freefall of the American University”.(Courtesy of Virginia Orendorf, thanks Virginia, I’m returning the book Tuesday). It’s by-line is “How our colleges are corrupting the minds and morals of the next generation”. I’ve been collecting articles that support the concepts in this book, showing that many university professors, especially the ones teaching history and social studies, are not teaching your kids “how to think” but “what to think” This allows them to teach their own bias as being gospel. Some of the articles I’ve collected such as “Intellectual Totalitarians Frightened by Ideas”, “The Politics of Economic Envy and Distortion”, “Professors Who see no Evil”, A Chill in the Classroom”, “Students for Academic Freedom” and articles about that sterling product from Elmwood High , University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill.

Excerpts from this book include “The Academic Bill of Rights” (p. 320) as drafted by David Horowitz under the imprimatur of Students for Academic Rights. When the Dept. of Education released it’s History Report card, it showed that 57% of high School seniors flunked even a basic knowledge of American history and only 10% tested at grade level. These kids are ripe for university professors to teach them what to think and much of it is not about history. How about subjects colleges teach like “Strong Hard Filth and the Aroma of Washington Square”, “Homosexual Life”, “Solitary Sex/Solitary Self,” “Constructing Masculinity: Homosexual Sodomy, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Penetrative Manhood.” (p. 162-3) “Group think” is a popular trend taught by some professors. Believe what I believe and everybody else believes or your grades will suffer is the unspoken threat.

(p.167-172) reviews excerpts from George Orwell’s 1949 novel titled “1984” that describes a totalitarian world, a culture turned upside down and how the college “Thought Police” are still trying and sometimes succeeding in making that novel come true.

(p.271) “The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our cultures and Values”.

(p.308) “Defenders of student freedoms, such as Fire, (Foundation for Individual Rights), are quick to point out that penalizing students for their beliefs is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

This book by Jim Nelson Black takes a common sense conservative approach to how high schools and colleges, often with parental consent, are “dumbing down” our kids. He reminds us that false values are hard to shake; “like everybody is doing it; it must be okay”. While I have never read a book in which everything said is exactly how I see it, this book presents some scary facts to parents and all of us. I highly suggest at least skimming this book before you send your kids to college. The book suggests you visit the campus where your kids plan to go to school and read a couple of months copies of the student newspaper. What you read might be “enlightening”.

If I had a child that really wanted to go to college and learn, I would try to guide this child to a school like Hillsdale College, located at Hillsdale, Michigan. All religions, races and gender are accepted and the professors do teach and will teach your child how to think for themselves. This college accepts no government funds.

We better start paying more attention as to who is teaching our kids and what they are teaching. I’ll show you how to find out what they are teaching at your local schools without visiting every classroom. See a later blog but not tonight.

I close with this thought “Be very, very careful what you put in that head, because you will never, ever, get it out. (Cardinal Wolsey)

Boot Straps

Reunions are nice to see relatives you haven’t seen for a while and exchange talk about the success of your kids, your surgeries and exotic places you’ve been. They are better if you swap some dialogue about what else is going on in your communities and the world.. A niece of mine and I usually get around to talking about the public school systems. She taught in the Chicago area until retirement. We have different views on society. She feels you can never know what it’s like to be a person of color and /or poverty families unless you “walk in their shoes.” Good point, always. But then I’ll never know what it was like to walk in Ward Connerly’s shoes, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, the local Allen family, Ken Hinton, Martin Luther King, William Strawberry, Ophrah Winfrey, Bobby Humbles, Wayne McClain, Hersey Hawkins, Carl Cannon and millions of other people of color who most of the people in the community and the world look up to. I will also never know what it’s like to walk in Abraham Lincoln’s shoes, the Bush family, the Kennedy family or even my Mom and Dads shoes. My mom and dad were poor but they weren’t aware of it till it came time to pay the bills on the farm and paying the bills for nine kids. My recollections were there were always a series of financial struggles especially when the folks were faced with a farm drought like we are now experiencing. We all worked and never even thought of bankruptcy. And we always had enough to eat because we had both a garden and a truck patch. Drive the poorer parts of Peoria and look for gardens. I’ll give you two dollars for charity for every one you can find. Five dollars for every truck patch. Why garden when all these charitable places are handing out free food to anyone who comes to the door? No questions asked; gang bangers, “don’t give a d---ers”, free loaders, child molesters and honest people down on their luck. My observations are the latter are in the minority.

Anyway, a recent “letter to the Editors” by Henry Hein of Peoria pretty well sums up the way I feel about “walking in other peoples shoes.” Henry refers to a book by Charles Barkley entitled “Who’s afraid of a Big Black Man”? I now quote Henry because he is a wise man and states the truth as I see it. “The message of the book is that racism is a fact that has changed very slowly, but those suffering it should not give up on themselves because of it”. The successful people who are quoted in the book were mainly black and who said; get all the education you can; believe you can succeed; recognize doors have opened to you through the efforts of others who have gone before you; don’t dwell on blaming others for your difficulties; work hard and develop good habits; obey the laws, dress appropriately and learn to speak English correctly and clearly”. Henry goes on to say “This book should be required reading in our schools. It is inspiring and helpful. It tells us life is not easy (read Bill Gates) and for some it is more difficult than others, but doing the best we can is the most rational and helpful way to live”.

The old saying goes “you can lead the horse to the water, you cannot make him drink”. Perhaps the water is not to his likening; say the public school system. Then our job is to make the water (the public school system) more drinkable by offering and selling more vocational learning opportunities. Learning a vocation will show these kids that in order to make any kind of a living and raise a family they will need to learn to read and speak, write and express themselves and compute manually and electronically. Then enforce the truancy laws, remove kids from abusive situations, sexually, mentally and physically and increase the number of counselors in middle and high school and increase the size of our alternate schools. Bring in retirees to teach vocational skills and have an employee of the school district in the classroom to assist and enforce discipline.

Hanna City Youth Center has sat empty for years. Over a year ago I asked Dale Risinger to find the status of that building. I’m still waiting to hear from Dale but I forgot; Dale headed up the local IDOT before he went to Springfield. The Hanna City location would be a natural for vocational training from child care, animal husbandry, gardening, welding; body shop, electronics, carpentry; you name it. With all the free space needed from the State for probably just the cost of improvements and maintenance. There should be grants available. After all, if enhancements such as zoos and museums get millions for dollars in grants surely a project as worthy as this could get twice the money. Right? No, probably wrong, our priorities are out of sequence. Use the Hanna City site by #150 and offer space to all schools in bus driving distance. One school official outside of #150 has already shown an interest. Just corral and separate the gang bangers on the first day. Many of the “it’s not my fault I am like I am” will soon become the problem of the County Jail where more cells will need to added at an expense of approximately $25,000.00 per year per each. Which is cheaper, straighten out a kid or incarcerate him or her??

The need is there, the space is there but the will to even consider this possibility is lacking. First negative is “it’s too far away”. Is the prison at Pekin or Marion or Galesburg and Pontiac too far away?? Where do you think these truants and “don’t give a d---.” kids are going to wind up? At Caterpillar like in the old days? Think again. And no, they are not going to live on my welfare dollars if they have the ability to work and won’t. If they had the opportunity to learn and wouldn’t, no welfare dollars from me. Sorry.

Do I praise the efforts we are making in this community to not use racism and poverty as an excuse for failure? Of course, but I and most I know are not satisfied. We feel with our generosity, we are expanding a class who feel they will never need to work. Neither are the employers happy with the shortage of people who want to work and have learned basic skills. If they are not coming from our educational system, then we must open further the doors to all people from any country; people who will work, will learn; excluding those who do not have an explainable arrest record.. The day is fast approaching when other countries like India will be able to offer better paying jobs in their own countries. They will come here, study hard and take their knowledge back home and start businesses that will pay better and raise the standard of living in India. Then where will we get our workforce in the quantities and skills needed?? We have unfilled needs right now. It appears to be getting worse.

And then there is China who wants to buy a domestic oil company with 70% of the stock owned by the Chinese government. Where is Councilman Chuck Grayeb? But then oil and water don’t mix.

This article started because of family dialogue at the Widmer Family Reunion at Underwood Park in Normal. The shelter, playground, electricity, water, tennis courts, parking lot and ball diamond were all free. Compare with the run down condition of Glen Oak Park who charges $50 for shelter use. If you don’t think it still is the Glen Oak Park of past years I challenge you to look around. Count the patches of weeds, dead trees, trees that need trimming and the erosion on the south side of the lighted tennis courts. Well, what should I expect from a $44 million dollar PPD budget? Sorry I brought it up but I thought the $461.00 I paid in real estate taxes to the Park this year would give me at least a nice looking park.

No, I don’t know what it is like to walk in anyone’s shoes but my own. I can only imagine, but being who I am, I believe I’d do something about it and it would be legal and worthwhile.

ANOTHER CHANCE TO PILLAGE?

“Scrushy Wants HealthSouth Job Back” is headline in today’s WSJ. Of course he does, he needs to further pillage the company to help him pay his $25 million dollars in attorneys fees. And he will probably have the support of the elite and poor in Birmingham because they can both benefit from his largesse just like they did in the past. They see more questionable money for cultural projects and more money for welfare.

An article entitled “Prophet of Decline” in yesterdays WJS is worth reading. Quoted are comments made by a woman faced with a jail sentence who was indicted in her own country, Italy, over writings in this book; writings that the Italian government said vilified the Islam religion. Oriana Fallaci wrote this well read book named the “The Force of Reason”. Quoting the WSJ Editorial writer, “the book’s thesis is that the Old Continent is on the verge of becoming a domain of Islam, and that the people of the West have surrendered themselves to the “sons of Allah”. “ For the contents of the book, she faces two years imprisonment in Italy. Let us give thanks in America to the First Amendment.

Fallaci states “You cannot survive if you do not know the past. We all know why all other civilizations collapsed – from an excess of welfare, of richness, and from lack of morality, of spirituality. (She uses “welfare” here in the sense of wellbeing, so she is talking, really, of decadence.) “The moment you give up your principles and values…the moment you laugh at those principles, and those values, you are dead, your culture is dead and your civilization is dead.” That’s why it should be mandatory to study history in all schools. What kids get is often distorted and watered down versions to make our descendants look like thieves. Of course, as today, many were and are. But most weren’t and that is still why we may be the greatest country in the universe.

Fallaci, an atheist, admired Pope Benedict XVI especially an essay he wrote last year, “If Europe Hates Itself.” The Pope writes, “The West reveals…a hatred of itself, which is strange and can be only considered pathological; the West no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees what is only deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure.”

What has this got to do with Scrushy; the man lost sight of what he claims he set out to do; build something great, pure and honestly profitable for employees and stockholders. But success bred greed, envy, ego and abuse of power, the very things that brought down Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia and dozens of other corporations and caused HealthSouth to lose hundreds of millions of dollars for their stockholders.

I just finished the large tome, 700 plus pages, of Kurt Eichenwald’s book called “Conspiracy of Fools”. This is a true story of what went on at Enron and it was much better than any mystery I ever read and impossible to stop reading it. My blogging suffered. This book was recommended to me by Angela Anderson; Angela, I’m sorry I neglected to congratulate you on your recent city appointment.

I do not have the eloquence to write about how envy, jealousy, greed, decadence and oversized egos are ruining this world we live in. I have written that many of our priorities in our country and here in Peoria, are out of sequence. This failure of sequence of priorities shows up every day and very likely will lead to our loss of world leadership in the not too distant future. We will always have the most weapons of mass destruction but they may not be much good as our enemies seek other ways to destroy us thru disruption of our electronic systems and the spread of diseases. (I thought the comic strip panel in the JS today, summed it up. The emperor had just completed a great wall when an airplane was approaching in the distance. So true it’s not funny). Civilization as I knew it 45 years ago has certainly changed, superficially, and perhaps, for the better but certainly not in the betterment of the core interests of humanity.

Unfortunately, too many of our kids are being taught that money and position talks and is the sole symbol of success. Read the Enron book; not many happy people despite all their money and power plus the poor misled stockholders, a few in their own greed, got crapped on. The only happy people if you can call them were the ones that figured out what was going on and took their money and ran. Did you know that at the end when the company was bankrupt, Ken Lay, best friend of George and Laura was asking for $61 million dollars as his walkaway bonus? I read the man is now practically broke, both morally and fiscally. May many more deserving wealthy crooks, join him in his misery.