About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Two Men & A Dog Quiz

Since I present quizzes several times a year you can imagine how nervous I was when I received an e-mail that started "
Okay Doug...got one for you."  Now I do get quizzes from time to time from members of the readership but this is the first one from a participant with a nearly perfect score on all the quizzes over the years - an extremely smart man whom I admire.
 
After working the problem I was quite relieved when I received his passing grade "Yes that's correct. 
Well done, Doug."
 
Below is the subject quiz that I added a Part B to since that is the way I worked the problem.
 
Please let me know how you work the problem.  I will post all correct answers or alternatively will send the solution privately to anyone who requests it if no one figures it out.
 
Two Men & A Dog Quiz
 
Two men are walking toward each other, one is walking at 10 miles an hour the other is walking at 5 miles an hour.  They meet after one hour.  A dog is running back and forth between them at 8 miles an hour immediately turning around each time he gets to one of the men, until the men meet.  A) How many miles did the dog run? & B) Where is the dog when the two men meet if the dog starts with the man who walks @ 5 miles per hour?
 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

America Coming Apart

click on graphic to enlarge
 
The above graphic shows the 2018 results from the ACT (originally an abbreviation for American College Testing) standardized college-entrance exam, which along with the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), is used for college admissions in the U.S. & Canada.
 
This year's ACT exam was taken by 1.9 million high school graduates – just over half the graduating class.  Thirty five percent of high school graduates met none of the guidelines that indicates college readiness in the four subjects tested – English, Reading, Math, & Science.
 
Results were lower in 2018 in all of the aforementioned subjects compared to 2017 – see right side of above graphic.
 
Math results were @ a 14 year low with only 40% of the 2018 high school graduates taking the exam showing they were capable of passing a first year college algebra class.
 
The prestigious University of Chicago, where two of the greatest professors I admire taught – Professors Friedman & Knight, is getting around these depressing results by dropping the admission requirement for students to submit either an ACT or SAT test score saying in the most politically correct way possible that dropping the test requirement leveled the playing field for first generation & low income students.
 
And we see no improvement coming forward from the elementary school ranks.  For instance, the Detroit urban government school system continues to be the worst in the nation with only 5% of fourth graders being proficient in reading & 4% proficient in math.  My question is always how did fourth graders not proficient in reading & math get to the fourth grade?  But we can see how such fourth graders became the high school statistics described above.
 
Now these sad high school results carry over into later life after high school.
 
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation recently gave a multiple choice test to 1,000 Americans based on the citizenship test administered by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.  Passing the test requires a score of 60% or higher.  Only thirty six percent achieved that score.
 
Some results of the test:
 
1.  60% didn't know which countries the U.S. fought in WW II;
 
2.  37% thought Ben Franklin was famous for inventing the light bulb; 
 
3.  57% couldn't say how many Justices are on the Supreme Court;
 
4.  13% could identify 1787 as the year the Constitution was written;
 
5.  72% were not sure which states were part of the 13 original colonies;
 
6.  12% thought General Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War; &
 
7.  2% thought the cause of the cold war was climate change.
 
People 65 years old & older scored the best, with 74% passing.  Only 19% of people under the age of 45 passed – a cheerless result just like the ACT exam result shown above.
 
Arthur Levine, President of the Wilson Foundation, reflected on these results before the midterm election saying "With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed & engaged citizenry is essential.  Unfortunately this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America's history & incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test.  It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment.  Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today."
 
The results of the above two tests are no surprise when you consider the 2018 edition of the annual American Council of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) report that was released on September 18 entitled What Will They Learn? 
 
Based on the ACT & Wilson tests it is obvious that students are no longer taught anything constructive about America in elementary & secondary schools & ACTA's initiative that grades the core requirements of over 1,100 colleges & universities across the country confirms that many students don't do any better after going to college – ACTA found that only 17.1% of colleges require students to take a course in U.S. government or history, while just 3.2% require any study of economics.  Many also skip the requirement of English, math, &/or science studies.
 
For instance, ACTA finds that students can graduate from the prestigious universities of Johns Hopkins & Vassar without ever taking one course in U.S. history, composition, literature, math, science, economics, or foreign language.  Both schools are graded "F" by ACTA, tuition is $52,170 per year @ Johns Hopkins & $55,210 per year @ Vassar, & not surprisingly 87% of the students graduate in 4 years from Johns Hopkins & 85% graduate from Vassar on time.
 
I have recommended to UMD that they offer a no credit remedial course in civics & U.S. history to make up for what is not taught or learned before college - if for no other reason than not having their graduates be an embarrassment to the university when they are seen or heard in public.  No one thinks it is the secondary school's failure when a college graduate seems poorly educated.
 
I post the ACTA report every year when it is released to help students, parents, & grandparents get a broad introduction so they have a good starting point to narrow the selection from the over 1,100 schools covered in the report.  ACTA says the What Will They Learn? website will provide unique information on whether colleges make sure their students learn the things they need to know – you can find what they expect their graduates to study outside their majors, how much they are charging, & how many students graduate on time.
 
In 2018, 23 colleges & universities received an "A" grade & 342 received a "B" – all of these are shown on the website.  Although they are graded by ACTA strictly on curriculum many of the "A"s are inexpensive especially when compared to a school like Harvard that was graded "D".
 
In 2015 Educational Testing Service (ETS) did an analysis & found that millennials in the U.S. are "relatively weak" in literacy, numeracy, & problem solving compared with those of other countries.  I previously posted that European secondary school students "felt sorry" for how badly American students did on certain exams – the European students were not trying to be mean but it was very hurtful for me to hear.
 
In a global economy Americans are competing with an academic hindrance compared to people from Europe & especially Asia.  It is an understatement to say we must strengthen academic standards.
 
Now this does not mean everyone should go to college – especially if colleges are not teaching anything useful regarding how to make a living that allows you to increase the standard of living for yourself & fellow citizens.
 
To paraphrase Professor Friedman – it does not make any difference where you learn it, the important thing is that you learn it.
 
Just think how many people had only an eighth grade education 75 to 100 years ago – we all knew many such people when we were growing up & they were smart.  They read newspapers & books.  They could write a letter & they could talk coherently.  And they knew enough math to run a family business.  In short, they were proficient in the three "R"s.
 
Click on Kentucky Eighth Grade Exam & The Employment Opportunites - Income Gap In America to see what was expected of a student to graduate from the 8th grade in 1912.
 
In summary, this post shows that far too many Americans are ill-prepared to hold or be offered a good paying job in the global economy in which one fifth of the current jobs did not exist in 1980.  This fact screams for education & proper training – as of September 30 employers had 1,050,000 more job openings than there were people capable of filling them (i.e., 7.01 million job openings – 5.96 million jobless Americans actively looking for work = 1,050,000 unfilled job openings.  Source; Labor Department.)
 
There are over one million job openings currently in the U.S. that are not filled either because people are not qualified to do the work &/or they don't have the intellect to get the education or training necessary to qualify for the positions.
 
Two real world examples that underscore the scarcity if not shortage of qualified American workers are: 1) Amazon's decision to split its second headquarters evenly between two cities – NYC & the Crystal City neighborhood in Arlington, VA.  The scarcity of qualified workers prompted Amazon to prefer two locations thereby providing better access to top tech talent.  The original plan was to have just one city chosen to be HQ2 but Amazon did not believe that any one American city had enough technical talent to meet its needs; & 2) Foxconn's challenge to find enough American engineers to work on the $10-billion 22-million square foot liquid-crystal display panel plant being built in southern Wisconsin that will supply Apple with electronic components.  Foxconn is considering transferring engineers from China to Wisconsin because of the engineering personnel shortage in what is a real insourcing shame.
 
Its obvious that companies like Amazon & Foxconn cannot afford to employ people as woefully informed as the ones described above – like the 20 people from the above Wilson test who thought the cold war was caused by climate change. 
 
Instead of focusing the youth of America on creating value & wealth the American education system concentrates on the politically correct – worrying about diversity instead of merit, encouraging people to look for reasons to be offended even for the most innocent of comments, awarding blue ribbons & trophies for every elementary school athlete win, lose, or tie, & supporting  sympathetic, tolerant, & self-sacrificing immigration & asylum policies for people who want to kill us or take advantage of every one of the 126 welfare programs identified by the Cato Institute.
 
Dumbing down the society with a poor education system is the tap-root from which political correctness grows – it starts by producing people who don't know much about their own country or the world & winds up with a society who cannot tell right from wrong or good from evil.  Today political correctness continues to work its way through America eroding our prosperity & standard of living. 
 
Discerning readers will see how all of the above goes together. 
 
And this post shows how it is all coming apart for America.
 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Midterm Election Analysis - 2018

Although Democrats & Republicans each control one chamber of Congress starting in 2019 the mid-term election was no split decision to me – it was a big loss no matter how many conservative TV commentators say it was not a blue wave – whatever it was we lost.  I can't take solace losing control of the House. 
 
After the presidential election of 2016 Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress & the Presidency – we may never have that opportunity again in our lifetimes.  With the House gone, @ a 39 seat thumping, we lost the political correctness issue – anchor babies & sanctuary cities are here to stay, & building the border wall is going nowhere unless the lame duck Congress comes through.
 
In addition to losing the House, Republicans lost more than 300 state legislative seats nationwide & seven governorships including the three states that generally are considered the three that put Trump over the top in 2016 – Wisconsin, Michigan, & Pennsylvania.  The Michigan & Pennsylvania races were blowouts while Scott Walker lost by 30,000 votes out of 2.6 million cast in Wisconsin.  This was a Midwest blue wave.
 
Most important - the quality people that were defeated is staggering.  Dave Brat is the very best & he lost in an R+6 district after achieving a 97% Conservative Review Liberty Score over his four years in office - they were not looking for liberty or the Constitution in VA 7.  Katie Arrington lost in SC 1 (after a primary win defeating Mark Sanford - liberty score of 93% - who I supported for president several years ago).  Pete Sessions (TX), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Claudia Tenney (NY), & John Faso (NY) are all people who could have continued to help the country move forward in one way or another – but they lost.  Mia Love (UT) was a supposed rising star in the GOP but she lost two of the four elections she participated in since 2012. 
 
Gubernatorial candidates: John Cox got swamped in California & Kris Kobach (KS) & Bob Stefanowski (CT) each lost by several points.  What a terrible shame.
 
Then there were the ones who just squeaked by: Ted Cruz (TX), Rick Scott (FL), Ron DeSantis (FL), Brian Kemp (GA), & Rob Woodall (GA).  Ted, Rick, Ron, & Brian ran against the biggest nothings imaginable (for instance Rick Scott's Senate opponent, Bill Nelson, has a liberty score of zero) & barely won - these should have been blowouts not squeakers.
 
I can't remember when Orange County, California was not a Republican stronghold – now all seven of the county's seats are held by Democrats who have a 45 to 8 advantage over Republicans overall in the state.  Of the 39 House seats Republicans lost nationwide in 2018 six were lost in California & four in NJ.  To illustrate the electoral enormity of California please understand that there are more registered voters in California than there are residents of 46 of the other 49 states & 41 states don't have 14 members of Congress – the current number of GOP congressmen in California.
 
After Orange County's wipe out the next biggest blow was Harris County, Texas which includes Houston – it is the third most populous county in the U.S. with 4.6 million people.  Ted Cruz won the statewide Senate race 50.9% to 48.3% over supposed rising star Robert Francis O'Rourke who prefers his self proclaimed Hispanic shortened name Beto (short for Berto).  Even though Beto did not win his Senate race he came close enough & had long coattails in the big population areas & Harris County exemplified this in that nearly every Republican in the county lost – including 59 judges & the top County Executive who was defeated by a 27 year old woman who had never attended a Harris County Commissioners Court meeting – which she will now oversee.  Turnout was 75% higher in Harris County this year than in the 2014 midterm election.
 
Speaking of NJ, voters would not give marine veteran & business executive Bob Hugin a chance against incumbent Bob Menendez in the Senate race.  Menendez had been indicted on federal corruption charges for alleged favors he gave to Ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen & gifts he received from Melgen.  Menendez's trial ended in a hung jury & a mistrial.  Melgen is now serving a 17 year sentence in jail for stealing $73 million from Medicare.  Hugin lost by over 300,000 votes 54% to 43%.
 
Now the Senate was ripe in 2018 for Republicans to make major gains due to a very favorable electoral map in that there were 35 seats up for reelection of which 26 were held by Democrats, 10 of which had to defend seats in Trump-friendly states that he won in 2016.  Nevada was the only state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 that had a Republican incumbent senator running for reelection.
 
This great political advantage in a midterm election was squandered.  After all the dust has nearly settled Republicans added one Senate seat to their column with one special election in Mississippi to be decided Tuesday.  At most, Republicans will have a 53 to 47 advantage in the Senate.  This is extremely disappointing when you consider the advantage was 54 to 46 after the 2014 midterm election. 
 
This electoral phenomenon will reverse in 2020 in that there will be twenty Republicans standing for reelection compared to eleven Democrats.  In 2022 there will be twenty two Republicans standing for reelection & only twelve Democrats.
 
The results of some Senate races were known, or highly suspected, by the political class several days before the midterms in that Trump did not return to Arizona or Nevada for MAGA rallies where both Republican candidates lost.
 
All tolled it was a wipeout in every state except for some of the ones Trump carried handily in 2016 & a few close ones like Florida where Rick Scott won by 0.12% out of over 8 million votes cast after a hand recount of under & over votes.  Voter turnout was up 12.6 percentage points over the 2014 midterm levels with early voting doubling since 2014.  Almost 116 million people voted in the 2018 midterm elections – the first ever topping of the 100 million mark in a midterm & the largest turnout in terms of the share of the eligible population since 1914.  See graphic below.
 
It is not a confidence booster to count on continuously winning close elections because electorates change.  For instance, Florida voters passed an amendment on November 6 to restore voting rights to 1.5 million convicted felons who served their sentences & finished probation & parole – does not apply to felons convicted of murder or sex crimes.
 
Trump won Florida in 2016 by 112,911 votes, Ron DeSantis won the governor's race by 33,683 votes, & Rick Scott won the Senate race by 10,033 votes so making 1.5 million felons eligible to vote will have an enormous effect on both national & Florida state election results going forward.
 
But it is the Republican secret ballot election in the House for their new minority leader that is the strongest indication that things will not get better any time soon.  The current Republican leadership team of Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, & Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell all have identical Congressional Review Liberty Scores of 36% - all three leaders of the Republican Party are graded F.  McCarthy, hand picked by Ryan as his successor, defeated House Freedom Caucus Co-Founder Jim Jordan 159 to 43.  Jordan has a liberty score of 98% & 80% of the Republican caucus wanted no part of his type of leadership.
 
So the Republicans learned nothing from this pitiful midterm performance – 4 out of every 5 Republicans voted to continue with the leadership that watched as their House majority was wiped out.  It makes you wonder if they want to get back in power – it is easier to just wallow around in the minority complaining about this or that issue.
 
Add the Democrats in & Jordan has the backing of only 10% of House members – this is the minority we are in.  It is very disheartening to see this clearly just how feckless 90% of our elected representatives are.
 
I used the word "we" several times in this post & I certainly did not mean Republican politicians because we see that 80% of them are not worth voting for.  The "we" I was referring to were the people my dear friend & colleague in liberty, Lawson Bader, wrote to me about on Thanksgiving day – those "across the country connected in a kinship of shared commitment to the guiding principles of America's founding."