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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Walk, You Won't Have To Run

"Teachers unions are more dangerous to America than al Qaeda." - Neal Boortz

The above graphics (click on them to enlarge) released earlier this month by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation's Report Card, are part of the latest indication that America's youth are being poorly educated & this is a detriment to our country. 

In 2022 only 13% of eighth graders in government schools were proficient in history - "That's the lowest proportion of students reaching that level out of any subject assessed by NAEP" says Daniel J. McGrath, National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Acting Associate Commissioner.  It is 20% proficient or above in civics.

Last Fall NAEP's report showed national test scores had the largest math declines ever recorded for fourth & eighth graders & reading levels had dropped to the lowest levels since 1992 - only 33% of fourth graders nationwide scored proficient or higher in reading tests in 2022.

The last RTE post pointed out that America is experiencing shortages of doctors, pharmacists, accountants, & policemen & you don't have to look further than the above academic results to see why.  It is not far-fetched to see a connection between the above education declines, that have been reported for years, & our shortages of key professionals. 

In addition, those who make it to graduate school, many of whom would be the next professionals in one of the above four fields have found "funemployment" & "quiet quitting" fits into their current lifestyle quite well.  

"Funemployment" - the concept of GenZers & some younger Millennials that not having the worries of a job, or even the prospects of one, could be pleasant, delightful, & even desirable - an irresponsible level above wanting a good work-life balance.  Source: Suzy Welch.  

"Quiet quitting" is the concept that young professionals should take their work-life balance to the point that they do no more than the bare minimum to do their job & quietly quit work, for the day, when they think they have met this standard.  Mrs. Welch points out this is another way of saying " I want to work 9-to-5 in an 8-to-8 industry."  Imagine if doctors or policemen were quiet quitters.

Of course these concepts rely heavily on the funemployed & quiet quitters not spending down their parents' wealth too fast, starting with their student loans being forgiven by Biden.  If these people do spend down their parents' entire wealth they will have wiped out the wealth of two generations (their own that never materialized & their parents) making the question - can the next generation rebuild the wealth that was wasted on these feckless people?

But it's even worse - the behavior described above carries over to blue collar work as well.  The gas engineer who recently relocated my natural gas meter outdoors told me that the local utility has a hard time getting young people who want to work - he finds them not interested in the work, lazy, looking for time off, but wanting to receive good pay.  He had an older helper that day @ my house who provided a noticeable difference to contrast this opinion to - his apprentice helper had been an experienced mechanic who was changing careers to work for the local utility.  The apprentice was all the things that the gas engineer said the young workers are not - helpful, energetic, wanting to learn, & asking questions.

Now like many of you, I have seen this coming for years, starting for me with two successful fathers I know who expected nothing from their sons & in one case that is exactly what he got after paying for a useless college education.  Over the years I had noticed that each of the two sons either took no responsibility for work around the house or didn't have a summer job - a tip off of bad things to come.

But it's not just personal achievement that should worry us.  Far too many people are falling for the woke mentality, without even realizing it, as they are being taught to hate America while simultaneously taking for granted the freedoms that America inherently offers.  

Even so the topic of reparations in California, piled on top of all the other abuses (e.g., penalty free shoplifting of $950 of merchandise, sky high gasoline taxes & utility rates, & large homeless encampments) in the once Golden State, may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.  

California was admitted to the union as a free state meaning there were no slaves & no slave holders.  Most people trace their ancestry to after the Civil War so asking people to pay large reparations pushes people's backs to the wall & they may finally be ready to "just say no" to more Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Also in California, the new San Francisco DA (replacement for recalled DA Chesa Boudin - an accomplishment in & of itself) not bringing charges earlier this month against the Walgreens security guard in the shooting death of Banko Brown during a shoplifting attempt is another indication of a possibly changing tide.  One thought was that the new DA could not find a grand jury in San Francisco that would indict the security guard.  Who would have thought this possible just a few months ago?

Other tide turning events: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (backed by both chambers of the Florida Legislature) 1) requires businesses with more than 25 employees to use the online E-Verify system to check employment to help control illegal immigration, 2) will not recognize out of state driver's licenses issued to illegal immigrants, 3) requires State & local investment decisions to focus on maximizing returns instead of making politically correct investment statements with citizens' pension funds regarding Environmental, Social, & Governance (ESG) considerations, & 4) will no longer require Floridians to have a permit to carry concealed weapons.

Now the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, & the homosexual rights advocacy group Equality Florida have issued travel advisories to prospective tourists that claim Florida has state laws that are hostile to LGBT & people of color.  The groups claim DeSantis has attempted to erase Black History month & restrict diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) programs in Florida schools.  This is a positive step in righting our ship  because people will now have a choice to make concerning what is right or wrong instead of just hearing one side, but you can count on the hostile anti-American media to present any arguments in a skewed & misleading way so people will have to beware & dig to learn the truth for themselves.

And in Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has improved the former Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) by appointing Martin Brown to the position of Chief Diversity Officer & renaming the institution the Office of Diversity, Opportunity, & Inclusion & making Brown its Director.  Brown is a graduate of both Howard University & the Virginia Executive Institute @ VCU & has extensive experience working in the private sector & state government.  

These moves enhance Virginia's chances of further awakening citizens of the Old Dominion to the destructiveness of CRT where small sounding differences between words like equity & equality have led to nothing but trouble.  Brown has already spoken @ the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in this regard saying things like "DEI is dead," which resulted in the Virginia NAACP calling for Brown's resignation.  I take this as another positive sign that sanity is gaining some voice because Youngkin has not wavered in his support for Brown who must be doing something right to fire up such opposition.

It is important to remember that in many ways Virginia is ground zero in discovering the education problem of parents being excluded from involvement in what their children were being taught in Virginia government schools.  The Loudoun county parents-teachers board meetings that caught national attention led to Youngkin being elected governor in 2021.

And in Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds just signed a bill banning gender identity & sexual orientation issues from being raised to children in K through 6th grade & school administrators are now required to notify parents if students ask to change their pronouns or names.

In North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation that prohibits government schools from requiring teachers & employees to refer to transgender people by the pronouns they use.

It is CRT & the gender identity & sexual orientation issues that take time away from what young students should be learning that is hurting America in more ways than one.  We have learned that we can't just turn kids over to schools with no further parental involvement - we have to regularly look @ students' textbooks & homework assignments to make sure we know what is happening.

As regular readers of this blog know, I present quizzes (similar in difficulty to NAEP sample questions) from time to time throughout the year.  Many subscribers send these quizzes to friends or present them @ dinner parties.  My hope has always been that parents & grandparents will send them to their children & grandchildren like my dear late friend Evelyn did for years.  

For instance if a ninth grader @ this point in the school year can't figure out the Train Derailment Quiz that was posted on March 7 he or she is not doing math @ proficiency level & parents should know this so they can do something about it.

In his online Hillsdale College economics course entitled Supply-Side Economics & American Prosperity, Dr. Arthur Laffer confides his own personal answer regarding what he thinks the prospects are for our country.  Dr. Laffer says that when he was young he was very optimistic & the world was much worse than it is today.  From 1946 to the present the United States has improved enormously.  But he admits that along the way the divisiveness, like today's, that he has seen before, has always depressed him & he is living in that same sort of depression today of the partisanship that makes him not optimistic; but he says he has always been wrong when he was not optimistic.

In that same spirit of Art Laffer I have presented above some optimistic signs in this post that people could be waking up to know we have it within our power to change the destructive path we are on. 

And there are even more signs all around us like 1) Anheuser-Busch, losing beer sales more & more by the day for the past two months, after offending their own clientele with their wokeness when they hired transgender Tik Tok influencer Dylan Mulvaney, to promote Bud Light in a pair of videos that received negative feedback on social media including Kid Rock posting a video of him shooting cases of the beer - all this heading into the summer beer drinking season, 2) Target holding true, to date, in not jamming sales of Gay Pride Month clothing items down 99% of their customers throats in favor of the 1% of households that account for Americans in same sex marriages, & even 3) the Los Angeles Dodgers waffling regarding whether or not to honor the Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence @ the ball park during the annual Pride Night  baseball game - it's currently still on.

I also had the Republican House holding true on the spending reduction debt ceiling issue on the above list but removed it when McCarthy capitulated as Republicans have done every time before.  If the agreement in principle that Biden & McCarthy made late Saturday night does not have the votes to pass into law there is a better than even chance that McCarthy will fold on even the few meatless bones Biden threw him in order to get the Democrat votes needed to avoid the catastrophe Yellen has warned her Treasury will ensure occurs.

We may lose most or even all of these examples, like combining spending reduction with raising the debt ceiling, but we are @ least looking like we know something is going on that requires attention.  Just a short time ago there was no resistance.  Make sure you are doing everything you can to actively pull in the right direction because the forces against us are very formidable.

In the meantime I have two of my own first hand experiences that make me happy.

First I was just notified that my friend Darien was one of four students in the Honors College @ Cleveland State that graduated with a mechanical engineering degree on a full scholarship & he starts work on his new job today.  The sky's the limit for this young man.

Second, my friend Tommy is finishing his junior year majoring in civil engineering @ Rutgers.  Two years ago I asked Tommy to show me his curriculum & he gave me the number for some people @ his college who I spoke to so I have gauged the quality of his education which is excellent.  He has helped with work around his parents house for years & this summer will be his second working as a summer student for an engineering firm in his area.  He has touched all the bases I mentioned above in this post.

Next year Tommy will be 22 years old & will have an engineering degree from Rutgers - a ticket to anywhere he wants to go in the business world.

Tommy, like Darien, won't have to run, he will walk past any pretended competition.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

We Have It Within Our Power To Change The Destructive Path We're On

 "There's clearly been an effort to bring down the standards for our students in Virginia to stop celebrating excellence.  And this is counter to everything we believe." - Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin speaking about eighteen Virginia high schools (see table below that includes the number 1 high school in the nation), apparently working in tandem targeting Asian-American students, by withholding National Merit Awards presented to the top 3% of scorers on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) - an award that is an honor acknowledgement of merit that can help students in the top 1% of scorers compete for scholarships & college admissions. 

School officials said that the awards & scholarships were withheld to avoid hurting the feelings of those who failed to get them, citing their program of "equal outcomes for every student, without exception."  This relentless pursuit of Progressives' idea of equity went as far as hiring an "equity consultant" for $450,000 in the Fairfax County School District.  

The Virginia Attorney General is conducting an investigation.

Progressives have come to substitute the word "equity" for "equality" as if the two are identical - they are not.  Progressives' idea is that there are systemic inequalities in the world & that social equity is achieved when everyone under whatever circumstance they find themselves is given whatever they need to reach an equal outcome with anyone else.  In short, a tilted playing field.  The Founders argued that government exists to protect man’s natural equality and natural rights. The Progressives countered that government exists to achieve equality for individuals, particularly economically like the student loan forgiveness program that transfers the student's debt from people who incurred it to those who don't owe it. 

Equity is the quality of being fair & impartial & of course the Progressives' idea of equity is exactly the opposite of this.  When Progressives talk about equity they are speaking of "equality of outcomes" & this viewpoint not only will hurt the country - it already has.

Last fall, following the equity for equality progressive substitution, Ivy League & other highly thought of big name schools sought to protect their names & reputations a little longer by deciding not to provide data for U.S. News & World Report's law school rankings.  Led by Yale & Stanford more than a dozen other law schools followed suit.  

This in turn quickly led to Harvard's Medical School withdrawing their cooperation with the magazine's medical school rankings, which was followed by medical schools @ Stanford, Columbia, Penn, & Mount Sinai.

Rankings like USNWR's, & grading of colleges by ACTA, can only louse up the good thing some schools have going for themselves.  Don't compete for excellence - just let things roll along as the non-participating schools rest on their laurels & perceived reputation.      

The above examples of the Virginia high schools & the college law & medical schools intentionally hindering the brightest students' development will continue the dumbing down of the entire society that thinks there are more than two sexes, that men have babies, & that you need to state your preferred pronouns when being introduced to someone or enlist in the Army.

Our enemies around the world concentrate on overtaking America economically & militarily while our schools produce a society, many of whose members are tied up in preferred pronouns & can't get a responsible job despite employers' multiple openings per unemployed worker.  See graphic below.

The link between lack of education achievement & unemployable people becomes clearer every day.  Employers have the openings but can't find qualified people to fill them no matter how many people are out of work.

This deterioration of education in America, as documented in the Virginia high schools above, is also a growing problem in the professions.

There was already a looming shortage of doctors forecast before the 2010 enactment of ObamaCare with its projections of adding another 30 million people into the insured ranks.  The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a primary care shortage of up to 55,000 doctors within the next decade & up to 124,000 physicians by 2034 derived from an estimated 268,000 retirements & possibly only 15,000 new doctors coming in each year.

It is estimated that more than 64 million people in the U.S, live in an area that is short of doctors, nurses, & other health & human service professionals.  Retiring doctors give their practices to hospitals or large group-team practices with young inexperienced doctors in exchange for being able to walk away from the practice with no further liability.

This doesn't look like it will get better any time soon with proper medical training being an expensive time-consuming process being offered by a limited number of medical schools with just so many seats - such schools not keeping up with the demand for physicians.  Doctors then are being burnt out with less autonomy as they are controlled by insurance companies.

The solution is to return the medical profession to the excellence when it was the most prestigious field for a young person to go into by removing all of these hindrances & red tape encountered when trying to help patients.

But it is not the shortage of doctors that surprises me since I have repeatedly written about that since the early days of ObamaCare.

I was very surprised to see little more than a homemade sign "Pharmacists Wanted '' when I entered a local Rite Aid drug store last summer.  Come to find out the major pharmacy chains have severe personnel shortage problems too.

And it all started during the Covid-19 pandemic with fewer people attending pharmacy schools - a trend that is expected to continue.  According to the Pharmacy College Application Service the number of pharmacy-school applicants dropped by more than a third from its peak a decade ago resulting in pharmacies reducing hours or even closing stores on weekends because of staff shortages.

The median annual pay for pharmacists in 2021 was nearly $129,000 meaning by definition half the pharmacists you see filling prescriptions make over $129,000 per year.

This has created an overworked condition that is ripe for mistakes.  I witnessed a madhouse @ a local Walmart pharmacy the winter before last when there was only one pharmacist on duty giving Covid vaccine shots, trying to fill orders, & explain how to take medications to customers.  The pharmacist looked disheveled, bewildered, & spinning around like being blown out of a cyclone not knowing where to turn next.  I left.

Next up in the troubled professions is accounting where a shortage of accountants is forcing small & mid sized firms to hire overseas accountants even when the U.S. income tax filing season gets in full swing.  Imagine what this says - foreigners in Bengaluru, India or South Africa know how to complete an American income tax return but Americans don't.

Education starts the downhill accounting profession slide with a 9% decline in U.S. students who received a bachelor's degree in accounting (57,500 degrees in 2012 to 52,500 degrees in 2019) with the downward trend continuing the past two years.  As I expected to find in researching this post, fewer people are sitting for the four part CPA examination.  Evidently working the fields in the hot Arizona sun is not the only job Americans won't or can't do.

This lower number of degreed accountants is not sufficient to replace the more than 300,000 U.S. accountants & auditors who left their employment the past two years.  

The accounting profession involves a lot of pressure & hard work with 70 to 80 hour workweeks common each spring during income tax season & four times a year meeting audit deadlines for business financial reports.

Just like pharmacies have reduced their hours many accounting firms have stopped performing external audits because of qualified staff shortages.

I have wondered for years why anyone would want to join the police force, border patrol, or military the way people in those professions have been treated under the criminal or enemy first, victim last or not @ all mindset.

I know army veterans who went through very selective competitive processes to become policemen 20 years ago - the NYPD had 20 applicants for every open position.  Now there is a 1,700 officer shortage.  Chicago is losing two officers for each one it graduates from the police academy & San Jose has seen a two thirds drop in applications to the police force the last three years.  Source - Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

As the abuse of these police professionals became more & more absurd the hiring standards naturally were lowered.

For instance, four of the five Memphis policemen who were fired & charged with murder in the beating & subsequent death of Tyre Nichols had been reprimanded or suspended earlier in their work on the force for failure to report when they used physical force, failure to report a domestic dispute, or for damages to a squad car.  

One of the four officers cited above was hired after the department loosened its education requirements.  The man had worked as a Shelby County corrections officer - he had been sued for allegedly beating a jail inmate (the case was dismissed on a technicality) so on-the-job violence was on his resume.

In fact the Memphis police chief herself, who had created the elite Scorpion unit that the five accused officers belonged to, had originally been demoted from major to lieutenant before being fired from the Atlanta police force for attempting to cover up a case involving the husband of another officer.  The Atlanta Civil Service Board reinstated her.

The above four examples of shortages - doctors, pharmacists, accountants, & policemen - show important jobs that affect our lives that are just not being done the way they should be.  

These shortages, & the above examples of why we have them from the Virginia high schools & college law & medical schools, are indicative of the destructive path we are on.

A path where we worry about transgender bathrooms but not sanctuary cities; where thugs are honored as heroes while policemen or citizens who bring them to justice are vilified - Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri & citizen Jose Alba defending himself in a NYC bodega by stabbing ex-con Austin Simon who attacked Alba over a bag of chips Simon's girlfriend had not been able to pay for with her defunct benefits card; & where illegal immigrants can commit murder after being deported six times but still gain sanctuary in major cities - Kate Steinle dying in her father's arms after being shot in San Francisco.

We continue to worry after AOC told us the world will end in 2030 due to climate change if we don't adopt impractical, expensive, & cost ineffective measures of the Green New Deal but aren't concerned @ all that the Medicare Part A Hospital Trust Fund will run out of money by 2028 & that the Social Security Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2032. 

We allow trained Marxists to infiltrate our schools @ every level from kindergarten through graduate school to undermine & overturn our country by teaching radical political ideology that emphasizes Critical Race Theory & the malicious deliberate historical errors, misstatements, & falsehoods of the 1619 Project & Black Lives Matter - all of which sees literally everything through the lens of race so that young children come to regard their parents as racists who are beyond redemption. 

The forces against America have never been greater.

The only good part is that we have it within our power to change it.