I’ve railed on the absurdity of the “socialization” argument against homeschooling plenty of times on this blog. And, even though I know it isn’t going away in casual conversation for years to come, at least now there is some hard evidence to back up what homeschoolers have been saying for years. Namely, that homeschoolers aren’t just “as socially active” as government school kids; they are in fact “more socially active” than government school kids.
Now we have a new longitudinal study titled “Fifteen Years Later: Home-Educated Canadian Adults” from the Canadian Centre for Home Education. This study surveyed home-schooled students whose parents participated in a comprehensive study on home education in 1994. The study compared home-schoolers who are now adults with their peers. The results are astounding.
When measured against the average Canadians ages 15 to 34 years old, home-educated Canadian adults ages 15 to 34 were more socially engaged (69 percent participated in organized activities at least once per week, compared with 48 percent of the comparable population). Average income for home-schoolers also was higher, but perhaps more significantly, while 11 percent of Canadians ages 15 to 34 rely on welfare, there were no cases of government support as the primary source of income for home-schoolers. Home-schoolers also were happier; 67.3 percent described themselves as very happy, compared with 43.8 percent of the comparable population. Almost all of the home-schoolers — 96 percent — thought home-schooling had prepared them well for life.
“”Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” –Thomas Jefferson
Watch what happens here. Ron Paul is asked a question about the war in Iraq and our foreign policy. He gives a well reasoned answer from history in response. The moderator then fires back with a challenge question about 9/11. What? What does 9/11 have to do with Iraq? We were bombing Iraq all through the Clinton presidency. And to this day there has yet to be any evidence to tie Iraq to 9/11. They are completely un-related, except for the fact that Bush wanted to put a base there to keep our American interests in the middle east.
But, what really fires me up is Rudi Guiliani coming back with some tripe about how Ron Paul should rescind his statements because “I lived through 9/11.” So what? I watched it on T.V. If we take Guiliani’s statements as a syllogism it would look like this:
I was present at the 9/11 attacks.
I’ve never heard anyone claim blowback was what caused 9/11.
Therefore, we shouldn’t have a non-interventionist foreign policy.
What? And, he gets raucous applause for that asinine argument? I swear, sometimes it’s all just too much. And we wonder why we ended up with a fascist in the White House.
I’ve been an avid Rush Limbaugh listener forever, as I started listening to him when he was on television late at night back in the early 90′s. I’ve always taken the Camille Paglia stance on Rush. When it comes to “doing radio” the man is in a class by himself. No one else can touch him. Plus, he’s just hilarious and makes a long drive home mucho enjoyable. Does that mean that I agree with everything he says? No. I’d say at one time that I probably agreed with about 75% of what he said. Now it’s more like 40%. It’s not that I now think he’s some kind of wacko or anything. I still think he’s brilliant. It’s just that he seems to be missing the forest for the trees on a lot of issues. The problem I have with Rush now days is two-fold.
Firstly, he’s wrong about a lot of the economic stuff that I thought he was right about. He’s always been a Milton Friedman-ite. And, while that’s better than being a Keynesian, ol’ Milton has plenty of his own problems. The so-called monetarist school that he comes from is way too friendly with the Federal Reserve and big government monetary policy. Rush thinks that guys who call for a return to hard money, like Ron Paul, are kooks. He’s completely wrong about this. A return to the gold standard would solve a great many problems we face in this country right now. Like I said, he’s not a wacko, but he just isn’t seeing things correctly. He’s got his economics down and he isn’t willing to dig any deeper.
Secondly, and more importantly, his penchant for the military has gone over the top. Case in point is his latest opinion that we should bomb the living hell out of Iran:
Now, the Iranians are denying this story, but it’s in multiple sources here. “The deputy minister, Mohammed Haj Mahmoud, said Iranian troops seized oil well No. 4 Thursday night in the al-Fakkah…” gotta pronounce that carefully “…oil field, located about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad. The oil field is one of Iraq’s largest.” However, as I say, the Iranians are denying this. Now, ladies and gentlemen, as far as Iran is concerned, let’s be blunt here. The only way to stop them is to destroy the Iranian regime, the mullahs, and that can only be accomplished through war. And by war I don’t mean ground troops, I mean massive bombing raids intended to destroy every one of the key targets. The question is whether we have the will to do this anymore. Danielle Pletka, from I think AEI, had a column on this in the Washington Post earlier this week basically stating our policy is one of containment and how erroneous and dangerous that is. It’s a leftover containment policy, mutually assured destruction that we had with the Soviets.
So if we don’t pound Iran into submission at some point they are going to get the bomb, they’re bragging about it, they’ve told us, they’ve shunned the inspectors, and they laugh about it all. If Israel doesn’t attack ‘em the world will be forever a hostage to an Islamic regime that could fire midrange and eventually long-range nuclear missiles when it chooses. Now, we know that Obama will not take effective military steps to stop Iran so if Israel doesn’t it will in fact become a nuclear regime. Obama will not do it because he doesn’t like the concept of victory, he’s uncomfortable with it, and he’d rather send letters to North Korea and to Tehran and have all kinds of meaningful dialogue. Economic sanctions in Iran will not work since the mullahs and ayatollahs are unaffected by it, they don’t care what happens to their people.
I’m not going to go off pointing fingers and acting self-righteous because I used to be just as on board with all things military as he is. As recently as two years ago I would have said “Heck yeah man. Let’s bomb ‘em. Right on.” My recent studies have changed my mind though. And, I want to emphasize “my studies.” Not my feelings. Not my politics. Not my theology. It was my study of the historical facts about government and war that changed my mind on the military. I just can’t, in good conscience, support this stuff any more. It’s so obviously political. The whole Iran situation has been so hyped up that it’s nuts. Just like every other conflict we’ve been in or started. The facts never match the propaganda.
I want to ask one question. Why do we get to say what Iran does? Isn’t that Iran’s business. Don’t knee-jerk that question. Think about it seriously for a little while. What, exactly, is it that makes bombing Iran moral? Why do we get to make decisions on what they do on their own soil? Rush’s answer would be that if they complete the building of a nuclear bomb they will use it on us and/or Israel. Is that a fact? Is that an absolute fact with no reservations? Of course not. As a matter a fact, it’s probably the least likely scenario that there is. Why in the world would Iran launch a nuclear missle at us or Israel? As soon as they hit the freakin button there would be about 20 nukes in the air coming right back at them and they know that. They would have to not only be insane, but also suicidal. And, not just Amedhenijad. The whole upper cabinet of Iranian government would have to be suicidal maniacs, and I find that hard to believe.
But, that’s what happens when you take an attitude of pre-emptive war. It makes you see everyone as a bogeyman. Here’s a thought. Maybe the reason Iran wants a nuke is because Israel has had nukes for 40 years and they are tired of being at a disadvantage. I could absolutely be wrong about that and I’m willing to admit that. But, if I’m right and we go ahead and bomb Iran anyway then I’m afraid it’s going to be us who are the insane ones.
I think the real problem with Rush has to be that he’s just too isolated. I know that it’s always easy to play the “out of touch” card with someone who is so wealthy, but that’s not what I’m trying to say. I think he’s secluded himself from the public (with good reason by the way) so much that he’s lost the pulse of what’s going on under the surface. He knows that what’s coming out of big media is a bunch of hooey, but he’s missing what’s actually going on in the real world. This Republicans vs. Democrats thing is dead in the mind of many Americans. Many, many people see it all for what it is now. A big shell game where politicians pick their favorite big-media moral issue to whip up their constituency and then laugh about it over cocktails afterwords. Rush still actually believes that Republicans and Democrats are different. That’s his big mistake.
*This is a re-post of a blog post my wife did in a previous year.
A couple of years back, my husband and I decided against telling our kids Santa was real. Our kids are fine, no one cried, and no one has had a lame Christmas. And none of their friends have suddenly shunned Santa. They know to politely answer questions about Santa and presents and reindeer.
One of the reasons we choose this comes from a deep desire to be honest with our children. They know St. Nicholas was a nice man from long ago, but we don’t teach that he is immortal or all-knowing. It is a small attempt to have our kids view us credible in our word. Here’s why that’s important. When you strip away the “fun” side of Santa, you are left with a man who is omniscient, immortal, and able to judge good and evil. Now who does that remind you of?
In my view, Christmas, and therefore the gifts we exchange should be a symbol of sacrificial love for one another. We encourage our kids to buy gifts with their own money that they earn. They realize they won’t get that Lego set they wanted, but they are so excited about what they are giving. My daughter likes to tell her younger brother, “You are getting the best present in the world!” She is talking about the one she bought for him. And he will say the same back. They know that they will not get everything they imagine, because there is no inexhaustible magic sack that all too easily fulfills their whims.
But they know a little more about Christ’s love shown by sacrifice. They know that gifts are not dependent on artificial good deeds. I don’t want my children to be good because they can get something. That has nothing to do with truth or training the selfish heart of the child. Or even more, I don’t want some goodness standard interfering with God’s view of our works apart from Him, which are filthy rags. Goodness is not a matter of ceasing a behavior. It is Christ laying His righteousness on us. Being good for spiritual insurance is so pervasive in our culture already. I don’t want to accentuate “righteousness by works” during Christmas.
We want to give a clear view of Christ. That His gift is free to anyone who believes. His love is not based how good we are. What happens if they compare themselves with other kids who get more? “Is that kid a better person than I? What more can I do, so I can get?” I don’t want to build on that philosophy any more than is natural to human nature. Instead, I want Christ to be center, and Santa Claus, in my humble view, is a thorn that grows up and chokes the truth of Christ in the minds of our depraved little ones.
How can Christ be pondered if their minds are in constant re-visitation to the myth and superstition of Santa Claus? One common argument is “Oh, come on. It’s just for fun!” Let me assure you, there is no shortage of fun in my house around Christmas. But it is a more humbled fun. We can focus on being together and working together. Sacrifice resonates in our minds and conversations as we make gingerbread houses together and recall the gifts we are going to give. My hope is, in this small way, we are a little better aware of our position before God and our fellow laborers, our children.
It’s funny how quickly a politician’s principles change when they get in power. All we heard for 8 years of Bush was how much of a warmonger he was and how bad he botched everything in the middle-east. Well, now that the Democrats are in power, what measures have they enacted to reduce our war footing and improve relations with the middle-east?
Send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
Continue drone bombings on Pakistan border regions.
Impose gasoline sanctions on Iran.
I guess that pretty much proves every libertarian’s point that there is no difference between the two parties when it comes to war. They both love it. Democrats like to pretend they are anti-war, but when someone who is really anti-war and not just showboating for the camera shows up they get all flustered and the real man comes out in the open. Take Mr. Bill Moyers for example. Moyers was a constant critic of the Bush wars, but listen to how flustered he gets when Lew Rockwell won’t take his “America is justified in policing all bad guys” bait:
The most recent imposing of gasoline sanctions on Iran is particularly disturbing. Remember, just like all taxes ultimately flow down to the individual, so do sanctions. All these gas sanctions are going to do is drive gasoline prices through the roof for the average Iranian and therefore solidify their support of ever-more radical regimes. Cutting off the free flow of trade is the most sure fire route to war. Like the saying goes, when goods can’t cross borders armies will. America can’t police the world. It’s not our calling to be an instrument of justice to the whole globe. And when we try, it backfires every time.
Evidently Obama doesn’t remember our oil embargo against Japan that led to our entry into WWII. Or maybe he does. Maybe he’s finding out that absolute power, and specifically the power to wage war comes in pretty handy in politics sometimes.
Another day, another reason why I don’t do social networking sites. It seems that big brother is still tapping in and monitoring what’s going on and what’s being said on-line and who’s saying it. Boy, that makes me feel safe. How about you?
The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters. A public interest group has filed a lawsuit to learn more about this monitoring, in the hope of starting a national discussion and modifying privacy laws as necessary for the online era.
Law enforcement is not saying a lot about its social surveillance, but examples keep coming to light. The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that state revenue agents have been searching for tax scofflaws by mining information on MySpace and Facebook. In October, the F.B.I. searched the New York home of a man suspected of helping coordinate protests at the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh by sending out messages over Twitter.
In some cases, the government appears to be engaged in deception. The Boston Globe recently quoted a Massachusetts district attorney as saying that some police officers were going undercover on Facebook as part of their investigations.
My dad turned me on to the book Decision Making and the Will of God a few years ago after hearing about it on Stand to Reason. It’s a really good book. I just saw that ZFT has part four of their review of it up on the site. Go check out part 1 here:
The reason I didn’t put up the trailer yesterday and instead linked to a YouTube interview with the film creators is that the trailer is over the top. When I saw the trailer I instantly didn’t want to watch it, and probably wouldn’t have if we hadn’t been recently trying to get back to growing some of our own food. As I said yesterday, the movie has some good stuff in it, mixed right in with plenty of bad stuff. You just have to be smart when you watch it and not get sucked in by rhetoric. Indeed, parts of it have hardly anything to do with food at all. Those don’t concern me at the moment. What I want to focus on right now is what I see as the entire problem on the non-livestock side. Namely, plant patents and GM(genetically modified) seeds.
Monsanto was predictably demonized in the film. They have been a favorite target of the hard left and environmental groups ever since Vietnam when they manufactured “Agent Orange” and later “DDT.” This wasn’t necessarily fair though, since many other chemical companies manufactured those products as well. Their record of chemical dumping, such as in Anniston, AL has also gained them much grief and drove them to the verge of bankruptcy under the weight of all of the lawsuits. Their new emergence as an agricultural company gave them a fresh start in the public opinion realm, but they soon stepped in it again with the whole patented seeds issue. They just seem to be a magnet for bad P.R. Patenting and genetically modifying seeds, I think, is one idea that they and the farm community as a whole is going to live to regret. I said yesterday that they have sold their soul to the government for short term gain. I think that’s the real evil behind the whole thing. I did my research and came up with some conclusions that I’ll share with you.
First off, it’s important to recognize that just because something is legal doesn’t make it moral, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Abortion is legal, but it’s not moral. In Alabama, firing someone for no cause is legal. But it’s a bad idea. Who would want to work for you? In the same way, Monsanto has put all of it’s recent efforts since the late 90′s into patenting certain strains of seeds that are resistant to weed killer. These are the so-called “Roundup Ready” seeds that have been genetically altered to be resistant to Monsanto’s weed-killer chemical called Round Up. Because these plants are un-harmed by Round Up, the field can now be flooded with weed killer and everything dies, except the crop.
Obviously, you can see the benefit of this. Weed management is a breeze now and much less labour intensive. But, I hope you also see the inherent down side. We now harvest crops that have been saturated with weed killer. Who knows what long term effects that has to the plant, and consequently, to us as consumers. The whole thing strikes me as a really bad idea. We’re always assured that things are safe in the beginning. It’s not until a few decades go by that we often see the unintended side-effects of what we do.
I’m more interested, however, in the patent aspect of all this. It’s my firm belief that patents are immensely harmful to society, across the board, without exception. Patents are entirely created by government. Without government, patents don’t exist. In fact, patents have really only existed for about 200 years, starting in 1790(yes, I’m aware of common law patent writs before then, but I’m talking about codified law). Before then, businesses and entrapeneurs did just fine, and innovation wasn’t “stifled.” But, Monsanto relies exclusively on the validity of patent law to make their moral case against farmers who save their seed:
Food, Inc. Fiction: The film states/suggests that the ability to patent plants and living organisms came into being only in the 1980s.
Truth: Plants have long been subject to provisions of U.S. patent law, and plants were patented long before the 1980s.
The film, Food, Inc., briefly raises the issue of patents on seeds in the United States. The patenting of seeds was first permitted under the Plant Patent Act of 1930. Since that time the law has developed as technology has advanced.
That just doesn’t cut it with me. The Plant Patent Act of 1930 specifically excluded the patenting of plants that propagate “sexually or tubers”, so technically Monsanto is wrong. Patenting of asexual varieties at least makes sense, since you’d have to get them from the creator every year anyway. But, the spirit of Monsanto’s defense is just wrong. Patents are destructive devices that corrupt the free market and inhibit innovation. Just look at what happened with the patenting of the cotton gin, airplanes, television, and most recently, software patents. These patents completely screwed up the market and hurt consumers. The Wright brother’s patenting of the “flying machine” so screwed up the airplane industry(which existed way before their patent), that by the time of WWI we had to purchase most of our airplanes from the French. This has been the consistent legacy of patent law.
And, what it takes in order to police the whole endeavor ultimately just infuriates people. The Monsanto “seed police” remind me of the Business Software Alliance that many software vendors entered into a few years ago. The BSA hasn’t been nearly as active recently as they used to be in prosecuting small businesses for software piracy. The reason is that software makers got a lot smarter about how to handle piracy, such as using product activation, so that they no longer have to go “bust” people in the community and generate so much bad publicity. Monsanto should learn that lesson. The RIAA and MPAA campaigns against users for downloading music should also be sufficient evidence to show any company that it doesn’t matter how good of an argument you make for the legality of patent law. The public just doesn’t buy it as being morally ok to come after people for “intellectual theft.” It just doesn’t fly.
Monsanto has also put their own guys in government, and in turn hired former government officials. This fuels suspicion of the company, and with good reason. If I’m their competitor it would infuriate me to know that former Monsanto executives were now holding key positions inside the USDA, FDA and EPA. Just like former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson became Treasury Secretary, it ruins any credibility on both sides. Just a cursory look into the matter shows that Michael Taylor, the VP of Public Policy(i.e. lobbyist) at Monsanto, was appointed to the FDA by Barack Obama. Bush also appointed Linda Fisher, another lobbyist for Monsanto, to the EPA. Michael Friedman also joined one of Monsanto’s subsidiaries after leaving his position as the head of the FDA. All of this reliance on government to get their job done is going to come back and bite them at some point. Trust me. It always does. Just ask GM and Chrysler.
If Monsanto wants it’s credibility back, it needs to once and for all stop relying on the government. Quit the legal tricks and worn out patent rhetoric and start leading the charge to re-empower small growers in a way that doesn’t require policing them. They control the product, so they control what it does. They should look into making seed that doesn’t germinate well in it’s second generation. This would give farmers a legitimate reason not to save seed, rather than just hitting them with this “i’ve got a patent, now pay up” balogne. Farmers wouldn’t save seed that is only going to give them a 30% germ. rate. Or if they do, they would still have to buy more to get a whole crop.
This is getting really long, so I’ll continue tommorrow. Until then, listen to Jeff Tucker’s excellent lecture on intellectual property: