Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mindfulness, Another Method of Indoctrination

If you are regrouping, in the massive effort necessary to mount an opposition to the Common Core national “standards” that are socialized dumbed-down education for the masses, add to your watch list Mindfulness Training.

An invitation to attend “Managing Stress:  How Mindfulness Training in Our Schools Can Benefit Students, Educators, and Parents” at the local high school in Fairfax, Virginia captured my attention. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio and author of “A Mindful Nation” is the featured speaker. The event on June 9, 2014 is advertised as a partnership between MINDS, The Josh Anderson Foundation, and Fairfax County Public Schools.

Various sites present mindfulness as a simple breathing meditation of 4-5 minutes at the start of every class, “replacing instant work demands with the expectations that students simply be.”  What is “simply be” and how do you replace work demands instantly by existing?  My indoctrination radar came on. I was not sure yet what “simply be” was but I did find out that you can get a Master’s Degree in Mindful Studies.

The “secular” practice of mindfulness is “rooted” in Buddhism. Jon Kabat-Zinn established a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, “Learning to Breathe:  A Mindfulness Curriculum for Adolescents to Cultivate Emotion Regulation, Attention, and Performance.” As a former educator, the indication that emotion must be regulated into a perfectly attentive automaton bothered me because every child is an individual with a certain attention span, interest, emotion, and level of curiosity. How would calming a person make them excel in life?

Patricia C. Broderick, in “Learning to Breathe,” wrote that “meditation skills help students improve emotion regulation, reduce stress, improve overall performance, and develop their attention.” The program was designed to be compatible with school curricula and could be used by mental health providers.

The six core lessons, Body, Reflection, Emotions, Attention, Tenderness, and Healthy Mind Habits are obviously not going to let students just “simply be.”  What are these mindfulness skills? A quote by the World Teacher, Krishnamurti (born in 1895 in India) and used in the “Mindfulness in Education, Learning from the Inside Out” video is quite telling:

“You want to have your own gods – new gods instead of the old, new religions instead of the old, new forms instead of the old – all equally valueless, all barriers, all limitations, all crutches. Instead of old spiritual distinctions you have new spiritual distinctions; instead of the old worships you have new worships. You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for enlightenment on someone else; … you must put them all away and look within yourselves for the enlightenment, for the glory, for the purification, and for the incorruptibility of the self…”

Amy Burke mentions in the video that we need to learn to listen to our hearts. Is that a good idea for young people to listen to their hearts when they are already confused and raging with hormones? She advises the use of a chime bar in class to center the students. “We know that it is going to take time to restructure education.” Do we really want or need to restructure education on the tenets Buddhism?

Debbie DeGroff discusses the video “Mindful Schools:  In Class Instruction,” in which she learned that in June 2010, Mindful Schools has indoctrinated over 8,000 children in 34 Bay Area schools, 74 percent of which were low-income. Children were told to keep a journal of “simply be” and of “notice their breath without judgment.” One entry is full of spelling errors. It appears that students should have spent more time on spelling and less on mindfulness indoctrination.  what I lrend abo_ot mindfulness is when you have thogh just get your net an cach the buderfly that let it go away.”  Mindfulness is encouraged at bed time as well. (Debbie DeGroff, Catching Butterflies, February 26, 2014)

Mindful Schools boast 200,000 students in 48 states and 43 countries who were impacted by their program. One course is called Meeting Resistance. Mindfulness is not just a “particular way of paying attention, the mental faculty of purposefully bringing awareness to one’s sensory experience, thoughts, and emotion by using sustained attention and noticing experience without reacting,” it is a much more insidious form of indoctrination. Mindful Schools were even featured in a Time cover story.

Many schools are already using the “Learning to Breathe:  A Mindfulness Curriculum and William Glasser’s  Choice Theory.  “Students are motivated more by their internal needs rather than traditional external needs.” “Boss teachers” are the traditional teachers who use the method of rules and consequences, mandated curriculum, and standardized assessments.   “Lead teachers” instruct based on the basic needs of each student. Students actively choose how and what they are taught and the teacher structures the lessons around the student’s desires.  Only good grades are given and, if a student fails, the course is not recorded. What a formula for future failure!

The Mindfulness teachers are promoted as “quiet revolutionaries” who will change the education system by paying attention to the inner life of children and of their teachers. PBS is selling the DVD, The Buddha, a film by David Gruben. 

Dr. Amy Saltzmann describes Mindfulness in the context of global citizenship. “As a classroom teacher, you already know that many of your students are stressed… You have also most likely realized that student stress frequently inhibits their ability to learn, and that the emphasis on academics is neglecting the development of the social-emotional qualities essential for skillful world citizenry

She also describes a study of mindfulness group of students vs. a control group in which the mindfulness students showed a significant increase in global assessment of functioning (GAF) scores. GAF is used by mental health clinicians and physicians to rate subjectively the social, occupational, and psychological functioning of adults.

Shouldn’t  schools concentrate on academics instead on the “Still Quiet Place” of meditation found inside you? It is outrageous that, by using Buddhist meditation, our children are diagnosed and treated psychologically without parental consent and, as Debbie DeGroff aptly described, “exposing a wound that we don’t have the skill to attend to.”

The Department of Education spent $1.2 million on a grant to research mindfulness. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state that liberals scream about when the mere mention of God is made in schools? Why are we allowing Far East mystical practices to come into our public schools under the guise of stress management? Why are our children being constantly experimented on by the latest fad pushed by liberals/progressives who view the classroom and our children’s minds and future as their laboratory? Progressives hope to shape our children’s minds into a more “compassionate” society, brainwashed into overcoming suffering, and recognizing the natural wisdom of Gaia. “Mindfulness is pure religion” and our children are not lab rats.

For further links and sources read













Monday, May 26, 2014

Shenandoah National Park, A Storied Past

Mary's Rock Tunnel
On a sunny and breezy May day with baby blue skies and cotton ball clouds, we embarked on a drive to Shenandoah National Park’s scenic roadway. Skyline Drive follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles to elevations ranging from 591 feet in the northern part of the park to 4,049 feet at Hawksbill Mountain, and an altitude of 3,650 feet at Big Meadows with its Lodge constructed in 1939. The park is located only 75 miles from the crowded northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

For ardent hikers, there are over 500 miles of trails. For drivers, there are 75 breath-taking overlooks. The park’s 101-mile hiking stretch of the Appalachian Trail rests on movable tectonic plates. Rocks born from the compression of these tectonic plates shaped the Grenville range with “ancient rocks that form the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in and around Shenandoah.”

What geologists call “basement rocks” can be seen in Mary’s Rock Tunnel, Old Rag Mountain, and Hazel Mountain Overlook. A thin stream of water is flowing on the rock at the edge of Mary’s Rock Tunnel.  It was cut in 1932 through 600 feet of mountain granite (granodiorite) with a clearance of 12 feet, 8 inches. For three months, workers repeated the process of “drill, blast, and clear.” When they broke through to daylight in January 1932, visitors drove through almost immediately. As historian Darwin Lambert explained, the tunnel was designed “partly for show and partly to eliminate extensive scars and expensive rock retaining walls.”

“Greenstone” formations from lava flows 1.2 billion years ago can be seen in Stony Man, Crescent Rock, Indian Run Overlook, and on Skyline Drive.  “White quartzite” formations at Calvary Rocks testify to sediments from the Iapetus Ocean billions of years ago.
“Trace fossils” were left behind from an ancient ocean worm.

The Blue Ridge “shunts water east or west into one of the park’s three major river systems – the James, the Shenandoah-Potomac, and the Rappahannock.” According to the National Park Service, “Millions of residents from Newport News to Washington, D.C., drink water that originates within Shenandoah’s boundaries.”

The beautiful vistas, the breathtaking landscape, the forests, the hollows, the meadows, the native and non-native fauna and flora are not exactly “wilderness’ – they are, as FDR said, “the joint husbandry of our human resources and our natural resources.”

A hawk gliding effortlessly over the 3250 feet drop, pushed up by air currents, drew my eye to the dark shadow projected by a white cloud over the forested valley below. It was a reminder that all this beauty before my eyes came at a heavy price that a lot of Americans before us were forced to pay. Millions visit and enjoy this park every year without knowing the sacrifice so many families were required to make.

Around the Big Meadow Lodge, a small deer was grazing on the edge of the road unafraid of the human presence. Shenandoah is home to several hundred American black bears which, luckily, we did not encounter. The most common animals are the white-tailed deer and eastern grey squirrels. Downy woodpeckers and indigo buntings are most commonly observed birds. Baltimore orioles depend on Shenandoah’s forests during seasonal migrations. The streams’ trout population was augmented artificially by 50,000 in the 1930s when game officials stocked the brooks. The rare Shenandoah salamander is the only federally designated endangered species. “Wildlife experts released white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and a pair of beavers in the park during the 1930s.” A local man who shot the male beaver was arrested and imprisoned for three years.

Rich urbanites came to Skyland Resort in the late 1800s, long before the park was established in 1935. Skyland was a private mountain resort built in the late 1800s by George Freeman Pollock, a naturalist and conservationist. Skyland flourished for 50 years. George Pollock and his wife Addie built Massanutten Lodge in 1911. “Pollock was instrumental in choosing Blue Ridge as the site for the first national park in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Shenandoah was authorized by Congress in 1926 and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on July 3, 1936.” Pollock described the Blue Ridge as “beauty beyond description.”

Conservationist John Muir called for the creation of national parks as a way to preserve the most beautiful western landscapes. He wrote in 1914, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

In 1923, Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, lobbied for a national park in the East.

To escape the heat and stress of Washington, D.C., President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover had their summer fishing camp built on the Rapidan River in 1928.

In 1924, the Southern Appalachian National Park Committee (ANPC) proposed a “possible skyline drive along the mountain top.” The Skyline Drive Historic District (1931-1951) has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 28, 1997 by the Department of the Interior.

The Appalachian Trail founder Benton MacKaye described his idea of a 2,000 mile footpath in 1924 as “A wilderness way through civilization.” Today’s trail stretches 2,173 miles from Mt. Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia. One hundred miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail crosses Shenandoah National Park.

Facilities were built by Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) “boys” in the 1930s. The program FDR launched in his 100 days in office, the CCC, dubbed FDR’s civilian army and Tree Army, worked well. In addition to 3,702 Virginians, CCC hired a vast number of needy unemployed workers who received $30 a month sent directly to their families. These workers were supervised by the military and worked long hours to earn their pay. They were given uniforms, nutritious meals (most gained weight) and lived in camps. After work, mandatory classes taught them reading and writing and some vocational training such as electrician. Competitive events were held between camps during down time.

A 1930s forest study “suggests that most of its woodlands were in relatively good shape. Only about 14.5 percent of land proposed for the park remained completely clear of timber and most of the open tracts had been used for crops and pastureland.” (Shenandoah National Park Official handbook, p. 46)

“Park promoters George Pollock, Harold Allen, and George Judd had stretched the truth to the breaking point when they described the proposed park on the Southern Appalachian National Park Committee (SANPC) questionnaire. The land, they said, was ‘mostly held in large holdings’ and ‘absolutely free’ of commercial improvement such as farms, mines, factories, and development. However, the 327,000 acres surveyed in 1927 comprised over 3,000 separate tracts (only about 20 over 1,000 acres) with thousands of people living and working there.”

Congress had approved the project but no money was appropriated to purchase the land and promoters began a campaign to raise funds. Luray real estate broker L. Ferdinand Zerkel helped raise $1.5 million to acquire parkland. (Shenandoah National Park Museum)

The road to removal and relocation of the population residing within the proposed parkland included:

-          Virginia Governor signs Public Parks Condemnation Act (March 1928) – “The Act allows the Commission to take all the property in question without individual condemnation proceedings”

-          Virginia Supreme Court rejected the legal challenge to blanket condemnation by landowner Thomas Jackson Rudacille (October 1929)

-          Miriam Sizer proposes relocation for residents in April 1930 (Arno Cammerer of the National Park Service agrees and begins to lobby for relocation)

-          Residents of the park receive “Notices to vacate” (exceptions were made for ‘aged and especially meritorious’ residents) in January 1934

Miriam Sizer, a typical elitist, said, “The taking over of this area … means the scattering of a people who have a primitive comprehension of what law means and who have little sense of the responsibilities of citizenship.” She continued, “Thus the submerged mountain individual [is] irresponsible, untrained…unfitted to meet the competition of modern life…” (Shenandoah National Park Museum)

Sizer, a teacher hired in 1929 by George Freeman Pollock and some of his guests to run a summer “vacation school” in the Blue Ridge Mountains, invited two sociologists, Mandel Sherman and Cora Keys, to study her students. The sociologists hired Sizer to collect additional data and published a controversial report. Using questionable methods, the three “researchers” stereotyped the mountain residents who vehemently disputed their portrayal.  This bogus study was used to determine the mountain residents’ fate. “At her suggestion, the National Park Service hired her to produce additional data on some of the families who would be affected by the proposed park.  She then touted her ‘studies’ as proof the residents could not take care of themselves and began to advocate relocating the residents, promoting herself for a government position managing their relocation and finances.” (Shenandoah National Park Museum)

“Nothing further is recorded about Miriam Sizer in the Shenandoah National Park archives, but her sociological analyses continue to float to the surface, tainted with parochial and nativistic claptrap.”

According to park museum documents, one mountain resident described their lives as follows:  “We tended big corn fields, would go out on them Monday mornings and work in them ‘til Saturday nights and then go back in them Monday morning again.”

Removing people as permanent residents on the landscape was a stumbling block to the dream of building a large park in the East. There were promoted “fears” that excessive logging would forever alter the landscape. Residents used fire to clear or semi-clear areas for agriculture and hunting. Promoters of the park over-dramatized the “fear of fire.” They failed to consider the “impact the establishment of the park would have on those who lived within the proposed boundary.”  

The federal land acquired meandered around private land and disputes arose between agents and owners when trespassing occurred. Additional land was needed in order to fix this problem.

Citizens protested the proposed removal of land owners off their property by writing to editors. A letter to the editor of “Page News and Courier” in Luray, Virginia said, “I wish to arouse some objections to the proposed Park by the citizens of the area and their sympathizers. In the first place to condemn our property so as to make its commercial value less is contrary to the fundamental principles of our government. … They take from us what they want, seek to make us helpless by enacting condemnation laws before they approach us as owners, which clearly shows that they are trying to get something for nothing at our expense.”

Robert Via, a landowner in Albemarle County, who lost his case in Virginia, appealed to the Supreme Court, challenging the blanket condemnation of properties. His lawyer said, “Whether Virginia has the power to condemn land with the sole purpose of making it a gift to the national government for national park purposes is the only question we are bringing before this Court.” On November 25, 1935, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, “declaring that Via had an adequate remedy at law.” Unfortunately, Via decided not to continue his fight, thus deciding the fate of future eminent domain cases, and “clearing the park’s last legal hurdle.”

According to the park museum, Herbert Melanchton Cliser, a third generation resident, and his wife Carrie, waged a six-year battle to keep their 46 acres farm, gasoline station, and lunch counter famous for its country ham sandwiches and homemade pies. They wrote letters of protest to local authorities, national park officials, Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt. In a 1929 letter to the Page News and Courier, Cliser said, “The fundamental principles of our government are to protect those who can’t protect themselves, and to restrain the rich and strong from oppressing the weak and poor… This thing of taking our property away from us is a pretty business…” Cliser refused the $4,855 payment for his property. Cliser and his wife were evicted in October 1935 by Page County law enforcement officials. During the eviction proceeding, while handcuffed, Cliser sang the National Anthem. (AP, October 3, 1935)

Landowners who were removed from the land received $1,850,000 for 958 tracts purchased in 1934. To get an idea of the purchasing power in 2009 dollars, multiply by sixteen. The park museum lists some of the many individuals who did not receive fair value for their land. One family got a check for $400 for a land that was worth almost $7,000. Other families were forced to go on welfare.

-          H.E. Merchant (Warren County, tract 109, 78 acres)

-          P.P., W.M., G.C., & R. B. Long (Page County, tracts 419 and 420, 940 acres)

-          Savilla Harrell (Rappahannock County, tract 99, 160 acres)

-          Charley Nicholson (Madison County, tract 237, one acre)

-          Myrtle Reynolds (Greene County, tract 7, 7 acres)

-          N. Lester and Anna Elizabeth Dean (Rockingham County, tract 57, 91 acres)

-          Edward A. Harris (Albemarle County, tract 121, 75 acres)

-          A. H. Berry (Augusta County, tract 54, 67 acres)

(Shenandoah National Park Museum Archives)

In December 1935, the federal government accepted title to more than 176,000 acres of parkland. Some residents were still living in the area with the understanding that they would be relocated. This relocation was completed in November 1938 when all but 78 residents with lifetime tenancy were moved outside park boundaries.

The Shenandoah National Park was dedicated on July 3, 1936 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from a platform built by his civilian army corps (CCC) in Big Meadows. FDR declared Shenandoah National Park and its sister parks to be “in largest sense, a work of conservation” dedicated to “this and to succeeding generations.”

Currently, the controversy continues. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are luring farmers who hold property adjacent to the park to enter into “conservation easements” with “viewshed protection.” In exchange, high property taxes are lowered considerably. The farmers/owners cannot alter the landscape in any way or, if they sell (land values are rising), the new owners automatically sign on to the conservation easement in perpetuity or for the time specified in the easement contract. Local boards working with NGOs change zoning regulations to prevent any construction or alteration to the land that would interfere with the “viewshed” from the Shenandoah National Park.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Butler on Business, May 21, 2014

My two segments with Alan Butler on income inequality and poverty.
I come on at the 1 h 17 minute mark.

What Is the Price of War?

Several years ago Mike, a Vietnam veteran, took my Macro and Microeconomics classes. He always came on time, hopping on his crutches with speed, expertly avoiding anything that might trip him. You could tell he was in pain – he winced occasionally and sweated profusely from the effort to stay upright. He was missing his right leg above the knee.

Mike came back from Vietnam physically whole. He lost his leg in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The mental scars, he said, were impossible to heal. He understood that his country drafted him to fight the spread of communism but he also knew that the industrial military complex had to stay in business profitably.

He described the stifling air in the jungle, so humid that it was hard to breathe and uniforms never dried, crawling on red dirt covered with ants and snakes, digging underground for cover, bitten by snakes and creepy insects the size of a man’s palm, being shot at and not knowing where the enemy was hiding, the Vietnamese watching them and tracking them by their shaving cream.   

Seeing your best friends blown to bits or die in your arms from stray bullets was something Mike could never erase from his mind. When he came home, he was spat at by liberals who were unhappy with the war. They took their hatred and disdain out on the returning countrymen who were drafted to fight a war liberals vehemently opposed from the luxury of their cozy homes and freedoms protected by the very soldiers they were maligning and abusing. Mike was bitter that the faceless bureaucrats who sent them to war were never harmed or blamed. He resented Hollywood and Hanoi Jane (Fonda) for comforting the enemy.

Mike took my classes not because he was hoping to get a better job. Who was going to hire this broken man, he said? He had a thirst for knowledge, he wanted to learn, to continue his schooling that was abruptly interrupted by the draft. He did not have the luxury of refusing the draft or hiding behind a powerful daddy or go to medical school in order to skip the draft.

Being a veteran, Mike had to drive four hours many times each month to seek medical help in the nearest VA hospital. I thought it odd at the time that this man, who served his country in Vietnam and was promised stellar medical care for the rest of his life, could not be seen at the nearest local hospital, ultra-modern, and equipped to handle any health needs Mike might have had. His VA hospital appointments dragged on for months and years before he got his first prosthesis for his missing leg.

Judging by the recent VA scandal, things are a lot worse than Mike had described years ago. Citizens should be outraged that so many veterans died while on the waiting list to be treated at VA hospitals.

Americans should ask the question why are our veterans receiving third world medical care when they have earned and were promised the best of care for the rest of their lives while we give free stellar health care to illegal aliens in California and elsewhere, medical care they are not entitled to and have not earned?

Rationing health care to our heroes is the wrong way to trim the budget and the out of control spending. What happened to the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take when graduating from medical school? Are performance bonuses for rationing care to our needy veterans more important than the oath to do no harm?

A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported that only 8 percent of veterans believe Veteran Affairs is doing an excellent job. Six in ten troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan believe VA is doing a “less-than-good job of meeting the needs of veterans.”
(Gregg Jaffe, The Washington Post, May 21, 2014)

According to Stars and Stripes, “nearly half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are filling” disability claims, “a flood of claims that has overwhelmed the VA and generated a backlog of 300,000 cases stuck in processing for more than 125 days. Some have languished for more than a year.” Last year there were 611,000 claims.

“We’re not where we need to be, but we’re making progress,” said our President. It is an understatement to call this debacle a “national embarrassment” and “a mess” when so many lives were lost, the appointment books cooked, and the backlog is huge.

The scars, the constant pain, the missing limbs, the headaches, depression, the numerous surgeries to fix indescribable physical and mental damage to the bodies of those who survived, the frustration, the changed lives, brought out the question posed by doctors in Afghanistan who “had debated whether they should even be saving these troops” who previously, without the advances in combat medicine, would have bled out on the battle field only a few years earlier” – “What kind of lives could they lead?”

Army Staff Sgt. Sam Shockley, who suffered multiple debilitating wounds and 40 surgeries so far after stepping on a buried bomb that blew his legs off, had a simple answer, “I always think that it could be worse.” “I would say I came out of this with my head on my shoulders.”

What is the price of war? As Stars and Stripes wrote, “VA calculates war’s true cost, one disabled veteran at a time.” It is hard to account for the actual cost of the war machine and the cost in human lives lost and families destroyed. Pricing a human life, the loss of body parts, of mental acuity, and of lifelong pain and suffering are highly arbitrary.  For a surviving veteran, a lost foot or hand cost $101.50, two missing legs cost $1,000-$1,300, and missing arms cost $1,600-$1,800 a month in disability payments. Those vets who need help around the clock are paid $8,179 a month. Vets would give anything to get their corporal and mental integrity back.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Precious Eyesight

As I dictate to the infamous Siri and to my Dragon software program, frustrated because they don’t like my southern accent, I realize how much we take our sight for granted. In my temporary sightless state, I am icing my bruised and painful eyes, feeling my way around the chair, trying to retrieve a bottle of water and my blanket, knocking over everything else my visual memory forgot that it was close by.

I am no stranger to temporary blindness; I had optic neuritis 17 years ago. Aside from the Multiple Sclerosis scare, I remember the despair of losing my eyesight for 4 days and the indescribable joy of gaining it back thanks to western man’s invention of steroids. Everything went pitch black one day from a bad episode of viral flu - an overwhelming darkness of being trapped in a cave. After agonizing and skin burning round the clock IV steroid treatments, burning that was only soothed by a microwaved washcloth, I gained my eyesight back - first a curtain lifted, then many shades of grey appeared, followed by black and white, and finally exploding full color.

My eyes are shut today after one hour of surgery and are covered with ice bandages to control swelling and bleeding. Unlike 17 years ago, I can see some light underneath the white cloth but I am not allowed to remove it.

I hear sounds from every direction and my sense of smell is much stronger. I can imagine my garden in full bloom, buzzing with bees, the sunshine, the cloudless blue sky, my back yard humming with birds, and the green forest teeming with creatures coming to life.

Chirping birds and agitated squirrels are vocalizing the presence of Bogart, my 15 pound Snowshoe Siamese who is so old and slow now, that no birds or resident squirrels need to fear him. The river is only a stone’s throw away but has disappeared behind the majestic trees that greened overnight and block the view of the glittering water. Only the Canada geese’s strident “honk-honk” give any indication that there is a river nearby. And I’ll be able to see and touch God’s symphony of spring soon once the bandages are removed.

My Jurassic Park

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Dad Was Left to Die 25 Years Ago

My Daddy shortly before his untimely death
Today marks a quarter of a century since the passing of my Dad before his time. He did not die a natural death, it was an agonizing 30 days of deliberate starvation in the hospital and lack of medical care, lingering and clinging to life after one last beating by communist goons. They cracked his skull when they threw him in a pit of metal lathe shavings from a refinery’s scaffolding. It was not the first time he had been beaten for various reasons, but this time it was most cruel. The metal shavings caused tiny bleeding cuts all over his body as well.

Dad was a very honest man and hated all the theft and stealing that took place around him every day. He would not take one piece of anything from his job even if it was thrown in the trash. Everybody worked for the government for the same inadequate and “equal” salary. People stole from their jobs and traded (bartered) with other workers who also took materials or finished goods from their workplace in order to survive. Dad reported often such theft and the culprits would take their revenge when Dad least expected. Other times orders came from on high to teach him another lesson for having raised a child like me who chose to live in the freedom of capitalist America at that time over the exploitation and tyranny of communism. He never hid his anti-communist feelings and steadfastly refused to become a member of the Communist Party.

He was 61 years old and preparing to fly with exuberant anticipation to the United States to see his only child receive her doctoral diploma on May 13, 1989. In his excitement, he had packed a suitcase since January when the dreaded Securitatea (security police) notified him by phone that he had been cleared and a passport was forthcoming. Little did he know that even then, his passport and permission could still be revoked, which they did. He wrote and called a few times, at great expense, to ask me what to pack and what I wanted as a graduation gift.

I just wanted my Dad. I had not seen him in four years. Every time he applied for a passport, the communist handlers told him NO with impunity, calling him downtown to the precinct just to harass him. He had no fame or fortune, just enough money saved in the bank account for his burial. The commies had already confiscated everything when my mom defected to the United States after a three month visit. They punished him for her staying behind in the free America of 1980. For nine years we tried to bring him as well with no success. The communists left him with the clothes on his back and the rented, sparsely decorated, and tiny concrete block apartment on the fifth floor of Block A6 in which I spent part of my childhood. He had just retired and had received two months’ worth of his meager pay for which he had worked since he was 18 years old, 43 years of hard manual labor.

A phone call from my uncle shattered my happiness. I did not want to go to graduation anymore. I worked so hard for the degree but, at that moment, I only cared about my ailing dad. He clung to life for almost 30 days, spoon-fed water and clear soup by his sister Marcela, an angel sent from above. The hospital did not do much to ease his pain or make him better; they just gave him a terminal diagnosis and a bed in the ward where he spent his last days in a conscious but unable to speak much state. He shrank to 80 pounds in 30 days.

Such was the socialist medical care – rationed care for the masses and the best treatment and access for the communist elites. Dad needed a CT scan to save his life and state of the art medical care and drugs. There was only one CT scan machine available in the Communist Party hospital to which my Dad was not allowed access. He expired 30 days later, holding in his hand a wrinkled Easter Sunday photograph of me with his two granddaughters.

In physical therapy at the time, unable to travel 8,000 miles by plane to the hospital and to the funeral, I was devastated. The president of the university convinced me to at least attend Commencement Exercises. I reluctantly agreed only because my Dad would have wanted me to go and see my efforts through to the end.  Our President at the time, George Bush Sr. was going to hand out doctoral diplomas and shake my hand. He subsequently wrote to me a very lovely and caring letter of encouragement.

I pinned on my mortar board the phrase, “4 DAD,” in big, bold letters, and dedicated my degree to him. I would have never made it there had it not been for his loving care and encouragement to strive to be the best during my 18 years of growing up in our modest abode.  I think Dad was so proud, smiling from Heaven, and I felt his presence beside me. It was a beautiful and hot sunny day, not a cloud in the sky when I accepted my diploma with shaking hands and tears streaming down my cheeks.

I hope my Dad’s passing 25 years ago on May 12, 1989, a victim of Ceausescu’s totalitarian and brutal regime, and the death of 100 million other innocents who died at the hands of Bolsheviks, Stalinists, Maoists, Castroists, and other Marxist dictators, will serve as a wake-up call for all the misguided and misinformed Americans who believe the lies that communism is the answer to undeserved redistribution of wealth, non-existent "social justice," and "equality" by government fiat.

Promotion of Marxism Disguised as Income Inequality

Lately, as the social justice, income disparity, income inequality, economic justice rhetoric intensifies, more global and Hollywood elites crawl out of the woodwork to confuse, agitate, and inflame the low information voters.

When almost 50 percent of the American public does not work and relies on some form of government welfare paid for by the other 50 percent of the working population, it is perplexing when former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers states that “The U.S. may well be on the way to becoming a ‘Downton Abbey’ economy.”

Downton Abbey is a British television show that highlights a wealthy British family and their servants at the turn of the 20th century. It seems to me that the 50 percent of Americans that are already working have become unwilling servants to the other 50 percent on welfare whose main jobs is to vote for the same politicians who promise and deliver more unearned income tax and “entitlements” by taxing the “rich” even more.

It is galling to hear people, who pay no taxes, work and get paid cash under the radar of the IRS, receive welfare, earned income tax credit, are paid by unions to show up and protest people who work for a living, demand that the “rich are not paying their fair share.”

Who is victimizing these people who consider themselves poor and downtrodden? If you ask them and their political representatives who became rich in office, voting and implementing policies that keep their constituents poor, it is the rich who are at fault. Personal responsibility plays no role in their ill-made choices.

Our huge and unpayable national debt has become the number one threat to national security. Yet Business Insider reports that the former CEO of Pimco, Mohammed El-Erian, considers “income inequality, wealth inequality, and inequality of opportunity the most important issues for policymakers and the rest of society to address.”

The former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said, “I consider income inequality the most dangerous part of what’s going on in the United States.”

It is interesting to evaluate such statements now when America is plagued by huge unemployment, trillions of dollars of new national debt, 0.1% GDP growth, anemic, mostly part-time job creation, disastrous economic policies, out of control spending, devaluation of the dollar through constant quantitative easings (monetizing the deficit), heavy corporate taxation which causes Congress-enabled overseas exodus of capital, EPA and DOE rules and regulations that destroy jobs and prevent the creation of new ones, and Obamacare, encompassing a huge portion of the economy and wasting trillions of dollars in the process of destroying the world’s best health care system.

French economist Thomas PIcketty, in his Keynesian appraisal of capitalism through the lenses of Karl Marx, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo, wrote that income inequality would be less of an issue if we had stronger economic growth or if we imposed more confiscatory taxes on the wealthiest 10 percent.

Jared Bernstein believes that “income inequality hurt the economy because the wealthy spend a lower percentage of their income than the non-wealthy.” As if the rich sit on their vast fortunes. Who creates jobs? It is certainly not the poor. Who buys luxury goods?

Picketty added that the financial meltdown (caused in large part by Democrat-driven and sponsored lending policies and eager realtors who repackaged and resold bad loans) was a direct result of income inequality forcing modest households to go in debt, lured by “unscrupulous banks and financial intermediaries...[who] offered credit on increasingly generous terms.” In his view the consumers were hapless victims who had no idea that they could not afford a half million dollar home on a $50,000 a year income.

If the job scenario was not bad enough, Greenspan is calling on immigration reform. He says that the economy needs a boost in high-skilled workers. A lot of our college graduates are unemployed, willing and able to work, but employers prefer foreign workers because they work for less. The majority of those awaiting amnesty are unfortunately low-skill or no-skill workers. Passing amnesty would then hurt American minimum wage job holders and seekers as they would compete with 12 more million amnestied workers and their large extended families.

A study from the Brookings Institution found that “income inequality is much greater in cities like San Francisco with high-flying economies than in more sluggish ones like Wichita, Kansas.” (Dan Weil, February 25, 2014)

Peter Morici described Picketty’s solution to income inequality:

-          80 percent tax on income above $500,000 or $1 million

-          Annual levy on wealth of 10 percent

-          Use revenue thus derived to finance more redistribution of wealth via programs sponsored by progressive politicians, i.e. national health care and more government jobs

In defense of capitalism which Picketty excoriates, Morici said that it is the “democratic governments” who do not “act responsibly” and are thus “failing America’s workers and middle class.” (Democracy, Not Capitalism, Is Failing the Middle Class, April 29, 2014)

In the promotion of class envy and discontent, Saul Alinsky proposed class warfare, the division of people into the wealthy and the poor in order to make it easier to tax the wealthy with the support of the poor. Increasing the debt to unsustainable levels would allow the government to increase taxes on the middle class, thus producing more poor people who are easier to control.

Despite strident rhetoric of income inequality coming from the left, even Keynesian economists recognize the following reasons for unequal incomes which have little to do with the progressive taking points in the main stream media:
                  -          Differences in ability such as I.Q., poor health, and “entrepreneurial ability”

-          Differences in intensity of work (some people work longer hours voluntarily, take on more jobs, or labor more intensely than others)

-          Risk taking (investing in a start-up company, stock market, commodities market, an invention, a prototype, etc.)

-          Compensating wage differentials (some jobs are more dangerous, more unpleasant, more demanding; for example, night shift vs. day shift, mining)

-          Schooling and other types of training (investment in self, in human capital, paying high tuition to learn a trade)

-          Work experience

-          Inherited wealth

-          Luck (wage differentials do exist by chance)

Progressives view income inequality as a harbinger for poverty. This is not necessarily true. Poverty is a relative term. A person who considers himself/herself poor in one country can be rich in another. Here are some of the reasons that cause poverty:
      -          Tyranny

-          Perennial welfare

-          Bad choices in life

-          Lack of education

-          Poor choices in degrees

-          Absence of middle class

-          No opportunity for success

-          No resources, i.e. living in a place like the Gobi desert

-          Suppression by rulers and by government

-          Not willing or afraid to put forth the effort and time to invest in oneself (human capital)

-          Comfortable in generational poverty status quo

-          Mental and emotional handicap, addiction

-          Mental illness (much homelessness is caused by mental illness)

-          Cultural factors, i.e., generational poverty

-          Social mobility

-          Lack of mobility to places where better opportunities exist

-          Religious oppression and ignored genocide

Pope Francis called on governments to redistribute wealth to the poor in order to curb the “economy of exclusion,” hinting at the “injustices of capitalism.” (AP, “Pope Demands ‘Legitimate Redistribution’ of Wealth,” May 9, 2014)

Americans are already the most generous nation with their time, money, expertise, food, medicine, and education for those less fortunate. We don’t need the government to step in and confiscate in a Stalinist fashion our hard work in the name of the ill-conceived and unjust Marxist brand of “social justice.”

Having lived under both communist tyranny and capitalism, I choose capitalism exclusively. People don’t want someone else’s wealth  or welfare on a constant basis, they have pride and want the opportunity to work for a better life, not expect crumbs from a tyrannical communist government or from a government beholden to crony capitalist corporatist interests.

The generous “government” welfare to those 50 percent low information voters who are elated with the current global status quo does not come just from the rich who pay plenty of taxes in spite of unfounded accusations, but also from people who often work long hours every week, two or three jobs to make ends meet, and sometimes cannot afford to buy the very things welfare recipients purchase with someone else’s hard work. Additionally, what the government gives so liberally with other people’s money, it can certainly take away.

Progressives have worked hard to cause permanent physical poverty and mental penury in America, while discrediting and blaming capitalism for “income inequality:”

-          killing job opportunities for the poor (enacting higher pay for minimum wage jobs, creating Obamacare, pushing solar and wind energy against fossil fuels)

-          keeping poor Americans out of good schools (forcing them out of successful charter schools like the one in D.C. into public schools to appease the teachers’ union)

-          giving generous welfare that dis-incentivizes work and creating a Democrat plantation mentality (a destroyer of the human spirit and of the work ethic)

-          supporting and funding abortion and single mother households with government as the daddy in order to destroy the family nucleus

-          championing illegal immigrants as “undocumented/paperless Americans” instead of American workers

-          fighting for criminals, not for the victims

-          indoctrinating our children into the enslaving tenets of Marxism and the religion of environmentalism/Gaia

-          erasing any symbol of Christianity in our public life and promoting Islam to our young and impressionable children

-          destroying any symbols of patriotism that make us exceptional Americans

-          deconstructing historical truth to suit the progressive agenda

The definition of capitalism does not include corporatism, the destruction of the free market , regulating everything, enabling the creation of corporate monopolies through special crony grants and rules, and concentrating power in a strangling and authoritarian central government who no longer answers to the people.

This administration is creating two Americas, one that works and one that does not work but votes for entitlements they have not earned. The plan is to reduce income inequality by debasing and punishing the successful through the forced redistribution of their wealth and income.