Search DC's Musings

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good Legislation: Freeing Up Education Money

State Senator Alan Lowenthal has certainly sponsored some questionable legislation, two pieces of Lowenthal's work this year I have previously labelled Dumbest and More Dumb. But if his SB 1396, co-authored with his ex-wife Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, passes he will be the author of a groundbreaking pilot program that can change the future of education in our state.

If it becomes law SB 1396 would initiate a three year pilot program for three school districts, at this point Long Beach Unified School District, Fresno Unified School District and Garden Grove Unified School District. Under the pilot program the State Schools Superintendent would convert funding for the Districts for "categorical education programs" to block grants. In short, the bill would eliminate state spending mandates for the Districts and allow the local boards of education and Superintendents determine how those funds can best be spent within their districts to improve student education.

This program is the first step to return control of education to the local communities, putting more responsibility for education funding and programs with the Districts, and therefore with the parents and residents within the Districts. This legislation greatly diminishes the control of the state government and bureaucracy, which means it also diminishes the influence and control of the California Teachers Association and other unions representing education employees. This legislation will allow Long Beach, Fresno and Garden Grove to show Sacramento, and the nation, that the closer to the source government revenue is controlled the more efficiently it is used.

As part of the legislation the districts must show measurable improvement in API scores, graduation rates and students headed off to college. The funds are not just going to be dumped on the districts with a "good luck, see you in three years." As well they will still have to adhere to any federal spending mandates tied to any federal funds received. By setting the goals and having the ability to apply spending where needed to meet those goals however allows significant more opportunity for success than having to meet goals set from the state with mandated spending by a bureaucracy that has no idea what local needs may be.

Long Beach Unified is on the record as proposing the legislation, and since the Lowenthals' districts cover areas of Long Beach Unified, Bonnie was a member of the LBUSD Board of Education before her election to the Long Beach City Council. The ties between the Lowenthals and LBUSD are long and deep. A very progressive school district, LBUSD was first in the nation to require every student in elementary, and then middle, school wear a uniform every day, required students reach benchmark reading levels at 3rd and 8th grades, required students with multiple fails to repeat 8th grade, and has been a finalist for the Broad Award several times, winning once. The partnership between the Lowenthals and LBUSD is a natural for this legislation impacting Long Beach.

Education reform is extremely difficult to achieve given the nature of funding for districts, they raise no funds on their own but rather receive funding from the state and/or federal government directly. Because their revenues are filtered through the state the revenues are able to be controlled by the state. Through the years special projects and agendas have resulted in funding mandates for revenues sent to districts. As more and more mandates are placed upon the revenues local school districts have less and less control over their budgets. Even how teachers can be laid off or let go due to poor performance or egregious actions is dictated by the State Code of Education, handcuffing the ability of Districts to able shift personnel and needs for their students. Needless to say this control by the state over employment also prohibits school districts from creating and utilizing performance criteria for teacher evaluations; therefore the teachers you get and that stay through good times and bad are the ones there the longest, which means some of the best will be left behind when layoffs occur.

Across the country there has been significant moves by states to remove power from the state capitals and return it to the local districts, to dilute the power of the state and local teachers' unions and their strong influence on budgets and policy. Florida came very close to a major education overhaul until the bill was vetoed by Governor Crist because of politics and his campaign for U.S. Senator. That California is considering a change in funding for school districts and decentralizing the budgetary control is a major step for not only our state but for the nation.

I called out Senator Lowenthal for his legislation to out law parking and to require carbon monoxide detectors in all homes, it is only right that I laud him for legislation that unwinds state spending mandates and allows school districts the freedom to allocate funds as needed within their districts, not as dictated by Sacramento. Well done Lowenthals, let's hope your fellow members of the Senate and Assembly agree with you.

DCS 04212010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Do The Math: We Can But Congress Can't

Politics is about ideology, horse trading, vote buying, and majorities. The only math a member of Congress needs to know is either 218 for the House of Representatives or 60 for the Senate, these are the number of votes needed to move legislation through their bodies.

As the 111th Congress controlled by Democrats and the White House under President Obama push through yet another massive bill, 1440 pages and counting, that will not be read but will be deemed "necessary" and "urgent" to solve a crisis that is not, it is prudent to understand how little those in control of our government understand about economics and especially basic math.

For the past sixteen months Washington has looked no further than the next days headlines and the elections of 2012. Ask the numerous Congressional and Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2010 how much the White House and Democratic leadership cared about their re-election campaigns in 2010 when they passed Obamacare.

A recent change in events however has shown that perhaps some of the messages have gotten through to the Obama Administration regarding the 2010 elections with his Security and Exchange Commission, the SEC, filing charges against Goldman Sachs the same week the Senate takes up in earnest the massive, 1440 page, financial services reform bill. Very authoritarianesque to use the power of the Executive right at the time the Legislative Branch is taking up major reforms for an industry that has pretty much righted its ship, is shedding weaklings and financing a slowly recovering economy. But if using the SEC can push through financial reforms that concentrate even more power inside Obama's White House then use the SEC they must.

But back to math.

Our Gross Domestic Product is $14.343 Trillion

Currently Federal income ($924 billion) and payroll tax (887 billion) revenue total $1.81 Trillion, total Federal revenue is $2.12 Trillion. Income and payroll taxes are about 12.6% of GDP.

Our current government spending is $3.55 Trillion. $3.55 less $2.13 leaves a deficit for the Federal Government of $1.42 Trillion for the current fiscal year---current fiscal year.

To close the current deficit total Federal Revenue must increase 33%, of Congress plans to close the deficit on tax payers alone Federal income tax revenues must increase 54% from current levels. Again that is just to pay for the current year's deficit.

Outstanding Federal debt is $12.85 Trillion and climbing. At 89.6% of GDP the Federal debt is quickly heading to 90% of GDP with a current deficit of almost 10% of GDP and future projected deficits at 30%.

Currently each worker in America is the equivalent of $103,000 of the GDP, this is because of the economic principle of the velocity of the dollar. The U.S. workforce is at 139 million workers with over 15 million workers not working. To reach zero growth in unemployment the economy needs to add approximately 125,000 jobs to absorb new workers entering the marketplace due to population growth and immigration. To cut the number of unemployed by 10% in one year the economy needs to add 3 million jobs, or about 250,000 jobs per month. This level of job growth has never occurred over a sustained period with the exception of the period during World War II.

Under the current sliding income tax levels approximately 1% of Americans pay between 35-40% of total Federal income taxes, the top 10% pay 70% of income tax and the top 50% pay 97% of the federal income taxes. There are currently 100 million taxpayers.

Of the taxes that are paid $193 billion goes to paying interest on the Federal debt (about 7% of which goes to China who holds almost $900 billion in U.S. Treasuries). That means that 21% of Federal income tax revenue goes to paying the interest on the debt.

The stated objective of the Obama Administration is to "tax the rich" to pay for his policy agendas including Obamacare. Obama defines "rich" on income earnings not on wealth--the "Henry's" (High Earner Not Rich Yet) bear the brunt of his tax policies.

If we consider the top 10% of tax payers the "rich" they are paying 70% of the current income tax revenue, or $647 billion. Currently we need to add an additional $1.42 Trillion to these income earners, meaning their tax liability must double just to pay for this year's spending deficit. Add in spending deficit proposals in the Administration budget of another $3 Trillion and the Administration will call upon the top 10% of income earners to quadruple their income tax burden to reach zero deficit spending. Why work?

The budget proposed by the Obama Administration adds another $3+ Trillion to the current deficit. Because of the sentiment across the country that is against the massive amounts of spending in Washington, extremely high unemployment, added government bureaucracy and control of individual liberty and freedoms through Obamacare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows that any debate on the Administration's budget proposal will only help the Republicans and further hurt Democrats at the polls in November.

Her solution? The House will not take up and pass a budget. Meaning there will be no guidelines for spending and appropriations. Each bill will be passed not within the frame work of what American can afford, but rather what the majority desires. Not having a budget will not reduce the Federal deficit but will allow it to rise uncontrollably.

Government math: we need to add 125,000 jobs per month just to keep unemployment at current levels. The current debt stands at $128,000 per tax payer, however the balance is skewed heavily to the top 10% of income earners. Fifteen million Americans are out of work today, another five to ten million are working part time or are considerably underemployed.

With these figures in the equation Congress and President Obama feel we need to further increase not only the tax burden on current American workers but also future American workers to pay a debt that they continue to grow.

Does this seem anything like the creation of the housing bubble to anyone else? Cheap money, free spending, no limits?

Here are some links:

U.S. National Debt Clock

National Taxpayers Union

U.S. Treasury Major Foreign Debt Holders (you will see that seeing where we are going China has been selling U.S. Treasuries at about $10 billion per month)

DCS 04192010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Saturday April 10, 2010 here are some questions I have had:

Has “going green” gone over the top?

What celebrity or famous person was your idol when you were 10-12 years old?

Did you pay more in taxes for 2009 than 2008 or less?

Bleachers or field level?


Term limits?

Best state flag and why?

Do you sing when the National Anthem is played?

For those in Long Beach/Southern California: are you attending any of the Grand Prix races?

What is the fastest you have driven on a public thoroughfare?

Have you ever gone grunion hunting?

Greatest movie cowboy?

John or Paul?

Did you have the opportunity to overcome a tremendous obstacle this week? Did you succeed?

Do you have a daily goal or objective?

What denomination do you have the most of in your wallet, money clip or purse right now?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers?

Click on the hard to read “comments” button below and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Dumb Legislation

In February California State Senator Alan Lowenthal presented legislation that I nominated as Dumbest Legislation of the Decade in only the first month of the decade. With that bill Lowenthal wanted to eliminate free parking for Californians and their guests visiting with cars.

Lowenthal is at it again, presenting legislation that his fellow Democrats have passed through the Assembly, that is unnecessary and extends the Nanny State a bit further.

SB 183 is another piece of legislation that impacts all Californians because of the actions of a few. According to the California Air Resources Board, that appointed body that has powers to enact rules and laws without approval of any elected officials, and has done so driving companies out of business, the same body who accepted a report as the basis for their imposing job killing laws in which the author was known to have fraudulently boosted his credentials, according to the ARB California experiences 30-40 deaths each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning in the home. Out of 30 million people 30-40 people die due to carbon monoxide in the home. How many of these deaths are attributed to the hibachi dragged into the illegally converted garage where a family or two sleeps? Perhaps most.

Because one-one thousandth of our population dies, according to the ARB, from carbon monoxide, Senator Lowenthal has presented a bill requiring virtually every home and residence to have carbon monoxide detectors. Not just any carbon monoxide detectors (CMD), since the bill states "the State Fire Marshal to certify and approve carbon monoxide devices and their instructions, as specified, for the use in dwelling units intended for human occupancy, as defined." Manufacturers must pay off the State Fire Marshal to get their CMDs approved, more revenue for the state.

According to the bill if you are a homeowner in a dwelling requiring a CMD and do not install a detector you can be fined $200. Since the detectors run from $15 to $25 chances are you will install one. By the way, it appears the state is mandating the purchase of about 10 million of these detectors, what is the tax revenue from the mandated purchases?

Since most of the carbon monoxide deaths I have read and heard about occur in garages with hibachis burning charcoal as heat I wonder exactly how many deaths this law forcing Californians to spend about $200,000,000 will prevent. How will the law prevent families living in unpermitted living units with heat from ignorantly burning Kingsford coals and endangering themselves and their families?

I want to try to stay ahead of Lowenthal and his ridiculous legislative agenda so I did some research. A national killer that puts down more people than plane crashes, firearms, snakebites and lighting is choking while dining. According to the National Safety Council over 2,100 people each year die while eating. Assuming California with about 10% of the population takes on 10% of the deaths (actually since our elected representatives feel the general California population is so ignorant and incapable of taking care of ourselves without the state protecting us the number should be higher), that brings choking deaths in California to 210 per year, more than those dying from carbon monoxide. We have to eat so unfortunately Lowenthal cannot ban food.

However, there is hope! According to the National Safety Council 90% of the choking deaths are caused by steak. Yes steak kills more people than plane crashes and look at all the regulations we have for planes! Steak comes from cows and cows produce methane, use water, take up lots of land that cannot be used for low income housing and are just bad for our environment. Not only that according to statistics steak kills almost 200 Californians every year.

Ban cows. Lowenthal can save the environment, like his dumb free parking legislation was intended to do, and save more Californians' lives than his carbon monoxide detector mandate. Lowenthal can present the Bovine By-product and Environmental Protection Act of 2010. Ban the raising of cows in California and the consumption, sale, distribution or cooking of steak in the state.

If he cannot get support for that I am sure Lowenthal and his fellow Nannies can pass legislation requiring all restaurants serving steak to slice the meat into little tiny choke proof pieces before serving, just like Mommy used to do.

DCS 04142010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Intention And Purpose

Yesterday our guest minister raised the four questions that Man has asked and studied since Socrates, probably before.

Who am I?

Where did I come from?

Why am I here?

Where am I going?

In asking the questions we look inward to our purpose for Being. In answering we, perhaps, answer our intention for Living. Intention and purpose. Investigation of our intention and purpose is usually a discussion framed within the confines of religious doctrine or our faith. As we explore our ideas for our purpose in this life and our the intention for which we were give it we also explore our beliefs in respect to God, Spirit, Universal Energy, or whatever definition you wish to put on the Divine.

Intention and purpose. This week in particular, as we face deadlines to fund our government with our taxes, is a good time to ask the questions regarding intention and purpose about our government, our Republic. What is the purpose of our government? What is the intention we have for our government? Take the four questions at the top of this post and substitute "government" for "I."

Who is our government? It is supposed to composed of representatives of the people. Our government was established to be representative in nature and given guidelines by which to operate, our Constitution. Our government is to be us, we, the people.

Where did our government come from? From men who gathered from across a land that had been inhabited by European settlers for barely 100 years, a scant time in the history of Western Man. Men with common values, common beliefs and common principles established a form of governance never before seen. Our government was formed by men who thought to right down "all Men are created equal" and that among the gifts granted by Our Creator are "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Our government came from men, who while flawed like all men, set forth the most closely perfect form of government to that point in history, or sense.

Why is our government here? Ah-ha! What is the purpose of our government? What purpose do we allow our government to have? This is the crux of political discourse and discord. What purpose our government has is the very foundation upon which we should base our votes.

Where is our government going? For Man this question is meant to imply where am I going when I die? For government the question is different as it is as close to eternal a body as we may know in our lifetimes. Where is our government going? What is its intention? Another foundation upon which our votes should be based. More than purpose, the intention of government and our representatives is fueled by ideology and personal opinion. And even more than purpose the subject of our political, and societal, unrest when we disagree.

This past week was "Tax Freedom Day." The approximate day in the year where all the work you have been compensated for no longer feeds government through taxes but now can feed you. The day is meant to commemorate that from January 1st to some day in early to mid-April all your earnings to that point have gone to pay your state and federal tax obligations. It is meant to give tax payers, citizens, an idea of how much we actually pay the government. Since most of us have income taxes withheld from our paychecks we can lose sight of how much of our hard earned income we do not receive.

Actually, I need to make a correction. "Most of us" is not accurate as data recently released shows that fifty percent, half, of American households pay no federal income tax. "Most of us" are not paying taxes. Put that in the context of the intention and purpose of government.

On Thursday, April 15th, all income earning Americans must make filings with the Internal Revenue Service and their state tax boards. Our taxes are feeding a Federal government that has is spending over $3.5 Trillion this year, is currently running a $1.4 Trillion deficit, is getting ready to debate a budget that pushes that deficit to over $3 Trillion and is in debt over $12.4 Trillion. In debt over twelve trillion four hundred billion dollars. To what purpose do we have our government? What is the intention of our government?

Is it the purpose of our government to keep us safe from enemies foreign and domestic?

Is it the purpose of our government to establish equal rules and regulations regarding trade and commerce?

Is it the purpose of government to supply and regulate a common currency?

Keep us safe, enable commerce and ability to earn a living to support our families, establish common laws that enable us to live with our liberty and freedoms. Broad, basic purposes.

Is it our intention that our government shall educate us and our children?

Is it our intention that our government shall regulate with great detail commerce and industry?

Is it our intention that our government shall establish laws that make work places safe for the workers?

Is it our intention that our government protect workers from their employers?

Is it our intention to decide whether future life shall occur or not is decided by a mother?

As our intentions evolve with our Republic so do does the purpose of our government. What the government provides the people through the representative government becomes an entitlement and a right that can no longer be taken away. Social security, Medicare, education, abortion, food stamps, day care, are some of the programs and entitlements created, supported and expanded by government over the past century and decades.

Now it appears the purpose of government is to try to ensure that if you purchase a home and can no longer afford the payments you will keep that home through government intervention. The intention of our government is to provide homeowners with less debt and monthly obligations that they agreed to if they so wish or claim financial hardship, but there is no intention for those not claiming hardship, who do not own a home or own a home with no debt. It is the intention of the government to take from those who live within their means to support the housing for those who have not. It is the intention to force banks and lenders to lose billions of dollars with forced modifications to allow some to remain in homes many should not have bought.

It appears the purpose of government is that if you have a company with enough workers who belong to labor unions and the company is failing in part because of labor agreements the government will purchase the company. The intention of the government is to protect jobs that were already protected, to guarantee retirement payments to those whose retirement was already guaranteed by the taxpayers and to make and sell better cars. It is the intention to take billions of dollars of tax revenues from the people and support a company that has been failing for over a decade and will continue to fail.

It appears that the intention of government is to insure, and ensure, everyone within the borders of the Republic, have equal access to healthcare; access that already exists for over 90% of citizens within the borders. It is the intention to of the government to destroy the current health care industries within our Republic and build new industries at the cost of the citizens, or those who pay taxes.

Currently the top 1% of income earners in our country pay 35% of the Federal income taxes in America. Fifty percent of income earners pay 100% of Federal income taxes. What becomes of our intent and purpose as expressed at the ballot when a majority of households are not paying any income taxes? What becomes of our intent and purpose of our government when the top 1% are paying 40%, 45%, 50%, of all Federal taxes and 40%, 35%, 30% of income earners are paying 100% of the taxes?

Is it really our intent to have over fifty percent of our citizens contribute nothing to the Federal Treasury and define our purpose? What results when over half the citizens are living under the rule of a government that is paid for by a shrinking minority? More programs that become entitlements paid for by fewer Americans?

It appears that the intent of the majority in our Federal government, and in Sacramento, and the White House, to increase taxes and revenue from the higher income earners, a definition which declines from $200,000 to $180,000, to $100,000 to $70, more taxes are needed to fund more handouts to those not paying taxes.

It is the intention of our President and his allies in the majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives to redistribute wealth and income from those they deem "rich" to those they deem "in need."

What is the purpose of government? What is the intention of government? The answers to those questions are provided by the people of America when they vote.

Thankfully there are groups of people across the country now asking those questions clearly and loudly. Questions those in power do not like to answer: Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you here? Where are you going, or if elected where do you want to go? What is your intention? What is your purpose?

We need to ask. Loudly, clearly and consistently.

DCS 04122010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Saturday April 3, 2010 here are some questions I have had while on vacation in Scottsdale:

What is your order at In-N-Out?

Yahoo, Google or Bing?

What is your SPF? Is it different in April than August?

Will Tiger win the Masters?

Putin is a bully, has invaded Georgia, ignores international boycotts, supported Saddam and Iran, signs new nuke treaty with Obama, days later plane crash kills the very strong President of Poland; coincidence it happened in Russia?

Does who is financing a political campaign influence your vote? If so more positively or negatively?

When you are on vacation do you do any work or can/do you leave it all behind until you get back to the office?

Best book you have read so far in 2010?

Are the supposed threats and screaming at Democrats any more and louder than there were during the Bush years or is the mainstream media just reporting it this time?

What question were you asked by a child this week that caused you to smile?

Do you look for sun or shade when setting up by the pool for the day?

Did Obama’s announcement about off shore drilling change anything?

Who will win the GOP nomination for President in 2012?

Have you finished and filed your taxes yet?

Who would you like to be sponsored by?

Worst book you had to read in high school?

Fritos or tortilla chips with chili?

Do you perform consistently well under pressure or just sometimes?
When was the last time your were in Blythe?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers?

Click on the hard to read “comments” button below and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pointing The Pudgy Finger Of Blame

We had a big Mercury Colony station wagon, the kind with the seats in the way back. Mom and Dad in the front seat, Dad driving of course, and Sharon, Michael and I in the back sliding around on the big bench seat. After Michael's baseball game, or some other late afternoon out, once in a while we would have a special treat. Dad would pull into the MacDonald's on Peoria and get a sack of cheeseburgers and fries. On the way home he would hear a chorus of "Daaad! Don't eat all the fries!" as he would dip his large hand into the bag and pull out the still hot fries to munch on the short drive home. It was a treat.

Going to MacDonalds, or Wendy's, Carl's Jr., Burger King, is not a treat for many families. It is a routine. A routine that has become so prevalent that the epidemic of fat kids, ooops severely overweight or obese kids, has been blamed on the fast food joints. They "hook" kids on their food by offering toys with their cheeseburgers and fries. They have a clown that encourages kids eat burgers so McBurglar doesn't get any. Our nation's kids are fat and it is the fault of Ray Croc, Dave Thomas and Carl Karcher.

As a kid I played a lot of sports. About a week before sign up for baseball, basketball, football I would be bugging my Mom to remind her. When I wasn't at practice or a game I would be running around the woods or neighborhood with my brother and our friends. In summer or spring time we would leave the house after breakfast and either be home with a bunch of kids for lunch or home for dinner. We would ride our bikes five or six miles to the movie theater to watch "Posieden Adventure," "The Voyage of Sinbad" or sneak into "Billy Jack." No rides to school we walked or rode our bikes, unless it was pouring rain and even then we liked the adventure and would try to talk Mom out of shoving us all in the Mercury wagon.

A treat was after a game or practice on a hot day Mom would pour a glass of pee-green Gatorade, I felt like a real pro! After finishing that and saying I was still thirsty she would remind me where the tap was and to get myself some water. We drank out of hoses a lot, often a neighbor's whose house we were running by while thirsty. Today we see fat kids walking around with 20 ounce bottles of Powerade, or 24 ounce cups from 7-11 or AM/PM filled with soda as they haul themselves into the back of Mom's SUV for the two minute ride to school. Our nation's kids are fat and it is the fault of Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

We brought our lunches to school a lot, almost daily. Mainly because I was a very, very picky eater--which makes it difficult for me to get on our youngest daughter too much who shares that DNA thread evidently. My brother, Michael, our friend next door, Dick Mackey, who we would walk to and from school with every day, and I would have contests to see who could re-use their brown lunch sack the most times--not be "green" but just because we were boys and it was another contest. My Mom would pack us with a sandwich, an apple, maybe some chips but rarely and a piece of dessert. If we were able to successfully lobby (read: nag like crazy until we broke Mom down) in the store, once in a blue moon we would find a "Big Wheel" or something--but rarely. We would buy milk at school. The stuff served in the cafeteria tended to be somewhat gross to my elementary school palate and to this day there is a certain odor that when I smell it I think, "Hillside Elementary cafeteria."

Today our school system is set up to encourage kids not to bring their lunches to school. We get roto-dialed to enroll our children in the "free lunch program" because anything you don' pay for directly is from the government and it must be "free." Schools are encouraged to sign students up for free lunches because that is how they measure poverty levels and the more kids getting tax payer bought lunches the more money that school gets in Title I money from the Federal government. Since lunch, and usually breakfast, is paid for parents happily skip out on the morning routine of preparing their kids a somewhat healthy lunch and send them to school for "nutritious" lunches of carbs, salt, sugar and fat. Our nation's kids are fat and it is the fault of the school system encouraged, almost forced, to feed more and more children with less and less money.

I love to go grocery shopping, more so if I have one or both of the kids with me. I enjoy sitting down and planning a menu, the food we will need for lunches for the week, breakfasts, replacing supplies in the pantry. Put my in a grocery store with a cart, a list and a kid or two on a Saturday morning and I'm about as happy as I can get. One thing you notice pretty quickly at the Ralph's, Safeway, Von's or Albertson's is that fat kids hanging around grocery carts usually do not have skinny, or fit looking parents. If there are any vegetables they are frozen or canned. Fruit appears to be paired with ice cream if in the cart at all. Trix, Cocoa Puffs, frozen waffles and most importantly the portable and edible Pop Tarts appear to be the breakfast menu. Cheetos, Funyons and Pringles are purchased by the cart full. Four flavors of soda fill the bottom rack of the cart--but half of them are "Diet." Crackers, ice cream, Ding-dongs, frozen pizzas, a plethora of pre-prepared food that can be used to put together a meal or snack in a matter of minutes. Those food items supplement the meals that are not purchased through a small window from the air-conditioned comfort of the minivan or SUV.

MacDonald's, Wendy's, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Carl's Jr., Sara Lee, Breyer's, Coke, Oscar Meyer, are all to blame for our nation's fat kids.

But I don't see an executive from Pepsi pushing the Big Gulp cup against the lever under the Diet Pepsi label and then handing the cup to the child. I don't see a deliveryman for Frito-Lay pushing the cart laden with poor meal planning choices and asking the child which brand of Hostess she wants for afterschool snacks. I don't see anyone from MacDonald's driving the SUV ordering double happy meals for the ten year kid playing his PlayStation in the back. But society and the progressive political-media alliance has made them the reason we have more and more fat kids who are getting fatter and fatter.

The society wrecking trend of removing personal responsibility and accountability is a national crisis. Parents are become less and less responsible for their children's health, despite the fact they, the parents, make the decisions as to what, when and where to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As they continue to make poor choices, as they continue to value convenience over health, more blame piles up on those who manufacture food items that were once treats and now have become the staple for parents creating fat kids. They have abdicated the nutritional responsibilities from themselves to the government and media to comfort them, "it's not your fault your kid is fat from eating five dinner and four breakfasts a week from the drive through windows, it is the company's fault for making it so cheap and so bad at the same time."

Before one more pudgy finger is pointed out of an SUV by an overweight Mom or Dad sipping on a 42 ounce Diet Coke blaming our "fast food culture" for the fat kids they are raising in the back seat, I'd like to see society point the finger right back at them. Where is the blame and shame for the parents? They are given excuses: it's too cheap to buy fast food, they work and it is too difficult to make healthy meals every night, s/he's not a very good cook, they don't have time to shop properly, there is not store in their neighborhood.

ENOUGH! Enough with giving the parents who drive the cars to the drive through instead of the grocery store, who push the cart down the chip aisle instead of the vegetable aisle, who let their kids sleep in and hand them a Pop Tart for breakfast as they walk out the door instead of waking them up and making them a solid breakfast, enough with giving them excuses and someone else to blame.

Every fat kid has only one place to lay blame, at his or her parent(s). Let' s start being more honest with who is responsible and who is not in this nation. Fat kids are fat because their parents don't want to put up with an argument over meals, don't want to bother making dinner or doing dishes, don't want to bother with healthy choices, but rather want to make their kids happy, make their lives easy and spend money on gas for the car instead of gas for the stove.

Those who know me know that I am somewhat husky, chubby, fat, myself. Hovering around 6'2" I flirt with 250 pounds, usually looking down at it more than above it. My eating and exercise choices have not always been the best. But as a parent I have noticed my choices have become better. My kids are fed a healthy meal made at home every morning, lunch and dinner with the occasional "treat" out. We are not perfect parents, but we work hard to educate our children about what food makes them behave in what way. No preservatives, no food dyes, no chocolate with vanillin (it's like crack). If my kids are fat it is no ones fault but ours. That fact that I sport a too big midsection and jowls is not anyones fault but mine. Quit trying to blame someone else for the choices I made and make. I grew up skinny with exercise and healthy meals. In the last fifteen to twenty years the meals, metabolism and exercise changed--I can't blame Mom for the choices I make now.

Fat kids. We can call it an obesity epidemic. A fast food culture. But they are truly victims of poor parenting. To call it anything else perpetuates the cycle and we will have more fat kids being raised by fat parents. Go to your local grocery store this weekend and see what I mean. The kids aren't pushing the cart and aren't swiping a debit card to buy the crap in the cart.

Point the pudgy finger of blame at parents.

DCS 0472010

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Two Cents And How It May Affect Your Life

Just as your health was put into the hands of Senator Harry Reid, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and various committee chairs in Congress, now your financial future is in the hands of two men in Congress. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass) are engaged in a financial reform effort that may be akin to the ObamaCare legislation we just saw pushed, bought, pulled and bribed through Congress. If the resulting legislation resembles the ObamaCare package there are some certainties we can count on, and some uncertainties that seem perfectly reasonable that we should bank on.

One certainty if things progress along similar legislative lines as ObamaCare and the American Recovery and Revitalization Act (aka Stimulus, aka Massive Amount of Pork) will be a bill that is a couple of thousand pages at least. We can count on few, if any, of those supporting and voting to pass the legislation to have read the bill. We can count on favors and carve outs for specific states, districts and constituencies. And we can count on the federal government intruding even further into our lives.

The end result will eventually be the same as ObamaCare, the government--and therefore you and I--will have so much invested in the financial components of the legislation that my business becomes everyone else's and everyone else's business becomes mine.

ObamaCare is being sold

(jump off p0int: if the legislation is so beneficial why does President Obama still need to sell it? It's the law now, why isn't he moving on? He sold it for over twelve months and the majority of Americans weren't buying, he ignored them and shoved the bill into law. What's his purpose in still campaigning for legislation he made law? jumping back in)

ObamaCare is being sold as actually saving the government money. Despite adding millions of people to MediCare and MediCaid or some form of government insurance program, we are to believe we will actually see the federal deficit decline. This happens one of two ways: higher taxes or lower spending on MediCare and/or MediCaid, or both. In the end your health care delivery and insurance becomes the responsibility of the United States government, and decisions will eventually come down to actuary tables and accounting principles of cost-benefit analysis.

The best way to save money will be to ensure that every single American, and illegal alien residing in America, lives a healthy lifestyle as defined by those in charge of the medical industry--you Congressional representatives and government appointees. Because your obesity and my proclivity for pork products are potential timebombs on the national balance sheet something must be done to change our habits and waistlines. So my two cents will become very valuable in shaping our future health care, and financial future.

Already we see the progress from creeping intrusion by government into our daily lives move past creeping and into steady (and creepy). We are in Arizona this week and every single menu has a warning printed on it about consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may cause food borne illnesses--so can consuming spinach from Mexico or strawberries from parts of the San Joaquin Valley some years. Eating my second cousin's celery root casserole at Thanksgiving caused many an illness but we all knew it and avoided it, we didn't put it on the invitation. In New York they have banned cooking with transfats and are looking at banning the use of salt in food preparation. Salt!

Across the country as nanny-state legislatures get more more concerned about fat kids they start making more requirements on those who deliver the food than on those who are buying the food--but that will most likely change under ObamaCare. Instead of state by state having food bans, menu disclosure requirements and restaurant restrictions, the process of dictating your eating habits will now come under the federal government.

Since your kid drinking four sodas a day, eating six out of seven dinners from Wendy's or Burger King and having Trix or Pop Tarts for breakfast has made him look like Jackie Gleason while in the 4th grade his obesity is now my problem. Which is just what the liberals have wanted all along. Having slowly chipped away at the personal responsibility requirement for many in society, the new legislation will strip it away completely and put it in the hands of your neighbors and friendly government.

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, joint deterioration, are all linked to inactivity and incredibly poor dietary choices. Not only what you eat but how much. So we can look forward to incredibly bland food and choices coming to us in increasingly small portions. If I owned stock in Claim Jumper I would be selling as there is no way they will be able to survive the coming bureaucratic decrees that will limit calories, sugar, sodium, fat content of servings and portion sizes. What's the point? Instead of underground Rave parties for twentysomethings the latest trend will be underground restaurant parties for fortysomethings getting texted late Saturday evening the location of the warehouse where a blackmarket chef will serve foie gras, braised pork belly, stuffed pork chops and chocolate mousse.

So what can result from a major reform of our financial industries? What about this scenario in 2014: Our neighbors have been buying a lot of toys lately, jet skis, cars, big screen televisions, time shares; she is a teacher and he works in solar technology. I think they may be overextending themselves and to protect my financial interests I will need to turn them in for investigation lest they go into foreclosure and lower the value of my home and that of other neighbors? The family down the street went through a government driven mortgage modification in 2010 and now are looking at an equity line of credit to remodel their kitchen. Have they paid back their modification, will they have enough money to pay for their children's college tuition in ten years? Have they saved enough money in their retirement accounts to fill the hole where social security used to be?

As an out of control liberal leadership in Congress feels empowered after its incredibly dysfunctional legislative process on ObamaCare tackles another industry one wonders where this is all headed? Will the intrusion of the government make us all so dependent on the overall results that a nation of Mrs. Kravitzes (for you younger folks Mrs. Kravitz lived across the street from Darren and Samantha Stevens on "Bewitched" constantly spying on them and the goings on in her neighbors home and reporting it to her disinterested husband)?

As the federal budget becomes more and more dependent on the choices of individuals it is not a far reach to assume that the already intrusive nature of the so called progressives (progressing further and further into our personal liberties) results in less and less personal liberties and choice choices. The goal is elimination of opportunity for what they deem poor choices and decisions and the ignorance of man's mortality and desire for some of us to enjoy this life as we are able.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so long as it is sodium free, full of fiber and fiscally responsible in the eyes of your government...and neighbors.

DCS 04052010

Just Some Questions

Below are questions I have asked myself throughout the past week. Instead of writing what my answers to them would be I am interested in any answers you may have, or additional questions you have asked yourself.

For the week starting Saturday March 27, 2010 here are some questions I have had (Abbreviated due to vacation and lack of thoughts.....):

What happens when the additional taxes layered on top of the “rich” don’t bring in what is expected in order to pay for Obamacare?

Are taxes on tanning salons a racially discriminatory tax?

Why is gas $3.17 a gallon in Blythe and $2.76 a gallon in the truck stop across the river?

Does it take you longer to get on vacation schedule with your internal clock or get back to a regular schedule after vacation?

Did the Easter Bunny come to your house?

A question I get all the time: Do you dye your hair?

Will union money be able to buy the Long Beach 9th Council District Election?

What about the Long Beach Unified School District race for 1st District?

Will the Democrats use financial reform legislation as a political tool to try to harm Republicans and gain back some lost ground from their health care bill, or will the legislation be something worthwhile?

Do you have any questions?

Cookies or Pie?

So those are the questions, what are your answers?

Click on the hard to read “comments” button below and let us know what you think!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Don't Worry About the Chickens...Count Your Eggs!

Tulsa, Oklahoma has some interesting weather. It can get nasty, cold and icy in the winter. Hellaciously hot and humid in the summer. Hail storms and tornadoes or beautiful mild sunny days with soft breezes in spring. I used to think my grandfather Jack invented the phrase, "If you don't like the weather just wait a day, it'll change" describing our weather.

My Mom was from Sacramento and until she married my Dad and moved from Palo Alto and Stanford University to Oklahoma she had never lived anywhere but Northern California--warm, warmer, sunny, sunnier, with an occasional period of mild inclement weather. Married to my Dad she came to know a lot about Midwestern and Southern weather patterns as his career in the petroleum industry took through some of the less populated less populated areas of Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana in the late 1950s and early 1960s. From a Catholic background with a strong sense of family and traditions, Mom always made sure the holidays travelled with her, where ever home may have been set up at the time.

Sometime around 1965 or 1966 Mom and Dad moved into a new home in Tulsa, having relocated with my older sister Sharon, older brother Michael and me from Oklahoma City. The house would be my third at the ripe age of three or four. It had a great backyard and plenty of room for three kids and whatever kids in the neighborhood were around. A perfect backyard for the Easter Bunny to hide our eggs for a good old fashioned Easter Egg hunt.

Because of the crazy weather patterns in Tulsa in the Spring we never knew when we were decorated our eggs with that vinegary smelling PAAS egg dye stuff whether we would be having an indoor or outdoor egg hunt. So depending on the weather Easter morning, or Easter eve night, we would wake up, grab our baskets and tear through the house or head out to the back yard.

One year, in retrospect it must have been our first or second Easter with good weather, Mom gave our eggs to the Easter Bunny to hide outside because it was very nice spring weather. Sharon, Michael and I--ranging in age from five or six to nine or ten--headed out and starting finding eggs. In the log-cabin playhouse. Under the umbrella (pronounced UM-brella in Tulsa please) on the patio. Between logs in the log pile. On the birdfeeder. Running from spot to spot we looked until we could find no more. We gave the eggs to Mom who would then use the hard boiled eggs for all sorts of gross and disgusting dishes--to this day I cannot bear the site or smell of hard boiled eggs.

Story over. Easter in Tulsa is done.

Not quite.

Tulsa can, and does, get really hot in the summer. A day with hundred degree heat and hundred degree humidity with no rain is not something unique. One summer as Michael and I and our friends played around in the backyard we began to notice a smell. At first we thought it might be a frog that had died from our frog farm (we would scoop frogs eggs out of the pond across the street in a big plastic tub and leave them in the backyard where we would watch them go from eggs to tadpoles to frogs and then there would be none left in the tub but all over the yard). Or maybe some other critter had crawled under the log-cabin playhouse and died. As the summer wore on the smell got worse and worse.

Finally one day a ball or something rolled over by the fence with the neighbors. We went to get it and Phew! The smell was horrible. Being boys we became more curious about what could make such a horrible smell. After a little looking we finally a found the source.

Faded but still distinctly colored by a small child, an Easter Egg that had been in the Tulsa weather, and heat, for several months just rotting away. Evidently we had not found all the Easter Eggs during our fervid hunting back in March or April.

Mom wasn't real thrilled with our discovery, but less thrilled that we brought it to her so she could see, and smell our treasure. From then on Mom knew, always count your eggs before handing them over to the Easter Bunny for hiding and make sure the number found matches the number hid!

Oh, and be careful what gets left out in the Tulsa weather.

DCS 0401210