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There have been screams from the right for years about how tax-payer money is spent.  They scream about tax-payer money being used to fund abortions for example.  There have also been screams from the right about unions using union dues for campaign contributions.  They want to make sure that any union member can “opt out” of their dues being used to support candidates.  We all know that if unions were endorsing Republican Candidates, this “opt out” wouldn’t be necessary.

Their argument has always been that tax-payer money cannot be used for things like these because everyone doesn’t agree with them.  So, if you disagree with abortion for example, your tax money should not be used to fund abortions, even for military personnel.  On the surface, that seems logical.  But, on the other hand, they have no problem with using tax-payer money to pay for things like Christmas scenes on government property.  They call that religious freedom.

Well, the State of Kentucky has just taken this one step further.  It seems that the State of Kentucky is recognizing a particular religious cult.  They are willing to offer tax incentives and tax-payer money to them to show their support.  Of course, Kentucky is saying they are doing this not to recognize a religious cult, but rather to create jobs.

Here is the story.  Ken Ham and his nuts are planning to build a life-sized Ark based on the biblical story of Noah and the flood.  The Ark Encounter is being built by Answers in Genesis, which also runs the Creationist Museum in Kentucky.  The issue is that this clearly religious organization has been approved by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, a state-run agency, for a great deal of state money. Yep, this religious group has received preliminary approval for an $18 million tax incentive.

However, the State is turning a blind eye to the fact that the people who apply for these jobs will be subject to discrimination based on their beliefs. Daniel Phelps, a geologist, president of the Kentucky Paleontologist Society, and vice president of Kentuckians for Science Education, pointed out:

“However, it is apparent that Ark Encounter is likely to discriminate against non-Christians. Moreover, Catholics, mainstream Protestant Christians and some conservative Christians who have different doctrinal beliefs are also unlikely to be hired.

The job description included this statement: ‘Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.’”

The entire job description requires a salvation testimony, a creation belief statement and a confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith.  That “Statement of Faith” includes these items.

“Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God.”

And:

“The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God”

And:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

It doesn’t take much reasoning to figure out that this Statement of Faith, which is required by anyone who will be employed will lead to discrimination against non-Christians, Catholics, LGBT persons, atheists, or anyone else who does not agree with the Statement of Faith.  Yet, As Phelps put it: “The tax incentive, along with the city tax breaks, and the parcel of land sold to the project at a discount by Williamstown, plus $200,000 cash given by the Grant County Economic Development Commission is clearly a case of government entanglement with religion.”

The State may claim that this tax money is being used to create jobs.  But, it is being used to create jobs for a small minority of people.  It will be used to discriminate against anyone who disagrees with the Statement of Faith but still needs a job.  As a result, there can be no conclusion other than the one that says the State of Kentucky is guilty of “recognizing” a particular religion.  That is an obvious violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that says “the government shall not recognize an official state religion”.

Kentucky, the home of the renowned constitutionalist Mitch McConnel, seems to think that the First Amendment doesn’t pertain to them.  But, that is the way it always works.  Vilify your enemies and reward your supporters.  Even if it breaks the law.

With the advent of the FOX News Network, and I do use the term ‘News” loosely, there has been a lot of talk about how things have gone from bad to worse.  Especially considering that FOX has a tendency to cleanse things to their liking to prove their point.  This is hardly new information.  And, FOX is not the first of the so-called “conservative” networks on TV and Radio that are guilty of this.

It is not unheard of that both sides are trying to cherry pick the points they want to expose.  It is very easy to take a quote, pick out the parts you like or dislike, and make those small points out to be major problems.  When this type of reporting is done, that leads to misinformation rather than informing the public.  I admit that both sides are guilty of such practices.  However, the length that FOX goes in this is remarkable considering that they not only cherry pick the points they want to make, they then demonize anyone who points out that is what they are doing.

But, FOX is not the leader in this either.  Limbaugh has been lying to his listeners since Reagan did away with the policy of allowing opposing views on any news point.  It used to be that if Limbaugh said something that another group disagreed with, his network was required by law to air an opposing view on the same topic.  Reagan did away with that law, and the lying moved to new heights.

Throughout the past elections, there has been talk about the public being uninformed.  There is a lot of talk about low informed people going to the polls and basically voting against their own interests.  An example are white poor people who continuously vote for politicians who want to take away the very social safety nets these poor people depend upon.  They vote for these politicians against their own interests because the politicians tell them that their plight is the fault of those “other” people.  And, that is what the poor white people want to hear.

This leads us to the mess in Ferguson, MO.  As I have written before, I am opposed to the violence that has occurred there.  Looting and rioting is not the answer to the shooting and killing of a black man who was unarmed.  However, the nice people at FOX seem, at least to me, to want this incident to continue.  It is my opinion that they are helping to foster the atmosphere that usually leads to trouble.

Many of the FOX “reporters” and pundits are making statements like the victim may have deserved to be killed.  They are leaning towards their opinion that the police can never act badly and that the shooting was justified.  Instead of reporting on the facts of the case, they are more interested in reporting that the New Black Panther Party has a couple of their members there.  As if that makes everything the police have done and are doing justified.

When the Ferguson Police released a security video showing a man who looks like the victim robbing a store of a box of cigars, FOX went on the rampage basically saying “see, he isn’t innocent.”  It was much later that the Ferguson police stated that the officer involved in the shooting was unaware that Brown may have been a suspect in the robbery. FOX did not back off though.  They are still saying that the shooting may have been justified.

They keep bringing up the fact that Al Sharpton is in the area.  They keep bringing up that people like Louis Farrakhan have made comments against the shooting.  They keep bringing up that the New Black Panthers have people there.  They even go so far as saying that the reporters who were arrested in a McDonalds deserved to be arrested.  Their argument is that they did not “obey” the police order quickly enough or that videoing them in the restaurant provoked the police.  For a network that claims to be a “News” network, that is a remarkable thing to say.

This is a perfect example of how so-called news reporters can lie and mislead the viewers into believing something based on totally unrelated information.  Rather that reporting the facts, they look for side stories that show the victim is the one to be blamed.  They are actually using the defense too often used by rapists and their lawyers.  The victim wanted or deserved what happened to them.

However, when the “offended” person is white, they call them patriots.  Remember Cliven Bundy?  Here is a freeloader who owes the government about a million dollars for illegally grazing his cattle on government land, and FOX called him a patriot.  Worse, the man in the picture lying flat on the ground of an overpass behind concrete barriers pointing a high-powered rifle at Federal Agents, they call a patriot.  The difference in these cases is that in the second, the government was acting on court orders.  Yet, the criminal was a patriot.  In the first case, a young black man was shot and killed by a white officer.  That makes the victim not a patriot, but a criminal who deserved what he got.

When people hear lies enough, they begin to believe them.  When people already believe that Brown was guilty of something, then the lies are even easier to swallow.  FOX news plays to the hate and bigotry that already exists.  I won’t go so far as to say they make things up, but they do emphasize the points to justify the bigoted beliefs that the victim was wrong.

It used to be that “fair and balanced” meant that all sides of a story would be explored.  That the truth, no matter what it turned out to be was the primary focus of news reporting.  That meant that all sides of a story had to be reported.  FOX News has perverted that phrase of “fair and balanced.”  They have made it to be whatever they deem to be fair, and balanced has nothing to do with reporting the news.

I don’t agree that most Americans are low informed.  I do believe that they are misinformed on purpose for political points.  That is not reporting, it is propaganda.

 

Maybe we should give half props to FOX News.  For a long time now, they have been crying that there is a war on religion in America.  They are half right.  Of course, they claim it is a war on Christianity.  That is the part they have wrong.  The real war on religion is being waged by the Conservative Christian Cult against everyone else.

The Cult is truly amazing in cherry-picking the parts of religious beliefs that they will accept.  They then denounce everyone else as heretics because their religious beliefs don’t jive with the Cult’s.  There are lots of examples which we will discuss.  The main point is that in their zeal to “convert” the world to their way of thinking, they are willing to shred the right to practice your religious beliefs as guaranteed in the First Amendment.  Some have even gone so far as to say the First Amendment only applies to Christian beliefs.  Even if that were true, which it is not, they are still violating the First Amendment because they continue to persecute other Christians.

This year the Supreme Court ruled that “buffer zones” established by states in front of abortion clinics were not legal.  They believe that if a woman wants to get an abortion, the Cult has the right to attempt to interfere with that process, even going so far as to accost women and employees of the clinic to even get inside in peace.  I suppose that means that if a group of people show up in front of a Cult church and started accosting those attending services, that would also be legal.  I would love to see a group try that angle.

Imagine a group of protesters standing in front of a Cult church screaming to the attendees that they are devil worshipers, or other such nonsense.  Even going so far as to trying to block their entrance into the church “for their own good”.  I don’t think it would be too long before the police were summoned to get rid of the protesters.  The Cult believe they can do whatever they want, but no one else can use their tactics.

The fight over abortion is purely a religious fight.  Whether you believe abortion is “right or wrong” is totally down to religious belief.  The Cult says life begins and therefore the fetus is a person upon fertilization.  Other people with religious beliefs don’t think that way.  That is what the abortion fight is all about.  One narrow view of life against other views of life.

The Cult doesn’t want you to know this.  They try to make it out to be “protecting the unborn person”.  That is what all of these “personhood amendments” they keep trying to get passed is all about.  They are trying to force their religious belief on everyone else.  That in a word is “religious persecution”.

There are a lot of people who consider themselves to be good Christians who favor the right to have an abortion.  But the Cult has labeled them as Christians in Name only.  A favorite catch phrase of theirs.  If a woman’s religious beliefs tells her it is okay to have an abortion, denying her that right is religious persecution.  There is simply no other way to look at it.

There are several states with laws and/or State Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage.  Yet, many churches and religions recognize same-sex marriage.  The Cult says “NO, that is the same as bestiality”.  What nonsense.  The whole premise of the Cult’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage, is again wrapped up in their narrow view of what is in their beloved bible.  Other Christians and other faiths, don’t subscribe to that narrow view.

Therefore, if two people of the same-sex decide they want to get married, and their religious beliefs say that is okay, denying them the right to be married is religious persecution.  Sorry, but the Cult’s argument that the others are “simply wrong” doesn’t cut it.  They are persecuting other beliefs only because they differ from theirs.  The Cult even tried to get legislation passed that would allow them to discriminate against gay couples in normal business affairs.  Again, religious persecution.

Not only that, the Cult is famous for its hypocrisy.  Take the case of  Tennessee. Rep. Scott DesJarlais who is running for his third term for Congress as a “family values” guy.  He recently won his primary for reelection despite the fact that DesJarlais has a long history showing that while he firmly believes women should have to lose their basic human rights in the name of family values, he, as a man, has never shown any interest in making even the tiniest sacrifice for those same values.

It seems that he believes women who are facing an unwanted pregnancy that could derail their lives should suck it up and be made to suffer in the name of “life.” But when faced with the prospect of an unintended pregnancy that could hurt him, he suddenly became a big fan of abortion. It has been reported that DesJarlais encouraged, some would even say badgered his mistress to get an abortion during his first marriage. He also supported his first wife’s abortions.  Yet, he believes that he can run on a pro-life platform.  Apparently the Cult members in Tennessee agree with him.

The Hobby Lobby case proves this point even further.  The Cult member owners of the company claim to have “deeply held religious” beliefs about certain forms of contraception.  They argued in court that they shouldn’t be required to provide those forms of contraception in their health plans for employees.  SCOTUS said absolutely right.

Yet, there are many women who work at Hobby Lobby who believe all forms of contraception are perfectly fine.  Their religious beliefs do not forbid them from using them.  As a result, these woman are being persecuted for their religious beliefs by a company that claims to have deeply held religious beliefs.  Problem is their religious beliefs trump those of their employees.  What else can you call it but religious persecution?

These are just a few examples of religious persecution that is ongoing in America.  FOX was correct in pointing out that it exists.  They were just wrong in who is actually perpetrating this persecution.  In my view, the fanaticism of the Cult’s persecution of the “non-believers” is very similar to other fanatical groups.  So, the next time you hear the Cult scream about religious persecution, remember it is them waging war against your religious beliefs, not the other way around.

We have seen the picture way too many times.  It has permeated our society for generations and it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.  I am talking about what is going on in Ferguson, MO.  On Saturday, a young black man was shot and killed by a white police officer.  The reason the officer shot Michael Brown is still unclear.  But, one thing is clear, it is being handled extremely poorly by the Ferguson Police Chief.

The police officer, who is yet to be identified, claims that when he attempted to exit his squad car, Brown pushed the door back on him.  He then claims that Brown attached him through the window and tried to get his gun.  There was a gun shot inside the car.  Brown was shot 35 feet away from the car, meaning the officer got out of the car before opening fire again.

On the other hand, a witness, who was with Brown at the time it happened gives a completely different story.  He claims that the officer tried to exit the car next to the two teens.  The door hit them both and ricocheted closed again.  According to the witness, the officer then grabbed Brown by the neck through the window.  After a shot rang out, Brown and his friend started running.  The officer reportedly shot Brown who then turned around with his hands in the air and said “I am unarmed”.  The officer then shot him several times killing him.

The Ferguson Chief claims the officer was treated at the hospital with a “swollen face”.  He doesn’t say how exactly the officer got that swollen face.  But, he implies that it was because Brown attacked the officer.  By the way, the only thing the two boys were doing wrong?  They were walking in the street rather than the sidewalk.

Even if the officer’s claim about being attacked is true, that does not justify lethal action by the officer.  You cannot shoot someone several times simply because he bruised your face.  Especially when that person was unarmed, as alleged by his friend.  In my view, that simply means the officer was wrong in his actions and should be punished.

That brings us to what has happened since.  The residents of Ferguson started rioting.  I oppose violence in all cases and the residents are wrong to riot over the incident.  However, the Brown family, Al  Sharpton and others have criticized the rioting and looting and asked for “peaceful protests”.  The last few nights, the residents have tried to use peaceful protest.

However, the Ferguson Police Department, equipped with all sorts of militarized equipment have met them head on.  Tear gas has been fired at the protesters.  According to one news report on scene, the tear gas was fired just 15 seconds after the police gave an order to move on.  That hardly seems like enough time for everyone to even get the news from the police.

News reporters have been arrested.  Even news camera trucks were ordered out of the area before the tear gas was fired on the crowd.  That brings back memories of the riots in Chicago in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention.  Rather than sitting down with the protesters, especially the family and try to work something out that would help clear the way for an independent investigation into the incident, the Ferguson Police has decided to basically go to war with its residents.

Referring back to the Chicago Convention Riots, Mayor Richard J. Daily said on national television that “the police are not there to cause the riot.  They are there to preserve the riot”.  I was there, I lived there, and I can say that the police did an excellent job of “preserving” the riot.  What we are witnessing in Ferguson is no different.  Except the Chicago Police were not equipped with military equipment like the small town of Ferguson Police are.

There are calls for the people to “trust the authorities” to get to the bottom of this.  How can we trust the authorities when they are the ones who seem to have caused the problem in the first place?  All across the country police departments are getting more and more militarized.  SWAT teams attack people’s homes without warning.  All too often they attack the wrong house and hundreds of people are being injured during these attacks.  Even infants like the one injured by a flash grenade that was thrown into the crib.

This is more than a black/white issue.  This is what happens when any media, conservative or liberal, tries to pedal that one group is better than another.  It is what happens when old white men decide that their power base is in jeopardy and they start demonizing races of people.

This case is another example of the American Tragedy played out before the cameras.  There was no reason I can see why this teen was shot and killed by a police officer.  There is no reason to use this case as an excuse to riot and loot a community either.  The only problem is that far too often, oppressed people believe that when no one listens, the only recourse if violence.  Violence may get people’s attention, but it will also lead to more deaths.  There have been more deaths in Ferguson as a result of the riots.

There is a cry of “no justice, no peace”.  But, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. proved that no peace doesn’t mean violence.  Non-violent protest is also a form of “no peace”.   The Ferguson Police Chief claims the officer involved “is hurt” over the incident.  Maybe, but not as hurt as his victim.  The Attorney General said that the Federal Government will investigate this incident.  Hopefully, the truth will come out, and this officer will be punished for any offense he committed.

But, until we end the era of intolerance perpetrated by the loud mouthpieces mostly on the right, we will have more Ferguson’s in our future.  If we don’t stop demonizing people simply because they are different from us, how can expect anything less?

I haven’t written too much about James O’Keefe and his conservative videos because quite frankly I consider him a lunatic.  His videos are nothing but fodder for anyone who wants to prove those “others” are taking over America and it is all the President’s fault.  But, this time, I think I need to say something about his latest.

Seems O’Keefe wanted to prove how illegals and especially those terrorists are able to simply walk across the border without being arrested.  So, to prove his point, he picked an area of the border where there is absolutely no one, including all those illegals, to prove how easy it was.  He even dressed up in a Halloween costume of Osama Bin Laden!  That surely would have him arrested.  But, no, he waded across a stream on the border without getting arrested.

Of course, even if there were border agents present, I seriously doubt that they would be eager to arrest a dead man.  I mean, come on, if you are going to dress up like a terrorist, at least pick a costume of someone who isn’t dead!  Then again, I am still trying to figure out just what a terrorist looks like.  Of course O’Keefe and his cronies believe that anyone who looks like a Muslim is a terrorist.  That way why he chose a costume of Osama Bin Laden.  All Muslims are terrorists to him.

O’Keefe then went on to interview the county sheriff, Arvin West.  They talked about the “lack of border security” in the area.   “You hear the rumors of boots on the ground and more agents,” West says. “We’ve got plenty of agents, they just need to be on the border. Look around you … you look miles and miles in either direction and there is not a Border Patrol agent.”

Okay, that may be a fair point.  But, neither O’Keefe nor West talked about a bill that would answer some of their concerns.  This bill includes:

  • Doubling the number of agents on the border from approximately 20,000 to 40,000
  • Authorize an additional 700 miles of fencing
  • Institute a mandatory E-verify system for employment
  • Establish a “$3.2 billion high-tech border surveillance plan — including drones, infrared ground sensors and long-range thermal imaging cameras”

I would think that both O’Keefe and West would want such a bill passed.  It covers everything they claim is wrong with border security.  Of course, they won’t talk about that in the video because these things are included in the bi-partisan Senate Passed Immigration Reform Bill.  You know the one that the House of Representatives refuses to even vote on!

James O’Keefe is a buffoon who just likes to make videos slamming everything he considers wrong with America.  He uses catch phrases to rile up the conservative base, but does nothing else.  I wonder just what would have happened if he had picked a more populous area and a border agent did arrest him.  Or, worse, shot him.

If the conservatives really want something done about immigration, they need to start acting on immigration reform.  But, with the wackos ruling the roost in the House, that is never going to happen.  Why?  Because they are opposed to anything that even remotely smells like a compromise.  After all, compromise is a necessary tool in actually legislating.  Legislating is the last thing the conservatives want to do.  They just want to stand in front of cameras and pout that their draconian measures aren’t what the American people actually want.

Remember, over 70% of the American People are in favor of the Immigration Reform Bill passed by the Senate.  But the conservatives think the 20% who are opposed to the bill constitute the “real majority” on this issue.  If that is the case, maybe we do need math reform in our schools.

Education has been under attack in this country for at least 50 years.  That’s right, 50 years!  Public education in the U.S. was one of if not the best education you could get anywhere.  That is no longer true.  We have slumped to under the top 25 in the developed world.  This fall can be traced back to the 1960s.

When I was in college, there was a lot of talk about ending the grading scale and just use pass/fail.  It was determined that children shouldn’t have the burden of getting higher grades put upon them.  It was considered too much of a strain laced with pitfalls with a feeling of low self-worth if the child got Cs or Ds on their report card.

This philosophy is based on the theory that the real important factor is that a child be able to regurgitate lessons and information so they pass the class they are taking.  However, that is a false premise on which to base education.  Education is not just rote memorization, it is supposed to be a tool that gives the student the ability to critically think.  Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley said, “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

That statement from Mr. Riley is true and accurate.  Just look at the technological leaps our society has made in just the last 50 years.  When I was in college, computers were large behemoths that needed data cards to input the information.  There were no desktop computers in those days.  Now we have desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and cell phones that are really computers.  New innovative products are still coming out and more are on the drawing board.  This basically proves that Mr. Riley was right.

Unfortunately, at the same time some were proposing pass/fail grading, others were planning on slashing the education budgets.  Many, mostly Republicans but not all, even wanted, and still want, to eliminate the Department of Education.  Many states have slashed taxes thus causing cuts in local budgets that have severely hampered public education.

Rand Paul has a big plan to reform education.  He is “planning a major push on education reform, including education choice, school choice, vouchers, charter schools, you name it.” As one specific example for improving education, Paul suggested that “if you have one person in the country who is, like, the best at explaining calculus, that person maybe should teach every calculus class in the country.” He allowed that “You’d still have local teachers to reinforce and try to explain and help the kids, but you’d have some of these extraordinary teachers teaching millions of people in the classroom.” As an example, Paul lauded the work of Salman Khan, the creator of Khan Academy, a growing vault of education videos aimed to comprehensively cover a wide variety of traditional school courses and other topics as well.

This all sounds good if you believe that education is only rote memorization.  You see, this is not teaching students to problem-solve.  It is merely teaching them to remember something we tell them, and come up with something similar.  When we consider that science, technology, engineering, and math are used to problem-solve problems that may not even exist today, how is rote memorization going to help?  We need to teach our children to think for themselves and give them the tools they need to be more productive at problem-solving.

The attack on education is an ongoing thing.  And, it is always based around money.  Budgets need to be cut in order to afford the massive tax cuts Republicans want to give their contributors.  Just look at Kansas and North Carolina if you want proof.  Both states drastically cut education budgets and their schools have fallen to the depths of poor performance.  Cutting education budgets is not an answer.  It merely makes public education worse than it was.

Yes, there are socioeconomic issues involved as well.  Family participation in the education of children is necessary for the child to succeed.  But, some families are better equipped economically than others to take part in educating their children.  Some people need to work two jobs just to support their family.  That makes it very hard to be a full participant.  These factors need to be considered as well as budgets.

However, the real issue is with our understanding of what teachers actually do.  Unfortunately, most people think that teaching is easy.  We all remember our days as a student, but we never saw behind those doors to the faculty lounge and saw what teachers are required to do before going into the classroom.  There is a lot of work involved in teaching children.  But, it is not a profession that is the same as others.  Teaching is an art form.  It takes very skilled and dedicated people to educate our children.

No two teachers handle their classes the same way.  The best teachers even teach differently depending upon the current student base in their class.  They need to moderate their plans to accommodate different types of children and how quickly they are learning.  Being able to interpret the feedback from your classroom is critical in becoming a great teacher.

If we truly want to improve our education system, we need to attract the best and brightest to the education field.  We cannot do that without paying teachers better than we do.  Yes, there a those who will say that will only “reward” those who are considered “poor” teachers, but there are “poor performers” in every profession.  So that is a lame argument.

By increasing teachers pay, we can attract more of our brightest young people to become teachers.  There are plenty of people I know who would have been great teachers but passed on the field because of the low pay.  It will cost more money in the short-term to do this, but it will more than pay for itself when we have more critical thinkers coming out of our public schools.  These critical thinkers and problem-solvers will be our future growth potential.

There are many fields that pay more than teachers.  I am not taking anything away from any of these professions, but are they really as important to our future than our teachers?  How can expect our public education to improve if we continue to demonize our teachers?  How can education get better when teachers need to buy supplies for their classroom out of their own pockets because the budget doesn’t give them what they need?  How can we improve education when we cut budgets so much classroom sizes increase rather than decrease?

Public education is definitely under attack.  It has been under attack for at least the last 50 years.  Until we come to remember that it was our public education that gave us the scientists who put a man on the moon and return to properly funding education, we will continue on a track that will lead us to third world status.  Education of our children is too important to be a pawn of budgets.  It is too important to be used as any type of political pawn.  It is the future of our children and our country.  It should be our highest priority.

Balancing work and family is a problem for most Americans.  It is difficult to make so many sacrifices in order to provide for your family because while making those sacrifices we miss way too much family time.  Single mothers have the most difficult time trying to balance work and family.  They often face the daunting challenge of having to work in low-paying jobs with inconsistent schedules.  That means besides not being able to afford childcare, they sometimes can’t get that childcare simply because they don’t know when they will be working from week to week.

This balancing act is not gender based as conservatives would like us to think.  Men face the same challenges as women do.  In today’s world, even in two parent families, both parents work.  That means that childcare is necessary for them as well.  If a child gets sick, one of the parents needs to leave work to care for the child or take that child to a doctor.  That means missed work-time.  Or, one of the parents may be required to travel on the job which means missed time with the family.

I fully understand this balancing act.  When I was in the service, my away time could be months at a time.  When I was in the private business world, my away time could be a week or two.  While I was gone, many things happened with my family that I missed.  During my first four years in the service, I was not at home for any holiday.  I missed every Christmas, every birthday, every anniversary.  That was something I could not avoid.

When I retired and began a second career in the business world, my job meant I needed to travel.  But, it was a little easier to schedule my trips around family events I knew were coming up.  That didn’t mean that I didn’t miss anything.  As I worked, I kept hearing people tell me that their career was their life.  That often confused me as to their motivations.  I always said, even to my bosses, that my career was not my life.  It was what I did to pay for my life.

When I had to work extra hours to finish a project, I would go into the office early rather than stay late.  By going in early, I wasn’t bothered by phone calls, and I didn’t miss any family time, per se.  Yes, I missed my children getting ready for school, but their after-school events that evening were more important to me than watching them get dressed.  They enjoyed seeing me at their activities to support them.  That was why I chose to go to work early rather than stay late.

Millions of people, both men and women, face these challenges every day.  Some are poor working class people who really have difficulty in balancing the two because they need the money so bad.  Others are more well-off, but the prospect of missing family time or family activities is still something they need to be part of.

Max Schireson the 44-year-old CEO of the billion dollar database company MongoDB, explains exactly why he is now leaving “the best job I ever had.” As he notes, his job requires him “to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks.” And in that time, he’s been missing key moments in the lives of three children, aged 14, 12 and 9. He’s missed the dog being hit by a car. He’s missed his son’s unscheduled surgery. He has a wife with a career of her own, a woman he describes as “infinitely patient” and who keeps the family “despite my crazy travel.” And he says he doesn’t want to “abuse” her patience anymore. To that end, he’s stepping back to become company vice chairman, a career he hopes will be “normal full-time and not crazy full-time.”

Of course the fact that a CEO of a billion dollar company has made such a decision is news worth.  ABC News wasn’t even afraid to trot out the headline that he “quit” (if you consider becoming a vice chairman quitting) “Because He Couldn’t Have It All.” And Vox announced that he was moving on for a “feminist reason” — because apparently caring about one’s work and family is strictly a feminist issue — noting also that he can’t “have it all.”

Now, I applaud Schireson for his decision.  But, he is lucky in that he can remain with his company in a reduced role.  Most of us with similar problems are not so fortunate.  While poor women are being arrested simply because they allow their children to “play in the park” without adult supervision, Schireson is hailed as a hero by some and demonized by others.  I mean really, his is moving on for “feminist reasons”?

I would have preferred if the news media who chose to cover this story would have instead put more emphasis on the fact that balancing work and family is a real problem in today’s world for everyone.  Conservatives are quick to rant about “family values” being so necessary.  Yet, a conservative outlet says he is moving on for “feminist reasons”.

Instead of making a big deal about Mr. Schireson, we should be asking whether or not how our work lives are affecting our family lives.  It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, the vast majority of us would love to be around when family events occur.  Unfortunately, too often that doesn’t happen because of work.

But, why are we forced to make such sacrifices?  It is because we are all chasing the almighty dollar.  Sometimes it isn’t even for ourselves, but rather the company we work for.  I can speak from experience.  There is no such thing as “having it all”.  Either we sacrifice our family time, or we sacrifice our earning potential by the choices we make.  Mr. Schireson is lucky to be able to demote himself to a lower position with the same company.  Most of us can’t do that.  If we make the decision to value family time, we usually are looking for a new job.  To me, that is one of the real tragedies of the so-called “American Dream”.

It would be nice if corporations would look at Mr. Schireson and figure out we all need a better way to truly balance work and family.  They may even see better production from their employees if they aren’t forced to constantly make these balancing decisions and sacrifices.

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