Thursday, June 28, 2007

Column for June 28, 2007

Propaganda often needs translation

I just read an open letter propaganda piece that was written by a Vice Chair of the Johnston County Democratic Party in favor of our Congressman, Bob Etheridge. As I find with most Democrat perspectives, there is translation needed in order to comprehend what is actually being said. I am including the propaganda my common sense, paragraph by paragraph, real world translation. Keep in mind that I am a registered independent, not a Republican. I just happen to be rather conservative in my admittedly biased yet accurate translations.

"Bob Etheridge…has stood consistently for [Johnston County] values and for programs that benefit our citizens."

Democrat translation: He stands for liberal, Democrat values and that is how everyone should vote. If you don't, you are a retard. He has stood to take money away from those who are productive members of society and give it to those who wish to suckle off the government teat with no accountability or requirement of repayment or even labor in order to obtain our tax money.

"He supported legislation that would require greater fiscal responsibility from the federal government and that would help to stem the outrageous deficit being left for our grandchildren by this administration."

Democrat translation: Bush is a moron. Forget our Democrats in Congress supported the spending. We don't want the facts to stand in the way. Even Republicans do agree that under the Bush administration, spending is out of control and we fully intend to take full political advantage of that every chance we get. We really don't have much else to claim in our favor other than the situation in Iraq. This now gives us two weapons in our arsenal.

"Bob Etheridge strongly supported passage of an increase in the minimum wage urgently needed by many of our hardworking citizens."

Democrat translation: Forget the fact that nobody is really supporting a family on minimum wage. We like the fact that labor unions have wages that are indexed to the minimum wage and labor unions are huge Democrat supporters. It may be true that only underachieving losers will remain in minimum wage jobs, but we like to control business and industry. Obviously, evil corporations are to blame for the low wages. We may have unprecedented economic growth at the current minimum wage and nobody at McDonald's starts out at that lowest wage because the market dictates otherwise. However, we as Democrats do not trust evil corporations to treat workers fairly. We will not let the fact that the majority of businesses that pay minimum wage are small, family owned companies that may be struggling to make ends meet and that workers may be laid off as a result of a higher wage scale. That does not matter, since we feel good about sincerely pretending to care.

"He has proposed and supported legislation that would make this country more energy-independent by using alternative sources of energy and advances in technology that would create much-needed new jobs."

Democrat translation: He has no scientific background, but we as Democrats feel really good about appearing to actually do something. We realize that Al Gore is a crackpot who is pushing junk science as fact. We buy into it anyway, since it gives us a way to take more money away from evil corporations and the American tax payers. This is a way of exerting more control over everyone's lives, property, and help keep us in power by looking like we actually care.

"And Bob Etheridge has supported legislation that would build a partnership of state and federal resources to assist local education systems with the building of enough new schools to accommodate rapid growth."

Democrat translation: We don't care that the Constitution does not allow the federal government to spend money on education. A previous paragraph may have just praised Etheridge for stemming the tide of government spending, but this increase in government spending is for a good cause. After all, what better cause is there than being "for the children"? Everybody should realize that a government school system is not really an indoctrination system or really a part of the Communist Manifesto. If you believe that they are, you must be for freedom, actual accountability for tax money being spent, and must be some whack job. You can not possibly think that you would know how to better raise and educate your own children than a bloated bureaucracy that wields taxation power over you to teach values that contradict your own.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Column for June 21, 2007

Rational thought a necessity

As of this writing, the hate mail still continues over my column last week. I have written on the internet and talked on my internet talk show about the topic of the Selma fire department. Most of the hate mail comes from just a couple of people and is purely emotional rather than rational in thought.

The good news is that I have seen rational thought in three different editorials in local newspapers. It seems that those who are removed from the topic can objectively look at the topic and see where rationality needs to reign.

Emotional response rather than rationality are the reasons that the McCarthy gun control bill has passed the US House of Representatives. That proposed bill is even more restrictive than the previous gun ban under the Clinton administration over a decade ago. Emotions are also the reason why an alleged improvement to the NICS check system for gun buyers is a big topic that has actually gotten the National Rifle Association to support the selling out of American rights and privacy. The NICS Improvement Act of 2007 will deny many American veterans and freedom loving citizens the ability to obtain firearms for personal defense. It will also keep the names of anyone who the local sheriff arbitrarily decides to deny a gun purchase permit in a database that can be shared with state and federal agencies across the nation.

Emotions have been running high in our school funding. If it was not for an emotional handling of things, our Superintendent of Schools for a medium sized county would not be getting $209,000 a year for a compensation package. A superintendent that has only been on the job for a few years is getting more money than North Carolina's Governor. Where is the rational thought in that? County school board and commissioners were not rational in allowing such a public servant to write his own contract, much less approve such a contract proposal. Keep in mind that the emotional response is that it is "for the children". It is certainly not for either results of quality in education or for consideration of tax payers.

It is for the sake of emotions that we are funding agencies such as Johnston County Industries, which provides job training and funds part of its own budget through contract work. For the sake of rationality, since they have the ability to earn revenue, they should earn 100% of their revenue and not put the remaining burden upon tax paying citizens.

For the sake of emotions, the county wants to fund a "therapeutic horse riding center". The rational question is simply, "Why should the citizens of Johnston County pay for a therapeutic horse anything?"

It is for the sake of an emotional response that there is a bill before Congress that would require all drug insurance plans to pay for RU-486. Furthermore, that same bill would require all pharmacies to carry the so-called emergency contraception and to dispense said drugs, regardless of the objections or moral dilemma of the pharmacist or business owner. Because of emotions rather than rational thought and ethical behavior, women are claiming a right to such medication upon demand anywhere at any time, regardless of the fact that their own poor behavior led to the supposed need for the possible commission of murder.

Emotions rather than rational thought and behavior have been plaguing our society, often to its detriment rather than advancement. I have shown how it is being seen on the town, county, and federal levels of government. Not every supposedly good idea is rational. Many are not good ideas at all and actually are harmful to society and the intended benefactors.

When assessing situations, including tax expenditures, proposed law, and even the administration of a town fire department, a high degree of rational thought is required.

Emotions often are self-centered, being more concerned with one's own situation at the expense of others. Rational thought looks at the concept of the good of the whole, those to whom accountability must be maintained, and to those who pay the bills.

I implore all readers to contemplate rational responses when voting; when contacting elected representatives, media outlets, and even a columnist in a small town newspaper. You will be better served, you will exhibit the intelligence that you are capable of, and all of society will be the better for it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Column for June 14, 2007

Don't let the fire truck door hit you on the way out

I got a call from a concerned citizen on Friday morning telling me about the news with the town's fire department from the previous night in which ten firefighters "walked out" over the town's plan to hire a full time fire chief and replace the volunteer chief, Joe Price. I also confirmed the story on The Selma News web site.

I want to preface what I am about to write with some qualifications to be able to speak on this topic. I got involved with my local fire department throughout my teen years into and into college. Before I could legally drive a car, I became the youngest certified firefighter in the State of New Hampshire. I put in more hours of training than every firefighter who was in the call ranks.

I earned a degree in Fire Protection from New Hampshire Vocational Technical College. With that degree, I was hired by North Carolina State University to work as a life safety inspector. My duties included fire and rescue, fire inspections, code enforcement, public fire education, incident command, and a host of other duties. For the sake of brevity, I will stop there.

The Town of Selma has had a problem with its fire department for a long time. They were run as an autonomous group for years. Then we were told that they were a town department but not run like one. They also handled most of their own finances in several bank accounts over which the town had no oversight. The town was dumping money into the fire department but there was no accountability to the town. One thing that is for certain is that the fire department was and still is a political organization, a social club for "good ol' boys", and a very closed system.

The fire chief, Joe Price, is also the head of the town's water department. I don't have a problem with the concept that the town's water department manager is also the volunteer fire chief. I do, however, have a problem with the idea that the fire chief is 1. elected from amongst the ranks of the department by its members, and 2. lives 10 miles outside the town's fire district. Since I have not been a member of the fire department personally, I can not attest to Mr. Price's abilities as a chief one way or the other.

What I will say is that the head of a life safety organization such as the local fire department should never be selected by the membership of the department. The fire department is a town department, and is to be run by the town. That means that the fire service should report to the town manager just like the police chief, and should be beholden to the town council's oversight. It is, after all, town business and tax money.

It takes a special type of person to be a public servant that is willing to drop everything in order to rush to an emergency with the added possibility of risking live and limb for the benefit of others. It takes an even more special breed of person to do this as a volunteer. I know that type of person, have been around that sort of people, and have been that sort of person myself.

I want to make this point loud and clear. If ten men are willing to walk out on the fire department because they don't like the idea of the town attempting to make the fire department into a better organization and better serve the populace of Selma, then they are not that sort of people I just mentioned. To quit over a political issue rather than look out for the best interest of the town, then there is no dedication to protecting life and property; but rather an anachronistic loyalty to their interest is in the "good ol' boy system" that they feed off from.

The latest word is that the men did not have the decency to formally resign from the department. They had total disregard for expensive town property by abandoning it on the mayor's driveway. Separation papers are in the works, but on hold if necessary.

Personally, I say good riddance to the ten so called firefighters who are willing to be so petty and protest over such a thing as actually looking at a progressive approach to enhancing town services. I don't personally know the men. What I do know is that their actions do not reflect those of dedicated public servants that care about saving lives and property in their community.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Column for June 7, 2007

But it's "for the children"...NOT!

A mantra is something that is a formula of invocation or incantation. We hear mantras constantly. The biggest, most effective mantra seems to be "it's for the children". Under the guise of being "for the children", we have gotten bonds for schools and recreation facilities. Do you know what else we have gotten "for the children"? Debt, and tons of it.

At the federal level, we have profligate spending beyond anything we could image and with more zeros at the end of the figure than we can count. Part of this just happened with a bill that is about to be signed by the President. Under the guise of funding the troops in the Middle East, Congress has put riders upon the bill that call for a higher minimum wage and more money for relief from Hurricane Katrina. Forget for the moment that the concept of having such a diverse amount of topics in the same bill is dishonest and purely political maneuvering. The government is stepping in once again to force businesses pay more for employee wages. Instead of helping families, this historically hurts families. I don't know of anyone trying to support an entire family on minimum wage. If they are, then they are unmotivated, unskilled, and need to seriously reconsider their employment, education, and life in general. I have been a minimum wage earner on several occasions and jobs in my lifetime. I just decided not to stay there.

Our own Congressman, Bob Etheridge, has proposed a bill to fund another $25 billion for school construction bonds "for the children". I am going to say this as straight forward as I can. Money is not and never has been the total answer to increasing the quality of education, nor are nice buildings. Private, charter, and parochial schools educate far more inexpensively than do public schools. Many do it without any money for facilities. When I was a child, we stuffed forty kids in a classroom with no problems, no cries of "overcrowding", and we still got a decent education.

Etheridge's proposal is one of the most irresponsible methods of funding. Not only will there be taxation and debt at the federal level to fund the bonds, but we at the local level will also have taxation and debt to pay back the bonds. We will be inflicted on both ends, paying for both the original funding as well as the payback. We would get hit twice for the same money, but it is "for the children", so apparently that makes it acceptable. That is abject stupidity and irresponsibility.

At the state level, the North Carolina budget will have approximately a $1 billion surplus. The translation is that we as taxpayers have overpaid the state by $1 billion. We are not going to get that money refunded to us, the ones who paid it. The General Assembly will instead find other ways of spending that money above and beyond their budgeted spending. Instead of lowering the tax rate because we paid too much for government, the state will not use that overage to pay down the state's debt load that our children are going to have to eventually pay. In addition, the state is still going to put higher taxes upon the shoulders of our children.

You read that right. The state has a billion dollars over and above the cost of running government in this state, yet the legislature wants to extend temporary taxes enacted in 2001 for yet a third time. Also, we will be seeing fee increases, most notably on the insurance industry, corporate welfare, and targeted tax breaks totaling $94 million. But wait, there's more! There are $28 million worth of fees proposed that the North Carolina citizens will be hit with by the state. That means that the debt will continue, taxes will rise, we won't get our money back from the overpayment of existing taxes, and fees (another form of taxation) will continue to go up.

If lawmakers really were "for the children", they would cut spending, work to slash debt, keep money in taxpayer pockets where it is needed, and stop saddling our children with increased taxes and government debt. A mantra is just that, and is apparently spoken but not enacted.