Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Would We Do Without the Wealthy?

During the current debate over the Obama-GOP tax-cut compromise, the comments aimed towards the rich have been far from flattering.  

Sure, I'm the first one to admit I am not the number one fan of the super-wealthy.  From my own observations, wealthy people can be elitist, greedy, over-indulgent, out of touch with the needs around them and lack understanding of what it's like to struggle financially. But even my characterization of the wealthy is made up of generalizations and stereotypes. Among the rich, one can easily find generous individuals who give of their time, finances and business expertise to help those in monetary need.  

Critics of the rich like socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont bullseyes the affluent in his complaint that "the rich are never rich enough."  Like heroin addiction, the senator claims they cannot stop seeking more wealth.  Sanders characterizes the greed demonstrated by the rich as a "sickness." 

In his must-read article Deroy Murdock, a writer for the Scripps Howard News Service, responds to Sanders' criticism that the top 1% of taxpayers (who earned more than $380,354) earned 20% of America's adjusted gross income in 2008.   Murdock wisely points out that the top wealthy 1% also paid 38% of all federal income taxes.  

Murdock continues, "The top 10 percent (with incomes above $113,799) earned 45.8 percent of AGI and paid 69.9 percent of federal income taxes."

Let me share some more clarification about the role of the rich in the U.S. from Murdock's article:

High-income taxpayers also cough up state and local levies and often taxes on sales, property, capital gains, dividends, partnerships and corporate income. Their wealth floods public coffers and flows into government programs, many targeted at low-income Americans.

Concerning the willingness of the rich to share their wealth, the results from the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy should cause our wallets to shudder:

This survey included 801 respondents who made at least $200,000 and/or enjoyed at least $1 million in net worth, excluding housing. The average respondent was worth $10.7 million.
Among these multimillionaires, 98.2 percent contributed to charity, versus just 64.6 percent of the general population. The wealthy typically gave away about 8 percent of their incomes in 2009.
This figure has slipped as the economy has slid. In 2007’s survey, the rich donated between 9.3 percent and 16.1 percent of income.
In 2009, 26.8 percent of Americans volunteered with charitable organizations. However, 78.7 percent of wealthy people donated time. The average rich respondent volunteered 307 hours — the equivalent of 38 eight-hour shifts.
These stats don't erase the crimes of greedy crooks like Bernie Madoff.  Capitalism still needs major reform when it comes to bailouts and special favors towards the wealthy that come out of the taxes paid by the middle class.  Yet let us remember the Madoff's are the exception and not typical of the wealthy.  

The next time you're poised to condemn the wealthy for getting tax breaks, take a second look not at the greed of the rich, but at their charitable giving. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Five Top Reasons To Vote NO on Proposition 19

According After reading Proposition 19 several times, I've boiled down my objections to the legalization of marijuana via this measure to five major objections.  This doesn't mean I couldn't come up with another six or seven, but these five stand out to me the most.

First,  the possession, cultivation and distribution of pot will still remain illegal according to federal law.  If Proposition 19 passes, the vote of Californian voters will not change the federal government's refusal to legalize pot.  Attorney General Eric Holder warned Californians that if Proposition 19 passes, the feds will continue to prosecute those who are caught in possession of illegal pot. If you proceed to grow your marijuana garden in a "legal" 5x5 parcel according to Proposition 19, you run the chance of getting busted by the feds.

According to the 1988 Drug Free Workplace Act, it "requires some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency."  Though the Drug Free Workplace Act does not require drug testing, there are notification requirements if an employee has been convicted of a criminal drug violation in the workplace.

For all those government jobs created by the Obama administration, pot smokers are to beware. An employer can take action against you if it determined that your work performance is being affected by your usage of pot.  

In addition, since pot smokers are to smoke only in non-public places such as their personal residence in accordance with Prop 19, the federal ban on pot would not allow a user of marijuana to smoke a joint in Section 8 or any housing paid for by the U.S. government. If the possession and cultivation of pot is against federal law, how can a marijuana addict smoke weed on federal property? 

If a pot smokers has a job that is a recipient of a federal grant, their use of pot could jeopardize the continuation of the grant since they are in violation of the 1988 federal law.  Is the company you work for (receiving federal funding) going to allow you to endanger their continuation of receiving a grant or permit you to smoke pot on a smoke break somewhere on their premises?   These issues are not addressed in Proposition 19 thus leaving a gaping hole on the federal vs. state's rights issue.

Second,  in Proposition 19 the state of California is being given the option of legalizing a harmful hallucinogenic for the sake of bringing revenue into our lagging economy.  Why stop at pot?  Why not legalize prostitution and have the state regulate and tax any engagement a person may have with a hooker?  

The legalization of pot in California will not decrease the number of pot users among youth, but because of its accessibility we can expect an increase in pot smoking.  That increase will translate itself into more youth enrolled in rehab and treatment programs for marijuana addiction.  

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske states that the number of adolescents enrolled in marijuana rehabilitation program is higher than ever. "In California  47% of those undergoing drug treatment for marijuana in 2008 either voluntarily or after encounters with the criminal justice system, were under 18, compared to 28% for the country as a whole" (AP/KNX 1070).  

Shame on us as Californians that we would legalize a harmful drug and make it easier for our youth to gain access to weed just so we can add more revenue to our bankrupt economy. Where are our morals and concern for future generations?

Third, the claim that legalizing pot will bring billions into the California budget is erroneous.  The official title of Proposition 19 is "The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.  Consider the words: regulate, control and tax.  It will cost money for local governments in cities where pot shops exist to license,  regulate and impose taxes on these retail establishments. It will also cost the state of California to regulate cities were pot shops exist. 

Proposition 19 encumbers local governments with the responsibility to control these licensed pot shops in regards to their sales, cultivation of pot,  possession for sale and on premise consumption of marijuana (Article 5 Section 11301.h). 

 Local governments will also have to regulate location, hours of operation, occupancy, protection of nearby properties and persons from unwanted exposure to pot smoke, signs and advertising.  All that revenue that allegedly will come from pot sales will be redirected to subsidize local governments so they can effectively control pot retail shops in accordance with Proposition 19. Follow the money. 

Also, if the rate of pot usage among youth increases with the passage of Proposition 19 and violators of the law are court ordered to attend a drug rehab treatment program, where is the money going to come from to cover the increase of drug rehab patients?  To be fair, the funds should come from the revenue that comes from the sale of pot.

What we have here by those who support Prop 19 is a failure to read the particulars of the bill. I suggest those who are considering a YES vote on this measure to carefully read Article 5, Section 11301 h-m.

Fourth, the passage of Proposition 19 will not only increase the number of pot smokers, but will add a new generation of drug dealers. According to the measure, individuals twenty-one years of age and older will be able to possess an ounce of pot. In addition, they will be permitted to cultivate marijuana on a 5 x 5 parcel of land, assuming their landlord or homeowner's association will be tolerant of pot cultivation. 

If twenty-one year olds are permitted to possess and cultivate pot, the chances are very high that teens will attempt to purchase pot illegally through young adults.  Most teens who smoke pot obtain their stash through friends, but where do their friends score their weed.  According to my own observance and experience, college kids and older adults scout out one teen who serves as their conduit to sell pot to both middle school and high school students. In discussions with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department my observations are accurate. 

If Prop 19 passes, an individual who grows pot can only possess one ounce out of his garden. He cannot sell or distribute the weed that comes from his garden lest he break both state and federal law.   

For the argument's sake, let's say unless you have a 25 square foot plot of land to cultivate pot, where will you buy pot? Answer:  you'll be forced to go to a retail pot shop and purchase taxed marijuana.  Based on section 11301 of the measure, the overhead for operating a pot shop could be quite high.  And who will  pay for the overhead needed to run these shops?  The consumer, of course. So pot smokers can expect to pay a high price for an ounce of premium grass.

With higher priced, premium pot, smokers may think twice about buying marijuana at the corner pot retail outlet.  Rather, they may be tempted to score pot the old fashioned way through a pot dealer-twenty one years and older.  who has home-grown cannabis for sale. Would a pothead really want to pay all that extra cash for retail pot when they can buy an ounce much cheaper from the dude down the street with a blooming garden of weed? 

Are we that foolish to think pot smokers are going to buy taxed pot at a retail price?  

Last, pot smoking on the job is going to cause havoc in the workplace.  The proposition makes it clear that an employer can forbid his employees from indulging in weed if it impairs their performance on the job.  

However, we are allowing that employer to make that subjective choice. What if the owner of a gas station has no problems if his mechanics smoke pot on the job? You take your car to that shop to have your brakes repaired, and Beavis is installing your brakes.  You'd have to be a Butthead to do business at this establishment, wouldn't you?

As a consumer I would want to know if an auto repair establishment is drug free.  What if a private bus company allows its employees to smoke dope on the job and you get on a bus with a stoner at the wheel who's flying high?  

If pot becomes legal, we will enter into a legal nightmare of people suing companies for damages caused by "legally" stoned employees who work under impaired conditions. Section 11300 b.3 states no one will operate a vehicle under the influence of pot. However, pot smokers argue that they are not impaired by their usage of pot.  

At a recent panel I asked college students the question, "How many of you would board a plane operated by a pilot who just smoked two joints?" The response was mixed, but most respondents felt uncomfortable having a stoned pilot operate delicate instruments in the cockpit and placing their lives into the hands of a pothead pilot. 

There are many more objections I can raise, but these are some of my practical concerns I raise through my reading of the measure and from my personal interaction with potheads.  

My advice is to vote a big NO on Proposition 19 on November 2.  If marijuana is legalized here, we can expect more and more Beavis' and Buttheads pouring into the Golden State.  Why not?  Pot would be legal and they can smoke dope to their hearts content. God forbid. 


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Too Stoned To See Through Marijuana Proposition 19

I've thought through the Proposition 19 issue and read a lot of pros and cons on the issue. After my head cleared, I felt unimpaired enough to write an article explaining why I will vote "no" on Proposition 19. 
First, proponents of Proposition 19 refuse to see that legalizing pot will increase marijuana consumption. If you make it easier for individuals to obtain pot, they will take advantage of the easy access to the "now" decriminalized weed. Legalizing pot will make it much easier for those who wanted to experiment with smoking dope but were reticent because it is against the law. This argument is a no-brainer.
In addition, the legalization will increase the number of drug dealers. According to my experience and speaking with police, most minors currently obtain pot from college age kids and adults. Proposition 19 gives twenty one year olds the ability to buy pot and you'd have to be totally TUI (thinking under the influence) to not believe young adult pot smokers will be "good law-abiding boys and girls" and not sell marijuana to sell it to minors. The teens I have come in contact with obtain their pot from their friends who purchased the weed from a college student or an adult who has a card that enables them to buy "medicinal" marijuana.

Yes,  Proposition 19 states that a person can possess no more than an ounce of pot legally.  How are the police going to stop adults from possessing more than an ounce.  I can go into ten pot shops, buy an ounce at each one and then go out and sell my ten ounces for a profit. It will take a lot of regulation to keep one person from purchasing more than an ounce. This scenario is happening right now as medicinal marijuana cardholders visit more than one clinic to score as much pot as they want.  Some clinics are connected to a computer system to prevent this from happening but the dude selling pot out of his upstairs pad could care less how many times you stashed up on pot in a given day. 
Second, proponents of Proposition 19 claim  that with the passing of this Proposition, police will no longer have to deal with arresting people for pot possession, but can concentrate on more important matters. Yet if you read the Proposition, you discover a lot more laws the police will need to enforce:  as stated above, the amount of marijuana an adult can possess is one ounce; pot can only be cultivated within a 25 square foot area; legalized pot cannot be sold to others; consumption of legalized pot can only take place in a residence or non-public place and an adult 21 years or older cannot give pot to a minor.In light of the specific laws contained within Proposition 19,  the police are forced to do more micro-policing than before.

If I know my thirty five year old neighbor is smoking dope in front of his two year old, I'm going to call the cops. Do you think they're going to take me seriously?  Perhaps I should just call Child Protective Services and report my neighbor for child endangerment. 
Third, proponents of Proposition 19 claim the sale of pot will bring $1.4 million into the California budget. The proposition claims that its purpose is to "tax and regulate cannabis in order to generate billions of dollars for our state."  Yet, the proposition does not set up any government regulatory agency or impose a state-wide tax on pot. Will we now need to set up a bureaucratic agency to regulate pot? 
Also, the proposition states each local government can set up its own regulation and taxes on the selling of pot. If you were going to buy pot, would you buy it from a pre-tax source to avoid taxes or a retail store and pay a tax? Perhaps you would drive from Woodland Hills where pot is sold at a 8% tax and go into Brentwood where you can get pot with a 4% tax attached. Let me make it clear that Proposition 19 does not contain specific provisions at the state level governing taxation or retail sale of marijuana. Local jurisdictions, according to the California State Board of Equalization are free under Prop 19 to impose licensing fees or enforce different tax rates or schemes.

Proponents of the marijuana proposition also do not take into account the state fees that will have to be channelled to court ordered drug rehabilitation programs for teens and adults who are abusing the drug.  I know of teens who have been arrested for  grand theft of a person to obtain money to buy pot, were sent to juvenile court and were ordered to a state funded drug rehab facility.  Who is paying for this teen's drug rehab therapy?  You and I, the taxpayers of California. With the increase of consumption of pot among teens will also advance the number of adolescents who will need to attend a drug rehab program, whether it is state funded or paid for by parents. 
Fourth, Proposition 19 provides that employers cannot discriminate and fire workers who use pot unless the employer can prove the pot impaired the worker's performance. It's true that under Proposition 19 any employer can refuse to allow pot smoking during work hours. However, other businesses may be more lenient. 
Fifth, Proposition 19 maintains the DUI laws are not altered under this proposition. Even so, highway patrol officers are going to have a hard time proving a person is impaired from smoking too much pot.  How much pot is too much? Yes, the police can conduct a field test (with outstretched arms touching one's nose).  If they conduct a blood test, it proves nothing since marijuana can be detected in your system for thirty days.  
Proposition 19 allows a person to smoke dope prior to entering a vehicle, but there exists no standard for the police to use (other than an unreliable drug field test) to prove a person is too impaired to drive.  Only if an accident occurs, will the Court be able to conduct a full investigation on how much a person's pot smoking influenced a driver enough to cause an accident.

Californians, please don't get a contact high from all the Proposition 19 proponents and cast your vote while under their influence. Clear you head by November 2  and vote "no" on the flawed and confusing Proposition 19. 



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Real World Parenting

For Christians nail biting their way through parenting, Real World Parenting by Mark Matlock is a go-to resource to calm those nerves.

Popular author and speaker Matlock does not offer an idealistic guide for parents who want to churn out squeaky-clean examples of Christianity.  Instead, readers are prodded to take a real world look at Christian child raising.

What is refreshing about Real World Parenting is Matlock’s refusal to use all the scary things in the world to frighten Moms and Dads into being “perfect parents.”  To Matlock parenting includes God in the everyday world we live in and not over-focusing on how the world can damage our kids.

Parents have a major responsibility to be authentic about their walk with God.  Moms and Dads with an honest relationship with the Lord make it much easier for kids to respond to God in a real way. 

According to Real World Parenting “the task of parenting is not about raising well-behaved kids with good manners, but children who love God in response to the faith in Jesus modeled by their parents.”

God must be real in the hearts of Mom and Dad to create everyday credibility in parental discussions at the dinner table.

Cultural expert Mark Matlock shies away from guilt-based parenting that admonishes parents to fence off their kids from the world.  Instead, the author pokes holes through the ways parents attempt to keep the world from having a negative impact on their children- extreme isolation, heavy-handed regulation and contradictory compromising.

The author startles the reader in presenting the view that parents cannot live out God’s storyline of redemption unless they engage the world. Christ comes alive in the Christian who interacts with the world and confronts others with the message of God’s truth.

Parents are encouraged to teach their kids how to interact with the world rather than turn their backs.  Then parents can breathe a sigh of relief when their children start to peer over the fence many of them have been locked behind guarded from the world.

Another theme Matlock tackles in Real World Parenting is successful parenting.  What is it supposed to look like? Do we have a biblical view of how to raise children successfully? Matlock avoids a rigid program of parental guidance of do’s and don’ts.  The author argues that a heavy emphasis should be placed on the spiritual character of parents instead – internals rather than merely externals.

Parents, according to this youth pastor, have quite a legacy to pass on to their kids.  Moms and Dads are taught in Real World Parenting how to provide wisdom to their offspring, teach them how to make good decisions and how to fail successfully.  All the while Matlock reminds parents that no matter how “successful” we become, we don’t become anymore significant to the Lord. 

The curtain call of Real World Parenting comes in the final chapters where the author grapples with the dilemma of what kids do, watch or listen to for entertainment. 

Matlock wants kids to take responsibility by asking questions when it comes to the ever-changing world of media choices – TV, films, music, video games and the Internet.

Both adult and younger Christians must ask whether or not their worldview is starting to crumble due to their exposure to certain entertainment choices.  Is our biblical worldview taking a hit from too much exposure to entertainment that markets a world without God? 

In the closing of Real World Parenting the reader is offered a helpful worldview map to keep Christians on the path towards godly wisdom despite our exposure to our entertainment-oriented world.

For parents attempting to answer the call to raising kids while living in the real world, Real World Parenting is a useful tool for any family who needs help in raising their children. The author is to be applauded for his useful effort in navigating through issues most parenting experts try to sidestep.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Get serious about losing weight or losing money

Earlier this week I underwent several medical ultrasound tests offered by Life Line Screening. I was tested for carotid artery disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, atrial fibrillation/stroke and peripheral arterial disease.  My results will be sent to me in a few weeks. 

While at the screening center, I noticed the majority of people taking the tests were grossly obese.  I am talking about people in motorized wheelchairs or scooters not because they are crippled but because they are too damn fat to walk.  In other words, these people were 100-200 pounds overweight.  And now due to due to their lack of ability to control their intake of food, they are dealing with unnecessary cardiovascular disease, etc. They are eating themselves to death.  

Earlier the same week I read an Associated Press article "Dieting for Dollars?"  The piece describes how some employers are offering their workers money in order to lose serious weight.  At least one third of U.S. companies are offering financial incentives to motivate their employees to drop some fat and get healthier.

Why would companies go to such lengths to encourage their employees to "diet for dollars"? Mainly because obese workers are costing America's companies $45 billion dollars a year!  That's right . . . $45 billion a year.  How embarrassing. 

Naturally corporations would rather spend money to motivate their workers to diet in order to save more money in the long run.  

OhioHealth, a hospital chain whose work force is mainly overweight launched a program to have their employees wear pedometers to compel their people to walk more.  The more they walk, the more money they win - up to $500 a year. But do companies have to pay money to their staff to get healthy?  How about giving healthy people a bonus for not being overweight?  

In one study performed by Cornell University, it was shown that after looking at seven employer weight loss programs, the results were depressing. The average weight loss in most workplaces was a little more than a pound

The problem of being overweight is a grave issue. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight and one third is obese. Individuals who are overweight have a greater tendency to die from heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.  

Take a look at the people who are in the Medicare-paid-for motorized wheelchairs, which you and I are paying for with our tax dollars.  In addition, these people and many more like them are costing employers an estimated $45 billion annually in health care costs and lost labor.

There's no excuse for this!  Haven't you noticed that most poor people in the U.S. who line up at food lines are overweight?  How do you get fat when you don't have enough food to eat? 

In some cases sales taxes have been used to to drive up the cost of cigarettes to drive down smoking rates. How about we impose a higher sales tax on Super-Sized food?  

Unfortunately, studies show that people don't respond to higher taxes in order to get them to stop a bad habit that is compromising their health. Humans are much more interested in incentives . . . money.  

Well, if corporations gave lower insurances premiums to those who maintain a healthy weight and penalize overweight people with higher health care premiums or higher co-payments, I bet that would inspire obese people to drop the weight. 

Why should overweight people be offered vacation trips, money or reduced health care premiums to get them to drop the extra pounds?  That makes no sense.  Reward the people, as with the auto insurance companies, who have a safe "driving record" not the people who are accident prone and are receiving obesity tickets. 

Overweight people are getting reimbursed by some companies for taking Weight Watcher classes or for enrolling in 12 week online health programs.  I'd like to see the same companies pay for my gym membership for every year I stay at a healthy level of weight. 

Why do we reward people who break the rules and ignore the individuals who keep them?  Not only that.  I don't want to pay for motorized wheelchairs for obese humans who couldn't hold themselves back from going for seconds and thirds or imbibing a whole bag of Doritos.  

According to the Associated Press article psychologists conclude people are more motivated by the risk of losing their own money than by a chance they'll win a big fat check. What if overweight people slap down $1000 into a special account and if they do not lose weight by a certain date, they lose their $1000.  In fact, with some companies the procedure of having people lose money caused them to lose more weight!  

In the end, overweight people will lose weight when they get tired of living in an unhealthy condition and decide they want to do something tangible to make a change. They will also lose weight if insurance companies charge them higher health care premiums since they placed themselves in an unhealthy state. Let the other ones get a break for having a "safe driving record." 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

US known for open doors to immigration BUT . . .

Am I obsessed with immigration- both legal and illegal?  You may think so since I keep writing about it,  and I don't even claim to be an expert on the subject. For an expert on immigration issues, read  Heather McDonald at the Manhattan Institute.

I am simply a citizen of the United States who is anxious over the revisionism of history that is taking place regarding illegal immigration.  My opinion is that a person cannot have a correct perspective on illegal immigration unless one understands the history of immigrants coming into this country.

Someone may accuse me of being anti-immigration.  Yet I am the grandson of immigrants from Austria, England and Russia.  My case is that my ancestors came to this country legally while maintaining citizenship in this country as an essential goal.

Yet when we view today's news, we're not getting the full picture of what is taking place when immigrants cross the border into our country.  For example, view these photos of the Arizona Sonoran Desert outside Tucson to try to understand the concerns Arizonans have with immigrants crossing the U.S/Mexico border and then trashing the U.S. as soon as they enter. If this kind of disrespect and trashing of our land took place in your neighborhood, you'd be up in arms.

When our ancestors came into this country, they looked at arrival in the land of the free as a sacred privilege.  Visit Ellis Island, one of the places immigrants landed, to see the regard foreigners had for America. They surely did not trash this country upon entering it!

Looking at immigration from a historical perspective, from 1820 to 1996 the United States welcomed 63 million immigrants.  Thirty eight million came from Europe; eleven million from Latin America and 7.9 million arrived from Asia.  The largest group from Europe was the Germans with 7.2 million.

Don't forget that America borders two other countries - Canada and Mexico.  Before 2000 there were 5.5 million  illegal Mexican immigrants that came to the U.S.  In 2002 the count grew to 9.8 million illegal immigrants from Mexico. In 2006 the number of illegal aliens in this country was estimated at eleven million, according to Heather McDonald. One can only estimate that the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico living in the U.S. is close to twenty million in light of the two million a year growth since 1998.

At the turn of the century that  4.4 million Canadians lived in the U.S.and the number is growing. In addition, to immigrants from our two bordering countries, we have seen immigrants from Vietnam, China, Philippines, India and many Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel especially in recent years.

By the time of the first census in 1790 the U.S. population stood at 3,929,214. Most of the these inhabitants was made up of immigrants or descendants of immigrants.

It is essential to know that until 1790 immigration to the United State was unrestricted by U.S. law.  The doors to America were totally open, according to Land of the Free by David Sean Paludeine.  Then on March 26, 1790 Congress felt compelled to lass a law signed by President George Washington regulating immigration. This was the first federal immigration law and it was okayed by the first president of the U.S. The law established a uniform code for an immigrant  becoming naturalized.  The person seeking to become a U.S. citizen needed to reside in the States for at least two years.

 In 1795 the residence requirement was changed to five years and the law now required that for someone to enter America, they must declare their intention to seek citizenship.

Did you catch that?  To enter the U.S. back in the late 1700s you had to declare your intention to become a U.S. citizen to stay here.

The laws regulating immigration into the U.S. continued to grow as the young nation began to mature. President John Adam signed the Naturalization Act of 1798 that boosted the residence requirements of immigrants coming to the U.S. from five years to fourteen.

The Naturalization Act of 1802 pushed the residence requirements for living in the U.S. back to five years.  In addition, the basic requirements for naturalization required a good moral character, allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and a formal declaration of intention to become naturalized.  This is U.S. Law not Arizona law.

Our politicians need to look at history to see how our forefathers viewed immigrants coming into this country.  Today's generation is shooting from the hip when it comes to illegals  Illegal immigrants must be faced with their need to become citizens of the U.S., learn the English language and respect the rule of law of this land.  If they cannot live under the laws of this land, it's best that they return to their land of origin.  Am I being radical?  No.  I am reflecting the views of those great men and women who founded this country.

I don't want people coming into this country who flaunt their disregard for the U.S. Constitution.  Of course, citizens of the U.S. need to bone up on what's in the Constitution as well.

One more law that will put everything into perspective. In 1819 the Steerage Act was passed and required vessels carrying immigrants into this country to report the number of refugees they had on board. The passenger lists or manifests of all arriving vessels had to be delivered to a local Collector of Customs, and then copies of that manifest were given to  the U.S. Secretary of State who handed the numbers to Congress. The ships' manifestos were the first formal recording of immigrants coming into the New World.

When it came to immigration, the early settlers of the United States wanted to know how many were arriving here and what were their names.

You need to realize how far we've come from the days of the founding of our country.  I've much more to share from U.S. history about the legal requirements for entering the country and what it took to become a U.S. citizenship.

How does this historical data affect your views of immigration today?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are we a nation of immigrants?

The fact I raise the question whether or not we are a nation founded on immigrants has caught your attention.  The answer is "yes" and "no."
Just take a long look at the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor near the adjoining landmark Ellis Island, and you know this country is a nation of immigrants.  Imagine the crowded immigrant ships sailing past the Green Lady in the harbor only increasing the hope of a new life in America for the people on board.  The ships were inhabited with German, English, Irish people in the first wave of immigrants from northern Europe.  Then the next wave came from southern and eastern Europe - Italians, Greeks, Russians and Jewish people.

Listen to these figures from David Sean Paludeine, editor of Land of the Free:  Ninety-five percent of U.S. citizens today come from people who didn't live in the Western hemisphere in the 18th century.  In addition, ten percent of today's American citizens are not born in the U.S. Now, I admit Paludeine wrote his book over ten years ago. However, with the continual influx of both legal and illegal immigrants, the stats have only increased.

Whether you like it or not, immigration over the past century has been one of the greatest factors contributing to the makeup of the American identity or nationality today, better labeled as the "melting pot."

I've been asking people where their ancestors came from?  Their faces light up as they tell me about their grandparents arriving on vessels from Ireland, England, Spain, Italy and on and on.

To most of you this information is nothing new.  If you're Jewish, like myself, you've been told stories of how your grandparents landed on Ellis Island and entered the U.S. through this well-known entry port.  They came here with legal papers, with promised jobs, with the intent to become naturalized citizens, to contribute to the economy of the U.S., to learn English and to become an American first and foremost.

In contrast, a few months ago a young Hispanic man proudly told me we are a "nation of immigrants" from his viewpoint.  His parents are illegal and he claimed his people have a right to immigrate here like other people have in the past.

I immediately familiarized him with the history of immigration in this country and made it clear that his people are not immigrants but illegal immigrants.  They are climbing over border fences sneaking into the U.S. They are not arriving through the front door of this country like the majority of immigrants but slipping through the backdoor.

Many of these Latino immigrants are bringing illegal drugs into this country and contributing to the destruction of today's youth.  For the most part they have little desire to speak English and it appears American culture is stupidly adapting all its documentation, signage, instructions and reading material to accommodate the Hispanic culture.

I entered a Chase bank branch today and was greeted with an advertisement, "Bank Statements Now in Spanish."  I can't imagine my grandparents asking for their bank statements to be printed in Yiddish.  They came here to America and proudly learned the English language.

Europeans came to the U.S. - post-Revolutionary war -  in search of religious freedom, for economic opportunity and the promise of land as the western United States became opened for settlement.

In the nineteenth century immigrants also came from Europe to flee hardships,  The Irish people left their homeland in the 1840s due to the Potato Famine; Germans and Italians also sought asylum in the New World because of political upheaval in their homelands.  The Chinese came to the U.S. in the 1860s and most of them landed on the West Coast and greatly contributed to the building of the railroad that reaches across the U.S.

I have more stats to share in another blog.  I merely want you to get a better grasp of immigration when the phrase is used, "We are a nation of immigrants."  In response, I would say, "we are a nation of legal immigrants who became former immigrants."

When our ancestors came to the U.S. they had to deal with immigration laws and quotas.  There were certain requirements that had to be met. They came to the U.S. as respectful people who had great admiration for the laws of the New World. They did not come here with the intent to flaunt the U.S. Constitution as is taking place today.  The rule of law regarding immigration is being ignored. Our politicians are to blame.

The state of Arizona which has courageously passed stringent immigration laws to stem the tide of illegal immigration in their state is actually trying to being their state into conformity with federal immigration laws that have already been passed and signed into law by past presidents of the United States of America. Can we condemn them for that?

Remember this one statement from today's blog: We are a nation of former immigrants . . . not illegal immigrants.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elvis is in the house but not the House of Israel

Shut up and sing!  Not for British rocker Elvis Costello who cancelled two scheduled performances in Israel this summer.  His concerts were scheduled for June 30th and July 1st.

From a statement by Costello on his cancellation, the rock singer explained:

"One lives in hope that music is more than mere noise, filling up idle time, whether intending to elate or lament. Then there are occasions when merely having your name added to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act that resonates more than anything that might be sung and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent."

I didn't know that performing in a city, state or country meant you endorse all their politics.  How in the world can Costello perform anywhere in the world unless he feels supportive of the local or national political situation? Why do rock performers feel their musical presence at a specific venue endorses local politics?

Would Costello perform in the Gaza?  According to him, wouldn't he be interpreted as supporting the terrorist regime of Hamas or Hizobolah?

Come on!  Rock stars and celebrities take themselves too seriously and should just shut up about their political views and just perform.  They can do whatever they want in their personal lives politically.  However, to start using their concerts as a political platform is another story.

Costello went on in his statement on the concert cancellation:

I must believe that the audience for the coming concerts would have contained many people who question the policies of their government on settlement and deplore conditions that visit intimidation, humiliation or much worse on Palestinian civilians in the name of national security.  

Isn't that the problem of the audience and not that of the performer?  Are we to take the view that the Lakers are supportive of Arizona's stand against illegal immigration just because the NBA team is playing the Phoenix Suns in Arizona? If so, they should not play in Arizona since the city they represent (Los Angeles) declared a boycott against the state.

To be fair to Costello, he did mention the Palestinians are responsible for "many despicable acts of violence perpetrated in the name of liberation (italics mine)."  In the name of liberation?  Or is it in the name of the destruction of Israel which is a more accurate reflection of the beliefs of Hamas?  Costello may sound erudite in his statements, but he knows very little about the history of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

Elvis, you take your job as a rock singer much too seriously.  Not many people attend your concerts because of your political views. They want to hear you sing!

An article in the Jewish Journal mention other rock groups like Santana and Gil-Scott Heron who have followed suit and cancelled their summer concerts in protest and due to pressure from pro-Palestinian groups.

 If Carlos Santana cancels a concert due to pro-Palestinian pressure, doesn't that mean he sympathizes with their perspective and animosity towards Israel?  Why doesn't he stand up to these pro-Palestinian terrorist forces and tell them, he's come to Israel to sing "Black Magic Woman," and not to cave into Palestinian "black magic" propaganda against Israel.

Speaking of women, why doesn't Carlos, a peace-loving man, refuse to play at venues in the Middle East where women are treated like dogs?  Perhaps if Carlos saw a film like The Stoning of Soraya M he'd understand how women are denigrated in the Middle East mainly in the Islamic culture.

So what do we do in response?  I am not an Elvis Costello fan. If you are, and you are supportive of Israel, I would encourage you to return his protest against Israel with one of your own-don't attend his concerts or buy his CDs.  I am an avid Santana fan, but I will not attend their concerts or buy their products since they took a stance against Israel by submitting to Palestinian pressure.

Somebody needs to get to Costello, Carlos and Gil Scott-Heron and tell them to stick to the music.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why does Johnny still need meds?

I've been around a lot of children who have allegedly been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). I say "allegedly" because I am not convinced such psychiatric diagnoses are even valid.

I'm not alone when I speak for parents who are scratching their heads when they're told by a neurological pediatrician that their child needs medication to help manage their hyperactive behavior.

Most of the time, the final diagnosis is based on a series of questions that, if answered affirmatively,  demonstrates the child has a disorder that must be treated.  Otherwise, the child will not "fit" into social settings.  As you know, questionnaires can be skewed to arrive at a desired conclusion.

Is there something wrong with kids today that they need to be medicated with such drugs as Ritalin, Strattera and Adderall?  It's almost as if, according to Dr. Michael Gerson, associate psychology professor at California Lutheran University, kids today are beng "redefined as physically and mentally defective creatures" who need to be medicinally managed. Many parents buy into these scare tactics in which a medically untrained teacher or a pediatrician will guilt trip them into putting their child on medications some of which are narcotics.

When I was in the second grade, I couldn't sit still. I was bouncing off the walls. Math,  spelling and social studies was boring. I'd rather draw cartoons while the teacher lectured the class.  I  remained the same way until high school.  Did I need to be medicated?  Some health care professionals would've advised my unsuspecting parents to put me on drugs.  However, my teachers dealt with my childhood jitters by making me sit out in the hall for an hour and not disturb the class, or be assigned an of detention after school.

I never matured to care enough about my education until I entered college.  Then I buckled down and earned a B.A. and two master degrees . . . all without taking stimulants to help me concentrate.

The solution for today's' fidgeting generation may just be the need to mature.  And teachers and parents are going to have to exercise tough discipline until that maturation occurs.  Am I advocating that parents delay their gratification with their precious child receiving educational honors?  Yes, and some parents may never get to put a bumper sticker on their car that reads, "My child is an honor student at Stratera Elementary School."

In the meantime parents are going to have to be tougher on their kids regarding rewards and punishment when it comes to their kid's behavior in school.

I empathize with teachers who have to discipline out-of-control children in their classrooms. The job really belongs to parents.

There have been countless times when I've witnessed children ages 3-6 running around a restaurant, climbing over empty booths or playing with condiments on the table.  The parents ignore their offspring's foolishness and other patrons are forced to suffer.  The children learn little discipline, have no consequences for their behavior and cannot handle the word "no."  Then these kids enter school and they can't sit down.  They've been trained by their parents that they don't have to sit still.

The teachers don't want to deal with a jumpy bunch of kids, so they recommend medication. It's Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

As a parent I advocate that drugs are not the answer. Treating our children today as if they have some mental disorder - ADD. ADHD - has gotten out of hand.  An American Psychologist article estimated that as many as 20% of U.S. youths meet the criteria for mental disorder.  I wonder how many of those psychologists conducting the tests meet the same criteria for mental disorders.

Dr. Gerson advocates rather than describing children with some sort of deficiency, perhaps they are merely spirited, rude and obnoxious kids. They need to learn how to behave in a social setting, respect the rights of others to speak without being interrupted and to sit still when an adult is speaking. Instead, we have bought into a pharmaceutical solution that everything can be fixed with a pill.

Another issue that links to hyperactive behavior is diet. How hard is it for parents to not give their kids sugar loaded cereals for breakfast and send them off to school bouncing off the walls?  If you feed your child a high intake of sugar - soda, candy, sugar coated cereal - they will become hyperactive.

When the sugar rush drops off, the child experiences low blood sugar levels, becomes sleepy and cannot concentrate.  For parents today, it's too hard to keep their kids from sugar, so they've opted for 20 mgs of amphetamines or Adderall.

Other blogs suggest alternative ways to deal with hyperactivity.

The worst by-product of the over-stimulated generation is telling them that they're "victims" of their disorder.  "I can't help or stop the way I behave.  It's my ADHD. I have a chemical imbalance."

The child is taught they no longer need to take responsibility for themselves. What is the answer to the child who is taught he or she is a victim of a disorder?  Mommy and Daddy will fix them with pills, and put more money into the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these medications.

Before you put your ten-year-old on stimulants or the controversial drug Ritalin, consider your little one is only a child.  A nine or ten year old finds it hard to sit still. They are restless, not hyperactive.

Because your child cannot concentrate does not prove he or she has a disorder.  Right now I'm drinking a cup of coffee containing a fair amount of caffeine. Why?  Because at this time of the day, I need a pick up to help me concentrate.  Do I have a disorder?  Should I go on amphetamine pills just because the caffeine pokes me awake for the next few hours?

Parents, don't be led as lambs to the slaughter when your MD prescribes a drug that can potentially harm your child.  Beware your pediatrician will assure you that kids who have bad side-effects from these drugs are in the minority.

Don't believe them. Adderall suppresses a child's appetite and your kid will eat less affecting both his nutritional intake and growth patterns. To fix this problem, your pediatrician may prescribe Human Growth Hormones to fix a medical condition they created.

Also, kids who take Adderall are using what is commonly called on the streets, "speed" or "uppers."  So your child is already being introduced to the world of drugs . . . thanks to your pediatrician. You are taking a chance that your kid may be getting high off the amphetamines you dose out to him each morning at breakfast!  He may soon graduate to pot or a stronger stimulant, cocaine.  Consider that Adderall and other stimulants/narcotics meant to correct ADD and ADHD may be your child's gateway into the dark world of drug abuse.

Doctors will argue against what I am saying, and quote all kinds of clinical studies.  But there is only one study that matters and that is the behavior of your child.  That's hard evidence your MD cannot refute.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Who was the Times Square car bomber?

The question must be asked, "Who was the person who tried to set off a car bomb in the heavily populated area of Times Square this past weekend?" I have to pose this question because once again the true enemy of the United States has been exposed.

While the mainstream media and even the President of the United States have recently concerned themselves with the Tea Party movement and conservative pundits, America let their guard down and terrorism struck again.  Obama and his supporters falsely led America to believe we have something to fear in the growing Tea Party movement. While liberal and leftists cowering before Sarah Palin, the true enemies of the U.S. were planning another attack. 

As a listener to conservative radio talk show hosts, Fox News and a participant in several Tea Party rallies, I've witnessed nothing but support and love for this country from these people.

The constant theme at Tea Party meetings I've attended is patriotism, supporting  the U.S. Constitution and criticism of our present government's policies on taxes.  It is not un-American to disagree with the policies of the present administration.  It was not too long ago when liberals were defending their patriotism because of their criticism of the President Bush's war on terrorism in Iraq. 

The problem with the Left ever since Obama took office is a minimizing of Islamic terrorism.  Terrorists like the Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab are seen as criminals and not part of a terrorist network. 
In fact, according to an Associated Press article about the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shazad's Cooperation is 'Ongoing. investigators are focusing their questioning of Shazad on the possibility of other imminent terrorist attacks on the U.S. In other words, the Obama administration is starting to wake up to the fact terrorists do not act alone.  They are not, according to NY Mayor Bloomberg in describing the NY Times Square bomber, a deranged person who acted on his own.  

Once we start labeling terrorists as individuals who are mentally ill and acting alone, we are playing into the hands of the terrorists who do not want us to see the larger picture of terrorist networks that operate both inside and outside the U.S. 

The media needs to take their focus off Fox News personalities and 50 year old white guys waving their American flags at Tea Party rallies as the ones creating an atmosphere of violence in America.  Ironically, the members of the Tea Party movement stand for everything our enemies oppose - freedom of speech, freedom to practice one's religious faith, the right to pursue personal happiness without government intervention, and especially women's rights.

Thank God the evil intentions of the Christmas bomber and the Times Square car bomber failed.  The stupidity of these Islamic evildoers have foiled their attempts to kill Americans.  The time will come when they will be successful.  Americans will die. But not by the hands of politically conservative Americans or members of the Tea Party movement.  U.S. citizens will die as on 9/11 by the hands of Islamic terrorists who hate this country and rejoice when its citizens face tragedy.

Let us never forget that on 9/11 Palestinians were rejoicing at the news of the fall of the World Trade Center towers and the people who lost their lives in that tragic collapse. Those are our enemies - Palestinian terrorists, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic jihadists, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Islamic cells that are operating in the U.S. right now plotting their next attempt to destroy Americans. 



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Illegal immigration on the forefront

In light of Arizona's decision to crack down on illegal immigrants, cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and other locales are filled with angry Hispanics and their supporters.  Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo and I'm sure the protests against Arizona Governor Brewer will get louder and perhaps more volatile.  

Personally, I applaud the efforts of the state of Arizona to enforce the federal laws prohibiting individuals of any descent from entering this country illegally. 

Several year ago I attended a lecture by Heather Mac Donald, a John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a prolific writer of articles about illegal immigration.  

In a blog dating back to February 2008 I discussed some of McDonald's key points from that lecture.  She emphasized the necessity of Americans to look at the potential dangers of unbridled illegal immigration.  Rather than having this piece being lost in a blog roll, I decided to post the major points of McDonald's thesis once more. 

Not much has changed in two years.  In fact, from the reaction to Arizona's decision to crack down on illegal immigration in their state, the issue is even hotter.  News reports have featured protesting crowds with signs that equate Arizona with Nazi Germany.  These protesters are so far from the truth and fail to see their own culpability in breaking the law by not becoming naturalized citizens of the United States and expecting the same benefits given to a U.S. citizen. Illegals are a people with a lot of gall and a total lack of understanding of American laws on naturalization. 

Finally, we have a state in our union brave enough to take on this issue. In fact, I encourage my readers to send Governor Jan Brewer a note of thanks for her courage to take an unpopular stand on an issue the past several U.S. presidents have steered away from. 

McDonald's premise is that if you listen hard enough to the public voice of the American people, you'll hear their frustration over the illegal immigration issue. Politicians need to listen to the voice of their constituents or be knocked out of the loop.

Why is illegal immigration so important? Because the demographic of the United States is changing. In the past three years, the number of illegal immigrants in America has reached 12 million. From a 2005 article from the Washington Post we read:

Based on Census Bureau and other government data, the Pew Hispanic Center, a private research group in Washington, estimated the number of undocumented immigrants at 10.3 million as of last March, an increase of 23 percent from the 8.4 million estimate in 2000. More than 50 percent of that growth was attributable to Mexican nationals living illegally in the United States, the report said.

To figure out the number of illegals in this country today, the same article provides us the math:

Pew Hispanic Center Director Roberto Suro said that the number of illegal immigrants continues to grow at the same rate as in the 1990s -- approximately 485,000 a year -- "despite significant efforts by the government to try to restrain the flow . . . at the border."

if we use the figure of 485,000 a year growth rate of illegal migrants, that would bring us two years later at 12 million illegals here in this country.

Who are these illegals? Once more the Washington Post piece provides the answer:

Mexicans remain the largest group of illegal migrants, at 5.9 million or about 57 percent of the March 2004 estimate, the report said. An additional 24 percent or 2.5 million undocumented immigrants are from other Latin American countries. Assuming the flow into the country has not changed since a year ago, the population of undocumented immigrants could number nearly 11 million today, the report said.

Here's another way to look at this according to Heather MacDonald. One in eight U.S. residents is foreign born. That's not a problem. That's 38 million foreign born people in this country. Here's the kicker: one in three of foreign born individuals is here in this country illegally. One in three of the foreign born residents in our country is here illegally. That's serious. If these illegals do not pay taxes, then they are enjoying the benefits of this country without having to pay for it. Who pays for their use of our services such as free medical exams, subsidized prescription drugs or subsidized schools for their children? The taxpayers do.

One young Iraq veteran remarked illegals work hard and should enjoy benefits like everyone else. However, is it fair that this young soldier goes overseas with the intent to protect America and create a secure nation while 12 million residents of the U.S. do not contribute to the defense budget of the U.S. that pays his salary and pays for the weapons that may save his life by their not paying federal income tax. Something is wrong with that kind of thinking.

A major reason why the issue of immigration is so important is that it is a massive assault on the rule of law. By not compelling illegals to become citizens, we're transferring the sovereignty of our country to people, according to MacDonald, who are from outside our borders. The legislature is no longer sovereign. Look at the Hispanic rallies in Spring 2006. Should a politician listen to people who are here illegally when it comes to enforcing the rule of law of the U.S? I don't think so.

Illegals are to be confronted with the rule of this land rather than the rule of this land have to yield to the large number of protesters in the streets of our cities. The self rule of law for illegals is simple: because I am here in the U.S. I have a right to be here." In other words, "we make our own laws. We do not live by the rule of law of the United States of America." No wonder they don't become citizens of the U.S; they do not respect the laws of America. The public is infuriated by this disregard for the rule of law. No matter what laws Congress passes to control our borders, illegals feel they have the right to flaunt their disobedience and indifference to the law.

Heather McDonald refers to an 2004 Los Angeles Times piece demonstrating this flaunting of the law: "After Border Patrol agents arrested a few hundred illegal aliens in southern California cities in 20045, the LA Times ran . . . stories bemoaning the resultant fear among illegal aliens and quoting advocates and politicians blasting the Border Patrol's outrageous behavior." So the behavior of illegals coming into this country illegally is not an issue. The fact they were caught and deported is a bigger issue. Perhaps I should go out and rob a bank and if I get caught, I can get the LA Times to garner sympathy for me. After all, I robbed the bank because I needed the money and that justifies my ignoring the law against bank robbery!

The rule of law is simple: if you come here illegally, you will face deportation. We should not be ashamed of this law nor should we be afraid to enforce it. The illegal needs to know that deportation is real. But if every time an illegal is arrested and faces deportation, there are cries of protest from the media, then the illegal knows we are not serious about our laws. There is no need of mass deportations, according to MacDonald. We merely need consistent enforcement of deportation laws. If so, illegals would calculate how wise it is to come to the U.S. through illegal channels, knowing they might be forced to leave.
Many illegals would decide to return home on their own and many fewer would decide to cross our borders. So the answer is not merely more border patrol personnel. Rather, we need enforcement of the laws regarding illegal entrance into our country. The threat of enforcement of the law on this issue must be credible. Right now it isn't.

If Macdonald is right and some polls are correct stating that Americans want to far stricter stance towards illegals than the press does and the politicians, much of our illegal immigration policy would be on its way towards a concrete solution.