Saturday, March 20, 2010

Playing catch-up

Here are some links and highlights of things I missed during a period of limited internet access that I believe are relevant and deserve your attention - if you haven't already seen them:

* Cal Thomas, in his column "Losing Our Independence," takes a look at the dependency stage America seems to be living in. He writes:

Our forebears practiced self-reliance, living within one's means and helping neighbors. Much of our modern economy is built on overspending, satisfying desires, pretense, envy, greed, and a sense of entitlement. Politicians who do not wish to disabuse us of such things keep seeking ways to prop up the falling house of cards. Who is brave enough tell us we can't go on living -- and spending -- like this?
In The Washington Times story, Harm Bandholz, an economist at Unicredit Markets, told writer Patrice Hill that our massive shift from self-reliance to dependence on government may have been essential in order to have promoted last year's economic revival, but he says it has merely delayed an ultimate day of reckoning for consumers "who went too far into debt to maintain their lifestyles during the boom years." This is not only the story of many individuals; but the story of state and federal governments that go on spending sprees during the good times and hike taxes and engage in "painful spending cuts" during lean years.
The more we come to rely on government, the fewer freedoms we will enjoy. Government will start dictating what we can own, eat and drive, how much of our money they will let us keep, how we run our businesses, how many -- if any -- guns we can own, and what we may and may not say. Oh, wait! They are already doing that.

To preserve freedom we must fight for it. Bondage comes when we refuse to fight and are satisfied with the king's largesse.

True words - will anyone heed them?

* A new study from Ball State University proves what many economists (and I) said about increasing the minimum wage: that low skill workers and teens - the very people it's supposed to help - will be the most hurt by the law.

According to an NCPA summary of the study:

A study of part-time workers monitored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1999 to 2009 found that raising the minimum wage to its current level of $7.25 during the recent recession caused some businesses to scale back on filling vacant positions or eliminate jobs altogether, says Michael J. Hicks, director of Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER).

Recommendations from the study:

- Creating lower minimum wages for students and new hires could preserve jobs.
- The student minimum wage would permit employers to hire seasonal workers without bearing the full cost of adult employment.

* Walter Williams, always a great read, says our elected officials are acting like tyrants - and while you may disagree with his conclusion, you must admit that his is right about the actions.

* Thomas Sowell, one of my all-time favorites, bemoans the failure to teach critical thinking skills:

It was once the proud declaration of many educators that "We are here to teach you how to think, not what to think." But far too many of our teachers and professors today are teaching their students what to think, about everything from global warming to the new trinity of "race, class and gender."

Even if all the conclusions with which they indoctrinate their students were 100 percent correct, that would still not be equipping students with the mental skills to weigh opposing views for themselves, in order to be prepared for new and unforeseeable issues that will arise over their lifetimes, after they leave the schools and colleges.

Many of today's "educators" not only supply students with conclusions, they promote the idea that students should spring into action because of these prepackaged conclusions-- in other words, vent their feelings and go galloping off on crusades, without either a knowledge of what is said by those on the other side or the intellectual discipline to know how to analyze opposing arguments.

When we see children in elementary schools out carrying signs in demonstrations, we are seeing the kind of mindless groupthink that causes adults to sign petitions they don't understand or-- worse yet-- follow leaders they don't understand, whether to the White House, the Kremlin or Jonestown.

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