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I have always had a fascination for burning bushes so I have four of them in my yard.  And it is that time of year for them to “burn”.

Don’t Wonder Why….

October 3, 2014

Don’t wonder why some people go crazy, wonder why all of us don’t.

Ok, that is my observation for today. Yeah, some people go over the edge when life overloads them but don’t we all get overloaded one time or another. I know I do. I see things that just don’t make any sense no matter how you look at them:

Violence - The amount of violence in our society simply astounds me! I know Americans are on the whole more aggressive than most other countries but we seem to be unique in expressing that aggression in violent ways. American football is an obsession for many and it is by far the most violent sanctioned sport on this plant. The most popular video games feature someone with a weapon killing the “bad” guys”

Guns - We have a love of guns and weapons of destruction far above almost everyone else in the world. I think we have more guns that people. The primary purpose for guns is to kill something or someone.

War - I don’t think I can even recall all the wars we have been involved with in my lifetime. It seems if we don’t have someone to go to war with we go out and generate some.  We spend more on our military than all the rest of the world combined. How insane is that!!

Narcissism – Narcissism is spending your life concentrating almost totally on yourself. Selfies are an indication of that condition. I try to be an ardent follower of Jesus Christ and when he tells me the two most important things in life are to love God and the love each other. Narcissism is the exact opposite of that.

Greed - The dark side of capitalism is greed. It is endemic to our way of doing business. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and for many that is the way it is supposed to be.

Corruption – Corruption invades too much in our society. It seems that daily there is yet another politician, religious figurehead, or business man who is exposed for corruption.

Incompetence – There are just too many people who think they can make the big bucks with this or that scheme and sadly many do. They would rather cheat and scheme than put in an honest days work. Someone recently, I think it was Steve Jobs, say it that it takes 10,000 trys to become an expert at something. Too many are just not willing to put in the effort. And then there are the current crop of politicians. Too much incompetence among those folks.

Why do we have to face all these stupid things day after day? It’s enough to make anyone crazy. Don’t wonder why some people go crazy, wonder why all of us don’t….

Violating Natural Rights…

October 2, 2014

Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. . . . The small landowners are the most precious part of the State.

Thomas Jefferson Letter, 28 Oct. 1785, to politician (later president) James Madison

These words above are very indicative of the overall philosophy of Thomas Jefferson.  He believed in power to the people and that includes all of us.  To have an unemployed poor is a failure of a country’s society and government.  Everyone should be given a chance to a fair equitable labor.

Power to the People

That should be the American mantra. To allow that power to be usurped by the monied elite goes against everything our founders had in mind.

Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, this was supposed to be a season of relief, with Iraq managing on its own and most U.S. troops finally ending their combat duty in Afghanistan. Instead, Americans are bracing for another upsurge of military engagement in a region where one war blurs into another. Across the world, a generation has now grown up amid this continuous conflict, and there’s no end in sight. AP

SOURCE:  No end in sight for America’s Mideast war duties.

I hadn’t really thought about it much as 13 years seems a small part of my life but most of the kids in our elementary and high schools have never known a time when we were not at war at the other end of the world. The September 11 attacks by a handful of ideologues was a very tragic event but I kind of think its effects have been way beyond the original event. We, as a country just seem to be totally fixated on the idea that it must never happen again.  To that end we go all over the world to find anyone who wishes us ill will.

There is no end in sight for our involvement in the Middle East and that saddens me greatly.  That part of the world has been in a war mode for more than a millennia and will likely remain so for many many more years. It is just unrealistic to think that somehow we can change the dynamic towards peace with our military might.  In reality our meddling in their affairs has probably done more harm than good.

The policemen of the world should answer to a multinational body who doesn’t have the baggage that we do. If only the UN were capable of doing the task. If only we would allow them to even try. But there are just too many in this country with too big of egos to allow that possibility to even have a chance.  Sadly, we will likely remain in the “policemen” mode until it finally breaks us financially.  We, five percent of the world’s population foot over half the bill for maintaining order, or at least our version of it. By any account that is just not a sustainable condition and will sooner or later, like the Roman Empire cause our downfall.

 

Buying a Thousand Pillows…

September 30, 2014

Two colorful pillows over whiteYeah. So it is true that rich people can spend more money than middle class people, but there’s this upper limit on what we can spend. I drive a very nice car, but it’s only one car. I don’t own a thousand, even though I earn a thousand times the median wage. I have a few jackets, not a few thousand. My family can afford to go out to eat more than most American families, but not more than three times a day. We can’t go out 3,000 times a day.

So if you concentrate wealth in the hands of a very few people, you break down this feedback loop between customers and businesses. My family, among other businesses, owns a pillow company, and the pillow business is tough because fewer and fewer people can afford to buy pillows. Again, I may earn a thousand times the median wage, but I don’t sleep on a thousand pillows.

You need everyone to be able to afford a pillow every year in order to have a successful pillow business, and concentrating wealth at the top essentially creates a death spiral of falling demand.

 

SOURCE: Why capitalism has nothing to do with supply and demand | Making Sen$e | PBS NewsHour.

To me it just seems common sense that if you want an economy to thrive you put money in the hands of people who will spend it. Putting it in the hands of those who will simply stash it away with an already absurd bank account does nothing for the good of the country or its citizens.

Trickle down is still the mantra of many in the GOP, especially Mr. Ryan. If they get their way all social services would cease to exist and everyone would be left to themselves. Ayn Rand, who is Mr. Ryan’s hero, believed that altruism, that is caring for humanity, is a weakness and not a strength and it needs to be driven out of any truly successful society. That mentality seems to permeate those who are at the very conservative margins of our country now days.

It seems there are basically two distinctively different types of people in the U.S. There are those who love and care about everyone at least on some level and this  includes people they don’t know. Then sadly there are those who care seemingly only care about themselves and maybe their immediate families. Everyone else is to be feared on some level or simply of no or little consequence to them.

Trickle down does not nor has it ever worked. Raising the minimum wage and giving workers their fair share of the rewards benefits everyone, even those who believe in trickle down.

Freestyle School….

September 29, 2014

2014-09-15_11-36-46As the new school year approaches, teachers have come to expect that many of their students will have forgotten some of what they learned earlier. It’s called summer learning loss, and some teachers believe it’s inevitable. Are they right?…

The traditional educator’s remedy for summer learning loss is more of the same, more hours and more days of classes and, of course, summer school.  What if schools enlisted family members as partners to help teach the children? But suppose there is another solution.  That’s what’s happening here at Russell Byers Charter School in Philadelphia. For five weeks this summer, Sarah Pisano helps 6- and 7-year-olds get better at reading.

SOURCE: Turning parents into teachers to fight the ‘summer slide’.

A recent episode on the PBS NewsHour got me to thinking about summer vacation. It is a known fact that students in the U.S. spend less than half the year in classrooms whereas other developed nations spend much more time than that. The reason we have not kept up with increasing our school hours and days is partly because of the resistance from teacher’s unions and partly because we don’t want to spend the extra tax dollars to make it happen.

Summer vacation was born in the early 19th century when most of America was agriculturally based. The family needed all hand available to plant, tend, and harvest the crops during the growing season.  Fast forward to today and that reason for summer school is totally archaic but the tradition of a three-month vacation in summer continues.

One solution to prevent us from falling further behind the rest of the world in the primary education of our youths is to simply extend the current school year beyond its current boundaries. But what are the alternatives? One was mentioned in this report and shown above.  But I kind of got a different approach to it. What if we made the summer session of school freestyle?

By freestyle I mean what if it were used to broaden education or at least help students overcome barriers? What if it emphasized the arts rather than the three “R”s? I think it is generally recognized that creativity will be a driving force that will keep our country a front-runner in the future. But by drowning out creative thinking and concentration only on the mechanics will we be able to keep up our lead in this area?

Just a thought….

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.

–Thomas Jefferson’s Letter, 10 Aug. 1787

I am going to combine my usual Sunday post on things inspiring/spiritual with my usual Thursday quotes. Thomas Jefferson, like most of the founding fathers was a Deist. That is he believed in a God who was in control of the universe but not so much into our daily lives. His quote above is very contrary to many religious communities today.

Questioning the existence of God is a no-no to many.  They say you must believe everything in their religious documents and question nothing. If you do dare to question you may quickly be deemed a heretic. I know because I have some personal experience in this matter.

But I very much believe in the quote above. If there is a God, and I certainly do believe that there is, then he must approve of the homage of reason. He does not fear our questions or certainly doesn’t condemn us to utter agony if we dare to ask them. I simply don’t believe that God wants us to be in a blind-folded fear of him. He told us to love him and that is just not possible if we think that he holds a hammer over our head just waiting for us to say the wrong words, believe the wrong things, or ask the wrong questions…

I thoroughly denounce the idea that God expects us to check our “God-given” intelligence at the door on Sunday mornings and to believe things that go against any level of reason….

Home Away From Home…

September 27, 2014

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We have a few very old maple trees on our property. The one shown here is pretty well hollowed out and that is where our cat Dexter likes to spend time. He climbs trees like a professional. This hole is about 15 feet off the ground which is no problem for him.

Several times a year someone will stop and give us a quote to take down the tree but I always so “its time has not come yet”. I am old and not so pretty anymore but I don’t want someone to “take me down” so I treat this old maple with the same respect. :)

Falling By The Wayside…

September 26, 2014

2014-08-31_10-13-04It seems that many of my blog friends are falling by the wayside lately. They are slowly disappearing from cyberspace. I used to read a dozen or so blog posts every day, now I read less than a handful. Some who seem to have maybe a thousand followers or more are calling it quits. I wonder what is happening? Many of these past blogging friends say it is just time to move on to other things. Some I imagine expected to make spending money from their writing and that just didn’t happen to any degree. Some maybe had grandiose thoughts of being recognized as the great writer all us blogger hold in the back of our minds and that didn’t happen either.

Here I am approaching 2,000 posts and five years blogging here at RJsCorner and while I admit I have thought on several occasions of just giving it up I always back away from idea.  I have discontinued several other blogs that I have had because their time had come so to speak. The one that meant the most to me was RedLetterLiving. It was about living the commands of Jesus Christ instead of just believing  a set of man-made beliefs. I do keep it up but seldom post there anymore. I started that blog as I have for most others with a question seeking an answer. After five years I finally at least to a degree found the answers I was looking for. It then seems redundant to continue posting on that topic.

So, what makes RJsCorner different from the others?  One answer to that is in its diversity. It is not about one particular topic but instead is more like a “public” journal of my life and thoughts.  That concept allows me to cover a wide variety of topics. But,  In order to maintain variety I do have a general topic category for each day of the week.

The writings of Will Rogers, which inspires me on several different levels, continues to be a significant part of what I post here and will probably continue to be so.  Will was such a prolific writer that he left thousands of sources of inspiration for me to glean. RJsCorner continues to use the technique of his invention. That is to use something that I have read as a beginning point. One of Will’s most famous quotes is “All I know is what I read in the newspapers”. Another quote is “I never met a man I didn’t like”. In that regard I try not to be mean-spirited to anyone or any topic that I write about. For the most part, except maybe for the idiotic politics of today, I usually manage to keep Will’s quote in mind.

Finally, I never seem to run out of blog material.  My draft queue, which are snippets clipped from various sources is constantly more than one hundred deep. Some of these ideas mature, some might say fester, for several weeks before the right words come together for a post. I don’t think I will ever run out of material. The world is just too interesting….

Banking Establishments…

September 25, 2014

2014-09-13_09-50-19I sincerely believe . . . that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter 12 June 1815

Anyone that has studied Jefferson to any degree knows that he was an agrarian. That is he believed in power to the people, particularly the farmers who were the majority of the population in his day. He seemed to have a standing feud with Hamilton about this topic.

I, like Jefferson, believe that almost all the power in a society should reside with the citizens but unfortunately in today’s world our financial institutions and the 1% of the population that control them seem to have kidnapped a large share of power. Another famous quote from Jefferson was that a democracy depends on an informed electorate. If only people were to realize that with their votes they have the capability to radically transform this condition. If, as the polls indicate, the vast majority of us believe that our present government is totally dysfunctional we could sweep out 85% of them within the next two months. Wouldn’t that send a message to those gridlocked groups who say they represent us. If only our actions backed up our words things would change and change quickly.