Sunday, February 28, 2016

Here I go again...Chiropractors!

I still remember my daughter calling chiropractors "ChiroQuacktors." She had evidently heard that nonsense from someone.

I only wish I had started sooner with a good chiropractic Doc. All the ones I've seen have been competent. They've all helped me.  They are not good for everything, but in general, they have knowledge far beyond their basic training, and that knowledge includes nutrition, posture, all the joints (not just the back--one of my chiropractors healed my shoulder with manipulation), and lots of other "stuff."
Most chiropractors today work on a per-appointment basis (in my view, and after ONE negative experience, it's not good to pay for a series of treatments up front), and my medical insurance sees enough benefit in chiropractic to include it in their plan for me.
One thing about chiropractors--they actually are interested in their patients (at least the ones I've seen are); My chiro spends as much time as necessary to 'fix' me when I go. So...if you haven't tried chiropractic, and if you hurt (but not if you have osteoporosis), you might find the same thing I have. Here's an article on Chiropractic that you might enjoy:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kids can't read. Why?

Teaching reading is the single most important thing schools can do, because the ability to read is the main way we receive and communicate information in our world. Videos work for lots of things.  I use them for DIY instructions, and lots of other stuff. But if you want to imbibe and absorb information, reading is king.
However, lots of kids don't know how to read. I started out as one of those. When I was in the first grade, my teacher told Mom that she thought I should be tested, because she believed I was "slow." I didn't learn reading "the school's way."
Mom knew better. She knew me.
So she sat my 6 year old behind on her lap, and read to me. Every day.  As she read, she carefully sounded out the words, placing her finger under each word as she read it so that I could see it.
By the 2nd grade, I was reading fine, and by the 4th grade, I was tested to find out my IQ.  I was immediately admitted to the "gifted" program (later to become the Gifted and Talented program). The teacher who thought I was "slow?" She went on to mess with other children's heads.  The problem? It really was not the teacher, or the way I was taught, except the crazy stupid stuff they tried to use to teach me to read--"See Jane. See Spot. See Jane and Spot." Even a two year old would be bored, much less a 6 year old of normal intelligence. It drove me nuts.  I still remember thinking "Is this reading? Waste of time!" or something like it.
So how did I learn to read? Individual attention by someone who loved me so much she could never have explained it.
The method? Simplicity itself. She read interesting stuff to me. She sounded out every word. She pointed to each word as she sounded it out. She kept it up. She did it until I not only could read the words myself, she did it until my mind turned words into imagination, and then turned imagination into visions of reality.
Mom used this technique with both me and my brother. We both have advanced postgraduate degrees, earned with honors from good schools. Our abilities were there, just never unleashed.
So what's this rant really about?
It's about the many kids who can't read, but who can be taught to read by parents who hold them on their lap and read to them. However, it's too late if these kids are older. They can still learn, but it's only with much greater effort and time.
If you're a parent, take the time to help your child(ren) learn to read. It is the single most important thing you can do for their education. It's more important than helping them play soccer, more important than teaching them to use a computer, more important than anything except loving them completely.
Do it. Don't make excuses. Just do it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Of $15 per hour McDonald's jobs... and a broken society.

"Back in the day," my ex-wife worked as a part-time appraiser for the mortgage company that employed me.
Because of the nature of our business, she often had to go into parts of town that were "not the best;" so she was in one of these sections of town, and had to go down a certain street, where she was greeted with a good deal of hostility by folks in that neighborhood, since she was taking pictures. So she said, "I just got this job (it was new to her) appraising houses, and I have to take pictures."
Then the most saddening, pathetic thing happened (I think partly because she is a woman)--several of the women who were acting in a (sort of) threatening way got really interested, and they said, "Can you tell us where we can get a job?"
Whenever you get into an argument about welfare (I still don't like it much), or people who are the "have nots," remember this.
Even people who live in tough areas want good jobs. They want a way to get out of the hole they're in. They want a way out of the gangs for their children. They want to own their car, their home, their life.
The gateway to all of that is a truly good job.
Now fast forward a few years. Here we have similar people, people who "have it tough" wanting to get some job, any job, and they want it to pay what they perceive to be a living wage.  It is, if two people in the family work.
If you have ever been poor, you know what effort it takes to lift yourself up out of the hole you're born in.
What we don't need is to see the jobs that would go to people who are here go to imported people. We don't need to export more jobs. We need to bring them home.
The reason Wall Street fights this is twofold:
Stock price / earnings per share/ taxes paid
executive compensation.
Companies are all run in the US as if they are not citizens of the country, and as if they owe nothing back to the general economy. Some do choose to be good citizens, but for the most part these are privately held.
Many companies shield both their executive compensation and corporate profits from taxes, but that is not really the problem. The problem is that these same companies both export jobs to foreign lands because labor is cheaper there, and import people on H-1B visas because they are cheaper to hire, and because they are not "on the hook" for the same kinds of things as if they employ a US citizen. Neither of these practices is entirely the company's fault. They are to blame, because what they do is so destructive to people in our country, but the real fault lies elsewhere.
It's the fault of Congress and the President, who can change these laws with the stroke of a pen. Congress could, in any one year, change government policies to so dramatically favor companies who hire workers here, and who refuse to participate in the H-1B visa program, that nobody would do it.
So why don't they?
Bribes. Pure and simple. Bribes.  Say it with me. Bribes.  Bribes under the guise of campaign contributions, or in the case of some politicians, funding a foundation.
Make no mistake. If you're poor, the government is NOT on your side. The Democrats say they are, and they fund lots of "programs" for poor people, but where are the good jobs? In China. How did they get there? They were voted there by people YOU elected. 
The Republicans? Same thing.  This is why (or the secret reason why) there is so much support for $15 an hour jobs at McDonalds among certain politicians.  It's the old method of deflection. "Vote for me, I'll support more welfare;" "vote for me, I support free enterprise;" this is all code for,
"NO good jobs." I'll export these so you NEED welfare. Or, "I'll fight increases in the minimum wage for you poor small businessmen who can't afford to pay that won't have to."
All the while, these same people are all but worshipping the tycoons of Wall Street, the wealthy businesses that export YOUR job to China, and import people who will take your job away from you.
Please don't believe the lying fiction that "I can't get good employees:" THAT is code for, "I have to pay US citizens too much." If these same people want to do so, they can employ US citizens.
These economic crimes have nothing to do with political party.  Both parties are completely, absolutely guilty. What we need in our legislatures, and in our businesses, is people who consider their responsibilities as citizens of the US, and mandate and provide business that's centered here in the US.  If you think Democrats are better, think of the acronym NAFTA,or TPP.  Both eviscerate US business, if it's mid-size or small.
If you think Republicans are better, think to yourself, "Who was in office when Sam Walton died?" When Mr. Walton was alive, just about everything that could be made here was made here. Within a year of his death, everything was "made in China." The family had prepared for his death during the first Bush presidency, and was ready to send YOUR jobs to China. 
Mr. Bush was a Republican. Please don't think these legislators have your interests at heart. They do not.  They want to be re-elected. That's all, and they will accept bribes from anyone on earth if it will help them do that.
YOU can stop this, whoever you are, by demanding that your representatives represent YOU. YOU, not the people who send your jobs overseas, and import workers to take YOUR JOB.
End of rant. More coming soon.

Friday, February 19, 2016

"We Need More Money!" "We Can't Pay you More!" "We Can't Live on What We Make!"

"More!" Is the cry of the unskilled worker.  "Can't!" Is the cry of the businessman.  These two are usually at odds in the economic world. Both may be right. That's the problem. Many small companies can't do better, and at least some may not be able to make $15 per hour payments. Everyone who thinks about this, thinks "$15 an hour..." However, it's not just that.  Many years ago, when I did taxes, I did them for a few employers. What appalled me was what it actually costs an employer to pay that money.  There's 8% (or so) FICA tax, about 8% Unemployment insurance, Workmen's Comp insurance, and Federal Unemployment.  It works out to over $20 an hour, not $15. So there is some rationale for an employer to say, "I can't be profitable if I pay these wages." On the other hand, the worker has the same argument.  He says, "I can't survive on what the employer will pay." Thing is, he's right.  Neither side is lying. Both are telling the truth.
The proposed answers have been these:
Wealthy people are certainly not all bad, but 'way too often I've heard the equivalent of "Let them eat cake" from the wealthy. Many people with money don't have the sense of responsibility that goes with employment.  When you hire someone for full-time work, you do owe them proper care, so that they can feed their families, live in a place with dignity, and provide the things the family needs. It's become pretty customary to offload those responsibilities on to a foreign country, and make the problem "go away." I suppose the reasoning is, "I can't see the woman who stitches my shirts for 50 cents a day, so I don't have to worry about her.  She's the problem of her employer."
They do this so that they can rent cheap labor. Problem is, these were actually fairly good jobs before they were exported. People in the US made bicycles, shoes, coats, pants, socks, furniture, kitchen utensils, belts, books, Bibles, etc. etc.
Which is why we have people who work at McDonald's crying for higher wages--because jobs that used to go to people who wanted full time work actually paid a living wage.
However, two things happened.
1. Businesses imported people to do these things--normally illegals, or "quasi-legals," because they could cheat them in their pay, again because these men and women fear deportation.  This invaded the construction industry in about 1970, and by the year 2000, almost all those jobs were gone. When the partly legal / mostly illegal folk began to demand more money, those jobs were moved offshore, or to Mexico (after President Clinton signed NAFTA).
2. Businesses are still doing this.  They export jobs by purchasing items from overseas that could as easily be made here.  Interestingly, they blame the American people for this, as if WE had chosen this path. In addition, they import skilled workers under the H-1B visa program, because they can pay them less.
As a consequence, we have people wanting jobs at McDonald's because there are no others--and wanting to be paid a living wage. No surprise, really.  Everyone would like to be able to afford a hamburger (if only a cheap one) where he works.  Under the current scheme, folks are not paid enough. It's that simple.
However, the solution, in my view, is NOT to pay people $15 at McDonald's. The reasons? Nobody will be able to afford the hamburgers, and that work is best as a truly entry level job, not a career.
My solution is simple: Stop exporting the jobs we now export. Stop importing people to do skilled work on H-1B visas. This will take a number of new laws (hate the idea, but there it is) that favor US workers getting US jobs, and that favor businesses keeping the work at home. 
There actually ARE jobs for us all, and they can pay well. They just don't--and many jobs that could be there are not, because the legal structure of our nation favors the way things are now.

More on this another time, but here's a preview:
Corporations view their only responsibility as making money for their shareholders. However, like all businesses, they are part of an ecosystem.  That ecosystem, to remain well, has to take more into account than share price and earnings per share.
The economists who read this will flame me, I'm sure, and their arguments sound plausible until you realize that each economist is a part of a heavily protected employment sector--some of the universities, some of "thinktanks," and some of the government. Each of these people has three things: Medical care, a good wage, and a decent retirement.  They have no right to a voice unless they themselves are willing to experience what the rest of us do. They are like Marie Antoinette: "Let them eat cake." Well, guys and gals, there's no cake. What you really are saying is, "Too bad. I have mine, so you can eat cardboard."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Of $15 an hour McDonald's jobs...

I had two kids work at Mickey D's, one at KFC, and one at WalMart. My kids all worked during their school days, to help put themselves through college.
So I'm no stranger to the need for fair wages. I worked at the school library during college (part time, of course).
All those jobs paid what we might call a "child's wage," or a wage that was designed to help, not fully provide.  Those kinds of wages have been legal for a long time (as long as I've been around), and they do what they are designed to do.
Fast forward to the current situation, and the demands for a $15/hour minimum wage.  Now we have people trying to support families on a McDonald's or WalMart wage.
Why is that?
Can you say, "Too few good jobs in the US?"
This is really the endgame after decades of support, both governmental and societal, for sending good jobs overseas, and importing foreign workers under H-1B visas.
Now that we have too few good jobs, government and otherwise, people have to try to make ends meet in a difficult environment, and they have nowhere to go except to the fast food restaurant or Target in order to make enough money to feed their families.
In other words, this is a crisis created by the very corporate icons and government folks we are hoping will solve the problem.
So what's the answer?
More good jobs. The idea that a man and / or woman can support themselves or a family on a Mickey D's salary is simply crazy.
We need better jobs in the US. We need to stop exporting jobs.  We need to end the H-1B Visa program.
If we don't do this, we'll all be working at WalMart, and retiring at 95.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I've used a computer ever since I needed a church secretary to type church bulletins, and I couldn't work with typewriters (I would have had to buy white out in 55 gallon drums and use a sprayer to apply it).
I remember going to Costco and pricing out IBM Selectrics ($800), and then thinking, "the church can't afford a secretary, so I'd have to type up the bulletins, but if the church could afford a one time purchase of a computer, then..."
So, after a couple of false starts, I ended up with an MS-DOS computer, which had two 5.25" floppy disk drives--one for programs, one for data, and a printer, and a couple programs.
I used that computer for quite a while, and then graduated.  As I write this, I'm using a Windows 10 computer.  I've used Apple, Microsoft, Linux, and Android computers.
I taught myself just about everything I know about them, from MS-DOS to the basics of Unix.  It's not as hard as folks say, if you just decide it's not, and it's a wonderful tool. an officially certified Old Guy, I think you can learn to use a computer.  If you're worried about it, get an iPad or Android equivalent (Google Nexus, Google Chrome, Samsung tablet, or a clone), and start there.  There is an entire world of information out there for you, and all of it is available through the gateway of your keyboard.
I've seen older folks just start using iPads with just a little bit of instruction; I watched an 18-month old pick up an iPad and use it (had some coaching from Mom & Dad at first) with literally no effort.
Android tablets are about the same level of difficulty, just a bit different.
What I'm saying is this:
"If you're an official Old Guy or an official "Old Gal," and you are of normal intelligence, you can learn to use a computer--or computing device.
I always recommend you opt for the easiest to use, and if you outgrow it, then go for something more complicated.
God Bless!

Monday, February 15, 2016

What this blog is about

When I say "old," I mean, "probably older than you."
I've suffered through about five recessions, and in each the younger folk say, "It was never like this," but of course it was.
I've watched the Congress allow the export of jobs by the millions, using the economists' excuse that "the world is changing, and everyone will have to find different jobs," until we now actually NEED to pay McDonald's employees $15 an hour, because there are no really good jobs for folks with minimal skills.
On the other hand, I've seen many "miracles"  in medicine, science, computing, and so on. I was one of the first people I knew to use the internet, back in the day when you had to learn Unix / Lynx (a bit, just a bit) to use it, until now everyone complains about broadband speeds and has an email address, and I'm writing this blog on a machine that would have either cost $20,000 back then, or would have been impossible to buy at all.
So it's a mixed bag. At the moment, I'm sitting in my brother's house in Florida, contemplating the fact that I knew a guy who had come across the country in a covered wagon--so I've been around a bit. I remember being a minister in a rural Indiana community where the main drag was defined by a hardware store and a traffic light--but I've worked and ministered in Orange and San Diego Counties (California).
All this to introduce the fact that I'm going to be writing from my own (hopefully unique) perspective. I've "been there, done that."
The blog is basically "occasional thoughts," which I hope you will enjoy.  I'm no George Carlin, but I do think I have a brain (at least for a while), and I want to use it to tell you things you may not hear elsewhere.
For example; did you ever notice that all the "university economist" who tell us that exporting jobs is a "good thing" have a job HERE?
What if we ship their jobs to China? What if we tell them that "universities are no longer needed because of the internet, and therefore they get to work at a 7-11--and oh, by the way, their pensions are forfeit, because they are now "redundant?"
What if we actually start telling the truth about stuff, bluntly, rather than lying about things, and using evasion and big words to disguise our lies?
And so on.
I'm done for today, cuz I have to go help my brother move a bed, and then we're going to go to Ocala and visit the bookstore.