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Ethanol: Burning our Food?

CornIn an effort to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy, namely Middle Eastern nations from whom we buy oil, President Bush, called for a reduction in our use of foreign sources of oil. The White House believes that the use of ethanol can replace up to thirty percent of foreign oil use by 2012. (Bush). In his 2007 State of the Union speech, President Bush introduced the specific goal of reducing U.S. gasoline consumption by twenty percent in ten years. He proposed creating “mandatory fuel standards to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017.” While not explicitly stated, the President was thinking about the use of ethanol. Ethanol blended with gasoline is already offered at some gas stations. In order to draw attention to its use, President Bush made a trip to Brazil, which is already a heavy user and producer of ethanol. Since then, ethanol research and development has exploded on the American scene. But the question remains, will ethanol use remove our dependence on foreign oil producers? And how will our economy be affected by using a significant food source for energy production?

So what is ethanol? According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, “ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane fuel that is produced from renewable sources. At its most basic, ethanol is grain alcohol, produced from crops such as corn.” Ethanol is produced “similar to beer and hard alcohol,” when “the corn is ground and mixed with enzymes to break it down… Yeast is added, creating alcohol, carbon dioxide and the scent of a brewery.” The ethanol is then blended with gasoline to create either E10 a ten percent ethanol ninety percent gasoline mix, or E85 an eighty-five percent ethanol fifteen percent gasoline blend.
One farm in Arizona, Pinal Energy, decided to build an ethanol refinery near its fields and hopes to sell its products, including the carbon dioxide byproduct of ethanol, exclusively within Arizona. (Randazzo). Some groups are trying to create a “super ethanol” from waste sources such as “sewage sludge, switchgrass, plant stalks, trees, even coal -- virtually anything that contains carbon.” (Heargraves). Native prairie grasses grown on degraded farmlands can improve soils, and require less energy to grow and harvest. (Tillman, Hills). The technology is not as far advanced for these sources as it is for corn, but creating fuel from our waste has obvious benefits.
The processes used to make corn ethanol have been criticized for creating more demand for energy than they satisfy. Consuming energy in the production process, farmers must plant, fertilize, irrigate and harvest the corn using gas-powered machinery. The corn must then be transported to refineries, refined, and transported to fuel stations using more energy. Ethanol cannot be transported through pipelines without degrading and therefore must be transported by truck.
Many U.S. citizens believe that because it is domestically produced, from renewable resources, ethanol helps reduce America's dependence upon foreign sources of energy. This has been called into question by some experts. By some estimates, the process of growing, refining and processing ethanol will realize only a twenty percent energy savings, meaning that for every one hundred gallons displaced, eighty gallons will be used in producing the ethanol. But others point to innovations in farming to claim that this is an inaccurate figure. (Svoboda). Farming practices, like ethanol production, are regularly evolving more efficient practices and some estimates of the energy derived from corn based ethanol do not take this into account. The claims vary widely, some claiming it will save energy while others claim ethanol use will cost us more energy than we currently use. This technology revolution is producing innovative new methods. For instance, in Mead Nebraska, E3 Biofeuls, an ethanol producer, is using 100 percent cow manure to power its plants rather than natural gas. Because of the replacement of this unpredictably priced energy source much of the cost of powering the plant is removed reducing the risk of building new plants. (Johnson). Mead residents have noticed a better smell in the air too. Innovations such as these will contribute to the popularity and energy savings that ethanol can provide.
In addition, the fuel efficiency of ethanol blends have been called into question by the Detroit News Weekly. Comparing these cars to those that run on diesel gasoline, they found that burning E85 "cars modified to run on E85, consume on average between 20 and 30 percent more fuel than those operating on gasoline.” (Winton). Arco also admits E10’s lower fuel efficiency on its website.
Arco currently blends its fuel with ethanol creating an E10 mixture. They assert on their website that this increases the savings to their customers. Another benefit they stress is that this is a renewable domestic source. However, they acknowledge that the product results in a one to three percent loss in fuel economy. Thus the ten percent savings in oil consumption that would seem to be the result of selling E10 needs to be reduced to take into account the more frequent fill ups that customers will require. This seems to be at the heart of the debate about the utility of ethanol blends.
The jury is still out on whether ethanol blends will benefit America. Until ethanol’s production processes are settled and its fuel efficiency is studied there is not really an accurate way to anticipate whether President Bush’s vision of twenty percent reduction in foreign sources of oil can be realized through the use of ethanol.
In the meantime, the side effects of producing energy from corn, a significant food crop, are beginning to surface in our economy. In anticipation of the sharp increase in demand for corn, and therefore high corn prices, corn farmers are planting corn everywhere. The USDA expects farmers “to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, the largest area since 1944 and 12.1 million acres more than in 2006.” That is a fifteen percent increase in corn acres over 2006. When supply is short of demand, as is currently the case with corn, the shortage will drive up the price levels, and therefore profits, for corn farmers. So far, increased production has not been enough to avoid price level increases. A dramatic increase in the amount of corn supplied will be necessary to meet the anticipated demand for ethanol and keep up with food demands as well.
Illustrating the increased demand for corn, Ag Weekly in June reported that “corn prices [hit] above $4 a bushel several times this year, compared with a 10-year average price of about $2.50 a bushel.” (Villagran). According to the Washington Post, “If every one of the 70 million acres on which corn was grown in 2006 was used for ethanol, the amount produced would displace only 12 percent of the U.S. gasoline market.” (Tillman, Hill). This is short the twenty percent goal of the Bush Administration and would not provide corn for any of its many current uses. So its it even possible for farmers to grow enough corn for fuel and food?
The ripples from the increased demand has been felt in markets that many Americans did not anticipate. Corn is used in many food products from corn syrup based products like soda and candy, to feeding animals for meat and dairy products. Recent genetic modification has increased yields in the past and may contribute to a solution. In the future, more arable land needs to be developed to meet this increased demand, but for now the trend is to substitute corn for other crops in existing fields to try to fill the shortage. In anticipation of higher profits, corn is displacing rice, cotton and soybeans in fields. The USDA reports a fifteen percent reduction in soybean planting this year, seven percent reduction in rice, and eleven percent less soybeans. This practice has upset equilibrium prices across the economy and may upset supplies of these resources resulting in higher prices for products such as clothing as well as rice, corn and soy based products. Even Starbucks has seen costs go up as milk prices rise. (Sullivan). Until the supply of corn and fuel becomes stable, prices may be affected in many areas not anticipated by average Americans. This kind of ripple will continue in food markets until a new equilibrium is found.
So will ethanol use reduce our dependence on foreign oil for energy? It appears that with the current fad of corn based ethanol it could, but at a high cost to other necessary products we buy. What is becoming apparent is that its use will not save us money unless significantly more farmland can be developed for growing corn. However, innovations are abundant and may provide answers to the current problems. In balancing our need for food and fuel, the market will eventually settle on a favorite product that will satisfy the demands currently placed on it by our government and Americans who want to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, along with affordable food production.


Daddys and Daughters

I had a conversation with my, well, my dad. I do not usually call him dad since he hasn't really been much of one in my life. I call him Chris. But even that doesn't feel right.
He is doing better each time I talk to him. The silly thing is how I do when I talk to him. I feel like I revert to a little girl again. You see Chris abandoned me at about the age of three or four. I don't remember it. I just remember one time he tried to come see me. He wasn't supposed to be seeing me. I think that was the time that the police had to be called and he took off over the back fence or something.
Anyway, he left and let my step father adopt me in order to avoid jail time for not paying child support. I think I was fairly content with this arrangement until I got to the pre-teen years. Thanks to his mother, my grandmother, I always got a pointed reminder that he was my "real" father and that he loved me, despite whatever my parents told me. Well, my parents didn't tell me anything. I was far too young to understand any of it. But I picked up on the drama and emotion of the situation. I always heard I had another "real dad" that "loved me" depiste never showing his face. Looking back now, I give my step father sainthood for taking these insults. You see he loved me for real. He worked for the food I ate, the clothing I wore, and the home I lived in. Chris never gave my mother a penny just like he promised her.
So I talked to my dad this week. I told him I was struggling. You see each time I have talked to him I see that he is getting more gentle, approachable and reasonable. This time he used a word that I have not been able to use. Abandoned. He said I had been abandoned at such a young age that it was no surprise that it had effected my emotions.
He was right. It has effected my emotions in so many ways. At 38 years old, I want to go back to being a little girl with an adoring daddy. I want to have a life with my daddy. I ask myself, why was it not enough that I had a great man step in to be my dad? Why do I need more? I don't know the answer. Maybe it was the age. Maybe it's natural. Maybe it's the way God wants me to feel. I often ask why I had to be born to these parents knowing that such hurt would come my way? It sounds silly. I'm sure I agreed to it before being born. I know many people have far worse upbringings. But now I know there are many reasons God put me there. It was my own personal trial. I have developed talents and understanding that others don't have.
Once as I was just beginning to understand this dance between daddy and daughter, I was visiting teaching and the woman confided that her daughter wanted to live with her father and how she struggled with this. I told her how I felt as a daughter just wanting my daddy and how the experience of living with my father had been good for me, although it didn't look positive on the surface. I felt like the Holy Ghost had used me for a tool and I had learned from the words given to me. We moved shortly after that. I got a card in the mail from her a few months later thanking me for sharing these comments and how it had helped her understand her daughter.
But there are other things that verify that this has been a learning experience for me. So is abandoning your daughter a good thing? Hell no! It caused more pain than I even yet can understand and not just for me. Like my dad said in our conversation, losing your family is the worst thing in the world. It hurts the mother, father, children, grandparents, siblings and, may I add, future spouses and families.
But I feel a childish wish. I wish that I could live near my dad and have a real living relationship with him. I want to share my life with him. I want him to see who I really am and be proud of me. But it will likely not happen in this life. The time for it is past now. But I have hope now. I feel strongly that in heaven we will get that chance now. Why now? Because he said that A word! Praise God, because he has repented!

Faith and Agency

I found this nugget in Bro Givens full comments cut for the PBS special on Mormons. The special was nothing special. It was dark, deceptive, and dissapointing. By the comments that were aired, I thought Bro Givens was an athiest -but now I find he is a faithful LDS historian and scholar. has a link to the full comments from all the commentators from the show.
I came to the conclusion, in large part through my study of the Book of Mormon, that for faith to operate, and for faith to have moral significance in our lives, then it has to at some level be a choice. It can't be urged upon us by an irresistible, overwhelming body of evidence, or what merit is there in the espousing of faith? And it can't be something that we embrace in spite of overwhelming logical rational evidence to the contrary, because I don't believe that God expects us to hold in disregard that faculty of reason that he gave us.
But I do believe that the materials are always there of which one can fashion a life of belief or a life of denial. I believe that faith is a revelation of what we love, what we choose to embrace, and therefore I think [it] is the purest reflection of the values that we hold dear and the kind of universe that we aspire to be a part of. And so it comes ultimately as no surprise to me that the evidence will never be conclusive on one way or the other. I think that there's a purpose behind the balance that one attains in the universe of belief. ...

Terryl Givens
I couldn't agree more....


Mud Puddle Theory

I have a theory about people. Some people are in a mud puddles. They sit in it and pile the mud on their heads and whine and moan about their pitiful condition. They splash around, spread around and sometimes even scream about it in their efforts to get an audience. When they attract the attention of someone who wants to help, they beg to be pulled from the mud puddle. They say they can’t do it themselves, that situations are holding them back, and they need someone to do it for them. The compassionate person reaches out to help them get up and leave the puddle.
But wait! Maybe they don’t really want out of the puddle. What in the world would they do if they they’re clean and had no more mud to whine about? So they never reach out their own hand to take the hand offered, preferring to sit and whine and splash in the familiar mud rather than deal with the life they desperately covet but avoiding the freedom and responsibility they fear.
Look around you and see if you see anyone who is in a mud puddle.....


Those Darn Tests!

By MoMnmb
We have been homeschooling this year and I finally feel like I have found some basic curriculum that works for us. Because Washington demands testing, we are taking Iowa Basics this week. I feel somewhat defensive about this.
One one hand it is too early in the year to be testing for a whole school years knowledge, and on the other hand I want to see if what I'm teaching is sinking in. But I also feel a little cheated that I am being judged just as I am figuring out what works for us.
What have I found that works for us? I have switched all the kids to Math You See at Gamma, Epsilon, and Pre-Algebra levels. I love the way the concepts are made concrete through use of the manipulative blocks, overlays and inserts. I am finding that it helps me to understand it all better too. I plan on using the new skills to earn extra money tutoring kids while my husband goes to school.
We are also using Instutite for Excellence in Writing's program for writing. It has made my children feel better about doing writing assignments and it offers us ways to teach history and science, and reinforce reading comprehension too. My youngest has picked up on the concepts just by being around the older kids even with out the tasks being assigned to him. This is another subject I would like to use for tutoring.
It seems to make the most difference that we have changed to these methods. The one thing I have not changed is the reading. I have been trying to get the kids to read less of what I call "candy books". Those are the ones that they read in one hour or one afternoon and they never really do any good, except for entertainment. I wanted them to read some stories that challenged them, taught them to love good literature, taught good morals, and made them smarter. Candy books have helped them love to read but have also made them lazy readers.
Ben didnt' like readidng when we began. I didn't push it, but I read to them for the first little while. I read "Summer of the Monkeys" (Wilson Rawls) and they ate it up! It opened their eyes to the fact that Mom can find good books, and that there were good books out there. (I had suggested this book to the older ones who simply scoffed at the idea). After that I bribed Ben to read the Magic Tree House books just to build his confidence and for me to see where his skills actually sat (as opposed to a test that gave me a "level"). Next, I took Laura Ingllas Wilders "Farmer Boy" and read him the first couple chapters. He LOVED it! I began to assign him a reading time everyday for 15 minutes. He soon wanted to read longer so we expanded to 30 minutes. He took along time to read through the book but he thoroughly enjoyed it and realized that reading was FUN! It still wasn't his first choice of how to spend his free time but he liked having the requirement to read. I had him tell me about the things he had read about each day. This was awkward for him at first, and he stumbled on it. But I persisted and he soon got better and began to come to me in the middle of his reading to incredulously tell me the amazing thing he just had read about. After that book, I gave him "The Magic City" by E. Nesbit. (We had previously read aloud from another of her books "The Book of Beasts") He wasn't so sure so I read to him from the book flap and he was hooked. He read for his daily 30 minutes and one night, early in the book, when both of the older kids were gone on a sleep over, I let him stay up and read as long as he wanted. He stayed up past midnight and didn't get sleepy! It was truely amazing! He even came into my room after I had turned off my lights and was almost asleep, just to tell me something exciting! Now he regularly wonders at how people can say reading is boring. He figures they just haven't found the "good books" yet. He always asks them if they have read The Magic City or Farmer Boy.
This transformation has been the greatest payback this year. The second is the exponential increase in his ability to spell. Spelling Workout has introduced spelling and phonics rules to him for the first time. He now recognizes incorrect spellings and whether a word "looks right", because I did not allow him to look at or write misspelled words. The public schools had encouraged him in poor spelling and never corrected them in their writing- for fear that it would discourage them I guess. I've had him doing spelling lessons and also copywork to learn cursive, and to imprint the words correctly in his head. He now asks me how to spell a word if he isn't sure about how to spell it. I love it!
But the damper is that I don't know how well any of this will show on those darn tests!


Nick's stories

Now Nick has a blog to share his school work on. Check it out here.
He has posted the beginning of a long story he has been writing for about a year.


Ben's Brain

Ben and I made a new blog just for him today. He was home sick and we needed something easy and quiet. He wanted to display his schoolwork and especially his writing. (well his narration and my typing) Check it out and leave him a nice comment. He's very excited.

There's (blogger) life out there!

By MoMnmb
So, I've discovered a host of great blogs out there! It all started when a friend introduced me to a site and she had a list of other blogs she liked. That got me hooked and I have been reading blogs all morning (instead of my school work!) I'm addicted and I love it! At some point I'd like to add a list of other blogs out there too! But I have to decide how to narrow it down first!
There are some very talented women out there. One thing I always hated most about leaving communities to go to the next Naval Air Station, was not getting to see my friends families and their children grow up! I thought Id never get to see the kids until I (maybe) got a wedding invitation! Now I can see their whole family blossom. I have been reluctant to share too much information on my blog about my personal life but I love seeing it on others, so I am going to try "getting more personal" from now on. I'm !so !excited! Can! you! tell?!?!


My life in pictures....

By MoMnmb

My Honey! Ain't he handsome????

Ok now I' just going to show off. I got the camera of my dreams last summer and I love the pictures I can take!

The most beautiful place on earth! Whidbey Island!

Brothers in pads! Crash!

Lawn chair football teams!

What Happened to Win-Win Situations?

By MoMnmb
Lately I am tired. Tired of argument all around me. I get it from my TV, my newspaper, my teenagers, even my dog sometimes argues with me.

On the news so called "debate" immediately decends into the ridiculous. Pundits no longer know how to answer a question or point. It's all about talking over the opponent and getting your message repeated as many times as possible. No matter if it is a bald-faced lie, just get it said over and over and over until folks can't help but believe it. And just try to get a letter to the editor published that doesn't tow the PC line. Won't happen....
It's so childish. At least when my dog argues with me we both win. I get him to do as I want, and he gets petted.

What ever happened to honest debate and reason? What ever happened to the win/ win situation?

Take Your Fingers Out of Your Ears

By MoMnmb
I found this video to be very enlightening in explaining in a rational and understandable way what we are really experiencing regarding the trend of global warming. Its long (about 75 min or so) but it is science based and told so as to be understandable and believable. It was quite eye-opening to me. Even if you only watch the first half you will learn far more about the issue than the media tells us in their 8 second stories. (And far more valuable than Hollywood scare movies.)


Curiosity Cured the Kids

No matter what they say, schools don’t care about our kids. No system can care about the individual. And groups are made up of individuals. Evidence of this is all around. The schools don’t care that kids are grossed out by sex and sexual topics so what do they do? Teach them about it against their will. Why? Because it’s good for them. Of course, this is ridiculous. What’s good for them is to be able to learn it when they are ready and they ask, but that is a very individual thing. In a system, we can’t serve individual needs. We must subject all students to the needs of its lowest level. But use any subject. When humans want to learn something there is no stopping them, (just ask communist nations) learning things faster and more thoroughly than any system or teacher could teach it. This threatens the job security of the folks in the industry.
Have a conversation with any school apologist and get the gobbledygook treatment. You will be told that parents aren’t equipped to teach academics, and teachers are. However, take a look at any education certification course requirements and see that what is taught is systems. You won’t see anything that addresses the individual child’s needs. They also do not take classes that serve to make them experts on anything except how to motivate the resentful child sitting in their classroom to test well, so they look good to the jobs system and have bragging rights. All they end up doing is teaching kids how to fool others into thinking they have knowledge, and how to take orders. We are “educating” the individuality and entrepreneurship right out of our upcoming generations.
Again the individual cannot be served in a system. Systems are at heart meant to serve the average or the neediest one of the bunch. Families are meant to serve individuals. Families therefore threaten the system. If families can do the job better, why don’t we use them? Well I don’t think it’s all the fault of the schools, after all if parents would not let them take their kids we wouldn’t have a school system. Many parents, products of this same type of education, like getting rid of their kids everyday for the majority of the day, and many even complain that school isn’t long enough because they haven’t gotten home from work yet. They want school to be synonymous with daycare.
But recently many parents are opting out of this system. Home school has been a huge success and puts the public school system to shame. Will the schools change? I don’t think they can. I think families must change. Parents must demand that they are in charge of the education of their children. Government is not better than us. It isn’t easy. It takes time, effort, and even some money (although not nearly as much as the government wastes!). It is a blood, sweat and tears endeavor. Whatever we use to educate our kids, and there is an overwhelming amount of choices out there, we need to be in charge. And at some point kids need to take responsibility for their own education. Parents can’t force the kids to learn any more than the schools can. But I think that kids will be far more eager to learn if they were never subjected to schools in the first place. They certainly would be more curious.


Breeding Crime

By MoMnmb
Another paper I wrote for State and Local Government class, suprise, suprise, it leads to families again!

Breeding Crime
Today, state and local governments are swamped with crime and its far-reaching consequences. These entities bear the majority of the burden of criminal activity. The costs are not always measurable. American families living in cities and counties pay for criminal behaviors in many ways, from taxes, and fear, to heartache. Although it is rarely discussed, healthy marriages and families are the antidote to a large portion of these problems.
The responsibility of state and local governments in punishing criminals is a heavy one. They were never intended to address the size of the problems we encounter today. Ann Bowman and Richard Kearney explain, “criminal justice is overwhelmingly a state and local government responsibility.” (479). State and local expenses total more than $110 billion and employ 1.6 million people. These numbers are staggering, and local governments are responsible for about 60% of this burden (457). Local governments are responsible for funding and staffing of local police departments, jails, courts, probation offices, investigators, social workers and emergency services. These services are very expensive causing taxes and fees on citizens to be continually increased.
Crime is a continual challenge for governments because new criminals are introduced in each successively larger generation about the time that some of the previous generation of criminals have settled down or been locked up. The rise of new opportunities, as well as social problems such as the breakup of the natural family, has led to a continual increase in criminal activity. Crime also continually evolves as laws change and criminals attempt to block our efforts to stop them. In a free and open society, citizens are free to make choices about their actions predictably creating more opportunity for criminal activity than a closed, oppressed society will offer. Free citizens must be ever watchful for new criminal activity. We lock our homes and cars, we protect our financial information, and we are nervous after dark.
As harsh, swift punishments have decreased, criminals have had less incentive to obey laws. Prisons are not as uncomfortable as they were in earlier years, becoming like the parents of a young child. They provide a bed, healthy meals, sometimes jobs and even educational opportunities for criminals, free of charge in most cases, although also strictly regulating outside contact, opportunities for outdoor activity, personal possessions, and potentially harmful activities. Prison sentences can sometimes offer an easier and healthier lifestyle to its residents than they would have been able to achieve outside of prison. Prisons have also been accused of accidentally educating criminals in more effective criminal behaviors, as if it were a long-lasting criminal convention. In short, prisons are quite useless as a solution to the problem of stopping new criminal behavior. However prisons, which remove lawless elements from society, are essential in any community that produces criminals, in order to provide for the safety of its law abiding citizens.
As the police and court systems have struggled to absorb this ever increasing burden, punishments and consequences are inevitably postponed. Crime has also become harder to investigate despite new technologies and especially as a result of more laws regulating police and investigators. Prosecutions have become more difficult. Criminal investigations and prosecutions will sometimes languish for years before they can be finally resolved.
In the last century the number of single parent families has risen sharply, creating a breeding ground for criminal behavior. An increase in children, abandoned by fathers being parented by exhausted, stressed-out single mothers has resulted in many of them turning to lawless behavior. Michael Tanner, Director of Health and Welfare Studies, testifying before the Senate explained, “Children from single-parent families are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. According to one study, children raised in single-parent families are one-third more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior.” He goes on to defend this statement by quoting Barbara Defoe,
“The relationship [between single-parent families and crime] is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again... The nation's mayors, as well as police officers, social workers, probation officers, and court officials, consistently point to family break up as the most important source of rising rates of crime”.
Jennifer Morse, a researcher at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, found that healthy intact families are the laboratory for developing “the basic self-control and reciprocity that a free society takes for granted.” She goes on to wisely point out that children “need to develop self-control so they can … do the right thing even if it might benefit them to do otherwise.” Vitally important concepts and crucial habits are taught in these well functioning families. A stable, healthy, two-parent family is indispensable in children’s developmental process.
Fathers married and caring for their children’s mothers are the fundamental solution to a significant portion of the crime in America. Studies have shown that “over the past thirty years, the rise in violent crime parallels the rise in families abandoned by fathers.”(Fagan). The Heritage Foundation has found that “high-crime neighborhoods are characterized by high concentrations of families abandoned by fathers. The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.” Indeed, they found that “a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.” Incredibly, as early as 1829, researchers established “that family disintegration resulting from the death, desertion, or divorce of parents led to undisciplined children who eventually became criminals.” (Fagan). Yet for years Americans have ignorantly refused to discuss this fact in deference to misplaced tolerance and compassion.
Contrary to what many girls are taught by modern feminists, having happy, well cared for mothers in the home watching over children’s tendencies and guiding them to good habits and character will greatly benefit society as they help train and love their children lessening criminality and creating well-adjusted future citizens. Stable, attentive parents lovingly administering swift and certain discipline will train children to discipline themselves, understand consequences, and who will be more likely to appreciate law abiding behavior. If not taught these things, “society will have to manage his behavior in some other way. He may have to be rehabilitated, incarcerated, or otherwise restrained. In this case, prisons will substitute for parents.” (Morse).
Broken families don’t just affect their unhappy children. Marriage and family has an important civilizing influence on men too. “Unwed fathers are more likely to use drugs and become involved in criminal behavior. Indeed, single men are five times more likely to commit violent crimes than married men” (Tanner). Men need the loving bond and heavy responsibilities of providing for their children and wives in order to adequately control their own violent tendencies.
Healthy marriages between a man and a woman seem to be an indicator of a safe society. When marriages fail, society pays the price in higher taxes, crime rates, drug and alcohol addictions, abuse of women and children, poor educational outcomes, and unhappiness in general. The heavy burdens on state and local government and its agencies are increased. There is no government program that can adequately replace a healthy and functioning family. If America wants to lower its crime rate it seems reasonable that this significant source, single parent families, should be discussed. Often in an effort to avoid burdening these struggling families, Americans avoid meaningful discussions of this very considerable cause of criminal behavior. If we continue to throw money at the criminal justice system while ignoring the family’s contribution to this societal ill, we will never escape the swamp of crime and its far-reaching consequences. America will never solve the problems and instead will be forced to regulate and tax citizens into oppression, all the while living in continual fear and not-so blissful ignorance of our own contributions to our self-made misery.

Works Cited

Bowman, Ann and Richard Kearney. State and Local Government. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.

Tanner, Michael. Cato Instiutite. “Congressional Testimony.” 7 June 1995. Accessed 12 Feb 2007.

Morse, Jennifer Roback. Hoover Institution. “Parents or Prisons.” August and September 2003.Stanford University. Accessed 15 Feb 2007.

Fagan,Patrick. The Heritage Foundation. “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community.” 17 March 1995. Accessed 15 Feb 2007.

Recognize and Resolve

By MoMnmb
A paper I wrote for my State and Local Government class:
Education in America
Millions of American children get up in the morning, rush through a quick breakfast, get dressed, and strapped down with a sometimes very heavy backpack, and sent out the door to school. Millions of them also come home with the same heavily loaded pack and sit up to the dining room table to work on homework that their parents are unable to understand. A family is a child’s best asset when it comes to his education, but American children spend the majority of their day separated from this important asset. American parents too heavily involved in pursuing careers, are abdicating the best opportunity they have of providing an education. Educational institutions have so forcefully asserted their supremacy in the arena of education that many Americans now narrowly believe only formal education is valuable.
Because of this new narrow mentality Americans feel like they are unqualified to educate their children, expecting schools and professionals to perform the magic. Convinced they need the public school system, they pay taxes in order to achieve education. Nameless others spend the money, set the timetables and priorities, create the lessons, instruct, supervise, grade and decide who is now educated, leaving parents completely left out of the equation. It is almost impossible in a system such as this for a parent to be any more than passively involved in their child’s education. As a result of this family separation and new freedom from responsibility that schools provide to parents, the majority of Americans now blame our schools for continually lower education outcomes.
Some parents persevere in trying to partner with their children’s schools and are managing to limp in the direction of directing the public education of their children. But most settle for submitting to the authority of an education establishment that aggressively asserts its own superiority over families. No longer do observant experienced parents tell schools how to reach their particular child. Instead schools now educate parents on how to be good attentive parents in tune with their children’s education. We have an institutional reversal. Thousands of years of parenting, are now being subjected to the latest whims and limited experience of our educational intuitions and its professionals.
Some parents, preferring to chase their own goals, simply like the convenience of handing their children off to schools and letting them assume the responsibility for the whole educational affair. In this way, many American parents abdicate the important responsibility of education. The result of separating parents from children is that they no longer have access to the learning that their children do everyday and they are easy prey for the assumption that they cannot teach their own children.
Allowing schools to be run by governments has exposed them to the chronic inefficiency that accompanies anything done by governments. Policies are tossed around like political footballs. Unsuitable and unqualified teachers are never sent away. Curious and intelligent children are diagnosed, drugged, verbally abused, bullied, and even molested by these professional educators. School retirement has become an entitlement.
In recent years social issue advocates have found fertile minds in children separated from parental influence. Controversial issues are decided by policy makers and are then presented to gullible children as if they are fact. These issues range from moral issues such as human sexual practices and multiculturalism, to theories like evolution and climate change. Public schools have become like the halls of Congress; full of adult political agendas.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 sought to address the failing academic achievement in public education. It imposed testing requirements on all schools to track the performance of schools. It allows parents the opportunity to get out of failing school systems, using that school’s money to fund better alternatives. The legislation has come under heavy criticism from many groups, some opposed to any alternative, some enjoying the security of the status quo, and others opposed to losing their influence on young minds.
The most useful and praiseworthy aspect of this bill it that is recognizes parents supremacy and responsibility in children’s education. By setting up a way for interested parents to receive the means to take their children elsewhere and by empowering them to make those decisions, the federal government has forced state and local governments to recognize parental rights (Bush).
Some parents are already choosing to accept responsibility for the education of their children despite negative social assumptions. Parents have been fighting for the right to completely educate their children outside of public schools. The movement is referred to as home-schooling. All fifty states have passed laws allowing parents to completely remove their children from public schools. In the 2000-2001 school year 250,000 – 340,000 high school students were home-schooled (HSLDA). Parents plan personalized priorities, lesson plans, activities, and trips. There are as many ways of doing this as there are children. Parents who know the child best are supremely qualified about what methods and subjects are best suited for each child. An additional benefit of this movement is that parents are finding that dormant skills need improving and they end up relearning with their children also creating a more educated adult population.
Since the explosion of information sharing via the Internet, resources available to parents are everywhere, whether a parent does full home-schooling or supplements public schooling. The home-schooling movement has shown impressive results in recent years. Many colleges are actively seeking students who have been home-schooled. Regina Morin, admissions director of Columbia College says, “Home-schooled students, whose numbers in this country range from an estimated 1.1 million to as high as 2 million, often come to college equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in higher education” (Zagier). Some states are even providing limited funding and creating partnerships for these families.
In order for our educational problems to improve, parents must first accept responsibility for the education of their children. Once that is done, local school boards and superintendents need to be more respectful of this fact. Parents must be given options to make unique opportunities available to their unique children. Some system of public schooling that provides basic education is needed; however the burden needs to shift to parents. Society must recognize that public schools are nothing more than a tool for parents. Local school boards need to understand that they are not the authority on children. No matter how educated and experienced they are, school boards will never know the specific needs of each individual child.
If the public must be taxed in the name of education for all children, then children who are not part of the public system need to share in the same funding public school children receive. Funds needs to be provided for whatever choice the parents decide for their children, whether it is private religious instruction, homeschooling, or private non-religious education. Another aid for proactive parents would be a home education tax credit for parents who do not use the public school system for their children. Government must drop its arrogant assertions that it knows best and begin to show more respect for families outside the public school system. PTA’s and other parent teacher partnerships need to be more than the fundraising wing of the schools. They need to be involved in making important decisions. All levels of government and society need to recognize and promote traditional families as the ideal situation for children and the unique benefits that a mother and a father offer to their children. Society needs to be more accepting of non-employed women who want to be mothers first.
Once parents recognize the potential they hold for the future of their children, they can begin to assert themselves into the decisions and culture of public schools and they can demand the freedom to educate their children in whatever way suits them best. The hard part is that they must first recognize that they can do it and then resolve to do it.

Works Cited

Home School Legal Defense Association. “Frequently Asked Questions.” January 25, 2007. .
Bush, George. The White House. “No Child Left Behind: Title IV Overview”. January 25, 2007. .
Zagier, Alanscher. “Colleges Coveting Home-Schooled Students.” Sept. 30, 2006. CBS News. January 25, 2007
national/main D8KF1LRG0.shtml.


Are we Whiners or Solvers?

By MoMnmb
We need to be involved in political life. We are in control of our laws and policies by electing representatives and making our voices heard. Our founders were wise to allow us the chance to vote for our own leaders. It forced us to be accountable for them. When we vote we become responsible. Our support is desperately needed to make sure politicians stay on the same page as the citizens they represent. Our elected officials and political parties need our participation in order to work effectively. An effective political party will force politicians to respond to the needs of citizens.
Call up the political parties, what ever your persuasion is. Try out a variety until you find a good fit. Leave them a message if you have to. They work at regular jobs too. Be patient. Be helpful. Be pro-active. Take some initiative in making your community what you envision it to be. I have found since becoming active in party politics that far from the popular perception of a bunch of corrupt power-mongers, they are full of sincere people who want to help their communities be successful. They are people who work tirelessly, and often without thanks, on behalf of the whining populace who would rather be an arm-chair quarterback than become involved in solving the problems he complains about. When we have a stake in an issue we can responsibly seek out ways to become more educated and we can then see logical remedies. Do we like complaining more than solving?
We will be electing a new President in 2008. Political parties need help now. Getting involved now will help determine who is running in 2008. It may seem early, but the early bird gets his worm.


What gets people politically motivated?

At our ICRP (Island County Republican Party) meeting tonight a question was asked about what gets people politically motivated. Theories were spoken but basically it comes down to this- when people feel their rights are at stake, they get political. When basic needs are left to dangle in the wind, people get vocal. When they become concerned about a problem, they investigate. I see many issues and ideas that are not addressed. I see the need for good candidates who are committed to serving the public. We must all become involved in politics or nothing will get done. People complain about things all the time, not realizing the power they have to solve the problem. They hold back because they think it ought to be solved by someone else. The "ghost" my kids always blame can not only cause these mysterious problems, but we think he ought to also solve them leaving us free to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Except he is a myth. We are the ghost- creating and solving problems. Maybe we have just become a nation of whiners! Whine, Whine, Whine, but never do! Do we look at our own actions, in the first place, to see if we are part of the problem we are whining about? Do we then see what can be done to help those who are afflicted? Do we reach out to be part of the solutions?I hope we can reach out to others and help solve problems. We will never solve them by continual whining!
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