America hating conservatives, or not.

I was sent this in an email today:

Why do conservatives hate Americans?: Given the Right’s recent lurch toward Ayn Rand-style Objectivism, it seems that an intelligent journalist would put the following facts together:

1. 80% of Americans own only 7% of America’s wealth.

2. The new mainstream in conservatism maintains that the poor are only poor because of laziness and lack of initiative.

It’s not exactly a leap in logic to point out that mainstream conservatism now maintains that 80% of Americans are simply ungrateful, lazy bastards who need tough love to do better.

In that context, trying to get rid of Social Security and Medicare makes sense for them. But shouldn’t someone start asking, then, why conservatives have such contempt for the vast majority of Americans, and their work ethic? It’s not a hard question to ask. The politics of it may be controversial, but the logic isn’t.

The problem with the leap of logic is that both premises are flawed.

1. The statistic that 80% of Americans only control 7% of the wealth is based on studies that exclude much of the wealth of the “80%” including their cars and household items. Even more striking, these studies do not include “non-home wealth” (i.e. home equity) like a UCSC study did.

No wonder the figures looks so out of balance. They exclude the majority of wealth of the middle class, while including a majority of the wealth of the “rich”. The comparisons are apples and oranges, but that is what you do when you want to incite class warfare.

2. Conservatism does not claim that being poor only derives from laziness and lack of initiative. It does suggest that taking initiative and hard work are solutions to poverty, but that is not to say the inverse of those traits are the causes.

No, poverty in America is generally the result of poor personal choices such as dropping out of school, single parenthood, or drug/alcohol abuse. The best ways not to be poor are to avoid those decisions. Most of all get married; there are very few children in poverty who live with both biological parents and married men tend to have higher employment and higher income. Children from intact families are more likely to graduate high school, and less likely to have a teen pregnancy or abuse drugs or alcohol, and not continue a cycle of poverty.

Basically, our economic problems have more societal causes (the decrease of marriage and increase of out-of-wedlock birth) than they do economic causes.

2012 Predictions

My predictions for 2011 were unusually off the mark, but that never stops a charlatan from making more.

Hence, my predictions for 2012:
1. A reinterpretation of the Mayan calender will reveal the world will not actually end in December 2012. Rather, that is the Mayan prediction of the start of a new hit series on NBC. The Mayans were really into Dramedey.
2. I will be offered a $10 million publishing contract, but I will not accept it because I refuse the publishers demand to change the lead character from a bearded district attorney battling city corruption into a clean-shaven district attorney battling city corruption. My artistic integrity will not allow me to make a revision that will alter the entire feel of the narrative. Come on, beards are in right now.
3. I’m hungry.
4. You will soon find an item you have misplaced. (This should be sufficiently vague to ensure at least one win in the prediction game).
5. Steve Jobs will not die in 2012.

6. Some famous Hollywood actor will die in 2012. (Shocking, I know).
7. Tim Tebow will continue to be more reviled for praying where other people can see, than other football players are for raping women where other people don’t see it.
8. George Lucas will release yet another revision to the original Star Wars trilogy, this time adding a CGI bikini to Chewbacca.
9. Political activism and sports entertainment will collide when the famed basketball team changes its name to “The Harlem Globalwarming Trotters.”
10. Barack Obama will be a one term president.

Anyone know how to sew?

About mid-morning my daughter’s preschool teacher called me. “Sorry to bother you at work, but Bailey fell off a stool and bumped her head. She is OK, but I think it will need a stitch or two.” She had fallen off a stool and hit her head on the door stop on the door frame. Ouch.

Thankfully, the teacher’s demeanor set me at ease, so I wasn’t too worried but you never want to hear about your kid bleeding.

When I got there, Bailey was in the school office with the administrator, her teacher, and the nurse. The administrator was holding her as Bailey was holding some gauze to her head and a few drops of blood were on her shirt. I tried to act nonchalant as I moved the gauze to see the wound. I think I pulled it off pretty well.

I said, “Yeah, you got a little cut there.” Inside, I’m thinking, ‘MY LORD. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE KNOT ON HER HEAD. I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH BLOOD! MY CHILD IS GOING TO BE SCARRED FOR LIFE. Oh no, I hope I don’t throw up.’

What came out was “Yeah, let’s go to the doctor and get you fixed up.”

Honeybun met us and we went to the urgent care clinic. We only had to wait a few minutes to get into the exam room. The nurse cleaned the wound. It was only about 1/4 inch long, but it went deep and was laid open pretty wide for such a short cut.

The doctor was a woman from Nigeria. She had a great bedside manner. Honeybun was worried about scarring of course. The doctor explained her young son had a similar cut and they used Dermabond (essentially a glue) to put it together. They like to use that because it is quick to do. The problem with it is that it tends to make a bigger scar.

Then the doctor said, “But she’s a girl, so I won’t use that. We’ll do it the right way.” Stitches it was. It takes longer to do and so is a little more painful, but done right, the scar shouldn’t be noticeable in the long run.

The worst part was the Lidocaine. The doctor asked me to hold her head, but even though she was crying, she didn’t jerk her head. The kid is tough. Near the end of the stitching, she cried again complaining that it hurt, but she didn’t move her head. Even the doctor was impressed.

So, we got stitches. A right of passage of sorts. Even better timing. School pictures are in two days.

Bailey stitches

The passing of an icon

Steve Jobs passed away two days ago. He was only 56.

He has been lauded as the man who invented the 21st century. He is considered a genius for giving the world products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. He was an indisputed a man of vision.

He was also a man of faults. Earlier in life he fathered a child out of wedlock and refused to recognize her and leaving his child and mother to resort to welfare. He also was infamously hard on his employees.

At the same time, he could be generous to strangers and was known to have intensely loyal friends. When he did marry, he stayed married and had 3 more children with his wife.

Steve Jobs drive and vision in business was not the only mark of the man, but will be what is remembered as his legacy. And that is probably as it should be. Everyone has faults. Their achievements are not lessened by their shortcomings.

Where love lives

Earlier this week Pat Robertson told his viewers on the 700 Club that it was morally acceptable for a husband to divorce his wife who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease because that person is “not there anymore” and that the disease “is a kind of death.”

Robert McQuilken found himself in the same situation. He was the President of Columbia Bible College and Seminary when his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. People close to him advised him to arrange for institutionalization.

He chose to resign in 2004 so that he could care for her. In his words,

She had, after all, cared for me for almost four decades with marvelous devotion; now it was my turn. And such a partner she was! If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt.

Listen to his resignation speech and you can hear in his voice the love he has for his wife.

Pat Robertson is wrong. “A kind of death” is not death. Robert McQuilken’s choice is where true love lives.

From the mouths of babes

One night last week, Honeybun was watching a TV show about 9/11 while I got Bailey ready for bed. When Bailey went in to give her mommy a hug and kiss goodnight, Honeybun paused the show. We try to be careful about what we let Bailey see. This show was more than we want her to see right now, but it just so happened that she paused the show as there was a picture of the remains of FDNY Ladder 3 on screen. The firetruck had been crushed when the World Trade Center towers fell. All 12 firefighters who rode the truck that morning were in the North Tower and died when it collapsed.
Remains of Ladder 3
Bailey noticed the picture on the screen and asked why the firetruck was broken. Not really a conversation you want to get into at bed time, but these situations never occur when you are ready for the discussion, but talking about a damaged firetruck doesn’t seem like the stuff of nightmares. So, I explained that some bad men made a building fall down on the truck.
“Did people die?”
Great. I didn’t really want to go there, but I’m not going to lie about it either. Best to just say the truth and not go into detail.
“Yes, people did die that day.”

“Did a lot of people die?”

(Sigh) “Yes, a lot of people died.”

“And they broke the firetruck. Will it ever work again?”

“No. It will never work again.” At least we got off the idea of so many deaths.

After that, we said our good night prayers and said a special prayer for the people who died that day.

She didn’t really seem to be bothered about the conversation and didn’t bring it up again the following week. But that wasn’t the end of deep topics.

This past Sunday, I took Bailey to church. I decided to take my copy of Magnificat. She saw it and was mesmerized by the cover. This month’s cover is Marco d’Oggiono’s The Archangels Triumphing Over Lucifer.
The Archangels Triumphing Over Lucifer
She began by questioning about who the angels are. That led to the more menacing figure.
“Who is the man being put in the ground?”
“That is not a man. That is the Devil.”
“Why are they putting him in the ground?”
“He is bad.”
“Does he want to hurt and kill people? Is that is why they are putting him in the ground?”
“Yes. God told the angels to put him in the ground so that he can’t hurt anyone.”
After a bit more questioning, she was satisfied. (And yes, I realized the picture depicts an event that is generally considered to be a prophecy, but that whole conversation is a lot more than she is ready for at 4 1/2 years old).

That night I was putting her to bed and she brought it up again after her prayers.
“Daddy, why is the Devil bad?”
“He was an angel and he wanted take God’s place. But no one can take God’s place. Wanting to do that is disobeying God.”
“Is that why he is bad and wants to kill people?”
She was silent for about a minute.

“Daddy, Daddy! It was the devil who knocked down those buildings and killed all those people and broke the firetruck.”
I was stunned at that statement.
“Well actually it was some bad men who knocked down the buildings.”
“But the Devil told them to do it.”
I couldn’t find the hole in her conclusion that time. “I think you’re right.”
“We need God to protect us from the Devil.”

Right on Sunshine.

Great work if you can get it

Marketing genius Seth Godin recently sold access to a small group coaching session to be held next month. Attendees are told to bring their marketing, business model or other challenges to work through.access to the the best marketing mind in the country was available for the bargain price of $3,200 per person.

That is a high price for most people. So I’m going to do one better. Act now and you can get tickets to the Always Jason small group coaching session for only $1,000 per person.

Not only will you get some great advice, you will have all the comforts of home, because I will host this session in my own living room.

The event will even be catered. My wife makes great finger foods. We’ll even throw in dinner and cocktails. I’ll fire up the grill in the backyard. Tempting?

Act now. Tickets are limited.