Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Teach the Foundation of Free Markets and Liberty to a Child

Greetings, everyone. 
I wanted to share something with you before I vanish into the wilderness for the summer.
Many of you have read the Leonard Read classic, "I Pencil".  This Youtube clip is a modern take on this work and worth showing to your children. Please forward this to people you know (or don't know) who could use a simple look at why free human beings, not government, are the source for every good or service we enjoy.
Have a wonderful summer.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Memorial Day Tribute to an Incredible WWII Veteran

One of the most amazing books I ever read (Forgive your Enemies by Janet & Geoff Benge)  was about Jacob DeShaver, a prisoner of war during World War II.  What follows is his story.  Enjoy  - and please take a few moments to remember those who lost their lives defending our liberties.
Doolittle Airman Was a Different Kind of War Hero
By Mel Barger
How do people forgive when they have endured hideous cruelty from oppressors who have no desire to be forgiven? And can there be a good outcome when such forgiveness is made?
The man who may have made the strongest case for true forgiveness was Jacob DeShazer, an airman in the famous Doolittle raid over Japan on April 18, 1942. He not only achieved it for himself, but went on to touch the lives of thousands with his message of hope and redemption.
Under the heading of “War and Forgiveness,” The Wall Street Journal on March 25 published an editorial tribute to the “heroism and remarkable forgiveness” of DeShazer, who had died ten days earlier at his home in Salem, Oregon, at age 95. “It is one of life’s safer bets that he is restimg in peace,” the Journal concluded.
Any of us who served in World War II would acknowledge DeShazer’s heroism in joining the legendary Jimmy Doolittle in that first bombing raid over Japan. As the Journal noted, “The Doolittle bombing raid was close to a suicide mission, a one-way trip to bring the war to the Japanese homeland for the first time. Coming not long after Pearl Harbor and before the Pacific island victories to come, the raid was a huge boost to domestic morale.”
Though all of the 80 men who manned the 16 North American B-25 bombers used in the raid were soldiers in the then Army Air Corps, and subject to orders, their service on this special raid was entirely voluntary. They were personally requested to serve by Doolittle, who in addition to being a lieutenant colonel was a famous racing pilot from the 1930s. DeShazer said later that he was too much of a coward to refuse Doolittle’s request.
The story of the famous raid has been told many times in both print and film. The planes and crews took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet in a turbulent sea and flew into history, bombing Tokyo and other major cities. Corporal DeShazer, a bombardier aboard a B-25 called Bat Out of Hell, dropped incendiary bombs on Nagoya before the plane ran out of fuel and they were forced to bail out over a Japanese-held section of China. He was soon captured and spent the next forty months as a war prisoner, beaten, starved, and tortured by his Japanese captors. His pilot, Lieutenant William Farrow, and engineer-gunner Sergeant Harold Spatz, were executed by firing squad.
The same harsh punishments were doled out to hundreds of other Allied soldiers and sailors captured in the early months of the war. Some of them were killed or died from malnourishment and brutal treatment, others barely survived to come home filled with hatred for those enemy guards who had abused and taunted them. But DeShazer’s story had a different outcome. That was the “remarkable forgiveness” noted by the Journal.
DeShazer, amid the misery of imprisonment, turned to religious teachings he had learned as a child. “I begged my captors to get a Bible for me,” he recalled in “I Was a Prisoner of Japan,” a religious tract he wrote in 1950. “At last, in the month of May 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks. I eagerly began to read its pages. I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity. I realized that these people did not know anything about my Savior and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel.”
This was his profound spiritual awakening that would stay with him for life. Corporal DeShazer gained the strength to survive, forgave his captors without reservations, and became determined to spread Christian teachings to the people who had almost killed him.
Upon returning home, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific College (now Seattle Pacific University) and received a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature in 1948. In late December of that year, he arrived in Japan with his wife Florence, also a graduate of Seattle Pacific and a fellow missionary in the Free Methodist Church.. A few days later, he preached his first sermon there, speaking to about 180 people at a church in a Tokyo suburb. He and Florence eventually helped start 23 churches in Japan The DeShazers would spend 30 years in Japan doing missionary work. Their five children helped.
In 1950, they gained a surprising convert, a Naval officer as honored in Japan as Doolittle was in the U.S. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese naval flier who had led the Pearl Harbor attack and had become a rice farmer after the war, came upon DeShazer’s tract.
“It was then that I met Jesus, and accepted him as my personal savior,” Fuchida recalled when he attended a memorial service in Hawaii in observance of the 25th anniversary of the attack. He had become an evangelist and had made several trips to the United States to meet with Japanese-speaking immigrants.
DeShazer met several times with Fuchida, who died in 1976.“I saw him just before he died,” DeShazer once told The Salem Statesman Journal. “We shared in that good wonderful thing that Christ has done.”
Retiring to his native Oregon after their work in Japan, Jake and Florence lived quietly in Salem until his passing.
The slight war damage inflicted by the Doolittle raid did nothing to impair Japan’s warmaking capability. But it provoked the Japanese assault on Midway, which turned out to be a disaster for them and marked the beginning of American victories in the Pacific.
The more lasting victory, however, may have been DeShazer’s rebirth and forgiveness in the midst of hellish conditions. No wonder The Wall Street Journal called it “remarkable.”

From: Mature Living, Toledo, Ohio, October, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Remember when Mark Zuckerberg gave New Jersey schools $100 million? OOPS!!!

Some of you may recall that a while back I posted a blog about Facebook's CEO and his decision to give New Jersey public schools $100 million.  Back then I wrote that it would not matter because giving money to a calcified government monopoly did nothing to promote choice or increase the quality of the teachers in New Jersey.  Well, well.  The results are now in.  Here is an article from The Business Insider.

In the fall of 2010, Mark Zuckerberg announced on Oprah that he'd be making a generous gift to Newark, New Jersey.
As Oprah said in her Oprah way, "one ... hundred ... million ... dollars" would be given to Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the three began the Startup: Education foundation. 

The plan was to turn Newark into what Zuckerberg called "a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation," spent on retaining the best teachers, and creating environments that would produce successful students and, one day, graduates.

Newark is a city wrought with crime. Its graduation rate is about 67%. It needed the help, and Booker's vision sounded promising.

Between 2010 and 2012, The New Yorker reports that "more than twenty million dollars of Zuckerberg’s gift and matching donations went to consulting firms with various specialties: public relations, human resources, communications, data analysis, [and] teacher evaluation." Many of the consultants were being paid upwards of $1,000 a day.

“Everybody’s getting paid but Raheem still can’t read," Vivian Cox Fraser, president of the Urban League of Essex County, was quoted saying.

Today, the money is pretty much gone, and Newark has hardly become that symbol of excellence. 

In 2010, Mayor Booker found a loophole in getting money to help fund Newark's educational reform. It came in the form of philanthropic donations, which, unlike government funding, required no public review of priorities or spending. Gov. Christie approved the plan, and Booker's job was to find the donors.
Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg (like many other tech billionaires) had pledged to donate half of his fortune, but as The New Yorker reported, he knew new very little about urban education or philanthropy.
Booker and Zuckerberg met to discuss a vision for Newark's future. Booker wanted to significantly reward Newark teachers who improved student performance rather than focus on seniority and tenure. Teachers would be challenged and rewarded to do their jobs well, and students would benefit.
Zuckerberg was confident Newark and Booker were the right recipients for this huge gift (given over five years), and agreed to gift $100 million dollars with a few stipulations: 
  • Booker would also have to raise $100 million dollars. Zuckerberg's money would release to Newark as matching dollars rolled in.
  • Booker would have to replace the current superintendent with a “transformational leader.”

The reform ended up looking like this: taking low-performing public schools and closing them, turning them into charter schools and "themed" high schools. But there was no easy way to expand charters without destabilizing traditional public schools.
In the months following the gift announcement, Booker and Christie still had no superstar superintendent and no reform plan.
Zuckerberg was concerned and urged Booker to find the superintendent, even sending Booker a poster widely seen around the Facebook campus that read, "Done is better than perfect."
Immediately, Booker appointed Cami Anderson for the job. She implemented ways to help students and improve schools (all which The New Yorker detailed), but there were roadblocks along the way, like how the students brought the issues going on in their homes with them to the classroom.
Anderson wanted to give schools more support to help students on emotional and social levels, but Newark had already been spending more money per student than most districts in the entire country, none of which was reaching the children it existed to help.
New contracts were being created, money was being hemorrhaged, and the district was going broke. But interviews — like this one in Forbes — regarding the money and the future of Newark's schools were always positive, highlighting, of course, only the good aspects of the huge monetary donation.
Anderson came up with another plan called One Newark, which sounded like it could work. Families would choose which charter or public schools they would want to send their children to. Children from the lowest-income families would get first pick. So would kids with special needs.
It all sounded great until parents and teachers realized it was only on paper. Solutions hadn't been figured out fully. Programs hadn't been developed. Issues like transportation had not yet been tackled. Things that were promised didn't come to fruition.
According to The New Yorker, Anderson, Booker, Zuckerberg, and Christie, "despite millions of dollars spent on community engagement — have yet to hold tough, open conversations with the people of Newark about exactly how much money the district has, where it is going, and what students aren’t getting as a result."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

When college is a waste of time and money...

What follows is my Op-Ed in today's Orlando Sentinel.  I hope you enjoy it.  I will be taking a break from blogging and pretty much everything else until August.  Have a great summer and be well...
Over the next few weeks approximately three million young people will graduate from America’s public high schools.  Of that number, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 68 percent will enroll in college next fall, bringing the total number of college attendees to nearly 22 million. 
These numbers would, on the surface, seem to be a source of hope and optimism for America’s future.  After all, if two out of every three high school graduates are ending up in the halls of higher education, wouldn’t that necessarily translate into a better educated, more productive labor force to compete in the global economy?
Well, no, it does not.  In fact, these numbers represent one of the biggest and most unfortunate lies in America.  That lie is that a college degree is the path to economic prosperity and employment security.
A few decades ago, it was largely inarguable that a college degree was the ticket to the good life.  Today a four-year degree is often a waste of time, money (see taxpayers) and energy and is, in essence, no better than a high school degree from our parent’s generation.
Consider this.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than half of all college graduates are working in a job today that requires a college degree.  Meanwhile, welders, pipe fitters, crane operators and field workers in our petroleum industry routinely pull down earnings in excess of $100,000 per year. 
I cannot count the number of students I have run into over the past decade or so, who passed through my college, went off to a university somewhere,  who are now working at coffee shops, restaurants or in low-paying retail sales jobs.  At no coffee shop is a degree in English or Psychology required – but at every university, debt often is.
Graduates from America’s colleges this spring have an average of over $29,000 in student loan debt.  Many of those graduates have selected majors that the laws of supply and demand are going to punish severely. 
It is a fact of our economic system that if you pick petroleum engineering, pharmacy, mathematics, computer software engineering, economics or other rigorous majors, you can expect to earn a good living over time.  That is because people who can handle the work in these areas are scarce, while demand is growing.
World-renowned education expert, Charles Murray has shown that in order to master some of the aforementioned disciplines, an IQ of at least 120 is necessary.  The problem, his research shows, is that roughly 10 percent of the population has an IQ this high.  Therefore, if 68 percent of our high school grads are going off to college, they are either going to have to major in something easy – and less valuable to employers – or they are going to most likely end up with debt and disappointment as they realize college as not for them.
Compounding this problem is taxpayer-support for college education.   Every semester I ask my students who is paying for their attendance in my class.  I have noticed over my 23 years as a college professor that students who are paying out of their own pocket usually survive with at least a passing grade.  Students who are taking up seats on the income taxes of other working Americans almost always fail or drop my class by the middle of the semester.   Thomas Paine once said, “That which we obtain too cheaply, we esteem to lightly.”  He was right.
If we really cared about young people in America, we would consider a radical change in our education philosophy.   My home country of Germany is a good model.
There, children are identified early in their lives for the potential to study at the university or to learn a trade.  Political correctness and delusions of grandeur are replaced with a realistic view of aptitude, intelligence and the probability of success.  This is what we need here.
It is morally wrong to keep bilking the taxpayers and lying to young people about their chances of success in college when we could help millions get into apprenticeships and trade schools to fill jobs where shortages – and high earnings – abound.
It is no disgrace to not attend college.  It is a disgrace to encourage people to waste four years of their lives doing something they will ultimately regret.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Another Perspective on Global Warming

If you have 10 minutes of your life to watch something very interesting on YouTube that might change your perspective on global warming, the video below is for you.
As you are watching this, I would like for you to think about all of the rules, regulations, taxes, mandates and government subsidies that have been imposed upon us and businesses in the name of fighting global warming. 
I look forward to hearing from you.  Please share this on Facebook with your friends.  Maybe with any luck we can create a voting class that demands the end of carbon taxes, ethanol mandates, crony-capitalism, fuel efficiency mandates, the banning of light bulbs and more.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Thoughts on Donald Sterling and the First Amendment

Yesterday, a former student (and a good one at that) emailed me with the following comments and questions:
Hi Professor Chambless
 A hot topic the past few days has been the NBA Sterling "case." When I first heard what was said I had an immediate emotional reaction as did most of the country, I'm sure. Though the next day I thought about what actually happened; a man had a conversation of opinion with a woman and he is now being attacked from all angles because this woman happened to tape it without his knowledge/permission. I immediately thought of the Freedom of Speech and how he has every right to think and say whatever he wants. I have my own opinions about the disgusting words that were said however, I am more interested in the rights being addressed with this situation. It got me thinking about The Law and whether it pertained to this particular situation and then I read an article by Allen West Folks you're missing the point about Donald Sterling.
With my current knowledge and understanding of The Law, forcing Mr. Sterling to sell his team seems like a violation of private property. The NBA banned him for life; which as an association they have the right to refuse anyone but, do they also have the right to force a sale of a team? Bastiat speaks of plundering but, does that only pertain to government? Knowing that government can and does violate private property; do you think the NBA has been influenced by this form of plunder?
My answer to her - and anyone else who might be interested would be this:
Donald Sterling does have a First Amendment right to divulge his views on race without any government official using force, threats or coercion to make him stop. 
The NBA is not the government.  The NBA has its own set of by-laws, rules and regulations.
I do not know if NBA rules allow the other owners to force him to sell his team.  I have no idea if the head of the NBA is legally allowed to ban him for life for private comments on race.  I would imagine he consulted NBA lawyers before the lifetime ban and lawyers will, of course, determine if the NBA can force the sale of his team.
What is clear - and what is often misunderstood by Americans everywhere - is that we do not have First Amendment protection from our employers when it comes to the idiotic or controversial things we put out in the public domain.  This goes for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other ways we might be inclined to share our views.
If I said what he said in a classroom, Valencia would be wise to fire me and no lawyer would take my case on First Amendment grounds.
Can Donald Sterling sue the person who secretly recorded his racist comments?  Perhaps - but that is a matter of state law - not a First Amendment issue.
It might be worth adding that we should all be grateful every time something like this happens and we should perhaps encourage more people like him to feel "safe" to enlighten us with other bigoted views.
When people like Donald Sterling are able to hide their warped view of human beings of other races, the rest of us keep giving them our money by buying their goods and services.  The more of these people we can get to open up and share what their craven hearts look like, the faster we can know which people to not engage in commerce with. 
In the meantime, if you are a closet racist or some other form of unsavory sort, you might want to remember that only government cannot get in the way of your mouth.  Your employer - and your customers - can.