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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

On May 2, 2018 I was standing in the third base coaching box in the bottom of the 7th inning of the Legacy Charter High vs. Masters Academy playoff game.

We were losing 8-0 and were a couple of outs away from a likely season-ending loss.

My oldest son, and Legacy's captain, Gehrig Chambless was in the batters box getting ready to come to the plate for the last time in his high school career and the last time he and I would be on the field together as father and son.

I had been his coach for virtually every season since 2006 from the TFA Royals, through Winter Garden Little League and Legacy High School.

I remember how excited Gehrig was to get his first uniform - #14  - when he was 7 years old.  He loved being on a team and having official games.  his first game ever he stood out in right field and practiced his swing.

Before he took his last swing in 2018 I noticed that he was wiping his eyes and had his head down.

Slowly, he turned and began walking all the way out to where I was standing.

When he got to me it was clear he was shedding tears.   He looked at me and said, "Thanks for coaching me all these years...." and then he gave his dad and coach an unforgettable hug.

On April 19, 2020 I retired from coaching baseball.  That night Gehrig and I, along with his mom and brother, watched 'Field of Dreams' for probably the 15th time.   

It was the last movie Gehrig and ever watched together and one that is especially meaningful to me now.

Every time the ending of this movie plays out, I weep like I am seeing it for the first time.   When Kevin Costner says, "Dad....you wanna have a  catch?"   I always - like any other American son - pictured that being me and my dad.

The last time Gehrig and I played catch as father and son was in 2019.  Strangely, we got to be all by ourselves on his high school field and we played catch for a longer period of time than we ever had.  I did not want that evening to end.  I knew that would most likely be our last time together on a baseball field.  As we walked off together I hope he felt how special that time was to me.  I hope it was to him.  

Gehrig died on April 26, 2020.   Bizarrely, I new see myself in the Kevin Costner role but instead of seeing my dad slowly turn and realizing it is him it is actually, in my mind, my son.  I can picture in my mind the image of him in his catcher's gear, youthful, strong and free of the troubles that come as we get older.

Lou Gehrig once said - even as he was facing his own early death - that he felt like "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."

I feel like I was the luckiest dad and coach on the face of the earth to have Gehrig Chambless as my son and player.

And wish I could see him on Earth one more time, in his catcher's gear and say to him, "Gehrig, would you like to play catch?"  

I think he would love to.....










 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Little Bighorn - a poem by Gehrig William Chambless

 




LITTLE BIGHORN

                                                                                                         

 

The gentle breeze blowing soft

Upon the silent plains

The amber glow of summer sun

Last light of the day

The howling wolf from mountains far

The graceful eagle soars

The night before the fiery hell

The peace at Little Bighorn

 

The rifle rounds are stored and stashed

Within an easy reach

They check the lines, shouting names

Searching for a breach

Three hundred strong, they march and pray

Asking that their Lord

Guide the General’s heart and mind

The road to Little Bighorn

 

The visions of darkness, moons before

Warned of those to die

“Soldiers falling into camp

Like grasshoppers from the sky”

The words of Sitting Bull, from spirit worlds

The rally of the sworn

To stand and die for their land

The hope of Little Bighorn

 

The forming of the treaty

Lakota and Cheyenne

Drawn by winds and dancing stars

To make another stand

The trails from far to Greasy Grass

The making of a lore

The braves that moved in for the kill

Surrounding Little Bighorn

 

Painted as the dawning sky

Proudly standing tall

They sat astride their mighty steeds

The hammer set to fall

The thousands strong, they dreamed of this

The day that it was born

Upon the myths and legends told

The tale of Little Bighorn

 

The soldiers marched, steadily on

Toward the place that fates

Had chosen for the blood to run

Toward the painted face

The fields of green, their boots would tread

Where ground would soon be torn

And then a man boldly cried

“March to Little Bighorn”

 

The soldiers heart, with all its care

For those he’d left behind

Was pierced for sins of greater men

Who ordered him to ride

The proud old man, with yellow hair

Too proud to sheath his sword

Spurred his mount, and dared to ride

To the jaws of Little Bighorn

 

One by one, they fell around

The braves still seemed to come

But the proud old man, with yellow hair

Wouldn’t drop his gun

And the fury of men betrayed by those

Whose honor wasn’t more

Than that which drifts with the wind

The scourge of Little Bighorn

 

The arrows flew and crimson streams

Flowed from those who passed

As they dropped to the ground

Upon the broken Greasy Grass

The widows of men who fell that day

And all their woeful mourns

Could be heard across the plains

The fall of Little Bighorn

 

The proud old man, with yellow hair

Too proud to raise the white

Rallied again, and called to arms

Those to stand and fight

The soldiers crawled to the proud old man

The weary, tired, and worn

They could feel the hand of death

Choking Little Bighorn

 

Battle cries joined the wind

Melting strongest minds

Of the men that fought to live

Trying to survive

The smell of powder filled the air

And the sun upon the corpse

Of the first to fight and die

Losing Little Bighorn

 

And the proud old man, with yellow hair

Stood up one last time

He raised his sword in prideful dare

Beneath the stars and stripes

And a thousand arrows pierced his heart

Just as was forewarned

And the proud old man, with yellow hair

Died at Little Bighorn

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Biden’s Irrational Approach to Regulations will Cost all of Us




Like many other folks who work in my chosen field, the 2020 election was not a contest involving the lesser of two evils but more like choosing between the evil of two lessers.    


Free market economists spent four exhausting years trying to explain to our students and anyone who would listen why Donald Trump’s anti-immigration and nationalistic trade policies were damaging to the American economy.     At the same time, we were wary of the litany of tax and regulatory proposals coming out of the Biden camp.  When someone runs for president during a recession and calls for even more punitive capital gains and income taxes, along anti-business, and anti-employment rules, it makes you wonder about their economic literacy. 


So, like other pro-capitalism economists, I joined roughly 1% of the rest of the country and threw my vote away on the Libertarian candidate. 


On January 20th I was happy to see Trump leave office but immediately missed one good aspect of his presidency. 


On the day he took office, President Joe Biden issued a presidential memo entitled, “Modernizing Regulatory Review”.  The memo was intended to ensure that every review process would reflect the latest in economic and scientific research and would fully account “for regulatory benefits that are difficult or impossible to quantify. Furthermore, the memo insisted that these regulatory reviews not have any harmful anti-regulatory or deregulatory effects. 


At the risk of insulting the intelligence of some of you who instantly know what this means, let me explain what this memo does. 


Students of economics learn that rational behavior exists when the benefits of some action equal or exceed the direct plus opportunity cost.   President Biden’s memo instructs regulatory authorities to consider proven benefits that the scientific and/or economics community has established, THEN search for benefits that cannot be measured easily, or at all.   While this is taking place, the reviewers are instructed to ignore the opportunity costs of pursuing any efforts that would lead to less regulation. 


This is akin to you seeing a shirt that you know is worth $20 to you.  You then add to that $20 another $5000 in made up benefits that would come from the shirt helping you land a job as CEO of Google.  If the shirt costs $120 you then ignore the second-best choice for how to use that $120 and buy the shirt anyway because the known benefit ($20) plus the impossible to measure benefit (the odds of landing the job) are greater than $120. 


The Biden memo charts a new course towards greater,  arguably irrational, but inarguably expensive, new regulations. 


What everyone should understand is that economics policy does not take place in a vacuum.  Every regulatory decision handed down by executive order or Congressional action is a new cost imposed on business firms and individuals.  Those costs have measurable effects on job creation, entrepreneurship, prices and more. 


By ignoring the basic facts of proper cost-benefit analysis, the Biden Administration is charting a course that makes economic recovery more difficult in the short run and economic prosperity less likely in the long run.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Finding thankfulness after the death of my son

 



Today is Thanksgiving.   

Seven months ago today, on April 26th our son Gehrig died.

To say that the last seven months have been difficult would be like saying that torture is a somewhat uncomfortable experience.

Our family's loss has been one that has permanently scarred us.   Every waking moment - and even in our restless nights and dreams that come when we are asleep - we are tormented by the reality of never seeing him again on this Earth.

Gehrig William Chambless was a superstar of a human being - as well as a superstar in every endeavor he pursued.

His infectious smile, his easy-going demeanor and his giving spirit touched so many lives - and still does to this day.   

From the time he was a little boy he was, to me, a near-perfect son.   When he was a little boy he was easy to laugh, always eager to please and a pure joy to teach - whether it was as a home-schooling father, or as his baseball coach.   He wanted to be excellent in everything he put his mind or hands to.

His short stories, poetry and songs came from a mind that I could not comprehend.   

His athletic prowess in ice hockey, football and baseball was the stuff of legend.

Yet, it was his love of family that resonates with me most today as I think about what I am thankful for.

Today I have found myself thinking of parents who have lost children to miscarriages, or whose children lived for only a few hours after birth.  I have thought about parents whose children have died as toddlers and those who raised children who made it to adulthood but ended up awful human beings.

If we had lost Gehrig early in his life - or watched him turn into a bad person later in life - today would be one of immeasurable pain and regret.  I know I would be sitting here today wondering, "What would he have been like if he had made it past infancy?" or, "Where did we go wrong to have a young man turn out this way?"

I am truly grateful that on November 26, 2020 I can look back at the life we had with our son and know that for 21 years, 2 months and 22 days we were so staggeringly blessed by one of the all-time great human beings that thankfulness is the most appropriate emotion we should be experiencing today.

I love you Gehrig.  


To view his Memorial Service (which starts at the 3:50 mark) please see www.gehrigchambless.com 


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Libertarian perspective on Biden's victory


I must admit, I have enjoyed telling people I know that "I voted for Jo" - only to see the looks on their faces as they ponder how I could have voted for Joe Biden.   When I tell them "Jo Jorgensen" I get the "who the heck is that?" look.

On Tuesday I joined 1.6 million other Americans - 1.1% of the people who voted - by selecting someone who had no chance to win.   Libertarians always vote for people who have no chance to win.  

We do not care.

We vote for Libertarian candidates because we do not believe the modern Republican or Democratic parties stand up for our uncompromised values.

Donald Trump opposed the free movement of human beings (immigration) and the free movement of products (international trade with no tariffs).  He did nothing to slow down government spending and used eminent domain unashamedly to build his border wall.   We hated all of that since we believe that people should have the right to move from point A to point B if they think point B is a better choice; believe that no government should tell businesses which nations they can sell to, and in what quantities; believe government spending should fit within Article One, Section Eight, Clause One of the U.S. Constitution (the Madison view, not the Hamilton view) and abhor the use of eminent domain for any reason.

We were happy that Trump cut personal and corporate income taxes (although no income tax would be better).  We loved his reduction in government regulations which lowered production costs and fueled greater supplies of a myriad of goods and services and appointed many justices who had a more strict constructionist view of the Constitution.  Those judges will be here long after his last U-Haul leaves the White House so that is worth something.

Libertarians are braced for Joe Biden and his likely Bernie Sanders/Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - inspired agenda that will shove new rules and regulations - along with new taxes and new welfare-state/wasteful infrastructure spending - into our economy.   He will likely regulate energy markets in a way that will not ban fracking or fossil fuels but will make extracting and selling them more expensive and thus make the cost of living for all of us - especially the poor - increase.

He will try to raise taxes on people who make more money than the rest of us only to find out what all Democrats find out.  Money and people are mobile and rich people do not get to be rich by being stupid.  He will not get the revenue he hopes he will, economic growth will slow and rich people will still be rich while the rest of us see less job creation and opportunities.

He will try to expand government spending to solve his Covid-19 anti-economic growth, safety at all cost belief system, which will only increase the debt (just like Trump) and saddle future generations with large tax increases long after he has left us.

He will spend our money on idiotic Keynesian schemes to build up our infrastructure.  This was the same nonsense that did nothing for growth when Obama was the President and did nothing for our economy during the Great Depression.  Taking one dollar from me to shuffle over to the construction of a windmill means I am poorer by one dollar and the government is richer by one dollar.  If my plans with that dollar were better than the dollar for the windmill it would have been more efficient to let me keep my dollar.  That is a fact that has not changed and Biden will not suddenly alter that fact.

However, there is some potential good news from a Biden presidency.

First, he will likely try to pick up where Mr. Obama left off and rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  He will probably be more inclined to pursue expanded free trade and end the moronic trade war Trump started with China.  This will boost the demand for American goods and lower prices we pay for foreign goods.

He will more likely end the cruel and xenophobic immigration policies of Donald Trump.  This will increase the supply of labor in areas that currently face critical shortages while at the same time restoring America as a nation that welcomes human beings who want to simply have a better life.

It is also likely that he will seek to restore our relationships with our allies.   Libertarians differ on the degree to which we need "entangling alliances" but it is certainly arguable that it is better to have a president who seems presidential, intelligent, polite, dignified, humble and receptive to the views of others than the guy we have had in office for the last four years.

If Biden can just hold off the socialists that are going to try to run him over and act like his own man he just might be a more centrist president and we will, as usual, be o.k. for the next four years.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Searching for my White Privilege

The following is my Op-Ed from the October 1, 2020 edition of The Orlando Sentinel

_____________

As our fractured nation continues to deal with unending controversy surrounding issues of race, police practices and social justice I have found myself pondering where people like me fit into the equation of equality – or the lack of it – that dates back to the first forced enslavement of black people from the continent of Africa. 

I am a 54-year old heterosexual Christian white male.   That places me in at least five categories that currently subjects me to implied – and sometimes overt – accusation of being privileged to the point of not being able to comprehend my status as such, nor able to understand the plight of people who do not fit within the same profile I benefit from. 

After all, everything about my station in life – race, sexual orientation, age, religious affiliation and gender – pretty much matches up with the people who founded our nation on the principles that we are all created equal while slavery, the political degradation of women, gays and non-Christians went hypocritically unchallenged. 

 Since that time we have seen what people like me would call “great progress” even though there should have never been a need for progress to begin with.  Had our Founders truly believed in the concepts they so eloquently shipped off to the King of England we would not have witnessed the battle for equal rights that so many disenfranchised groups have had to wage in our lifetime and in the lifetime of people who are not even born yet. 

Yet, I am troubled by an assumption – that often borders on accusation – that I am not sure about.    

That assumption is that I, by virtue of being white, have inadvertently benefited from a legacy of white supremacy that I am oblivious too.   I have been told by some of my colleagues that we white people suffer from a form of cancer that dates back to 1619 and that until we reach a true level of higher conscientiousness we will be part of the ongoing problem of racism in this country. 

I was born in Germany.  My mother and her mother were too.  My grandmother was bombed out of her home during WWII, wrapping her children in wet blankets to keep them from being engulfed in flames.  My mother was born without her American father ever seeing her.  She grew up in horrific poverty and depended on care packages from a family in New York to avoid starvation.  By 14 she was working full-time to help support her mother. 

My father’s mother died when he was two.  His father was murdered when he was four.  He grew up an orphan being shuttled around from home to home until he ran away from an abusive house, eventually dropped out of school and joined the Air Force. 

When he and my mother moved back to the United States they had no money and fed me with the free milk our milkman would drop off on our doorstep in Hugo, Oklahoma. 

Hugo is the poorest town in one of the poorest states in America. 

I grew up in a white household but based on the economic conditions I saw – and experienced firsthand – I am not sure how the word “privilege” fits in. 

I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school and attend college.  My parents did not have the money to pay for this so I worked jobs ranging from construction in West Texas to land clearing; grocery bagging and more.   

When I graduated from college my first job application as a college instructor ended up with a department head telling me that I was the most qualified applicant but that due to “affirmative action considerations” I would not be hired.  I did not feel that this was something I should feel privileged about. 

For nearly 30 years now I have taught my students that the long history of economics has proven a few things to be immutable facts. 

One of them is that there has always been –and always will be – people who are too stupid to stop engaging in the irrationality of bigotry, xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and more.   I teach my students that to practice these awful “isms” not only denies other human beings their natural right to life, liberty and property, but it places the person engaging in these acts of hate in the unproductive condition of failing to maximize the value that comes from serving your fellowman without regard to anything other than the mutual gains from trade. 

On behalf of other white people who did not grow up privileged – and teach others how to treat everyone with dignity – I would like to ask the “white privilege” accusers to judge us the same way you would like to be judged.