Archive for June, 2010

Forgotten War, Forgotten Future

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Today, when five civilians die in a military skirmish abroad, the media go amok. I guess they never heard of the Korean War. Over 500,000 children died. As horrid as that number is, many children were saved by our American soldiers. Recently, Dr. George Drake of Bellingham, Washington told the story of the love that saved these tiny victims of the war.

GIs rescued more than 10,000 of these children. The soldiers made an orphanage from ammo boxes and gave them a chance to survive. Drake erected the Korean Children’s Memorial Pavilion in his hometown. In September will travel to Korea to see the dedication of a companion memorial on Korean soil, along the border with North Korea and dedicated to the half million children who died in what many dub “The Forgotten War”.

“You don’t have to be taught to pick up the crying child… help the injured child…. find food for the hungry child… or shelter for the homeless child. That comes with being American.”

You might want to consider this when you see Islamic terrorists use women and children as human shields as our brave military men and women fight to loose the average Afghani from the Taliban’s grip. Say what you want, there is a mindset within the American that puts honor first and protects innocents.

Many critics of current policies claim that if today’s rules of engagement had been in place in WWII and Pacific Theater WWII, Allied victory would have been impossible. A non-uniformed enemy that so easily sacrifices its women and children challenges reason and logic, but it is real nonetheless.

Take a moment and reflect on the honor of our men and women. Then, ask yourself if you want them hampered by unreasonable restraints. Collateral damage in a war is a given. It is an undeniable truth. Media of the past knew that. They didn’t leak critical information to the enemy. In contrast, they would print misleading information to confuse the enemy.

Along with Ernie Pyle, Edward R. Morrow’s radio broadcasts from England captivated American audiences nightly. “This is London…” Who of us can ever forget that compelling introduction? And what would he think of current network news?

I firmly believe that Morrow would be aghast at what passes for journalism today. He knew the value of honest reporting and wanted television news to distance itself from the pressures of the marketplace. This attitude summarily ended his career with CBS News. Just ponder this Morrow quote:

October 15, 1958, in a speech before the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago, Murrow blasted TV’s emphasis on entertainment and commercialism at the expense of public interest in his ‘wires and lights’ speech:
“During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: Look now, pay later.

It seems that this attitude not only infects the broadcast news world but also the highest echelons of our federal government. Pay later? What a dismal eulogy to our country. Public interest? More like unending, unfunded public debt. Think about it.


Monday, June 21st, 2010

Each of us is the product of that to which we are exposed. A sad commentary when you think of the entertainment aimed at children these days. Just before we left for church on Sunday morning, I happened to come across the ending of a movie starring Edward G. Robinson. Not one of the gangster, tough-guy films for which many of us remember him. This was a heartwarming story of true American values and faith in God.

“Our Grapes Have Tender Vines” starred Edward G. as Martinus Jacobson, Margaret O’Brien as his daughter Selma and Agnes Moorehead as his wife Bruna. Set on a Wisconsin farm, the film was released in September of1945. It bears a disclaimer at the end explaining that it is among the films to be distributed to our military personnel.

Tony Fontana condenses the plot as follows: Life in small town Wisconsin. Selma and Arnold, aged 7 and 5, pal around together between their two farms. Selma has a newborn calf that her father gave to her. She named it ‘Elizabeth’. Nels is the editor of the Fuller Junction Spectator and the kids just call him “editor”. Viola is the new schoolteacher from the big city. While Nels wants to marry Viola, Viola does not want to live in a small quiet, nothing happening town. The biggest news is that Farmer wFaraassen has built a new barn.

This might seem mundane to you, but the core of the film has neighbors and friends rallying around one of their own who suffered a crushing loss. One line in particular struck me. Martinus is explaining milk to the Selma and Arnold. He tells them it is a good thing… good for the children… good for cooking… good for the farmer, but it isn’t free. Like all good things, they are not free. You work for them.

Today, growing number of Americans look to the government for support. They do not think of work as the prime avenue to financial stability. How sad. Would that we could get back to the work ethic and patriotism of 1945. Would that we could return to the days when doors were unlocked… screen doors wafted breezes of fresh cut grass into a kitchen… where Mama prepared supper….

Those days are gone, but their mettle can be revived. We can demand that our government reform the warped welfare system. How many able-bodied people exist on government checks? I’ll bet the true number would astound you. Nothing, it seems, does come for free — unless, that is, it comes from the government.

This nation was built by people who did for themselves. Did they struggle? Mightily. Did they suffer losses? Often immeasurable ones. Did young boys have to take over entire families when parents died? Indeed. Were things fair? Oh, please. When has life ever been fair or even-handed?

Of course, some people fell through the cracks and descended into criminal activity. Yet, by and large, Americans were known as hard working people who loved challenges.

Sadly, our challenge today is to reclaim that attitude and extol the work ethic to the youngest of us. If we don’t, we will fail. Rome was once great. Then, it fell into a pattern of leisure and entertainment — the antiquarian version of “quality time”. Does that sound familiar?

Movies and music are peppered with violent, sex-laden images and harsh lyrics. Advertising appeals to the prurient. Plots are thick with raw language and nudity. Is this how to rear young boys to respect women? Is this how we teach strong family values? Pretty awful to contemplate the results of such exposure, isn’t it?

The Hollywood that opened the Hollywood Canteen and supported our troops now thinks nothing of putting out films about political assassinations, praising dictators, and portraying characters of low degree. Is this how far we have come from 1945? A mere 65 years to this?

Oh, I forgot. The studio moguls of the 1930s and 1940s were immigrants themselves — men who knew the value of freedom and wanted to support those who defended it.

Think you can’t do anything to change things? Think again.

Vow to never pass up an opportunity to encourage someone who struggles in difficult circumstances. Impress youngsters with the rewards of self-achievement. Spur their vivid imaginations to new inventions. Explain how pride comes from a job well done. You can do it. It only takes a little time.

Moreover, don’t let the grass grow under your feet when it comes to decrying the attitude that “government knows best”. Oh, it knows best, all right, but not like a father, like a “sugar daddy” — self-righteous, boastful, arrogant, and all knowing.

What government does know how to do is spend OUR money. Oops! Correct that. That money is our grandchildren’s money.

Unfunded federal liabilities top $130 trillion. If you can’t get your mind wrapped around that number, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.

This complete lack of responsibility has to stop. If it doesn’t, America’s outcome is grim. It’s your country. It’s the future for the children. Think about it.

Hi, Yo, Hayek! … away!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Just in case you might not know it, there is another person by the name of Hayek, and it’s not Selma. Meet an economist who saw one of his works printed in the Reader’s Digest Condensed series in 1945. 1945, you gasp?
Yep. 1945. End of WWII. Economy emerging from wartime. Major changes in the sociology of the country. Women, many widows, in the work force in stunning numbers when compared to prior demographics of the American workforce.

Now, what on earth could a book like this have to do with you? Well, take a deep breath and ponder what happens when (1) 70% of the new jobs are in government, (2) more and more of our industrial base exits to once third-world countries, and (3) average government salaries are above those in the private sector. Just how can a country defend itself without the industrial capacity to manufacture war materiel? It doesn’t, i.e., we don’t. Oops, again! Isolationism is one thing, so-called globalism is another, but this is neither. This is insanity.

One old definition of that mental condition is going about the same process again and again only to expect a different outcome. There is only one outcome when more people depend on the government than on themselves. It is an extension of what we saw in the Middle Ages, and Hayek had it right!

Why would you be interested in just one of the books written by an economist born in 1899… whose work spanned more than a half century… an Austrian who eventually worked in both New York and Chicago? Let’s delve into Hayek. Once we do, I’ll bet you will be compelled to learn even more.

The book I cite? The Road to Serfdom. If you think a widely circulated 1940s book could not be germane to the present, think again. Currently, a projected 19-volume set of Hayek’s works is in the pipeline. Thus, as we teeter on the precipice of financial doom made slippery by a growing bent toward socialism, we return to one Friedrich A. Von Hayek. With the facts on our side, we can fuel a movement to overturn the current pattern endemic in our federal government — more and more intrusion into Americans’ everyday lives.

You would have thought we had learned something years ago. Surely, we saw what happened to the leaders bent on socialism. Dare I mention the Soviet Union? Ah, but that is another problem. World history is not taught as it once was, and often it is an elective course instead of a required one.

A more critical problem is our own history. US History is getting short shrift in our schools, and that is not to say that it is not being taught. It’s just that the precepts and tenets of the US Constitution are not focused in the texts. Editing has abbreviated and dulled the fires of liberty within history curricula, and our kids are really at risk because of that.

If you doubt that, get your hands on a text from the 1950s. There is a difference, folks, and many of you would see it at a glance. True, more and more history amasses each decade, but there are red flags that cannot be ignored. History is a great teacher, IF we appreciate it in its true form — as fact. Sadly, an increasing level of editorializing has taken root in these books.

I am a firm believer that every student should take US history in three parts: (1) The Federalist and the US Constitution; (2) Military history; (3) Personal Liberty – the critical importance of citizen involvement.
Thirty-five years ago, Hayek shone on the world scene. When the 1974 Nobel Prize in economics went to Hayek, interest in the Austrian school was suddenly and unexpectedly revived.
Peter Klein states that when Hayek came to the The University of Chicago, he found himself among a dazzling group: the economics department. Led by Knight, Milton Friedman, and later George Stigler, it was one of the best anywhere, and Aaron Director at the law school soon set up the first law and economics program.
Hayek’s writings were taught to new generations, and Hayek himself appeared at the early Institute for Humane Studies conferences in the mid-1970s. He continued to write, producing The Fatal Conceit in 1988, at the age of 89. In 1992, at the age of 93, Hayek died in Freiburg, Germany, where he had lived since leaving Chicago in 1961.
Hayek’s book, The Road To Serfdom, is available on for around $9, just about the cost of a lunch out. Skip the lunch. Pack a sandwich. Buy the book. You won’t be sorry.

2 or 4 – manners are core!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

We live on a very busy county road. Even twenty years ago, one could pad along relatively undisturbed by passing traffic. Those days are gone. Today, you take your life in your hands if you step off your lawn and begin to take a leisurely walk down the road. I haven’t done that in a long time.

Because our road is both scenic and challenging, we are a hot spot for every teenager with a first car, a friend who wants to scare the pants off a peer, or a cavalcade of all manner of motor clubs.

My favorite parades are those of the Model A Fords that ply down our little road summer after summer. Some of the occupants actually sport attire to match the vintage of their vehicle. Others opt for current dress styles. Nonetheless, all of them have a great time out in the country.

About three Sundays a summer we see motorcycle rallies. In many instances, there may be up to 100 cycles. Bikes may host single riders, couples, or sidecar passengers. I worry when I see so few helmets, but until and unless Indiana elects to impose a helmet law, we will continue to see a high toll of brain injuries and deaths in motorcycle accidents.

Are helmets uncomfortable? Probably, but speaking as a snowmobiler, I know the value of a helmet. They come in all styles and price ranges. The upper end helmets have more protection, but choices are up to the rider and budget.

Indiana has increased motorcycle registrations markedly over the past few years, and nationally statistics tell us they have doubled since 1997. That means we drivers must be more alert than ever. Understandably, in a car- motorcycle accident, the motorcycle ends up on the short end of the stick.

Manners are core here. Oh, there a few cyclists who misbehave will sully the reputations of the majority who ride responsibly — those riders who don’t endanger themselves or drivers they encounter. We see that in snowmobiling, too. A few crazies can make a big impression — a wrong one — on the public and stifle trail expansion for fun-loving riders and families.

I have very few complaints about motorcyclists. It’s the non-motorized rider that can cause me no end of grief. Bicycles are more popular than ever. Specialty stores market high-end bikes, custom apparel, and all manner of accessories. Yet, all those accoutrements don’t guarantee good manners. I’ve seen more road hogs among bicyclists than drivers or “bikers”. Rally cars observe the speed limits, stop at stop signs, and generally behave themselves. Their vehicles are not average conveyances, so they don’t want to take a chance on a ding, dent, or — heaven forbid! — a wreck.

What makes pedalers ride down the middle of the road hugging the dividing line? I know it’s probably a lot more dangerous to ride along the berm, because any loose gravel can cause a cyclist to lose control. Yet, I wonder why they can’t ride in the middle of the traffic lane and ease to the right when a car comes up from behind. After all, most of them have rear view mirrors. (Don’t get me started on bicyclists and snowmobilers who ride without them!)

Just last Monday, we had to stop because a car was trying to pass a slow moving bicycle on the centerline and the rider simply would not pull over. He hugged that centerline as if it he were wired to it.

No matter whether you drive a car, ride a bicycle, a scooter, or a motorcycle, practice good manners. Your taxes didn’t pave that road for you alone. Others traverse that pavement, and at higher speeds if you are on a two wheeled vehicle. Good manners only enhance the public’s respect for your sport. Think about it.