Monthly Archives: July 2014

Olympic Parenting – Going for the Gold!

Is our nation becoming a medal and trophy society?

During my lifetime, I have had two important graduations.  One was from high school.  The other was from college.  Two important graduations, indeed.  As I watch my grandkids grow up, they have already had a kindergarten graduation, a graduation from elementary school to middle school, and a future graduation from middle school to high school.  That is three graduations before they graduate from high school!

Who are these graduations for?  I admit, it is kind of cute to see my grandkids wearing homemade paper mortar boards, but I also find it amazing that some of these graduations are with rented caps and gowns, just as I wore graduating from high school!

I have recently witnessed my grandkids’ baseball games where strikes and balls were not counted.  Everyone on the team got to bat once in each inning.  (So far, so good.)  What is more interesting is that the score was never kept!  They did not want to have winners or losers, just participants.  (OK.  I will give this one a pass, because it was little kids.)  I have seen a peewee football game where one player refused to go on the field to play.  He began crying and sobbing and made his parents take him home during the game.  His team won that game, which was the championship game.  While his team was celebrating, he was at home.  He got his trophy even though he did not participate.  That’s another thing, kids today ‘earn’ a trophy every season – even if they are on a losing team!

It becomes obvious that the graduations are more for the parents than for the students.  Do you really think a kindergarten student is all excited about his graduation day?  They don’t know how to spell the word graduation, much less embrace the feeling of accomplishment and transition.

What kind of life lesson was learned by the young football player that refused to play, but received his trophy?  What type of life lesson are we teaching our future adults by not keeping score, and not differentiating between winners and losers?

We have inundated our children with medals and trophies for average and sub-standard performance and behavior.  What we are inadvertently teaching them is that accomplishments are easy.  Average and less-than-average performance is acceptable.  Oftentimes this performance will be rewarded.

We are teaching them that showing up isn’t half the battle – it is the battle!  Or, in the case of the football player, not even sticking around is deemed an achievement.

By having all of these intermediate graduations, we take our eyes off the brass ring – graduating from high school.  This should be step one in every person’s educational achievement and the importance of that accomplishment cannot be overstated.  If you were a potential employer interviewing future employees, how would you react if the applicant said, “I graduated from middle school.  Here is a copy of my middle school graduation certificate. ”  Say what?

Any education beyond high school is a silver ring.  That is true for college, vocational school or military.  If you do not believe that learning takes place in the military, just ask a veteran.  My best instructors were not from my Big Ten university, they were in the US Army.  95% of my Army instructors were better than anyone I had at college.  I digress.  The fact is, we need to teach our youngsters to keep their eyes on that silver ring.

We need to have our children experience winning and losing.  If they are involved in an athletic competition and they are not winning, they have choices.  They can seek additional instruction.  They can become more proficient by practicing.  They can choose a different sport.  Oh.  You did not see that last choice coming?  Not all people are proficient at every sport.  Me and golf, for instance.

In educational endeavors,  applying oneself and studying are usually the tickets to success.  Practice makes perfect.

Success is a function of attitude.  We need to cultivate the proper attitude.  In particular, we need to promote a work ethic.  It takes a work ethic to want to practice in sports.  It takes a work ethic to study and excel in academics.  It takes parental expectations and guidance to place the ‘adolescent rocket’ on the right launch pad.

When it came to parental expectations, Big Daddy G was a taskmaster.  I was never, ever told that I was ‘special.’  I was told that I would finish high school and go to college and be the first college graduate in our family.  Period!   I heard this at least once a week for every week I comprehended the English language.  I was never told I was ‘special’ because he made it very clear that once I left his nest, I would be competing for grades, jobs and promotions.  I would become a member of society’s herd!  It would be up to me and me alone to determine if I was an ‘alpha dog’ or a ‘zeta puppy.’

It really is a pet peeve of mine when I hear so many parents telling their children that they are ‘special.’  What they need to say is that their children are ‘special’ to their parents, grandparents, relatives and close friends.  They are viewed as being one of society’s herd once they leave home.  Like it or not, they will need to compete with the rest of the herd.

Protect your children as much as you can, but they do need to learn how to deal with failure.  Not everyone can win every game.  Not everyone can be the class valedictorian.  Everyone cannot be president of a company or governor of a state.  Some will accomplish those things, but most will not.

For all the parental supervision I received, none prepared me for failure.  I had a terrific work ethic when it came to working.  I received most of my grades with minimal effort.  I was involved in everything I wanted to be involved in and excelled at most of them.

Then I hit college in a Big Ten University at the height of the Viet Nam War.  My orientation class was 25 people.  The orientation lasted two days.  At the very end, we were informed that only 10% of the people in our orientation class would graduate from that university.  As I looked around the room I realized that I was looking in the faces of some pretty intelligent people.  Holy crap!  Only 2 1/2 of us would graduate from that university!  Would I be the 1/2?

I had earned and saved enough money for my freshman year.  I graduated from high school in a class of 61 and I was now sitting in an auditorium with 3000 students!  Talk about shock and awe!  Like most freshmen, I procrastinated because I did not have to work (I had enough money) and I played whenever possible.  I found myself perched on the precipice of academic failure and there was one helluva crosswind!  I did not know how to respond to my parents when they asked, “How are things going at college?”  I could not give them a straight answer for fear of disappointing them.

Between my freshmen and sophomore years, still balancing on the precipice of academic failure, I experienced a life changing event.  Want to guess what is was?  Lottery ticket?  Rich girl friend?  Joining the priesthood?  None of those.  I got a part-time job.  Yup.  Now when I was not in class, I was working.  I changed majors to one I liked.  Now I did not have time to screw around!  I hit the books and did my term papers in advance.  I got serious about college in a big time way.  Why?  Because now I was paying for it and by God if I was going to work my butt off I was going to get as much out of that college as I could get.  I even had one 4.0 quarter!  I came off the precipice and got the diploma.  Only the second graduation of my life.  I survived society’s herd and grabbed the silver ring. (When I was not working part-time, I was working full-time.  There were no spring breaks to exotic beaches.  These trips now seem to be the norm for college and high school students.)

Unfortunately, this feeling of ‘I’m special’ has permeated to adulthood.  Need examples?

Ever watch Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy play golf?  On each and every hole, the golf marshal will announce, ‘No cameras, please.’  But yet, people who must feel they are special, are clicking cameras just as these two great golfers are in the middle of their swings.  A Tiger tirade generally ensues with the censor assuredly being too late with the ‘bleep’ button.

Non-handicapped people that park in handicap parking?  They think they are special.

How many times have we seen celebrities get in trouble with the law only to have them use the phrase, “Do you know who I am?”  They think they are special and above the law.

Federal senator and representative health plans?  They are not on Medicare!  They think they are special and consequently have a golden parachute health care plan while trying to stick the balance of the population with Obamacare and Medicare.  How convenient.

Welfare recipients that have made a living on welfare?  Somehow, they think they are entitled to live off the efforts of the producing population without contributing one iota to society.  They must be ‘special.’

Suffice it to say that this list could go on and on!  There you have it.  We reward people with medals, trophies and in some instance, paychecks for average or substandard performance.  In some instances there is no performance and we reward them anyway.

Shame on us for not preparing our children to the brutal reality of life.  Everyone wants to be Number One, but it is just not possible.  Parents need to prepare children for the ups and downs that they will face in life.  Children (and adults) need to, in the words of  an old Army slogan, ‘Be All You Can Be.’  Once your child has attained their full potential in life, they will be able to grab the gold ring.  The parent deserves the platinum ring.

God Bless America, Land Filled with Debt

Today is the Fourth of July!  Or, if you just pressed 2, Quattro de Julio.  Happy BIrthday America!

The freedoms that this country enjoys did not come free.  It was gained with the sacrifice of blood and lives for over two centuries.  Our first war was the Revolutionary War.  This was the war that won our freedom from the British Empire.  For the most part, the war was fought because of, ‘taxation without representation.’  The American colonies were being taxed to support the British expansionism around the globe, without one word as to how their taxes were being used in the way of representation.  King Georgie III was not concerned about what the American colonies thought.  He was only concerned about collecting taxes.  Thus the war.

How things have changed!  {Except for the collecting of taxes!}  Now Washington, D.C. is the most powerful city in the world.  We have a strong central government which brings up the question, ‘Is our federal government focused on the proper national issues?’

Let us reflect.

Did you know that there was a petition presented recently in Washington to change the name of Ronald Reagan National Airport?  You remember Ronald Reagan.   Ronald Reagan was our 40th President of the United States.  He was  largely responsible for the downfall of the USSR and for the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  He won the Cold War!  {The Cold War was the most financially expensive war in US history.   It cost an estimated $12 trillion!}  He had many other accomplishments, but these were his biggies.

Has your curiosity been piqued?  To what do they want to change the name?  The proposed name change is the Tim Howard National Airport!  Are you excited yet?  What?  You don’t know who Tim Howard is?  Let me give you a hint,  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  Tim Howard was the goalie for the United States soccer team that just got eliminated from the World Cup competition in Brazil.  I saw the United States lose to Belgium, 2-1 in additional time.  Tim Howard made a record breaking 16 saves during that game.  Many of them were unbelievable!  The score could have been 5-0 in regulation time, but Tim Howard put up a wall in front of the American goal to force the scoreless game into extra time.

So there you have it.  Tim Howard put up a ‘human wall’ in front of the American goal, and Ronald Reagan tore down a wall between East and West Berlin.  I am sure that in the minds of some people with their ‘heads up their butts,’ these are comparable accomplishments.  Thus the proposal for the name change.  Egads!

Need another example of government focus?

Have you been following the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins because of their name?  Yup, even our POTUS got involved with this.  He just could not pass up the opportunity to throw his weight behind a name change.

This whole incident came to a head when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a division of the US Patent Office, refused to extend the trademark protection of the ‘Redskins’ name.  They did this even though the US Patent Office never received one complaint about the name.  How convenient!  Some subset to the US Patent Office has decided that they are the judge and jury when it comes to a private enterprise trademark.  What happened to the good old days where patrons voted with their wallets?  If you were offended or didn’t like what you got for your entertainment dollar, you could decide not to attend and not to spend your money.  Apparently many people are not offended.   RFK Stadium is a sell out for every Redskin game.  Maybe that proposal for the Reagan National Airport name change should be targeted at RFK stadium;?  After all, Reagan was a Republican POTUS and Robert Kennedy was a Democratic Attorney General.  I think I just answered my own question.

I suspect that the owners of the Redskins will eventually change the name.  My objection is that some government autocrats think they have the authority to force this change.

Have you followed the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision?  The whole lawsuit was initiated because Hobby Lobby refused to provide specific types of birth control to women as a part of their health care program because of religious belief.   Hobby Lobby had an objection to the abortion component of the birth control coverage.    I find it admirable that a company provides a health care package in light of Obamacare. I find it unsettling that anyone would want to take their sex life and sex practices to a Supreme Court level.  I find it just as unsettling that the Supreme Court even reviewed this case!  Apparently we, as a nation, are willing to relinquish our individual freedoms and responsibilities.

Every time we relinquish our individual freedoms and individual responsibilities, we move one step closer to Socialism.  This explains why Hillary Clinton has come out against the Supreme Court decision.  This decision stated that closely held corporations need not support specific birth control practices.   No surprise there on the part of Hillary.

Common sense tells me that if you are mature enough to have sex, you are old enough to provide protection to avoid unprotected sex and unwanted progeny.  Somehow, I don’t think it is the responsibility of your employer to provide this protection.  It is the individual’s responsibility!  Even though I am an old fart, my last tattered biology book indicated it took two people to have sex.  That would make two people responsible.

I am personally elated that the Supreme Court did not sanction, or get involved with an individual’s sex life.  I do believe in birth control, especially by women that have children as a business to receive welfare.  I just do not see how it is the responsibility of government or business to provide birth control, yet 85% of health plans provide it.    It is bad enough that the federal government sanctions drug usage.  Oh?  You did not know?  Never mind the thriving pot business in Colorado and Washington state.  What I am talking about is that the State of Florida proposed that future welfare recipients and present state employees, be drug tested.  The welfare recipients would be denied benefits until ‘getting clean.’  They would then be periodically checked to assure continuation of benefits.   The state employees would be required to ‘get clean’ in a specified period of time, or lose their jobs.  All in all, a great proposed program!  Or at least it was until a Federal judge ruled it unconstitutional.  You would think that having less drug-dependent people would be a win-win for America!  Apparently not.

There you have it!  Si, senor to drugs, no sir to specific types of birth control.

I think the federal government needs help in focusing on national issues and prioritizing those issues.  Rather than proposing name changes for airports, reviewing  birth control or worrying about the name of a sports team, I propose they address some of the following issues.

Balancing the budget.  Hurray for us!  One of our elected officials is celebrating the fact that our national debt is increasing at a slower rate!  His reason for celebration?  It appears our national debt will only increase by about $700 billion this year rather than exceeding a trillion dollars as originally anticipated.  Wow.  Should we be planning a celebration party?   Let me make it perfectly clear.  We need to reduce spending and make an attempt to balance our inflated budget.  I wrote a blog recently about the fact that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  Our highest corporate tax rate is 40% and that is before any state corporate taxes!  Since that blog, Medronic of Minnesota has announced a relocation to Ireland.  They will then have a 15% corporate tax rate.  Now, Walgreen’s is indicating it is moving out of the United States!  This is all because we have an inflated federal government and an inflated budget.  Thus the higher corporate taxes to fuel the overspending.  Expect more corporations to move.  For them, it is a no-brainer!

Illegal Adolescent Aliens.  Have you seen the pictures of the unaccompanied illegal adolescent aliens that are crossing the borders?  It is disturbing.  Adolescent aliens and all illegal aliens are an issue that can no longer be avoided.  It is an issue that cannot seem to get any traction or resolution in Washington.  I have a common sense solution.  Follow my thinking.  Pick up all these illegal adolescent aliens and bus them to Washington, D.C!  It is easy to avoid resolution when it is only a major problem for four border states and invisible in Washington.  Once the Washington Mall is overflowing with illegal adolescent aliens, I bet we would get a resolution pronto!  Here is my resolution to the problem.  Provide food and clothing as necessary, and then transport them back to their home countries!  Then – send an invoice to their home countries for the food, clothing and transport provided.  Do you think that if we invoice Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and all responsible Central American and South American countries that the borders would become a little less porous?  I do.

Vladimar Putin.  Let me be perfectly clear, Vladimar Putin’s objective is to reestablish the USSR!   The Crimea is just the first step.  I also believe it is Putin’s first small step to determine world resolve and world reaction.  Our response?  We will sanction him to death.  Sanctions typically don’t stop tanks.

Vladimar Putin is the 21st century Adolf Hitler when in comes to European land-grabbing.  Hitler began by occupying the Sudetenland, then annexing Austria, followed by the occupation of the Germanic parts of Czechoslovakia.   He then occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia for good measure.  The invasion of Poland finally triggered a world response.  Putin is a dangerous and driven individual.  Forget about ‘cease fires’ in the Crimea and ‘nicey-nicey’ overtures toward the United States.  He is not interested in or honest about either and will continue on his mission of  reconstructing the USSR.

There you have it.  Three problems that need to be resolved.  So if anyone from Washington, D.C needs help with prioritizing or focusing on national issues, give me a call.  I have a hundred or so ideas.

God Bless America.  May we celebrate many more birthdays.