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NAACP Poll Not Anti-Bush -- Group's Leaders Still Are

The NAACP has a poll linked to its main page asking the question: "Is Bush disrespecting the black community by continually refusing to speak at the NAACP convention?"

As of 10:30 PM Eastern, 4,195 votes have been cast. Results: 50.7 percent yes, 47.7 percent no, and 1.6 percent not sure.

Somehow, I doubt the NAACP expected the poll results to be that close.


Mark V. Shaney - Our Imaginary Employee

There's an imaginary guy pixeling about, pretending he's from The National Center.

According to Wikipedia, twenty years ago, some men at the Bell Labs created a program to write and send fake electronic messages. The fake messages their program generated were signed as "Mark V. Shaney."

Lately, either someone using this name, or using the program itself or a similar program, has been generating comments on blogs under the name 1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC. It is a busy little operation. Google shows 2,210 references for "1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC" right now.

If you click on his name on many/most of these comments, you are directed to this website.

Mostly, "Lt. Shaney" just pixels onto someone's blog and posts a comment, mostly without attracting notice. Lt. Shaney, it seems, can't write very well. But in a few cases blog owners have wondered about "him," as they do here, here and here.

So, for the benefit of anyone who wonders: Mark V. Shaney is not an employee of The National Center. We never heard of him or this little computer program before today, and we can't vouch for the accuracy of any of "his" postings. (Please don't cite him as a legitimate source!) Indeed, if his posts are written by a computer program and not by an individual playing a joke, any accuracies in his posts would be accidental at best.

In the meantime, despite Mark V. Shaney's shoddy writing and research, you gotta love an employee who works for no salary and no withholding taxes, and who doesn't even need a desk. Probably means he'll be posting for someone else by next week.


1st Armored Division Heading Home!

Good news for family, friends and fans of Joe Roche and all his fellow soldiers of the 1st Armored Division: They are headed home!

In fact, we've received an e-mail from Joe Roche saying he has made it safely out of Iraq and is now in Kuwait.

Moving a functional military division is no easy process. This article in Stars and Stripes gives some idea of the details involved.

Joe expects to be in Kuwait for a while yet, as he has various duties there. One of the things the soldiers will be doing is washing everything. (Joe says the water pressure on the hoses that are used to wash the vehicles is strong enough to take a person's hand off.) Then everything -- and that means a lot of equipment -- has to be packed to be shipped to the division's home base in Germany.

There are a number of camps for coalition soldiers in Kuwait. One can get an idea of what they look like from these Washington Post "surround" photos (click on the links under the first photo to see others).

During the 1st AD's stay in Iraq its press office sent out a daily newsletter, The Old Ironsides Report. Their final issue (pdf file) from Iraq provides a recap of the Division's accomplishments during its 15 month deployment in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is too brief, and too modest, but worth a read nonetheless.



Others Call It Socialism

The Washington Post calls this "state capitalism."


Periodic Table

I have no idea what this is, but it is neat to be on it.

Addendum, posted July 10: I received an amusing letter on the above post:

Amy Ridenour:

Cute idea. What won't the geek folks get up to next? But I think the table's constructor missed a bet with you. You ought to be Ar, for argon. Argon, incidentally, belongs to the family of noble gases. Make of that what you will.

Best regards,

John Van Laer

Scranton, PA


Only Third-Rate Speakers Should Apply

I'm watching Project 21 member Deroy Murdock do a tremendous job as a guest on Fox's O'Reilly Factor tonight.

Topic: Was President Bush right to tell the Bush-hating leadership of the NAACP that he wouldn't speak to their convention?

Deroy says the President is right, noting that the NAACP leadership has gone far beyond civil discourse in comments -- including some last week -- about Bush and his record. Disagreeing about issues is fine, says Deroy, but the leadership has been claiming (among other things) that Bush wants to bring back legal segregation. That's just not true. But the leadership doesn't seem to care if it is true.

Deroy's debate opponent on the show, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, was ardent in pressing his view, which seems to come down to a belief that if the President isn't talking to the NAACP, he isn't talking to black America. Balderdash. First of all, everytime Bush talks to all Americans, he's talking to black Americans. (We're against segretation, right?) Second, there are many groups other than the NAACP addressing civil rights/racial/urban issues, and Bush speaks to many of them. Third, civil rights/racial/urban issues are addressed in many ways and forums, which the NAACP (if it cares about issues more than itself) should be pleased about.

In my opinion, the NAACP needs to upgrade the quality of its work and the honesty of its discourse. Until then, only third-rate speakers should apply.


Banning Generic Drugs?

David Almasi has a new paper published on the website, "Spurring Lower Prices: FDA Aided America's Rx Drug Companies By Not Banning Authorized Generics."

In it, he argues that the FDA was right to reject a request from generic drug manufacturers that research drug companies should not be permitted to market generic versions of their own drugs.

Concludes David:

Competitive forces have driven growth in the pharmaceutical industry by providing incentives for research-based pharmaceuticals to develop new and better drugs for the patients who need them and enabling generic drug makers to make more copies of those drugs available - sooner.

Just as the rise of generic drugs increased competition in the past, the emergence of "authorized generics" today is a way to deliver access to medicines more cost effectively.

Restricting authorized generics will only benefit generic drug makers intent on producing a copy they want to protect from competition. We should not allow generic companies to pick and choose what kind of competition in the marketplace is available to consumers. The market - not special interests - should be allowed to determine how much competition is "just right."


Post Editor Reveals Bias

Washington Post Associate Editor Robert Kaiser (a powerful guy at the Post), had a rather blunt slam against the Bush family in an online public forum noted by the Patterico's Pontifications blog.

I guess Kaiser doesn't care who knows he doesn't think much of the Bush brothers.

I had a hard time believing the quote was real so I checked the Washington Post's published transcript -- it is not only real, it is in context.

Thanks to the Oh, That Liberal Media blog for the pointer.


Inalienable Versus Unalienable and More About the Declaration

Although we have the Declaration of Independence on this website for those seeking a copy of its text or that of other historical documents, I am still going to recommend this page from another website, In addition to providing the text of the Declaration itself, it contains numerous links for background information on key points, not-so-key points (inalienable versus unalienable) and the name of every signer has a hyperlink to his biography.

As there are several signers about whom I knew little, I clicked their names. Some interesting stories. For example, signer George Wythe of Virginia was murdered after converting from a slaveowner to an abolitionist. When Wythe not only freed his slaves, but provided for them in his will, his other heir, his great-nephew, decided to poison the ex-slaves with arsenic so he could inherit the entire estate himself. Doing so, he also accidentally murdered Wythe, who lasted long enough to take his great-nephew out of his will.

Signer Francis Hopkinson of Pennsylvania was a songwriter. It only seems slightly less interesting when we learn he was a lawyer as well.

There was a signer from Massachusetts with the unlikely name of Robert Treat Paine, who (perhaps considering the state of medical knowledge of the time?) nonetheless chose to be a lawyer, not a doctor. Why he used his middle name in a document destined for posterity is unknown.

Then there is the signer from Georgia with the most imaginative name of all, Button Gwinnett (what do you suppose his parents were thinking?), who despite holding the title of president of the "Council of Safety," challenged his chief political rival to a duel. His rival lived. Button popped off.


"The Ba'ath Regime Were the Nazis of the Second Half of the 20th Century"

The Right Thoughts blog has a very interesting piece by a U.S. Marine, who describes his experiences in Iraq.


If He Says You Are Ugly, Too, Will You Give Him Even More Money?

Would you expect money from someone after you called them a "cracker," or charged them with racism?

Me neither, but it is a fundraising technique that seems to work well for Jesse Jackson.

Project 21 has just issued a condemnation of NASCAR for renewing its support of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

Says Project 21's Reginald Jones: "I think it's a disgrace that NASCAR is once again aligning itself with Jesse Jackson. It's a disgrace to the fans and a disgrace to the sport. As one of NASCAR's most hardcore fans, I'll personally be out there at the races letting NASCAR officials and fans alike know that the sport should not be falling prey to Jackson's politically correct scams."

Jones adds: "Until the NBA starts recruiting more Hispanics, the nation's largest minority and an underrepresented segment of professional basketball players, I don't think NASCAR should be looking to promote anyone but deserving drivers. If Jackson truly wants to integrate NASCAR, he needs to be out raising money for minority drivers instead of shaking down the front office."


Black Activists Commend Secretary Powell, Bush Administration for Trying to Curb Ethnic Violence in Sudan

The black conservative group Project 21 has issued a press release commending the Bush Administration for its efforts to prevent further violence in Sudan.

Says Project 21's Kevin Martin: "I applaud President Bush and Secretary Powell for taking a leadership role in this attempt to end what I call pure ethnic cleansing in the Danfur region of Sudan." Martin joined other black activists in a human rights demonstration outside the Embassy of Sudan today.


Saddam Innocent?

Jude Wanniski believes Saddam Hussein looks innocent : far as I can recall, there have been no assertions of the "brutality" of Saddam's regime from anyone but the Iraqi exiles associated with Ahmet Chalabi or those Kurds who fought on the Iranian side in the Iran/Iraq war. There are all kinds of anecdotes about Saddam doing dreadful things, entire books written about them, but the source of all of them is the same pool of people who have been feeding faked "evidence" of WMD and Al Qaeda connections to our government...

...there is no easy way out for the Bush administration in explaining how it could have been snookered from first to last about Saddam Hussein... he doesn't seem to have done anything wrong.
We'll see what he thinks -- what the world thinks -- after Saddam's trial.

Assuming we can bear to watch it.


"Your Bloods Will Be the River of Hope for Us"

Sean at the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog has a very heartwarming roundup of selections from Iraqi bloggers today.

If you would like to feel good about something today, read it. Then read it again tomorrow.


Illegal Alien? No Problem Unpaid Ticket? Lose Use of Your Car

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi points out this interesting enforcement priorities in a Washington suburb:

In Arlington County, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., police plan to adopt a narrow interpretation of a new state law aimed at curbing crime on the part of illegal aliens. The new law, part of a new strategy to fight terrorism, allows authorities to detain an illegal alien criminal suspect with a felony record or previous deportation for 72 hours without bail and to transfer them to federal custody. The police, however, say they will limit their contact with federal authorities only to those committing violent felonious acts, having previous felony convictions or deportations, engaged in alien smuggling themselves, involved in gang activity or those actually engaging in terrorism. Quality-of-life arrests, traffic stops, misdemeanor crimes such as minor assaults and other infractions committed by known or suspected illegal aliens will apparently not jeopardize their continued residency. There's definitely pressure from local Hispanic groups to keep the enforcement light. It is political correctness at its worst.

Meanwhile, Arlington government employees are roaming the streets with a computer-linked camera, taking photos of license plates. If the owner of the car is found to owe unpaid taxes or fines, these city employees have the power to remove the plates from the car - essentially impounding it. If the driver fails to heed the bright green sticker they apply to the windshield and drives the car, the police will pull that driver over. They won't put them in jail without bail or deport them, but they probably won't show much mercy.

Has anyone pointed out to Arlington officials that illegal aliens don't usually pay their fair share of taxes? That might set their whole PC thought process on its head.


So Much for Supporting the Troops

You never can predict what is going to bother people.

This correspondent takes issue with the fact that our U.S. Army correspondent from Baghdad, Joe Roche (and we), at times have referred to Joe's unit informally in posts on this blog and elsewhere.

I have read a number of articles written by Specialist Roche; I would correct a glaring error that your military-challenged staff continually make: his unit in the 1st Armored Division is not the 16th Engineering Battalion, it is the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion. Your error tells anyone who reads a Roche article on your web site or elsewhere who has served in the Army or Marine Corps that you are typical Conservative Chicken Hawks who use the military to advance your own ends but would no more serve in the military than a Dick Cheney or a Rush Limbough.

Christopher P. Thompson

West Springfield, Virginia
By the way, the temperature in Baghdad reached 135 degrees yesterday. Joe and his unit, the 16TH COMBAT ENGINEER BATTALION, were working in full gear. Conditions in West Springfield, Virginia, were much more comfortable.

My guess is that this guy's real beef is that Joe's e-mails are encouraging Americans not to be discouraged by the nay-sayers among us.

I wonder about those folks who throw about the term "chicken hawk," however. They clearly believe one has to have served in the military to take a position on our national security policy. Do they also believe only litigants should vote for judges? Only taxpayers should vote at all? I bet many of them would squawk mightily if anyone ever advised that adult non-felon citizens who do not pay federal income taxes (millions of people) should not be able to vote in national elections.

On a personal note, I'm the only staffer who has written about Joe on our website, and I "admit" both that i have used the phrase "16th Engineering Battalion" and that I have not served in the military. I actually considered a military career seriously, but there were two strikes against me. My eyesight didn't meet the standards (pre-Lasik era), and I'm a girl. Even if I had somehow managed to get around the eyesight requirements, 25 years ago, opportunities for women to make a contribution in the Armed Forces were rather limited. So I spent the first decade of my professional career running public education campaigns and rallies in support of President Reagan's Cold War posture. It seemed a reasonable decision at the time. I'll have to ask my assistant what she thinks. She's a Lieutenant, and thereby -- unlike me -- is allowed to have opinions on national security questions.


"Here in Baghdad We are Facing a Serious Sustained Terrorist Offensive"

In the last few days, the Washington Times, New York Times and Washington Post (here and here) all have run stories about the work of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq. This is, of course, the division to which our corrrespondent Joe Roche and his unit, the 16th Engineers, belongs.

Joe's unit is in Baghdad now and very, very busy. Joe says he's living on MREs and cold water, very little sleep and no time for showers. His last e-mail was short -- he didn't even have time to read his incoming e-mails before signing off to return to duty. It might be a while before he writes again.

But before that, on June 23, Joe had time to write a long e-mail for this blog and convey much information about the foreign enemy fighters U.S. servicemen have encountered in Iraq, examples of the dedication of U.S. troops, and much more. I recommend his entire piece, which is posted unabridged:

I know you are overwhelmed with news and analysis that tells you how bad things are here and how little we have accomplished. Please bear with me a little because I know the reality is far different. I believe you'll see this a bit more clearly from understanding what my fellow soldiers have done.

A few months ago, I recounted to you our efforts and achievements over a full year of missions in Baghdad, as a soldier in the 16th Engineer Battalion. Now I want to focus on our military combat efforts against the uprisings and our continued missions to secure Baghdad against the terrorist assault under way. This has been our primary focus over the past few months since being extended.

The 1st Armored Division, of which the 16th Engineers are a part, led the charge against Muqtada Al-Sadr's uprising. The 16th was in the front in all this in Karbala, Najaf, Kufa and Baghdad. And contrary to the negative news coverage, the reality is that we have won some major victories that are having dramatic impact region-wide. I don't think most Americans are aware of the seriousness of the threats we confronted and defeated.

Sadr's Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran's formidable Al-Quds Army (named for the conquest of Jerusalem, Israel) directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr's fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border at Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid. This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies -- from which Sadr's forces were directly funded in just the past few months by up to $80 million more. The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr's forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr's ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 "reporters" and "technicians" working for his newspaper, radio and television networks -- persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr's forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians.

We also have constantly faced Lebanese and Palestinian Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon mixed in the fighting. Their claim to fame for the killing of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983 is something we have had to consider every day and on every mission.

Najaf and Karbala are the two most important Shiite cities in the world. They are very densely packed and overcrowded tightly around the mosques that dominate the center of each. Baghdad's Sadr City has a population of over 2 million even more densely populated. Do you see what I'm getting at? The odds against us were extreme and it looked for a while like all of Iraq would collapse in an orgy of violence and chaos that threatened to erupt the entire region. The enemy tried constantly to force us into killing innocent civilians. This didn't work.

The people of Najaf and Karbala were extremely friendly. Kids poured out at times to greet U.S. soldiers because it was the first time many of them saw us. They knew the Mahdi Army was an alien outside militia, backed by foreign fighters, seeking to hijack their holy sites and force a larger regional conflict upon the U.S. When our patrols would go into the cities to clear schools where the militia hid weapons, or to secure government buildings, the Iraqis were very helpful and welcoming, giving much information to us to find and destroy Sadr's forces.

My battalion sent us in different directions to each of the combat zones. We had a myriad of different missions to perform every day and night, no matter how hot or stressful the conditions were. Constantly under the threat of enemy fire, your soldiers performed brilliantly and heroically. One group of my battalion was attacked 139 times by RPGs!

Casualties did occur, and soldiers have died and been wounded severely, including some in my battalion. Nothing of these past few months has been casual or easy. And though being crushed by the extension in April when we all thought we were headed home, how did your soldiers carry on?

Specialist Rodriguez is one example. He broke his leg some months ago. He was offered the chance to deploy out of Iraq. He chose to stay. When his unit was deployed to Karbala, he cut off his cast. A person told him today that "we aren't paid enough to do that." Immediately, he and the other soldiers responded that it isn't about the money; that we do this for much more important reasons.

Others of us faced down car bombs on streets under sniper attack; some carried out sweeps and raids against enemy-held locations; some have been constantly building and reinforcing defenses and holding high-danger critical locations. There is too much to try to list it all. Everyone has been a part of the full scope of the challenge.

In the first 14 days of this month there were 17 car bombs. Several hit locations at which we work. What can I say? The enemy is vicious and desperate. That is no excuse for anyone to retreat in defense of this mission. Bear in mind one of our past war leaders...

"Enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom," Franklin Roosevelt said. "We will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators (against) our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression."

You saw the most recent bombings that targeted Iraqis trying to join the new police and military services. There is no denying that it is the Iraqi people who are under attack by evil terrorism. Some people get confused when they hear that other Iraqis are participating in these attacks, as if that means all Iraqis are against us. But wasn't Timothy McVeigh an American, and in fact a combat engineer in the Army just like me? His terrorist attack in Oklahoma City never meant that Americans supported him, so why should the terrorism of a few demented Iraqis working with foreign terrorists mean more?

We are confronting a massive terrorist assault against the hopes for freedom here. Yes, we are targets, but so are the Iraqis. Therefore, it is vital that we remain committed to this mission.

We have defeated Sadr's uprising and dealt him a powerful blow that has signaled all potential would-be tyrants that the U.S. is serious. Contrary to the fudging news, Karbala, Najaf and Kufa have all been abandoned by the Mahdi Army. The local people turned on them, sometimes violently. Today local Iraqi forces secure those cities while the U.S. military is present to support them. Going to these cities was Sadr's ultimate move against us, and it was backed by a huge investment by his foreign allies. All that failed, and now he has retreated and is attempting to save face in politics. He offended the people of the cities his forces invaded, he offended the Iraqi people by claiming alliance with Lebanon's Hezballah and the Palestinian Hamas terrorist groups, and he has disappointed his foreign supporters who thought he would derail our mission here in Iraq.

Here in Baghdad we are facing a serious sustained terrorist offensive. This we expected. Just at the point that democracy and self-determination are being advanced for the Iraqis, there will always be these terrorist offensives meant to destroy the progress. We must not cower and apologize for our being here at this time. This is, in fact, the most important time for us to show our resolve. And your soldiers are doing this valiantly.

Next to my housing is a Military Police unit that has suffered several serious casualties in the past days. The destroyed hummwvs are a constant reminder. Memorial services for these soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country have been too frequent. Yet, in the face of this tragedy, those soldiers are holding American courage up like the best heroes we have ever had.

One of those MP soldiers has been wounded in two separate attacks, shrapnel going through each arm. You might think he is full of fear and wants out of here. He was in fact offered the chance to leave Iraq. Instead, he chose to stay. His commanders told him that if he gets hit four times, they're going to force him to leave. He responded, "then I have two more to go."

That MP unit has only been here for five months, but now has several Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts being awarded, in addition to the lost soldiers. ...This is your American soldier.

Baghdad will be the focus of the terrorist offensive for a long time. We accept that and are determined to stick it out. You at home need to remain strong in your support and faith in these soldiers. I will be leaving here soon, but the soldiers that remain will need your strength, courage and prayers.

The enemies we face are trying to wear us down, to demoralize us, and to take advantage of the political season now under way in America. Don't let them succeed. I think that the weakest point of our whole campaign is actually back in the U.S., because people are being impacted by so many negative and dismaying reports and political discourse. I don't want to sound like a recruiter, but I do believe that at a time when the military is so involved in combat operations world-wide, now is the best time ever for you to volunteer to serve.

I'm 36, joined late, and I'm not in good shape. Pat Tillman passed up a $3 million NFL contract to join the military. ...What better way to show the enemy the depth of our resolve than for Americans to volunteer a few years of their lives into our military?

This is an extraordinary group of Americans, your soldiers here. While I'm not as capable as most soldiers are, I am glad that I've been able to spend this time with them, serving our country. The challenges are huge, and the prospects for failure are great, but we are doing the right thing and are on the right track. Every day we are making progress, and these changes are influencing the entire Arab world. This is no small matter.

I read the same reports you do from so many experts who despair of our victories. Some of them have been angry with me and called me a dreamer. I take that as a compliment. Americans are dreamers, after all, who have made the impossible come true time and time again throughout our history. One such dreamer said in 1964 when looking at the overwhelming odds faced then in the world, "If we fail, at least let our children, and our children's children, say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done." That was Ronald Reagan. He kept the faith and remained strong in his resolve, and he won the Cold War.

An archive of Joe's other e-mails can be found here.



Family-Friendly Far From Fair? Part III

I received a thoughtful e-mail tonight regarding the conversation Ally (at the Who Moved My Truth blog) and I have been having about family-friendly policies in the workplace and society. With permission, I am sharing it:

Hi. I've had the pleasure of "e-mail-meeting" Ally recently. Hi Amy. Just wanted to throw a childless male's perspective into the ring.

Having read both sides, I can understand each point of view - but here's my take anyway:

As far as businesses go, they can do what they need to do (within the law) to make a profit. I have no problem with that.

As far as the work place is concerned (especially when the government starts getting involveed), I feel that there should be a level playing field. There is not.

Amy said: If they do not hire and promote based on merit, a rival will.

Affirmative Action impedes hiring and promoting based on merit. At times it also impedes the firing of those who've earned it. Let's assume that we don't have to worry about that. Let's look at my situation: I am a 31 year old male with no children. There are five people in my department counting the manager. The manager has children (actually, all the upper-level managers do) and comes in late and leaves early during the school year so he can deliver the kids to and pick them up from private school. I am the "valued" employee in the department... I run things when the manager is away. My salary is the same as everyone else in the department (not including the manager). I can't be promoted above the manager and there is no position between he and I. I can't get a substantial raise as compensation without creating a new position to justify it to the others (or so I've been told). I could quit and look for another job but I enjoy what I do and what I do is not an easy job to find. Besides, why should I look for another job? I'm not the person who's asking his employer/employees to alter schedules, meetings, etc. because I have kids. I'm coming to work and I'm exceeding at what I do. Why shouldn't he be moved to another position or be switched with me? So, because the manager has kids, I get to be vice-manager, work longer hours and shoulder the same responsibility as the manager with substantially less pay. Everything work related is scheduled around his kids' schedule. On the other hand, when a last minute trip out of the country pops up, I'm usually the guy who gets to go b/c I'm single, childless and therefore more flexible. That can be a perk - depending on where I have to go.

You point out that a valuable employee will be seen as such and promoted thusly. Maybe, maybe not. If the one who promotes you benefits from you, that person isn't going to promote you away, especially when you provide much support for her/his absence due to children. Also, odds are, the ones doing the promoting are older than the ladder climbers and probably have children. They don't want to hear your complaints about their perks...I've had this discussion and it didn't go well. They are also from a different generation and generally got married earlier and had kids earlier than my generation (which seems to be holding off on marriage and kids - generally)

My gripe is that too many parents want to have it both ways - they want the affluent lifestyle delivered by two incomes, they want kids, they want (or at least take) the perks given to them for having kids (both in the workplace and on the tax returns) AND they want to "spend quality time" with the kids. You can't have it all.

Case in point: I have three close friends who are married with children. One guy (Keith) works 40 to 60 hours a week as a lineman for a power company (he actually does physical labor). He also does landscaping on his off days to earn extra money. His wife stays home with the kids. They decided that was the best way to raise the kids and that's how they themselves were raised. They have a nice home in rural area, three vehicles and two children. Money is tight, but they aren't "hurting" by any means. Keith doesn't have much free time for his old friends b/c that free time is spent with the kids. My other friends have two kids each. They both complain to me that their wives want to quit their jobs and stay home with the kids. That's great. But, the men nor the women in this situation want to alter their lifestyle. Both families live in $250k, five bedroom houses in a suburb west of Atlanta. Each family has two vehicles that are no older that two years or less than $35K in cost. If they moved to a one income situation, they would have around half the income they have now. Which means they would have to move farther out, get a smaller house and get modest vehicles. The wives won't move away from their mothers, don't want a smaller house and wouldn't do without being up-to-snuff in the fashion du jour. The guys can't give up the giant vehicles and the expensive hobbies they enjoy. The men spend their free time tournament fishing, going on hunting trips, going to the races, and drinking. The women go shopping every weekend and visit their respective mother - kids in tow (unless they've been pawned off on the husband who then sulks around the house drinking and bitching that the women are out spending all the money - which the men are just as guilty of).

I use this example, because I think the second scenario is indicative of most of today's families and the first is indicative of the wealthy or of those who truly put their children first. My mother stayed home with the kids until the youngest was old enough for school. Then mom got a job teaching at the private school we went to until high school (at that time we were tossed to wolves in public school - HA!). Then she got a job. We were far from wealthy. We were lower middle class kids living in the sticks on a single parent income (dad is a plane mechanic for Lockheed-Martin) for most of our childhood. And we survived.

One can argue that a two income family can better provide for the child's college education. Maybe, maybe not. A spoiled brat, that is starving for parental affection and has a free ride through school generally makes for a poor student and a poor employee. On the other hand, some students work their way through school, shoulder huge debt and join the workforce with more character, real world ability and dedication - generally speaking. Of course, I'm biased b/c I've had a job since I was 14, I put myself through school and I bought a house when I was 29.

Kids are far too important to our future to pretend that going to their piano recital, taking them to and from school and ensuring that they've done their homework is "quality time." (What happened to kids riding the bus? Does anyone ride the bus anymore? There's a good place for life lessons - the school bus - a.k.a. 30 minutes of shear hell) Kids are pawned off on the school as long as the school has no disciplinary authority. It's disgusting how many times my boss huffs off to his kids school to demand that detention be forgone b/c he believes his child's version over that of the teacher. WTF?? What happened to going to school, respecting the teachers and keeping your trap shut lest daddy dearest get hold of that fanny?

Amy said: The children your co-workers are spending a small fortune in cash, sacrifices and sweat equity to raise will someday pay your generation's Social Security benefits. Your co-workers won't get a cent more in benefits than you will despite having paid to raise the kids who will make the benefits possible. That's not fair either.

They chose to raise the kids and they got their benefits (workplace, taxes, etc.) many years before the childless will get theirs (with the exception of a perfectly quiet house). Also, you assume that everyone will benefit from SS. There are many people who do not pay into (and will not collect) SS. I'm one of those people. I opted into a retirement program that allows me to use that SS money for my retirement. I won't collect SS but I never planned to rely on it, so I have two retirement plans (a 401K in addition to my retirement plan through work). My opinion is that anyone relying on SS is either in a dense fog of confusion or is a commie at heart (the commie part is a joke).

If one wants children, fine. Take the time and make the effort and raise a smart, respectful, courteous, educated child. A child that will lead this country when we are all old and senile. When I'm in the presence of this child I'll be sure to set a good example, to be polite and courteous, to watch my mouth, etc. But do not pretend to raise a child and demand perks and flex-time in order to be a conspicuous consumer and part-time parent. Do not flood my future with mealy-mouthed adult-kids who expect everyone to give them something for nothing. I didn't chose to make that sacrifice and that sacrifice shouldn't be forced on me in the workplace or when I retire. In fact, it is a sacrifice if done well. That's my BIG problem. It seems to me that most parents do not view child raising as a sacrifice - a sacrifice of time, a sacrifice of money, a sacrifice of opportunity, etc. One is either doing all that can be done to raise a kid in a nurturing environment or one is not. Am I being idealistic? Yes. But parents get equally idealistic concerning their children on topics other than this. It's all or nothing. It's either the "kids"...think of the kids, think of their future, don't burden them with our debt, ad nauseam...or it's not, it's about us and now. If we all agree to be idealistic about the kids in every aspect of their up-bringing, then I'm on board. But if we're picking and choosing, keep me out of it.

As far as my tax dollars go, I don't have a problem with my property taxes going to the schools. I would like to receive a progress report from each school in my county that discloses percentage wise the scores earned for each quarter/semester broken down by school grade. I would also like to see Truancy officers at the mall and I would like to see parents held accountable if their kids skip school or become an on-going distraction to other children (read undisciplined brat).

I'll leave the child subsidy tax thing alone also.

I don't lose any sleep over this issue and I enjoy jousting with parents over it but I don't buy into me owing anyone anything because some else has kids. That can become a two way street...I disapprove of how many of my friends (parents in general) raise their kids, but I keep my nose out of it. When I go to work, I'd rather you keep your kids out of it. But, I'm a hard-ass...just ask my 4 year old nephew.

So there you have it, for what it's worth, the thoughts and ramblings of a southern, straight, childless, single man in these fast, new times.

and to you both, a good Friday,

My comments:

1) Regarding your present workplace situation: to me it does not sound like you are getting a fair shake, but only you can decide if the things you like about the job outweigh the things that aren't fair. The notion that you can't be promoted because there is no job between you and your boss sounds like a dubious excuse on your boss's part to me. One could be created. Or they could give you a bonus. But I know so little about your workplace that I really should not say more.

2) I agree with you about affirmative action. Yet another reason why it -- in its present de facto quota form, especially -- should go.

3) I agree that folks can't have it all, at least, not at the same time.

4) My kids are too young for piano recitals, but, frankly, I'd consider attending a kid's piano recital to be "quality time." That is, if I believed in the concept. In my experience, kids want a parent's time at constant intervals. Say, every ten seconds.

5) I'd like to know how you managed to opt-out of making Social Security contributions. Agree with you on the need to save so one does not rely on it -- but many millions of people rely on it anyway. Given the chance, I'd overhaul the system.

In conclusion, I'll repeat I theme I hope has come through my earlier posts. When quality employees -- the ones bosses don't want to lose -- demand change, over time, they will tend to get it. If not at one firm, then at another. But in the meantime, I agree that inequalities exist. It is up to all of us to encourage flexible workplace policies and get beyond the notion -- so encouraged, at times, by government and labor unions -- that employees aren't individuals.


Family-Friendly Far from Fair? Part II

Ally at the Who Moved My Truth? blog has a friendly disagreement with some of what I posted here about family-friendly policies in public accommodations and workplaces.

So, in the same friendly spirit, I'll go into a little more depth.

First, I agree that childless persons are at times inconvenienced and at times have expenses (such as taxes for public education and Medicaid for underinsured minors) because other persons have decided to have children. I also believe that childless persons at times benefit from the fact that other persons have decided to have children.

I acknowledge that there is a tax-deduction for dependents in the tax code. We could have a philosophical debate over whether a tax-deduction amounts to a subsidy, but for simplicity's sake in this argument, I will say that it is. This subsidy does not, however, come close to making child-rearing a financially-profitable enterprise for most couples (I will make an exception for the parents of the Olson twins).

Regarding the workplace: Our workplaces are undergoing a shift that will take some time to work through. Several decades ago the norm was a working man and a homemaker wife. Accommodations within the workplace for child-rearing were minimal because the wife shielded the working husband from many child-rearing concerns. As women entered the workforce in large numbers, accommodations increased and continue to do so -- but have not yet expanded to the degree necessary.

Many times, hidebound policies unnecessarily limit an employer's ability to accommodate workers who place a high priority on flexible schedules.

Once such hidebound policy is the notion of promoting workers by seniority. Ally says, to quote just a small part of her observations, "...Employers must be careful. If you are looking at promotion, and a mother with 2 children and a single childless woman are up, but the mother has more seniority.... well, that employer is going to walk a fine line."

They shouldn't. They should promote the person who can do the job better. Companies that don't promote based on merit are slowly strangling themselves. If they do not hire and promote based on merit, a rival will.

But all that is the long run. In the short run, some people are being asked to cover for others who have parental responsibilities (just as motivated workers often cover for the unmotivated, the clever for the dullards, the hardworking for the lazy, etc.). I concede this. The best reaction to this, in my view, is for the childless worker covering for a parent to seek compensation (just as a clever, useful worker deserves more compensation than the dullard goof-off). Maybe cash, maybe a better chance for advancement, maybe to get the bigger office or be the last one laid off in a recession. Ask for compensation just the way the other employee asks to leave early. And if you are in a workplace with rules or labor contracts that prohibit this kind of flexibility on your employer's part, seriously consider a job change, if not immediately, eventually. The flourishing firms of the future will be those flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions, and labor markets are part of that.

Now, on to Social Security. I mentioned it in my earlier post primarily as a throwaway consolation line, but it is true for all that. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, abetted by Congresses, gave us a system in which persons from roughly their mid-sixties on expect cash -- loads of it -- from younger workers, and younger workers go along with it. The system requires a steady influx of young workers to survive. I don't think it is unreasonable to note that those persons who raise the younger workers are providing society with a service. The Social Security and Medicare system, however, also are hidebound and need to change. It is not only unfair to ask one generation en masse to support another, it is impractical. As we increasingly are finding out.

So, in conclusion, inequities exist. If you find yourself facing some, demand change or compensation.


Washington Post Lists Immunity Problems, Forgets to Explain Benefits

Today's Page One Washington Post article, "U.S. Immunity In Iraq Will Go Beyond June 30," manages to list quite a few reasons why U.S. plans to extend immunity for U.S. forces in Iraq may cause difficulties, but the article never explains the policy's benefits.