Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Fatal Flaw


Lou Hough

It was disappointing recently to hear a young congressman say he and his wife gave up their own goals to "save the country" -- a self-appointed savior who now wants to destroy our education system.

It was frustrating earlier to watch a president ignore the wishes of a large number of his people and ignore the vote of a world council to enter an unprovoked war because the other country might be a threat to America's security.

It is unconscionable that a senior congressman said his party's number one priority was to see Barack Obama was a one term president.  Worse, he and his party wasted years of potential law-making and taxpayer's dollars in that endeavor.

Once again refer to Rick Santorum's words while electioneering -- he told a group of blue collar workers it was snobbery to want a college education available to all Americans.  Yet, he does not deny educations to his own children.

One congressman did a little twirl on television and thrilled that there was no inflation, so Social Security recipients would get no cost of living adjustment that year.  He continued making a little speech about how we are a nation of whiners to expect something just because we had been promised it.  Retirees who had shoveled out years of taxes and insurance involuntarily for old age security were whiners because he and his ilk wanted to reduce or destroy the Social Security system.  But, he will be collecting lifetime dollars at taxpayer expense himself. 

It was extremely irritating to hear a wealthy man, with a smug look on his face, tell a television interviewer that, of course, he deserved his great wealth because he had the idea and he took the risk.  He said it as if he had single-handedly made each part of each product by himself.

An arrogance that says congressmen are the elite and therefore entitled.  An arrogance that says the rich should get more because they are rich -- and conversely that the poor should get less because they are poor!  Elected officials suffering from a god-complex and acting as though the masses that elected them are worthless; unnecessary.

Recently a friend posted an article onto her Facebook page.  It seemed to be a 2009 review of two biographies of Ayn Rand.  Besides being filled with personal resentment, the article showed a lack of understanding of Rand's philosophy and work.  The reviewer seemed to believe Rand's books were about the virtues of being rich, but they were more about the virtues of being valuable.  Immediately, Congressional elitism and arrogance and implications the rich were totally responsible for their wealth sprang to mind.  What if generations of greedy, self-serving, arrogant people were a product of reading or misreading Rand.

Rand's philosophy of Objective Ethics -- watered down into a nutshell says man, as a goal-setting, conscious individual is responsible for his own survival.  Anything that stands in the way of that survival is evil.  She recommended a rational selfishness that man should concentrate on his own survival to the exclusion of interfering incidents or purposes.  But the selfishness was not to be based on desires, whims or aspirations.  It was only to enhance survival.  Man had to take responsibility for this goal. 

She said human good does not require human sacrifice and cannot be achieved by sacrifice.  She said rational interests of man do not clash.  As long as men don't make sacrifices or accept sacrifices, but give value for value they can achieve a proper trade. 

Trade, is the principle of justice.  She said a trader earns what he gets.  He does not treat others as masters or slaves.  A trader expects to be paid for achievements.  The exchange must benefit both, not just one. 

Rand saw philosophies based on altruism to be the antithesis to her survival philosophy.  A person who sacrifices himself or herself to others is not being a trader -- not someone who gives and gets value in a trade. 

She was also an athiest -- her position, not mine.  This author is as much a Bible reading, devotional writing, Virgin Birth believing Christian as Rand was athiest.  That said, she has had a firm baptism in helping other people.  One Southern Baptist minister recently said he believes that neglecting the poor and downtrodden is dangerous business for Christians because Jesus' sympathies are so tied to helping them.  Perhaps a balance of altruism and self-protection might serve mankind better.  I'm sure Jesus didn't mean to turn generations into foot rugs. 

This article is not meant to support or defame Rand's position.  It is simply explained to show how a misinterpretation of her meaning might have inspired greed, exploitation and neglect of one's fellow man.

If one interpreted trading value and the virtue of selfishness to mean soak the public for all you can get . . . or if seeing avoiding altruism to mean it was to work your employess for less than they need to support a family . . . or if they read being valuable to mean being rich, then we might just have found the fatal flaw that has ruined our economy and is tanking this country.

All of you Rand readers out there, reread her work knowing she meant value for value, not exploiting others to be rich.  After all, Rand did say that parasites and looters can be of no use to a human being and she defined masters who exploit their "slaves" as being some of those parasites.

We might better have taken lessons from our Native Americans who believed in taking only what they needed to survive and sharing that with the others in their camps.  But we didn't do that, did we?  Had business owners also interpreted Rand correctly, they would have traded real value to those who gave them the value of their time and their work.  But that didn't happen.  The American way became that of a business owner's bottom line and any means to achieve it. 

For our country and our people to survive, it seems important to learn and use Rand's challenge to engage in even trade.  Had our bottom-line crowd done this, instead of turning employees into servants, our system of capitalism might be working.

Henry Ford is said to have wanted his workers to earn a decent wage and be able to afford to buy his product.  He made it happen.

Had other business owners followed his lead, today's programs the Republicans are calling "socialism" would never have been necessary.  It is not socialism, of course.  We would not want to think that our leaders were so uninformed that they don't know socialism is a system that gives the community control of all industry, land and capital.  But they don't think we know that.  They view us as uninformed, nonthinking masses of parasites who will respond to their cries of socialism with fear and confusion.  They mean to manipulate us to flock to the polls in November to vote out the liberals.  They want us not to see the wisdom and compassion that brought about Public Education, Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, the Affordable Care Act.  They want us to give them the reins over it all so they can cut spending on valuable programs so they can fill their pockets with more wealth and line their retirements with more taxpayer dollars.  But we have caught them at their game.

It is disrespect from the Chiefs for the Indians that has been the fatal flaw.  Let's hope it's not too late to change the program.

The Value of a Public Education


Lou Hough

For many years this author has wondered about what drives the minds of individuals in Congress.  Why would they vote to cut public education funds while valuing education so much they send their own children to expensive schools and pull strings to get them into Harvard?

It has felt for years as if school funds are tightest when Republicans hold the Congressional majority.  Here they are again wanting to cut taxes for the rich by cutting funding for public schools, colleges and student loans and grants.  Don't they know that it is the public education system that has made this country great?  It is the opportunity to go from uneducated to contributing, productive citizen that has produced our country's worth.

The Romney/Ryan team, as well as the Republican Platform, show designs on practically destroying public education.  The Platform shows the parents as responsible for the child's education.  They prefer state and local control and want the parents to have choice in the child's education.  But federal control and dispensing of funds equalizes the amount of dollars -- instead of a rich town or state having all of the opportunities.  These are our great-grandchildren that would suffer.

Mitt Romney professes to want to award school vouchers to individual families and let them apply them toward their children's educations.  He doesn't say how much of the costs the vouchers will cover or if they will be equal amounts in all the states or to all students.

He said students wanting to attend college could borrow from their parents and search for the lowest cost schools.  The man has no clue what it is like to be lower or lower middle class, does he?  Mr. Romney, where do you think these parents will get the money to loan their children?  From their minimum wage jobs?  How many more do you think they can work?

Paul Ryan's education plan, which passed the House but not the Senate, includes cutting $115,000,0000,000 from education -- yes, billion.  He plans to have 2,000,000 less children in Head Start, that program that levels the playing field at least until fifth grade.  He wants to cut Pell grants which help lower and lower middle class families afford college educations for their children.  And yes, Ryan's plan passed the Republican majority House of Representatives.

To show the value of our free public education, take a moment to consider this author's high school graduating class. The small community of 12,000 was basically a coal mining and farming city.  The class of '56 produced nine coal miners, some of whom became management, as well as seven homemakers.  The two valedictorians (a tie) became a doctor (one of three) and a nurse (one of two).  We also have an LPN from our midst.  One of us became a public school administrator; another served that role in a junior college.  At least two were teachers.  Three or more owned their own businesses.  We proudly claim four engineers.  Five of us worked in real estate, some as brokers.  We boast at least one insurance person as well as two investment gurus.  One of us became a cinematographer who worked nationally.  Another was a photographer.  Two became counselors or psychologists.  One is a journalist and book author.  We can claim one person in electronics and one a systems analyst.  One of us became a veterinarian -- three were electricians.  Four are ministers. 

Our free public education produced one computer programer, a court clerk and a travel agent.  We have one trucker, two librarians, a mechanic and a plumber.  One worked in television.  Four of us served as bookkeepers or accountants.  One became a postal employee.  Six have worked in various levels of the phone industry.  At least seven of us worked in some sort of sales and one in manufacturing.  Four worked in childcare, one a cook, another a school bus driver, all jobs requiring the patience of saints.  We boast the director of a charity, a seamstress, a millwright.  Ten worked in some form of the secretarial/clerical field and one in the oil business. 

Two were career military and others served as well.  We are very grateful to the one (or more) who died in battle to save our country.

So, you see, had it not been for our free public education, most of us would have stayed at home in mines until they shut down, on farms until conglomerates or realtors bought us out or as housewives until we had to go to work because our husbands lost their jobs.  Instead, we have spread all over the country from Florida to New York -- from New Orleans to Chicago -- from Texas to California.  Our public education jump started our careers, turning us into productive, valuable members of society.  Tampering with the funding for it is like signing a death warrant for our country and to our competitiveness with the world.  We have vastly repaid our country for their investment in us.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Probably Not The Final Word, But . . .

Lou Hough

The Chick-Fil-A incident not only demonstrated how freedom of speech, behavior and corporate participation can work for both sides, it also demonstrated a need for all Americans to reconsider the nature of sexual humans -- both hetero- and homosexual.

Some say sex has evolved into "much ado about nothing".  Compared with the need for food, water and shelter, such labeling seems appropriate.  Without all the tabus placed on it, it probably would not have so much appeal.

In the creation stories (Genesis 1-3) God created man and woman in his own image and He told them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth . . ."  He left Adam to tend the Garden of Eden which had every tree that was beautiful or good for food, including a Tree of Life and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  In Genesis 2, He made eating from the latter a tabu.  God, then, left them to an innocent enjoyment of each other.  Once they ate forbidden fruit, they clothed themselves and the sex act there-in-after was labeled sin.  But the never asked question is did God forbid them sex or did He forbid them knowledge?  Read it again.

Though they were to enjoy each others bodies and procreate prior to eating the fruit, childbearing became Eve's punishment afterward.  Once sex was seen as evil, the die was cast.  What God had meant as a warm intimacy between individuals now became a dreaded sin.  As stated before, much ado about nothing.

As the world evolved, human interactions became so complex that rules, besides God's, were necessary.  Anthropologists and sociologists refer to the need for "mores" -- rules first spoken and then written to eliminate chaos in the clans.  These included marriage.  That's right, when God blessed his newly created couple  and told them to go and multiply, there seems not to have been a formal, licensed ceremony -- legal marriage.  The first union was between God and the couple, not the couple and other people.  It's the making of human laws that makes us think it's our business.

Laws against homosexuality began with the ancients, including the Jews.  However, some of the incidents used by moderns as proof homosexuality is sin do not clearly pertain to same sex behaviors.  The tribal war caused when some men wanted to have sex with a priest and ultimately raped a concubine unto death, as well as the incident when Lot's neighbors wanted to rape the Angels of God, were about rape, not homosexuality.  The tribal war in the first was caused by the death of the concubine.  Angels, who are said by many scholars never to have been human, may not even have sexual identities.  If they do, are there no female angels?

Neither the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah nor Canaan describe exactly what the sexual sins were.  It is just assumed by moderns that same sex relations were the problem.  Hence, sodomy from Sodom.

Some readers believe the story of Jonathan and King David -- the King who seems not to have experienced any drastic punishment from God for his sexual exploits -- was a story of homosexual love.

The Apostle Paul, after experiencing hysterical blindness out of guilt for crucifying Jesus, did caution not to engage in homosexual activity.  Even people who take his cautions not to marry with a grain of salt, accept his opinion about same sex love as the final word.  But a closer look shows his objection was based on women abandoning their God-given role in life and engaging in sex with other women.  That caused men to have to sleep with men.  (And the ancients thought it was Atlas that carried the burden on his shoulders).  Paul didn't like women dominating women and men being dominated by men.  (Everyone knows men should dominate women -- at least in the eyes of the ancient church.  Check out what else he said about a woman's place).

So now we have reached an impasse.  We have nature, on the one hand, causing people to want to engage in both natural and "allegedly" unnatural acts and men of the Bible and others of the ancient world seeing God-given physiology as perverse and sinful.  Saint Augustine said that to mix up whether a Biblical story is literal or figurative is wrong.  He said if it pertained to virtue and truth it was literal.  If not, it was figurative.  But whose truth and whose definition of virtue?

Ever since the likes of Augustine, Paul and others of their times, any sexual act except that for procreation has been deemed a sin.  Even sex for procreation, Augustine said was passing original sin from one generation to the next.  Per him, Mary, Mother of Jesus, had to be born of Immaculate Conception lest a man's seed would pass original sin to her and from her to Jesus.  Do you see the problem?  Man has taken physiological creations of God and turned them into evil.  But are they sin to God?  If so, why did He allow the body to experience such phenomena?

Many fundamentalistic Christians see the reason great civilizations lost their world status as caused by one common factor -- they began to engage in homosexual relations.  But are they ignoring other commonalities?  For instance, they all began as small communities and grew to great and highly peopled kingdoms.  Suppose homosexuality is a mechanism built within each organism and was meant by God as a means of controling for overcrowding?

Before you condemn me as a heretic, know this.  Scientific studies among fish, worms, mollusks and plants indicate they can change sex when needed. 

When reef fish have lost their single male, the largest female begins behaving like a male and can produce sperm in ten days.  Some species of  fish switch back and forth between producing sperm, then eggs.  This occurs in at least fourteen species, even though their original sex seems genetically determined (physiological).

Switching in fish depends on either the size of the reef or the density of population.  Sometimes entire harems convert to male.  Males becoming female is less common, but in one species of bass, schools seem programed to have a certain number of males.

.  Worms are born with no gender at all.  As they travel, if they find a female, they become male, etc.

.  Sex change is found in some frogs.

.  Environmental factors can alter sex and gender.

.  Some plants come with both male and female characteristics.

.  Women are not always born with xx (women) chromosomes and men with xy (male) ones.  If our gender physiology can vary among individuals, why do we find it so strange that our sexual orientation would vary?

Sometimes when in a fun-loving mood this author likes to visualize God as a right-brained, creative individual who was playing around in His heavenly laboratory.  Not being left-brained, He neglected to follow rigid scientific rules and laws, thus causing an explosion.  When He successfully recovered from His shock at the "big bang", He went to observe and clean up the mess.

Instead, He saw the earth, that it was good.  Because it was without form, He set about hanging out the sun, moon and stars.  He decorated it with the most beautiful trees, plants, colors and animal life available.  He made man and woman simultaneously as in Genesis one.  And he made them in His own image as androgynous individuals.  He leaned back and watched them grow until there were too many, and then his alter physiological mechanism kicked in to slow the growth rate down.

Of course, it will take a lot more scientific work before these ideas are refuted or set in stone.  But before that is completed, keep in mind that the ten rules that were set in stone did not include "thou shalt not enjoy sex with your significant other" or that "your significant other can't be of the same sex".  And these were the rules written by the finger of God, not those that evolved from Man's need to control his fellow man.  Also, don't forget, the great psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, said all of us have latent homosexual tendencies. 

So you can see, though the C. E. O. of Chick-Fil-A had a right to express his opinion, his ideas were possibly based on an incorrect assumption.  Same sex love is probaly based on physiology, not sinful choice.

Probably not the final word, but . . . the final word is God's.  And God would no doubt want us not to flaunt or critique what He meant as an intimate act.

Lou Hough can be contacted at  See her other articles shown below.