Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sexualizing 5-year-olds

The U.N. has decided to recommend sex education for kids as young as 5. They break ages down into several groups: 5-8, 9-12, 12-15 and 15-18. For 5-year-olds, they want to teach things like the definition of masturbation; that there are certain areas that boys and girls have that feel good when touched; and much more.

It gives you a whole new picture for kindergarten show and tell, doesn't it?

The original article on the report can be found here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Staying Organized

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

It seems like staying organized is a constant challenge for parents -- at least it seems that way to me. With kids around, work schedules, school activities, house work, and more, there is always something to keep me too busy to really plan.

Crawl Before You Can Walk

I remember the Daytimer craze when I was younger. In movies and in the real world, executives and others were carrying around black notebooks that organized their time, contacts and more. Of course, that was before the advent of the Internet. The Daytimer didn't really appeal to me but then I didn't have a lot to organize.

I started a few years ago by trying to write things down. I kept the events on the calendar at home and the contacts in an address book next to the calendar. It didn't work real well because I didn't have the information available when I went out. If something came up while I was out I had to write it down on a scrap of paper and remember to transfer it when I got home. Not foolproof by any means.

Learning to Walk

Then I moved to a Palm Pilot to store things. I kept all of my events in Google Calendar and bought a program called GooSync to sync the Palm Pilot and the Google Calendar. That worked okay. Anyone who has used a Palm Pilot knows it can be frustrating to put in anything lengthy. I still hadn't found a good way to sync my contacts by the time I accidentally crushed the screen. Palm wanted $150 to repair the screen. Time to move on and find something different.

I kept the Google Calendar and started using Gmail to work with my home email account. If I needed to add an event or something, I sent a text to my email account and it was there the next time I logged on. It saved me lots of scrap paper and I had a copy on my phone for a while. I didn't have a way to access my calendar or email so it wasn't a perfect system but it was workable.

Running with the Big Dogs

Then my contract with Verizon came due and I was eligible for a new phone. I looked longingly at the iPhones and considered switching. Then I compared it with the Blackberry Storm and found what I was looking for -- and found it for less than an iPhone. Ahhhh, heaven for a frugal geek like me. I downloaded Google Sync and it syncs my calendar, contacts and email in the background. It has a massive storage card so it has now taken the place of my MP3 player. I put the Facebook application on it and I am in contact in every way possible -- email, phone, text message and Facebook. I still use my computer at work and home to access things when possible but the phone works well for when I am away.

This system works for me because I'm comfortable with having a single device with me that takes care of everything. If you aren't comfortable with cell phones this won't work for you.

Your Turn

Does anyone else have suggestions on how you stay organized? What are your challenges with staying organized?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Good Education

Lynnae at BeingFrugal.net has a question about fixing education. She has just started home schooling her kids. She has been hearing a lot in the news, as we all have, about the state of education for kids in the U.S.

I have been lucky because the kids are in a fantastic school. Most of the students are motivated and the school is very involved in the community. Businesses hand out prizes for reading goals and support different activities at the school.

Schools are beset by all kinds of problems that impact learning. We have thrown more and more money at the school systems but the state of our kids' education isn't changing much. Money is obviously not the issue (in my humble opinion).

Lynnae takes the approach that parents have a lot of influence in kids' education. I can certainly vouch for that. Kids are going to have a hard time committing things to memory if they only review things in school. I spend a lot of time with my kids going over math flash cards, spelling words, you name it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Health Care Letter

There has been a lot of discussion lately about overhauling health care. Here is my take on the whole mess. I sent it to the Indianapolis Star, the New York Times, the Omaha World-Herald, the LA Times, CBS and my representatives in Congress, Ben Nelson, Mike Johanns and Lee Terry. So far I have not heard a thing from the newspapers or my elected representatives.

My name is Dave Campbell. I am a private citizen that is sick and tired of this debacle of health care reform. No true debate is going on. We have Democrats looking to take over more of the economy, weak Republicans with no solid ideas of their own, a partisan press and an apathetic electorate. Health care has been an issue for years. We have huge costs for coverage and care providers. Some people are shut out by the private insurers because of pre-existing conditions. Jackpot justice in the courts drives up costs incredibly. Seriously, the door handles on court rooms should be changed to slot machine handles. It would be more appropriate. Politicians have blathered on about reform but only recently have they gotten serious.

The plans put forth by our so-called leaders, however, don’t address these issues. They only create new problems and shift the burden of paying to all of us, even those of us that have private insurance.

President Obama wants health care reform at all costs. He and the Democrats are pushing with everything they have to nationalize approximately 17% of the U.S. gross domestic product (1). This is a huge issue but they want to rush it. Obama says the reforms would bring greater "inefficiencies" (2) to the health care system. Assuming that was a Freudian slip and he didn't really mean that, let's look at the federal government's track record.

Let's keep in mind here that most of these politicians, including Obama, have NO EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE running private industry. Profit and watching costs are not something these people are used to. "Budget" is just a buzz word because they will spend what they want, no matter what the original plan. Name one government program that not grown over the years. Name one government program that has closed down because it accomplished its goal.

The government intended Amtrak to be a for-profit enterprise but it has yet to achieve that goal. In 2007, the government decided to quit hoping Amtrak could ever turn a profit (3). The post office has had many rate hikes over the years and yet still cannot operate efficiently. It has been looking at closing offices and ending Saturday delivery (4).

How well has the government done at health care for our veterans? How many people remember the terrible conditions found at VA hospitals? Broken wheelchairs, mice, torn robes and mold at Walter Reed. Fruit flies, overflowing trash and syringes in the open at Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Peeling paint, mold, non-working windows and no nurses at Fort Knox (5).

The costs involved in these reform proposals is staggering. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the legislation would cost $1.3 trillion during its first decade: $438 billion for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, $53 billion in tax credits for small businesses that offer health insurance to their employees, and $773 billion in subsidies for a government-administered "insurance exchange" in which people could choose among various health plans, including a newly created "public option." Also keep in mind that government spending, especially on health care programs, tends to be much higher than anticipated. "When Medicare was launched in 1965," note Cato Institute policy analysts Michael Tanner and Chris Edwards, "Part A was projected to cost $9 billion by 1990, but ended up costing $67 billion. When Medicaid's special hospitals subsidy was added in 1987, it was supposed to cost $100 million annually, but it already cost $11 billion by 1992." (6)

Supporters point to countries like Canada and Great Britain to show that socialized medicine works. Canada, however, is moving back to a single-payer system because their experience has been so awful. Long waits extending to YEARS, bureaucrats deciding treatment and more. Private insurance is outlawed. Great Britain and Europe have their own problems, where state-of-the-art drugs are not available to patients. In 2003, 15,000 elderly people died in France during a heat wave because many doctors were on vacation and hospitals were overflowing. (7)

The American Medical Association is not on board with all of this. “The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.” (8) And yet Nancy Pelosi is adamant about a public plan. “A bill will not come out of the House without a public option,” she said (9). The Mayo Clinic, long a darling of liberals and progressives, is also against it (10).

Some people, myself included, say this public option will run private insurers out of business (11). Health insurance is a major expense for businesses so when a public option at half the price comes along, how many businesses will remain loyal to their providers? (12)

While the Democrats are happily plotting to make government even bigger, the Republicans have not put forth any real reforms. Anything they put forth sounds an awful lot like the Democratic plans. Instead of addressing the fundamental problems they propose more government interference. Really, I can't tell which party is more pro-government.

Just as bad as the politicians in this are the media. When it comes to covering Obama, you act like giddy cheerleaders ogling the star quarterback. Change into some dry shorts and ask yourselves if he wants you for you or for what you can do for him. Is it any wonder newspapers are going bankrupt and trust for newscasters is so low? I can put together an article with all kinds of sources but you can't seriously dig and investigate. You're supposed to be watchdogs, not lapdogs. Do us a favor and go back to journalism school to learn the basics, you worthless partisan hacks.

The only real chance for reform that isn't going to negatively affect us is going to have to come from the American public. Let's face it, the politicians only care about the next election. Doing the right thing is only an option if it will get them elected. If you want them to do the right thing, you need to get in touch with your representatives and let them know. Get the facts on your own; the press isn't going to do it for you.

Buy your KY now and pray Obama Care covers proctologists, because we’re all going to need it if this legislation passes.

1. The National Coalition on Health Care (2009). Facts About Health Care

Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

2. Obama, Barack (2009, July 20)
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-Health-Care-at-Childrens-Hospital/

3. Policy Archive (June 2002). "Amtrak Profitability: An Analysis of Congressional Expectations at Amtrak's Creation"
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from https://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/1446

4. Big Money, The (2009, June 26). "Could Your Post Office Be Closing?"
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/could-your-post-office-be-closing.aspx

5. Priest, Dana and Hull, Anne (2007, March 5). "It's Not Just Walter Reed". The Washington PostRetrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/04/AR2007030401394.html

6. Sullum, Jacob (2009, July 22). "Paying a Premium for Insurance". Reason Online.
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.reason.com/news/show/134948.html

7. Gratzer, David (2007). "The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care"
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_3_canadian_healthcare.html

8. Pear, Robert (2009, June 10). "Doctors' Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan", The New York Times
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/us/politics/11health.html?_r=2&hp

9. Pear, Robert (2009, June 10). "Doctors' Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan", The New York Times
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/us/politics/11health.html?_r=2&hp

10. "Mayo Clinic's Reaction to House Tri-Committee Bill", The Mayo Clinic. (2009, July 16)
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://healthpolicyblog.mayoclinic.org/2009/07/16/mayo-clinic%E2%80%99s-reaction-to-house-tri-committee-bill/

11. "Critics Question Obama's Assertion No One Would Be Forced to Change Health Plans", Fox News (2009, July 23).
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/07/23/obamas-assertion-public-current-health-insrance-plans-raises-questions/

12. "It's Not an Option". The Investor's Business Daily (2009, July 15)
Retrieved July 24, 2009, from http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=332548165656854

Through Dad's Eyes

People say that having kids changes people. Those with kids are more conservative and more settled in their lives. I have to agree. Everyone I know with kids keeps the kids first in their thoughts and actions.

I have been listening to music and watching TV and movies with a more critical eye. When listening to the radio, for example, I will change the station based upon the song starting to play. I recognize that lyrics and dialogue have small changes in the way we think. For someone who would argue against that, I have to ask why advertising remains such a big business. It's about influencing peoples' behavior. Advertising, song lyrics, movie dialogue, life experiences and more color our thoughts just the slightest amount. Each is imperceptible but in the aggregate they change us in big ways.

For now I am trying to instill some critical thinking skills. I am trying to get them to question why things are the way they are. I want them to think of alternatives and weigh pros and cons. I try to open up the world to them, little by little, in bite-sized chunks they can digest. It's by no means a coordinated effort. I make my mistakes and once in a while I get it right.

When my kids get older, I will allow them a greater range of music and entertainment choices. For now, though, they are small. They don't understand the complexities of life and can't think critically. As they understand more and can think more for themselves, I will give them more latitude. Hopefully by the time they are young adults they will possess more independent thinking than their peers. That, after all, is part of my responsibility as The Dad.