Beware the Evil Homeschoolers

Berkley-educated feminist and anti-Christian author Michelle Goldberg posted a hit piece against homeschooling today that could be a case study in leftist “journalism.” As has become the standard for liberal pundits everywhere, her article opens with a heart-wrenching story of a child tortured to death by her parents, which is intended to soften you emotionally for the points that follow.

Continuing to follow the template for liberal punditry, her logic falls apart right about where the headline meets the first paragraph. We are expected to nod along blithely with the assertion that home schooling presents an irresistable opportunity for evil people to do evil things to kids, and so it should be regulated out of existence. In fact, since none of you can be trusted with your own children, you should probably just surrender them all to be wards of the state from birth, and that way the state can keep an eye on you.

But she ignores the fact that evil people don’t need to go to the trouble of home schooling their children to abuse or neglect them. She further ignores the plethora of evil being done to kids every single day in traditional schools, including the mounting epidemic of suicides as a result of unchecked bullying. We’re supposed to be wowed by the 70—70! – cases in the last 12 years of sexual abuse in home school situations, revealed by one study. I’d wager there are more cases of abuse in the New York or Chicago city school systems in a single school year, but that’s a bet I doubt the author would take.

She also ignores that hundreds of thousands of abused kids go to traditional schools every day, where their abuse is not noticed or confronted, or worse, it’s continued at the hands of school staff. I’ll reiterate, evil people don’t need to keep their kids out of school to do evil things to them. If sending kids to traditional schools was really some sort of panacea for child abuse, one could hardly account for the 6 million children who are abused every year in this country.

Here’s a humdinger of a false dichotomy, presented in a quote the editor highlighted: “Some families are simply trying to hide abuse and keep kids wholly under their control. In others, the abuse and the homeschooling stem from the same rigid religious ideology.” That’s right folks, if you homeschool your kids, you’re either abusive, or abusive AND a bible-thumping nutjob.

But it gets worse! When you aren’t busy locking your children in the basement for the entirety of their natural lives to stop some benevolent bureaucrat from noticing their whippin’ scars, you’re taking their tests for them! Without Big Brother coming in to look over your shoulder as you administer the (totally worthless) state mandated tests, you might CHEAT! Because that never happens in a traditional school setting. Perish the thought!

Next, we play the game of “imagine your own statistics.” The author bemoans the growing cancer of homeschooling, revealing that the number of homeschooled kids rose by 74% between 1999 and 2007. And while there’s positively no evidence to support the assertion, don’t you just KNOW that the Jerry Falwell crowd makes up the vast majority! The horror!

Adoptive parents must be viewed with an especially suspicious eye, we’re told, since they aren’t as likely to love their children as much as natural children. The author cites two more horrifying examples ripped from the headlines to anecdotally prove her point. And demonize the hundreds of thousands of adoptive parents who work miracles in the lives of their kids every single day. Remember, a couple stories are enough to regulate everyone.

The article closes with the one-two punch of creating an unproven appositive, “Christian homeschooling,” as if there is no other kind, and a request for confession from homeschoolers as a whole for the transgressions of a handful.

While it’s true that a very small handful of people have used homeschooling as a cloak for their own malicious intent, demanding that millions of other great parent-teachers bow to government intrusion and oversight for it is as insane as it is ineffectual. While we’re at it, we should probably mandate that homeschooled kids eat public school lunches, you know, so they don’t get fat. Oh wait…

Until pundits and politicians stop using emotion, exaggeration and pretentious, logically flawed arguments, they simply cannot be taken seriously. They will sit aghast, as movements in favor of individual rights continue to surge inexplicably ahead, because they are blind to the catastrophes that their state-created systems have created. And the most amusing part is that they have no idea why people take such offense to their assertions that we’re all a bunch of child abusing, bigoted misogynists who literally beat our children with leather-bound bibles.

The Minim… er… Living Wage

This guy seems to have done pretty well for himself...

This guy seems to have done pretty well for himself…

Paul Saginaw, co-owner and founder of Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Michigan recently offered his opinion on why the Federal minimum wage should be raised. His argument is well-trodden ground for proponents of the minimum wage in general, but it is no more sound for its longevity.

In fact, the author’s premise is flawed in nearly every conceivable way. First he presents the oft-cited “statistic”  of the minimum wage providing an income below the poverty rate for a family of three, but never establishes the prevalence or significance of that demographic. The statistics cited later in the article are “or” stats, not “and,” as would be logically required to prove his opening statement useful.

The percentage of people making minimum wage who are adults, or who work full time, or are married is irrelevant, without knowing what percentage of those subsets are actually supporting themselves on that income, instead of, say, going to school on Mom and Dad’s money or living in their basement because they’re 19 (and “adults”).

What no one in favor of minimum wage increase is willing to quantify is the number or percentage of fast food workers who are single-income, AND heads of household depending solely on that income, AND at that level of income, and more poignantly, how many of them actually remain at that level of income for more than two years. The latter has actually been studied, and it has been shown that the vast majority of people in the lower quintile of income don’t stay there very long.

Then the author goes on to talk about the success of his own business with paying workers more than minimum wage, providing them benefits, and partnering with other businesses to do the same. These are all commendable actions, and actions I wholeheartedly support, but he makes the critical error of thinking the best way forward from here is to coerce, through force, the rest of the industry and the country to do the same.

If it’s working for his business and others, and he believes it can work industry-wide, then why does he require that the government force businesses to do it? Clearly, if there were economic benefit from his strategy for every company, every company would do it voluntarily. As much as we dislike giant monster mega corporations, they aren’t dumb, or they wouldn’t have become as successful as they are.

The fact is that the unintended consequences of forcing a higher minimum wage are not only increased prices for consumers (which are limited by inelastic market forces), but decreased employment. Small businesses like my brother’s farm are unable to hire, sometimes at all, because of the prohibitive cost of each employee brought about by Federal and State regulation. The sum total of these hidden expenses more than doubles the labor cost per employee. Huge companies like fast food chains will simply automate and cut work force to maintain profit margins and share prices, like they’ve been doing for decades, and fewer people will be able to find work at all, for any wage. See example after example of how companies like WalMart do business.

Again, I support wholeheartedly what Mr. Saginaw is doing with his own company, and I vote with my pocketbook every single day in support of just those sorts of practices. But his argument for raising the Federal minimum wage fails every logical and economic check. I do not believe for a moment that a government control will force companies to start behaving more ethically, any more than it has ever forced any individual to behave ethically, and certainly not without enormous unintended consequences. The way forward is not and will never be the use of force, but rather the education of the consuming public, which can only result in companies adapting practices and policies we find more palatable.

Twelve Years

911Pano25Twelve years. It’s strange to think about a day that lives so vividly in my mind as history, but that’s what it is. There are kids in high school now whose only real knowledge of the day will come from studying it in a US History class. If it’s even mentioned. I know that they will not understand the day, the change that came over the whole nation all at once, the raw emotion of it. I suppose at best, they will feel about 9/11 the way I feel about Pearl Harbor. Sad that it happened, angry that it could have been prevented, solemn at its anniversary. And I will look at them when they ask the way World War II vets look at me, and try to explain it.

I was at work, slinging tires and oil for Wal-Mart for eight bucks an hour. Somebody mentioned that there had been an accident in New York. A plane had crashed into one of the twin towers, and it was burning. A few of us paused in our work to crowd around the tiny TV in the waiting area. I stood, transfixed at the live feeds from the ground in New York, while the others shook their heads and went back to work. I saw the second plane hit live, and knew instantly it was terrorism. I’d been watching airplanes fly for my whole life, and that second jet was completely in control when it hit.

I suddenly wasn’t so interested in being at work any more. I was already on my way home when the plane hit the Pentagon. Even in Ohio, it was pandemonium. Traffic was sparse but moving quickly. There were jets going supersonic overhead to escort Air Force One, confused reports of possible other attacks on the radio, and reporters on TV trying to make sense of it all. We saw people jumping from the towers to escape the fire. Nobody could look away as these images burned themselves indelibly into our memories. Then the towers fell, and New York became a war zone.

Dinner that night was tense and quiet, and we sat, glued to the nonstop coverage on the TV, as analysts and experts tried to come up with some sort of plausible explanation. I remember the way my Mom looked at my Dad,  as if hoping to find in his face some reassurance that her husband and two sons would be safe through whatever was to come.

I had already enlisted in April of that year, when I was a 17 year old high school senior with a clear and certain plan for my life. That plan was torn to pieces on a cool, humid September morning, although I didn’t yet understand that. Our nation was enraged and on the offensive, finally willing to wield our considerable might, and that of numerous allies, against anyone who opposed us. Instead of going to college that fall, I went to tech school, and then to war the following summer. I followed my brother into Kuwait, then went back for more the next spring. I became a different person than I had planned on being, through the experience of the next several years. Not better or worse, but different.

On dark nights with a glass of Scotch, I have sometimes regretted my place in history. I have listened to the stories of guys who served before me, the trips to Hawaii and Panama and the Philippines. The easy way of life that was present in the military in that sweet spot between the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the War on Terror.

But that was not my lot, and I have served in the twelve years hence in varying capacities, but always tied to the fight. I have watched the unity of our nation become again fractured, our resolve waver, and our infighting become worse than ever. We have pounded our enemies into pieces, killed their leaders and toppled their governments, but yet they remain. The common wisdom today is that there is no way to win a war against fanaticism, and so we will be perpetually fighting, and surely we can’t do that.

But I can. I remember that day in full color. I lived it, and went on living it since. I can go on as long as is necessary, and will do whatever I am able, to prevent it from ever happening again, insofar as I am allowed. I only hope that we are able to express the meaning of this day to future generations in terms sufficient to inspire similar resolve. So help us God.