Monthly Archives: June 2016

Life skills and the need to incorporate them early into the educational curriculum

Life skills and the need to incorporate them early into the educational curriculum

21a) A bit of Background

One of my biggest concerns is our educational system, especially from middle through high school. I fully agree that the basics are important but I question the value of many other subjects. I won’t examine all of them but let’s take a look at one just as an example:

History: While history is a particular passion of mine. The History channel is my favorite among the hundreds of choices on Dish TV. I actually enjoyed the subject in school. Imagine my surprise when I later learned that some of what I learned and was tested on was untrue! America was discovered by the Italian Christopher Columbus, except there was a slight indication that Leif Erickson may have landed in Canada sometime earlier. It turns out that Norsemen definitely landed in what later became Canada (might not have been Leif?) Leif  migrated to Iceland & then Greenland with his father Eric the Red before making it to North America around 1,000 AD, but recent discoveries have determined that he was not first. It turns out that Columbus was not Italian (most likely Spanish). I’m sure the indigenous folks appreciated being “discovered”.

Let’s see, what I learned is that they all made it to the “New World” during the last ice age by migrating from Northwest Asia. After that they somehow populated all areas of North, Central and South America. While it now appears that this is partially true, there is much more to this history. Textiles and rope fragments found in a Peruvian cave have been dated to around 12,000 years ago, making them the oldest textiles ever found in South America, according to a report in the April issue of Current Anthropology. This would tend to coincide with the approximate date when the Ice Age was ending. However, logic would dictate that the migration would have commenced millennia prior in order for settlement to have reached Peru and also when the Ice Age was more dominant (and water levels would be lower).

But was the route from Northeast Asia the only route for the early Americans? In turns out the answer is most likely not. There is significant evidence that the Chinese developed settlements in the “New World” a full 70 years prior to Columbus’ first sailing. It is said that the Chinese used maps drawn 3,000 years earlier to navigate East. While there is only “circumstantial” evidence for the origin of the maps their use is not disputed.

stay tuned next week for more on this topic

Our wasteful and unfair election process (revisiting topic #1)

Chapter 20

Our wasteful and unfair election process (revisiting topic #1)

In an earlier blog we reviewed the election process in the U.S. This issue is at the core of most of the problems we are currently experiencing. The problems with the budget deficit, healthcare, the two party system, special interest control, government inefficiency, election spending waste and others cannot be resolved (in my opinion) if we do not take action to change the method that we use to elect our representation.

I will not rehash all of the points made in my first blog, rather let’s summarize what steps need to be taken:

The first and most important point is that we need to severely limit both the funding and amount of time allowed for campaigning. My suggestion:

  • Absolutely no campaigning should be allowed until 60 days prior to the date of an election. I realize this will severely curtail the current primary process, but I do not see that as a bad thing.
  • Do away with the electoral college, the popular vote rules
  • Require the major networks to cover a series (3-5 sessions) where each candidate would be asked relevant questions on the economy, budget, military, foreign affairs, healthcare, social security, etc. and be given identical amounts of time to address these issues. I’m not clear on the appropriate criteria for whom (which candidates) would be included in these programs, this needs more thought.
  • Limit additional campaign spending as follows:
        • President – $10 mil
        • Senate       – $5 mil
        • House         – $2 mil

I realize this seems a rather drastic departure from the process that has developed, but I suspect our founding Fathers would be appalled at the current process and welcome a system which more fairly represents the will of the people, where outcomes are more determined by the issues rather than spending amounts and where service to the country is no longer a career.

Our elected representatives play by different rules, not always.

Chapter 19

Our elected representatives play by different rules, not always.

From 1789 to 1815, members of Congress received only a per diem (daily payment) of $6.00 while in session.

The current salary (2015) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. This is for a regular first termer, certain positions are bit higher. While this ranks in the in the top 2% of wage earners in the U.S., I actually am ok with this salary compensation with two caveats:

    1. Term limits (suggest no more than two congressional terms and one senatorial term).
    2. This still allows for up to 10 years, not quite a career, but…………….
    3. That they play by the same rules as other civil servants with regard to benefits, perks, retirement, etc. Actually in some regards they do now, but not all. Of course term limits would have an impact on potential retirement payments.

Where are the current abuses? Source:

  1. Congress was only in session for 126 days in 2014.
  2. Staff schedulers often times make reservations for members of Congress via dedicated phone lines that Delta and other major airlines have reportedly set up for Capitol Hill customers. Airlines also permit members to reserve seats on multiple flights but only pay for the trips they take.
  3. Whenever lawmakers decide to show up for a flight, they are also guaranteed free parking at the two Washington-area airports, according to a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Note: Some progress has been made on this issue in recent years, so it seems to be moving in a better direction for the taxpayer. Probably the reason that any and all representatives become millionaires (even one-termers) is a combination of the information they are privy to as well as the status gained by their position in regards to future employment & speaking engagements.