It’s Time for You Boys in the ‘Hood to Man Up

Chicago gang violence

It’s time for you boys in the ‘hood to man up.  You need to grow a pair and join the community of real men all over the rest of the world.  Real men go to work every day, sometimes doing tough jobs they really don’t want to do, to make a living and take care of their families.  Real men don’t threaten or harm people – they roll up their sleeves and help when and where it is needed.  Real men don’t abuse women and abandon fatherless babies all over town.  Real men come in all races, sizes and places.

I don’t care what happened to your great-great-great-grandfather.  If somebody treats you wrong, you have every right to deal with it on the spot, without violence, and you should.  I’ll be right there with you.  But you have no right to whine about something that happened a hundred years before you were born.  You have no right to come across our border to sell drugs.  And you sure as hell have no right to violence or lawlessness against people who have done nothing to deserve it.

You think you’re bad?  Yeah, you might carry a gun.  A lot of real men do, too.  But our families and neighbors are safer because we do.  Are yours?

You think you’re tough?  Tough is hand-carrying a truckload of sheetrock to the third floor of a house under construction in the 95 degree heat.  Tough is pulling a breeched calf at 3 in the morning in the icy rain.  Tough is foot-patrolling a desert village, not knowing where or when the snipers or IEDs will hit.

You  probably can’t be embarrassed into becoming a real man. But just making it real – you don’t know what you are missing.  Your life could be so much better.

You might think smoking dope or swigging “Lean” makes you feel good.  That’s nothing.  Your heart will bust out of your chest when you rock your baby girl to sleep in your arms in the middle of the night.  You’ve never felt joy like seeing your boy hit his first little league home run.  And trust me, the women down at the club don’t begin to compare to the one you could have if you were a real man – one who can raise your kids, cook your dinner, go to work, and help you build a barbecue deck on your very own home.

You don’t need a fancy education to get a good job and make serious money.  In fact, you probably have a better chance of making good money sooner without a degree, if you are willing to get up every day and go do the work that is in demand because others are too proud or too puny to try.  If you have to do physical labor for a while, so what?  You are young and strong, the pay is good, and you can learn while you work so you can move up with your employer or even start your own business some day.  There are millions of good-paying jobs out there just waiting for real men who are dependable and ambitious.  It doesn’t take long to pull together some serious money if you are honest, smart, and you get after it.  And believe it or not, the satisfaction of a job well done really feels good.

I know none of the boys in the ‘hood are reading this.  But maybe you know one, or know somebody who knows one, or have some way to help get this message out.  Somehow the senseless violence and wasted potential in the ‘hood has to be turned around.  And another government program won’t make a bit of difference.  The boys in the hood have to want to change, and if they only knew what they were missing in life, they would.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideComin’ up in da hood where the streets are cold
Either you gon’ stretch or either you gon’ fold
Either you gon’ ride or get rolled on
Which one is it or they pay you a visit?

Hood – Jibbs

 

 

 

Education in Denver Is Getting Better – Thanks to School Choice

Strive Prep Schools

Last week I made a trip to Denver for the Franklin Center’s #AmplifyChoice school choice conference.  It was a deep-dive into the promise and progress of school choice, and a chance to see Colorado’s pioneering effort to ratchet up its educational performance and outcomes.  Here are some surprises:

  • Denver is the fastest growing school district in the United States.
  • Ten years ago only 39% of students in Denver’s public schools graduated from high school on time.  That has improved to about 65%.
  • Denver’s demographics are rapidly changing; 52% of Denver Public Schools students are Hispanic and 70% are low income.  32% come to the district as non-English speakers.

In fact, Denver’s recent educational history is full of surprises.  The Denver public school district was in real trouble in the early 2000s – students fled to the suburbs and to private schools, and academic performance was falling off a cliff, leaving low-income and minority students behind.  And the rapid influx of immigrant students, many without English skills, left teachers and administrators perplexed and unable to cope.  It was evident to everyone – educators, public officials, and citizens – that something had to change.

Since then Denver’s educational policy has been all about change.  After initial resistance from school insiders, the educational institutions embraced the concept of school choice as a vehicle for change and improvement, leading to the development of charter and “innovation” schools.  Some remained under the auspices of the DPS district, while others were standalone institutions or grouped into publicly-funded private districts.  All receive public funding and access is gained through a universal enrollment system operated by a selection algorithm and lottery process.  A number of performance measurement and improvement processes have been implemented by local and state authorities, including a complex data model called the “School Performance Framework”.

We visited the Green Valley Ranch middle school, a unit of the Strive Preparatory Schools charter group, and the occupant of one “pod” in a cluster of five schools built with public education bonds.  The curriculum is similar to the public schools, but there are different teaching methods and extra enhancements available to students.  Like all Denver schools, this is a college prep school, focused entirely on making students ready for college, and the Strive organization boasts a 92% acceptance rate for their graduates.

The Strive group is made up of 97% “of color”, 87% “low income”, 12% “special needs”, and 40% English-learners. I found this curious, since the school is across the street from a large suburban middle-class neighborhood, where one would presumably find at least some white children, and certainly none who are low-income.  The principal explained that there are many factors that determine which of five school choices a given student will win a chance to attend. The algorithm is weighted toward minorities and low-income families.  I got the impression that if a family across the street makes the school “choice” to attend Green Valley, the likelihood of winning that lottery is slim.  It raises the question of school segregation all over again, as critics claim that Denver schools are more segregated now than they were in the 70s.

Like most Denver charter schools, Strive’s teachers are non-union.  They tend to be younger than the public school district instructors, and salaries run as much as $15k less.  Still, Strive CEO Chris Gibbons says, “We compete very well for the best teachers available.”

Denver’s charter schools have taken on a daunting challenge and are making progress toward meeting the educational needs of their changing community.  While some question the metrics used in the performance comparisons, the charter schools seem to consistently outperform their public school peers academically, at a lower cost per student.  And there appears to be real progress in narrowing the gap between socioeconomic classes.

It’s good to see Denver leading the way in school choice and change.  In Denver, education is getting better.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideI used to get mad at my school
The teachers that taught me weren’t cool
You’re holding me down, turning me round
Filling me up with your rules
I admit it’s getting better,
A little better all the time!

It’s Getting Better – Paul McCartney

 

 

 

 

RedState Gathering – Nothing Resolved, We All Just Disagree

redstate2016
I attended the RedState Gathering in Denver this weekend, not knowing what to expect, and even prepared for a brawl.  I joked with friends that if I saw talk radio flame-thrower Steve Deace walking by, I would trip him.

The RedState Gathering is an annual political event hosted by RedState, the right-wing media group led in recent years by Erick Erickson.  I have followed Erickson for years and held him in high esteem as a deep thinker and a solid defender of conservative values – small government, free markets, and personal responsibility.  But then Trump happened, and Erickson and I parted ways.

Somehow, out of 17 GOP candidates for president, Trump won.  My first favorite, Carly Fiorina, held on as long as she could, but was never really a contender.  My second favorite, Ted Cruz, put up a good fight that got ugly at the end.  Trump emerged, without the support of the majority of voters, as the only alternative to Hillary.

The right side of the electorate immediately fractured into four groups, deftly described by Guy Benson in the final panel discussion at the Gathering, and only slightly modified below by me.

  1. There are those who were on the Trump train from the start, and will gleefully vote for him in the general election.  They are furious that no one in government has listened to them for a long time, and they want to blow up the Washington DC cartel and start over.  They have no reservations about Trump’s character or ability.
  2. Then there is the group that is not crazy about Trump, but see the election as binary, and are terrified of the inevitable and irreversible harm a Hillary presidency will bring: activist courts shredding the Constitution for decades to come, accelerated immigration that will guarantee liberal domination into perpetuity, unstoppable growth and overreach of government, ridiculous imposition of political correctness, destruction of jobs and the economy, loss of national security, racial and gender disharmony, and Clinton Corruption in every corner.  This group feels compelled to vote for Trump.   I am in this camp, as are most conservative media pundits:  Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity, Hewitt, Gallagher, and others.  Hugh Hewitt defended our case admirably to the Gathering.
  3. The third group which includes Erickson and RedState are so disturbed by Trump’s personality, and the perception that he is not a pure conservative, that they are actively campaigning against him. They refuse to vote for or support Trump on principle; they just can’t live with a president who is persistently politically incorrect.  They suspect his motives, even though he has never been in government and has no policy record.  They don’t like Hillary either, but are willing to let her slip into the Oval Office in the hopes that they will be able to re-group and pick up the pieces in four years.Iowa radio talk show host Steve Deace is the most vitriolic Trump critic – you can imagine the blood spurting from his eyes as he rails against Trump on the radio every day.  Other less strident members of this group are radio host Michael Medved and Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard.  Katie Pavlich, TV spokeswoman for Townhall.com, rationalized her opposition to Trump to the Gathering this morning, saying Trump will not beat Hillary anyway, so she is doing no harm.  Erickson, a newly ordained preacher, views the election in biblical terms.  He said, “The weather after November is going to be really bad.  Expect to see houses falling from the sky.”  But Erickson and his followers won’t vote for Trump, or stop criticizing him, under any circumstances. Glenn Beck passionately pleaded with the audience to not vote for Trump, promising an apocalypse if he is elected.  He made the obligatory criticisms of Hillary, but he wasn’t specific about what actions Trump might take that will cause the mountains to crumble and the stars to fall from the sky.
  4. The fourth group is made up of people who claim to be conservatives and have decided they will vote for Hillary.  I agree with Erickson’s observation that these people are mentally ill.

As I said, I didn’t know what to expect, but I still brought home some surprises from the Gathering.  I thought the attendees would be predominantly anti-Trump; they weren’t – most people there will be voting for Trump.  I thought the stridently “NeverTrump” organizers would be unwilling to accept or listen to opposing views; they weren’t – they were patient and understanding of those whose views don’t line up with their own.  And I thought Senator Ben Sasse, who Kristol and Erickson floated as a third-party opponent to Trump, might be a self-serving demagogue; he certainly isn’t.  In fact, his homespun Nebraska common sense, along with his extraordinary speaking skill, makes him a serious contender for leader of the conservative renaissance, if the “right side” survives.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
So let’s leave it alone ’cause we can’t see eye to eye
There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy
There’s only you and me and we just disagree

We Just Disagree – Dave Mason

 

Time For A Change – Make Govt. Employees Accountable

Government-Employee

photo courtesy WesternJournalism.com

If you got caught spending most of your time at work watching porn on your computer, do you think you might get fired?  If you owed money to your employer and refused to pay it, would you expect to keep your job?

If you are a federal employee, no worries.  Less than one-half of one percent get fired.  Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) said, “It’s so laborious for managers to address poor performers that sometimes it’s easier for them to ignore the bad employee or give suspension with pay and hope that it corrects itself.”

With the average annual pay for federal jobs approaching $100k, plus fat benefits packages and generous time off, taxpayers should expect top-notch performance.  But we all know that, for the most part, federal departments and agencies are the gold standard for ineptitude and inefficiency.  Because government employee unions bubble-wrap their members, our government must hire several people for every job that would require only a single worker in the real world.

Unlike jobs in the private sector, where every employee must contribute to profit or hit the highway, nobody other than Congressman Meadows seems to care about the buildings full of bodies accomplishing little or nothing.  The agency and department heads are not concerned; it’s not their money!  Plus, the measure of success and power in government is not what you accomplish, or how much money you save the taxpayers – it’s how many employees you accumulate.

And the head bureaucrats are as unaccountable as the line employees.  When called to task by congressional oversight committees for poor performance, or even illegal acts, they no longer feel compelled to even answer questions.  They know that their bread is buttered by the administration, not Congress.  Who is in charge?  Nobody.  The buck stops nowhere.

At a time when our economy can no longer drag the dead weight of bloated government behind it, and our $20 trillion debt keeps rocketing, and there really is serious work that our employees should be doing, can’t somebody – maybe a presidential candidate for instance – at least mention government accountability?

The Heritage Foundation has studied the issue and made recommendations as part of its “Blueprint for Reform – A Comprehensive Policy Agenda for a New Administration in 2017“.  Among many important reform policies, this ambitious project addresses the pay and benefits gaps between federal and private sector employees, and suggests some ways to make firing bad employees at least thinkable, if still not easy (see pages 99 – 102).

I’d like to see employee unions either shut down or severely restricted.  The federal government is a monopoly, where the elected can spend taxpayer money to get themselves re-elected.  Government employees should at least be hired at-will, just as they are in the private sector, so managers can hire, discipline, and fire without facing union intervention or a morass of federal regulations.   And department officials must be made accountable to Congress too, or the notion of congressional “oversight” is no more than a shallow joke.

Like any rehab program, the first thing we have to do is admit that we have a problem.  Then we have to work on some serious change in accountability.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

A change . . .
Would do you good.
I said a change . . .
Would do you good!

A Change Would Do You Good – Sheryl Crow

 

 

Mr. Trump, I Wrote a Speech For You. No Charge!


photo courtesy Salon.com

photo courtesy Salon.com

My fellow citizens, if you elect me, Donald Trump, to be your president, here are my domestic priorities for the first hundred days of my term:

Government Accountability and Reform

Government sector unions will be eliminated or restrictions imposed, such as:  Unions would be prohibited from contributing to political candidates or having any involvement in political campaigns.  Government employees would be employed “at will”, empowering managers to hire, fire, and discipline without union intervention.  They would be subject to the same payroll and benefit laws as the private sector, including social security, 401k, and Medicaid coverage or private health insurance allowance.  We can no longer tolerate a government where nobody is responsible for anything or ever gets fired.

Congress will establish biannual performance and zero-based budget requirements for every department and agency, and oversight committees will hold agency heads responsible for meeting goals, with the authority to discipline or discharge failing managers.  Redundant and obsolete services and programs will be eliminated from agencies and departments.  This is basic economics, understood by every American.

All elected officials will be subject to the same ethics standards and prosecution as private sector corporate officials, prohibiting insider trading, personal gain from transactions and decisions, nepotism, payoffs for campaign contributions, and any other breaches of trust.  Why should elected officials get away with corruption that is not tolerated in private business?

Congressional term limits will be established.  The power structure must be brought under control.

Congress will be required to produce timely budgets; continuing resolutions will be prohibited.  The job of Congress is to budget and appropriate.  If they don’t do that, we don’t need them.

Law and Order

My new IRS and FBI commissioners will investigate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for tax fraud and improper quid pro quo deals with foreign companies and governments.  This kind of corruption must be brought to light and stopped once and for all.

Sanctuary cities will be denied federal funding.  Existing immigration laws will be enforced at the borders and ports, and in all government offices and programs.  Officials who fail or refuse to enforce any federal law will be disciplined or terminated.  Without borders, we have no country.  And without law enforcement, we have anarchy.

Federal involvement in local law enforcement will cease, including the use of consent decrees to impose federal control.

Health, Welfare, Housing and Education

The Affordable Health Care Act will be repealed and replaced by a congressionally approved plan which includes a provision for a federal assigned risk pool for pre-existing conditions.

Federal funding of all means-tested welfare and assistance programs and all educational programs will be limited to block grants to the states.  Our Constitution intended the power of the people to reside in state governments, not federal.  This is the United STATES of America.

Government funding of private health care providers specifically including Planned Parenthood will be prohibited.

The federal student loan program will be eliminated and restored to the private sector.  Any program for relief from student loan debt will include provisions for clawback of public losses from the universities who received the student loan payments.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government subsidized home loan programs will be phased out, restoring the mortgage industry to the private sector.

Tax Reform

Estate taxes will be permanently eliminated – it is double taxation.  Corporate income tax will be significantly reduced to encourage repatriation of assets and domestic production.  Personal income taxes will be simplified.  Loopholes and carve-outs will be eliminated for businesses and individuals.

Businesses will receive tax incentives for providing modern technical training programs that meet their workforce needs and result in direct sustained employment of individuals, replacing unnecessary and unproductive college time and expense.

Immigration

Legal immigration rates and eligibilities will be revisited by Congress with impact analysis on jobs, the economy, security, and infrastructure.  Charity will not be a consideration, as it is not a function of government.  Illegal immigration will be treated and enforced as a criminal act.

These action items have the strong support of a majority of Americans.  If Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell fail to take action on these important tasks, I will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to admonish and encourage and even embarrass them.  And if they still refuse to respond to the will of their constituents, as they have over the last many years, I will find other ways to give the people what they want.

Please vote for me, your humble servant, Donald Trump.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Well, it’s about time for things to get better
We want the truth, the truth and no more lies
We want freedom, justice and equality
I want it for you and I want it for me
Well, well
Give the people what they want!

Give the People What They Want – the O’Jays

Here’s a great song by the O’Jays – from Soul Train, 1975.  Check it out!

Vote Fraud Is So Easy

Of the many schemes Democrats use to win elections at any cost, perhaps the most insidious is their war against the photo ID requirement for voters.

Here is a metaphysical fact:

There is only one reason to NOT require a photo ID from voters, and that is to enable vote fraud. 

Democrats continue to defend their vote fraud schemes by claiming that requiring a photo ID is racist.   Specifically, they contend that African-Americans are not as capable of obtaining a photo ID as white people, a charge that is horribly demeaning and racist on its face.  Somehow the Democrat lie about Republican racism lives on against history, facts and logic.

James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has released yet another in a series of video stings showing how easy vote fraud is in a state like Michigan where no voter ID is required.

O’Keefe walked into a polling place and asked if they have a Brian Dickerson on their list.  He chose Dickerson, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, because he is a supporter of unfettered voting rights for all.  When O’Keefe said he lost his identification while hunting, he was handed Dickerson’s ballot anyway.

O’Keefe and his team repeated the experiment, receiving ballots for the Dean of the Wayne State University Law School, the Democrat leader of the Michigan house of representatives, a Michigan Democrat state senator, the editorial page editor and also another columnist from the Detroit Free Press, and even Detroit mayor Michael Duggan.

O’Keefe and friends did not actually complete the ballots, knowing that would give officials an opening to throw them in jail.  O’Keefe has done jail time before for daring to shine the light of truth.  When O’Keefe went to Mayor Duggan’s office to get a comment on the video, the Detroit city attorney threatened him.

“Voter registration is like a bank vault door.  When you put your money in the bank, do you want the bank to leave the vault door wide open so anybody can come in and take your money?  It’s just wrong.”  — James O’Keefe


But single-vote theft is chump-change compared to the high-volume ballot maneuvering that Democrats have perfected.  Automatic motor-voter registrations, same-day registrations, absentee ballots – all have made vote fraud easy work for the shameless.  You will find them carrying stacks of pre-marked ballots through apartment buildings, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and any other place where they can get a vote for the cost of a pack of cigarettes. In vulnerable states they drive bus loads of activists from poll to poll to register and vote. Many Democrat-controlled precincts report 100% wins for their candidates.  Others count more votes than there are registered voters.  Most states have little or no protection from voters who remain registered in multiple locations.  Dead voters continue to check off Democrat candidates for years after their demise.

33 states now require voter ID.  But the Democrats will not back down – when legislative efforts fail they just turn to their allies in the courts to impose their will on the public.

The Voter Integrity Project (VIP) offers some hope and tools to stem the tide of vote fraud in the USA.  But if the polls are 50/50 at election time, we can still expect the Democrats to win by 15%.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideYour cheatin’ heart will make you weep
You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep
But sleep won’t come the whole night through
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you

Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams, Jr.

 

 

My Economic Plan is Even Better Than Hillary’s!

Hillary-Money

I studied and taught economics but I still could never quite figure out the Democrat’s plan to improve our economy.  But now I think I finally get it.  I listened to Bernie and Hillary at the DNC convention, and it has all become clear to me.  In fact, thanks to Hillary’s lesson in Democrat economics, I think I can now even beat the Democrats’ plan for creating jobs and improving the economy.

Hillary wants to at least double the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, right?  She says $20 per hour would be even better.  Well, I say if $15 is good, and $20 is better, why not $50?  Heck, why not $100 an hour?  Just think, if all the burger-flippers and lawn mowers and hotel maids made $100 an hour ($208k per year) they could buy so much stuff that there would be millions of new manufacturing jobs to make all the things they want to buy.

Plus everybody could eat their meals at fancy, expensive restaurants.  So those restaurants would have to hire more waiters, and dishwashers and janitors.  They would all make at least $208,000 a year, so they could buy more stuff too!  You see how dollars circulate when a Democrat runs the economy?  Everybody wins!

Wait, if everybody eats at fancy restaurants, the burger-flippers wouldn’t have anything to do.  Oh well, they could play Pokémon Go when business is slow.  Or they could stay home and do tele-work like our federal government employees do when it gets hot outside. Problem solved.  Maybe the federal workers are playing Pokémon Go, too.

Hillary also wants to open our borders and ports so there will be many more immigrants coming to our country.  She says we need more immigrants to do the low-paid jobs that Americans don’t want to do.  She says immigrants are better at starting businesses than Americans are.  She says immigrants add a lot more to the economy than they take from it.  Well, then!  If immigrants are so great for our economy, let’s invite all of the people in Africa to move in with us!  And Mexico, and Myanmar . . . there are a lot of potential immigrants all over the world.  Just think how great our economy will be when they all live here!

Oh wait, if minimum wage is $100 an hour, there won’t be any low-paid jobs for them to take.  Hmm.  But hey, there will be so many new jobs from everybody else buying stuff with their new higher wages, the immigrants can take those jobs.  Hmm.  But then where would the Americans work?

Shoot, this is getting kind of hard.

Well, Hillary says college education should be free for everybody, and student loans should just be written off.  Probably a lot of Americans won’t have to work, then, because they will be going to college full time with free room and board.  So there will be jobs for the immigrants.  That’s how Greece does it.  Oops, that didn’t work out very well for Greece, did it?  And I guess maybe the immigrants will all be in free college too . . .

Dang it, it seemed to make sense when Hillary explained it.  So how are we going to create jobs and grow the economy?

Oh, I know.  Let’s just raise taxes on the rich!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideSaid when this is all over
You’ll be in clover
We’ll go out and spend
All of your Blue Money!

Blue Money – Van Morrison