Sunday, July 11, 2010

Just when you thought I'd forgotten this thing...

When it comes to keeping a journal, I'm anything but prolific. I don't think my life is nearly interesting enough to warrant frequent - or even periodic - updates. However, I do feel a certain amount of guilt for neglecting my talent and should probably make a sincere effort to post more often. Having said that, it's time for a break!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A post for Nikki

Imagine you quit today, on Oct. 6, 2009. I estimated that you smoke a pack a day and that each pack costs you $4.50. (That's a conservative estimate when you consider all the impulse purchases made at each visit to the store - purchases you never would have made a special trip for.) The following banner should show you what kind of cash you're missing out on!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

why I hate illegal immigration...

As often as I'm invited to, I speak passionately against the trend of illegal immigration. I've been involved in many debates, and I'm frustrated by the tendency of my opponents to ignore fact and logic in favor of emotion and accusation. I've been called a racist more times than I care to count for no other reason than that I believe America's borders should be closed for mass migration and immigrants forced to ask permission to live and work in our country. I'm not, in fact, the least bit racist. I don't care what color or nationality illegals are, and I'm tired of being "blamed" for the fact that most of the immigrants coming into this country are of the same race - Hispanic.

My main argument against illegal immigration is that illegals are "beyond the radar," so to speak. Few people understand what level of impunity being "undocumented" grants a person. When you have a source to provide fake ID's, you can step in and out of them as if they were shoes. Therefore, if you commit a crime as "John Jackson," then you can turn right around and become "Jack Johnson" and as such, never be forced to account for that crime. Every study ever done shows that getting away with a crime makes a person far more likely to repeat that crime or attempt new ones. Therefore, this policy of no-involvement is actually creating criminals out of men and women who might ordinarily have been decent enough citizens. I know for a fact that illegal immigrants who father children are utterly exonerated from paying child support by the pure apathy of the system. My nephew is the product of my American sister and an illegal Honduran immigrant. When they broke up and she tried to pursue child support, she was told that since the government couldn't track him, there was no way to make him pay. Since he has at least two identities at any given time, and those change periodically, there's no way short of jailing him - which nobody seems willing to do - to make him pay for his responsibility and save his child from a life of poverty. FORCING people to become documented, even if we have to resort to the much-dreaded amnesty to get it, would go a long way toward making people accountable for taxes, child support, traffic laws, and society's demands in general.

Another reason I oppose illegal immigration is that it lowers the standards of American life and undermines the labor force. Employers who have a ready supply of people to exploit are less likely to offer benefits and fair wages to American citizens. It's a known fact that people who fear deportation are NOT going to demand fair treatment. It's also a fact of capitalism that businesses will resort to any means necessary to lower costs and maximize profits, with many of them willing to break a few "victimless" laws to do so. They rationalize that giving someone a job who would have otherwise been destitute in Mexico is an act of compassion and therefore not subject to any further scrutiny lest those who scrutinize be labeled racist and uncaring of the plights of others.

This leads me to my next point of contention. People tend to dismiss illegal immigration under the misguided perception that the immigrants are guilty of nothing more than (very understandably) wanting a better way of life for themselves and their families. What they tend to forget is that migrating to another country is not the only - or even the best - way to improve one's quality of life. It's merely the easiest. The problems that Mexico (or most any other third world nation worthy of immediate escape) faces were not created by God or leprechauns or foreign invaders who oppressed the nation's efforts at progress. The problems were created by Mexicans and allowed to escalate by the Mexican people, and I refuse to believe that knowing this simple fact makes me a racist. Social reform requires organization and hard work on the part of a nation's people, and many times they have to resort to outright rebellion and civil war to end corruption and oppression. Abandoning one's nation and heritage rather than trying to fight for it doesn't show an impressive capacity for patriotism and social responsibility.

Mexico became what it is because of overpopulation, political corruption, and corporate exploitation. Ironically, many immigrants come to America and advocate these exact same behaviors. They want the government to look the other way for its own benefit on immigration (so their families can come over and "share the dream," even if they have nothing to add to it but dream) and they want corporations to be allowed to hire workers with no questions asked (so they and their families can get jobs) even if it means sacrificing some of the luxuries those "spoiled selfish Americans" seem to always be demanding. In short, they're slowly but surely turning the country they coveted into another version of the one they abandoned.

Unfortunately, many individuals are made to suffer for the results of mass behavior, but life has never been fair and I really am sorry for their troubles. I would contribute (and do through the Greater Good network) to any effort a nation is making to rebuild itself. However, I'll never be sorry enough for the troubles of someone else to ruin my own life to make theirs better. Otherwise, my house would be full to the rafters of worthy homeless people. There's nothing wrong with a healthy level of selfishness. It's what enabled humans to evolve as a species and one of the driving qualities that enabled America to build itself into this posh superpower that every other nation simultaneously envies and resents. As long as people are willing to take advantage of goodwill, then goodwill will never be a smart business practice.

When you're thinking (and voting) about illegal immigration, you have to look past compassion for the individual and think about your nation (and theirs) as a whole. The choice to protect America will not automatically make you a racist or a despicable person. However, allowing a race of people to pour its needy into our economy can (and will) create racial tensions that lead to hatred and violence. History speaks for itself. I really don't want my children involved in the civil war and general hardship that I think will come from overpopulation and having a race of people who are above and/or beyond the law. If that desire gets me attacked and labeled as a Mexican-hating hillbilly, so be it! I'm going to speak out against illegal immigration anyway, because for the last time, it's not about race!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why Herbert Morrison is the greatest journalist I've ever seen

In case you don't know, Herbert Morrison is the guy who recorded the Hindenburg crash. I think he did a spectacular job because you could tell that he was absolutely heartbroken, as any human with a heart would be while witnessing the simultaneous deaths of 36 people. The tears in his voice proved his humanity. Even so, he kept on describing the incident for posterity's sake. He didn't stop to cry or to compose himself (The latter is practically demanded of modern journalists.) but instead soldiered on, telling the world what he saw. People often accuse journalists of being heartless sharks, but this man proved that reporters do have heart and no matter what agony will still give you the story. I salute this man and in tribute, will learn his name and tell it to anyone who listens to my most idle thoughts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I love Justin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Has it really been a year?

See, this is why I was never any good at keeping a diary or journal in the past. Though I'm known to produce some profound thoughts from time to time, I don't feel compelled to record my every thought and experience. If I did, the result would become tedious, both for me and my small circle of readers. I can stand to be any kind of failure except a boring one.

I suppose some would say I've completely wasted the last year of my life. I probably should be ashamed of the almost aggressive laziness with which I've greeted most days, but I wouldn't call them wasted. Let's just say I'm setting a standard that won't be too hard to surpass. On that note, there's a warm, inviting bed behind me with a warm, inviting man sleeping without me. What on earth am I still doing here?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Reproductive Freedom

The following is a passionate rant that I composed in response to a raging debate over the following news article. You can imagine the indignation that followed this ruling, with people everywhere demanding to know who the hell he thinks he is.

In the event that the link is no longer available, here is its text, in red italics. Below that is my response to the avalanche of outrage:

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) -- A St. Joseph woman who has three children says she was shocked when a judge ordered her not to have any more children out of wedlock while she is on probation for three years.

Mandy Nelson, 26, was given the unusual requirement by Buchanan County Circuit Judge Daniel Kellogg as part of her probation in a forgery case. Other conditions of her probation include community service hours, paying restitution and obtaining a GED or high school diploma.

"I was shocked," Nelson said. "I only have three kids. He made it seem like I was just having kids, kids, kids."

Nelson already was on probation for a prior forgery count. She is alleged to have tried to use $480 in counterfeit money at Commerce Bank in May 2005, according to a St. Joseph Police Department probable-cause statement.

Nelson mentioned in court that she was having financial difficulties because she had three children whose fathers weren't paying child support.

Kellogg said, "My feeling was that would be to help ensure she wouldn't have any more financial difficulties. It's not a moral judgment. It was just to address what were her legitimate concerns. It was more to give her support than to serve as punishment."

Nelson told the judge that she had undergone surgery to close her fallopian tubes after her third son was born two years ago.

But Kellogg replied, "Frankly, nothing is 100 percent."

He compared his action to restitution, which he includes in probation orders even if it has already been paid.

Nelson's mother, Kelly Metcalf, was in the courtroom when the sentence was imposed.

"I was really surprised when he said that," Metcalf said. "I didn't think that was legal. Mandy has always taken care of her kids. It made it look like she was a welfare bum."

The judge's order angered Constance Monroe, who founded Women of Vision Ministries Inc. ofSt. Joseph. It's a non-profit organization that assists women who are either coming out of the correctional system or who are dealing with drug addiction or teen pregnancy.

"We're in what century?" asked Monroe. "That, to me, is a moral statement, not a judicial statement."

The state doesn't track special probation conditions, but "this is extremely rare," explained Brian Hauswirth, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Probation and Parole.

In a case such as Nelson's, an officer would report to the court only if she gave birth to a child out of wedlock, Hauswirth said. The pregnancy by itself wouldn't be in violation.

Laura Hibbs, a Probation and Parole's administrator, noted that defendants could choose a prison sentence rather than probation. Kellogg suspended Nelson's sentence, which would have been four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Presiding Judge Patrick Robb said that the probation condition was uncommon in Buchanan County but that he'd ordered it several times during his career. He found the condition appropriate in some cases, such as for a defendant attending substance abuse programs.

He said he had never seen anyone's probation revoked because they gave birth.

The words "reproductive freedom" are a classic example of a noble concept gone horribly awry. Before I make my point and piss people off -- which I'm sure I will -- let me say now that I am staunchly pro-choice in matters of abortion, and an avid supporter of women's rights. I don't think there is a single instance in which a woman should be forced to have a child against her will, but I can think of many good reasons to force a woman not to have children.

Americans are obsessed with the notion that procreation is a divine right never to be infringed upon by anyone for any reason. This means that a homeless crack addict should have the inalienable right to bear as many children as biology will allow, and damn the consequences to whatever children are unlucky enough to be conceived under such circumstances. Those eggs shoulda ducked when they saw the sperm coming, so really the impertinent brats brought that misery on themselves, don't you think?

All sarcasm aside, does anyone care about the abject misery in which hundreds of thousands of children are living, simply because no one dares to poke the hornet's nest and question the "reproductive freedom" of irresponsible men and women? I'm not talking about mere poverty -- many a happy child has been raised by loving, responsible parent(s) without two nickels to rub together. In fact, I'd bet that lots of families are brought closer by the lack of material trappings which forces them to (ack!) spend time together instead of retreating to their separate electronic entertainments after a few civil grunts.

No, money is not the issue here, although somebody somewhere will bring up the almighty dollar. (Wait and see.) I'm talking about parents who abuse their children in any of the infinite ways this sacred bond can be profaned. Children are routinely beaten, raped, used as slaves and "cash cows" to manipulate the system, and generally made to feel as if they're worthless. Except for the momentary swell of pity from those who hear of their suffering, they basically are. I mean, really -- who gives a shit? Not the parents, or else a child would think suffering to be nothing more than an early bedtime or loss of TV priveleges. The "system" doesn't care, as evidenced by the appalling state of Child Protective Services and foster care at large. Even the socially conscious only pay lip service, because they're clearly more concerned with the rights of abusers to have as many children as they please. After all, isn't freedom more important than consequence?

The judge at the center of this debate did not take away this woman's right to ever have another child. He merely ordered her to take a three-year vacation from her reproductive frenzy (I think three fatherless children at 26 is very damned excessive.) and perhaps reflect upon the challenges of motherhood. Using her children as an excuse to break the law only adds to my outrage, as now I'm expected to feel sorry for her because she clearly bit off more than she could chew. We should be far more concerned about the children she's having so much trouble supporting. Tubal ligation was an excellent choice, and I commend her for redeeming herself and her children with that decision. I hope she gets the help she needs and turns her life around.

Back to the horse I'm laboriously beating to death here, I think that reproduction is not a right, but a sacred responsibility that (Let's face the ugly truth, folks!) some people are just not ready for and may never be. Some measure should be taken to curtail the breeding of those who have proven themselves to be bad parents. These measures should not be gender-specific, so you feminists can let out that breath you were planning to howl in rage with. Deadbeat dads should be rounded up and herded to the nearest vasectomy clinic. The procedure will cost the taxpayer much less than even one more child raised by the system. Women with three or more children and no legal means of independently supporting them (with or without a partner's help) should be sterilized. Anyone who abuses a child in an unambiguous way (meaning that more specific harm was caused than a dirty house or the lack of a new Gameboy) should have their parental rights revoked. All of them.

Here's where my idea takes a few hits. "If we allow the government the right to decide who gets to have children, before long they'll start restricting the poor, the stupid, the ugly..." Etc. This is a valid concern, but we shouldn't let the potential for corruption overshadow the protection of the innocent. Should we really disregard perfectly humane and logical concepts because someday, somewhere, somebody might take the idea too far? If that's the case, why do we allow the government to make laws at all?

To me, the issue is not about the adults who squabble over freedom and rights. It's about the children who've been afforded neither to appease the idea of the almighty uterus.