A 15-Year-Old stabs his 10-Year Old and 4-Year-Old Brothers to Death

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 26th, 2013

Week in Review

With the Sandy Hook shooting, the Aurora theater shooting, the Tucson shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting, etc., the focus has been on the shooting.  Not the shooter.  The left is using these mass murders to advance gun control legislation.  Instead of addressing the mental health problems common to the shooters.  The focus is on the guns.  And nothing but the guns.  While people with mental health problems fall through the cracks.  Like that 13-year-old who tried to rape then killed his mother for taking away his videogame.  Who appeared to be well along in his mental health problems.  And then there’s this 15-year-old who was apparently just beginning his descent into mental health problems (see Utah boy, 15, arrested in stabbing deaths of brothers, 10 and 4 by Michael Mello posted 5/24/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).

“He’s an honor student, highly intelligent and never been in trouble with the law,” Poulsen told the Los Angeles Times. “According to the neighbors, he’s a little quiet, but they’re a great family.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, the suspect’s mother left him home to watch his 10-year-old and 4-year-old brothers while she took the family’s four other children to run errands. She returned two hours later, Poulsen said, and called 911 when she found the 4-year-old dead on the floor.

Deputies who arrived at the home found the 10-year-old’s body in the basement, but could not find the 15-year-old. Several local law enforcement agencies combed the area for the boy, and found him around midnight in a neighboring town about eight miles away.

We don’t know much about this yet but there may have been signs of mental health problems that people just missed.  Because it is usually a progression of withdrawal and isolation and a change in behavior before things like this happen.  Adam Lanza spent all his time playing violent videogames alone in the basement before shooting his mother and the Sandy Hook students.  James Holmes was working on his Ph.D. when he started doing poorly in his academic work and talked about wanting to kill people to a physiatrist before the Aurora theater shooting.  Jared Loughner’s strange behavior got him expelled from college before the Tucson shooting.  Seung-Hui Cho’s mental health problems were well documented before the Virginia Tech shooting.  Yet we missed these signs and failed to prevent these horrible acts.  Just as we may have missed some signs with this 15-year-old.  Because we’re still trying to push gun control legislation.  Instead of trying to address mental health issues that drive people to mass murder.

Guns have been a common factor in some of these crimes.  While mental health problems have been a common factor in all of them.  So it doesn’t appear to be the guns.  It’s the mental health problems.  For here we have another instance of some unsound person killing people.  But this one killed without a gun.  Perhaps we could have prevented this if the focus was on mental health.  And not the NRA.

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Student Loan Payments are Overdue because Universities sold Students Costly Degrees with no Market Value

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 26th, 2013

Week in Review

American companies have difficulty in filling positions requiring strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills.  So they turn to foreigners.  And the H-1B visas (see H-1B Visas and the STEM Shortage by Jonathan Rothwell and Neil G. Ruiz posted 5/10/2013 on Brookings).  Which means our colleges and universities aren’t producing enough of these STEM graduates.  Instead, what they are producing is a lot of people who can’t get a job.  And probably will never be able to repay their student loan (see Overdue Student Loans Reach Record as U.S. Graduates Seek Jobs by John Hechinger posted 5/23/2013 on Bloomberg).

Overdue student loans reached an all-time high as students struggle to find work after college, according to a government report renewing alarms about the rising burden of higher-education debt.

Eleven percent of student loans were seriously delinquent — at least 90 days past due — in the third quarter of 2012, compared with 6 percent in the first quarter of 2003, according to the report by the U.S. Education Department. Almost 30 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds aren’t employed or in school, the study found.

The research is being released amid concern in Congress and President Barack Obama’s administration about rising college costs and $1 trillion in outstanding student loans, the largest category of consumer debt besides mortgages.

So our colleges and universities pocketed a cool $1 trillion in return for giving our kids degrees that have little market value.  At least 30% of those degrees.  A trillion the U.S. taxpayer will probably end up eating.  Just like they had to eat the subprime mortgage mess.  Which begs the question.  Why are our colleges and universities selling our kids degrees that can’t help them land a job?  And don’t say it’s just the economy.  While the bad economy plays a part it doesn’t explain all those H-1B visas.  What these visas tell us is our colleges and universities are screwing us.  By conning our kids to go into great debt for worthless degrees just to bring hundreds of billions into their campuses.

If anyone bails out this student loan debt it should be those responsible for it.  The ones who sold our kids these worthless degrees.  In fact, in the future, we need to make some kind of eligibility scoring system for student loans.  Based on a survey of who businesses are hiring.  Those they’re hiring most (like those with STEM skills) should be eligible for the greatest student loan amounts at the best interest rates.  Because these graduates are most likely to get a job commensurate with their education.  And will be able to easily repay their student loans.  While those who businesses are hiring least (like those getting degrees in gender studies or drama) should be eligible for the smallest loan amounts and pay the highest interest rates.  Or simply denied any student loans.  Because they will be the least likely to get a job.  And will have the most trouble repaying their loan.

For those who feel they must have these degrees with no current market value to enrich the American tapestry they can still get these degrees.  They just need to pay for them out of pocket.  Or have their parents pay for them.  Which shouldn’t be a problem.  For they can demand colleges and universities lower the tuition costs for these degrees with no current market value.  I mean, why should they be charging so much and put a student into so much debt for a degree that won’t improve his or her economic position.  Which is the ultimate reason we go to college.  So we can earn a bigger paycheck.  Even the drama students dream of going to Hollywood where they can be rich and famous.

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Self-Esteem is out and a Useful Education is in at Schools in Perth, Australia

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 26th, 2013

Week in Review

I’ll never forget this classic episode of Gomer Pyle – USMC.  Sergeant Carter was feeling old.  Which depressed him.  Gomer wanted to help him recapture the vigor of his youth.   So on a long march Gomer emptied Sergeant Carter’s pack and filled it with straw.  Late into the march his men were fatigued.  But not Sergeant Carter.  He was fresh as a daisy.  Until he went into his pack and saw it was filled with straw.  Which made him feel old and depressed again.

Gomer’s mistake was making the pack lighter instead of heavier.  For if he completed the march and learned he had carried a heavier pack than everyone else he would have felt strong again like in his youth.  For making it through things when they are hard builds confidence.  Even if you fail once or twice along the way.  This prepares you for whatever the future has in store for you.  But making it through something because you had it easy or never faced criticism or suffered a failure doesn’t really prepare you for anything.  But extreme frustration as you are unable to handle adversity.  Or recover from failure (see Students to learn about failure by Bethany Hiatt posted 5/25/2013 on The West Australian).

One of Perth’s most prestigious and academically successful schools is cutting back on praise and rewards for students.

It has concerns that society’s focus on boosting self-esteem leaves many struggling to cope with failure on leaving school.

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls wrote to parents explaining why it introduced strategies this year to minimise praise, reduce reward stickers for participation and provide work that was deliberately too difficult so students could experience failure.

Junior school head Julie Quansing-Rowlands said the prevailing wisdom in schools for many years had been that building up children’s self-esteem would lead to high achievement.

But recent research showed this simplistic approach backfired.

Over-praising meant children were less able to cope with disappointments they faced later in life…

Heaping praise on students also gave them a false sense of their ability and led to a sense of entitlement…

“We’re beginning to understand that it actually damages children to constantly praise them, constantly tell them they’re special and build up their self-esteem,” he said.

“New research is demonstrating that it’s not self-esteem but self- respect and self-control that really are the best predictors of how well kids are going to perform in high school…”

WA Primary Principals Association president Stephen Breen said schools and parents had probably gone too far in puffing up children’s self-esteem by praising everything.

“As a consequence, a lot of kids don’t accept criticism,” he said.

This is what liberals did to the American public schools.  Ruined them by trying to build self-esteem instead of preparing our kids for life.  Which has fed into an entitlement mentality where kids today expect life to be handed to them without having to work hard to get ahead.  That’s why so many go to college and get worthless degrees.  Because they just expect to get a good job when they graduate. Even though they learned no marketable skills in college.  But they had a good time.  And have the student loan debt to prove it.  Which they’ll never be able to pay back working a service job that they could have gotten without a college education.

If you’re looking to move and you have kids you may want to consider Perth, Australia.  For I hear if your kids go to school there they’ll learn how to work hard.  They’ll earn good grades.  Maybe a bad one or two.  But they will be able to complete a degree program at a college that will have real market value.  Preparing them for the real world after school.  No matter what life throws at them.  So they won’t be coming back home to live in your basement.  But they will have you move in with them so they can take care of you in your golden years.  Because your parenting and a good Perth education allowed them to achieve more in life than you did.  The way it should be.  Not having future generations achieving less than their parents.

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Binge Drinking is yet another Example of Young People making Poor Decisions

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 26th, 2013

Week in Review

Border towns.  It’s where people can escape high legal drinking ages.  Laws against gambling.  And bans on totally naked girls at strip bars serving alcohol.  By simply crossing the border you can have all the fun your little heart desires.  Even get yourself into a whole lot of trouble.  Because most of this fun starts with young adults getting drunk.  And drunk young adults have a penchant for making bad decisions.

One of these border towns is across the river from Detroit.  Windsor.  A small city that thrives on that cross-border traffic pouring millions into their local economy.  But it’s just not the Americans having a really good time in downtown Windsor (see Health unit launches campaign to tackle binge drinking by Beatrice Fantoni posted 5/24/2013 on The Windsor Star).

Windsor is notorious for its busy bar scene but the public health unit wants to tone the binge drinking down just a little in the interests of long-term health…

A nasty hangover can last well past the weekend. Abusing alcohol today can have serious health repercussions years from now, in the form of increased cancer risk – most notably, breast cancer – or other serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis or stroke.

Using a set of guidelines for safe alcohol consumption developed by the National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Committee, the public health campaign – which eight other public health units in southwestern Ontario are also launching – involves the roll-out of a different poster every three months on topics such as what constitutes a safe serving size and the short- and long-term risks of heavy drinking.

The target population is the 25-44 age group and posters are being distributed to local bars, restaurants, gyms, workplaces, for example, McBeth said…

“The end result is going to be the same,” said Rich Kingsley, who used to own several restaurants in the city. When people head downtown for drinks, Kingsley said, they’re gonna binge.

Posters alone won’t help just like those graphic images on cigarette packages do little to dissuade smokers, he said. Policies like changing the legal drinking age or prohibiting smoking in public places have to go along with it, he said.

Raising the legal drinking age.  Makes sense.  Young adults make a bad decision to binge drink.  And when they’re drunk they make even more bad decisions.  Not to mention all of that health damage they’re causing.  So raising the legal drinking age to allow these people to grow up and become mature and responsible sounds like a good idea.  Good for them.  And good for us.  For our loved ones won’t make a bad decision with lasting consequences.  Nor will we have to see them suffer some horrible disease later in life.   Or pay the high costs of treating some horrible disease.  How can you argue with that?

Can you imagine leaving this up to the young people?  Say getting all the 15-21 year-olds together.  And have them determine the new legal drinking age?  Can you guess what they would say it should be?  I’ll take a guess.  They’ll probably say the legal drinking age should be 15.  For if they’re responsible enough to vote, they’ll figure, they’re responsible enough to drink.  Besides, what 15-year-old wouldn’t love to be able to walk into a party store and buy booze without a fake ID?

This is why we don’t let 15-year-olds vote.  And why we should never let 15-year-olds vote.  Because they are not wise enough, mature enough or responsible enough to do what’s best for them.  In fact, we probably should raise the voting age.  If people 25-44 are acting so irresponsibly by binge drinking perhaps we should just raise the voting age.  Maybe not to 45.  But definitely higher than 18.  For it’s obvious these people put their immediate wants before their long-term best interests.  Which explains how a country that is 21% liberal is being run by liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats get the youth vote.  And what’s important to the youth?  Having a good time.  Which means decriminalizing pot.  Free birth control.   And access to abortion.  Things the liberal Democrats tell these kids are the most important things in the world.  And that the Republicans want to take them away from them.  So they vote liberal Democrat.  Until they have children of their own.  Especially daughters.  Then an all-girl Catholic school doesn’t look that bad.  Because putting the fear of God into our kids is a good way of helping them make better decisions.  And it will help prevent some boy from knocking up our daughters.  Or giving them a venereal disease.

Perhaps we need a little less partying.  And a little more religion in our lives.  A little morality may make us drink less.  Smoke less.  Engage in sexual congress less.  Resulting in fewer unplanned pregnancies.  That will require fewer abortions.  If we do that perhaps our young people can focus on more important things.  Like getting a good education.  Establishing a career.  And starting a family.  Things that are in their long-term best interests.

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More Unions are Angry about the Unintended Consequences of Obamacare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 26th, 2013

Week in Review

The unions and President Obama were tight.  Once upon a time.  They helped the president win two elections.  Dumped truckloads of campaign money into his coffers.  And the thanks for all of this?  Obamacare.  Which they once enthusiastically supported.  But now they are learning what the opponents have been saying about Obamacare all along.  That it will make health insurance more expensive.  And likely that people will lose coverage they like and want to keep.  It’s getting so bad that unions are now coming out in opposition of Obamacare (see Some unions now angry about health care overhaul by SAM HANANEL, Associated Press, posted 5/24/2013 on Yahoo! News).

…some unions leaders have grown frustrated and angry about what they say are unexpected consequences of the new law — problems that they say could jeopardize the health benefits offered to millions of their members…

“It makes an untruth out of what the president said, that if you like your insurance, you could keep it,” said Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “That is not going to be true for millions of workers now.”

The problem lies in the unique multiemployer health plans that cover unionized workers in retail, construction, transportation and other industries with seasonal or temporary employment. Known as Taft-Hartley plans, they are jointly administered by unions and smaller employers that pool resources to offer more than 20 million workers and family members continuous coverage, even during times of unemployment.

The people who work in construction may work for many different construction companies throughout their working life.  But they have consistent benefits because of the one constant during their union life.  Their union membership.  Which makes these jobs different than someone working in the same UAW assembly plant all of their life.  Who also work for the same company all their working life.

A lot of people will stay in a job they don’t like because of their health insurance benefit.  Construction workers don’t have to worry about being stuck in a job they don’t like.  If they don’t like an employer they can quit.  Go to the union hall.  And pick up another job.  All without any interruption in their benefits.

Construction companies collectively bargain contracts with these unions.  For example, electrical contractors will negotiate a contract with the local chapter of the union representing electricians.  And health care costs are a big part of those negotiations.  For it is these electrical contractors that pay for the health insurance plans managed by the union.  And it’s costly.  Raising a contractor’s cost when bidding new work.  Which is why union construction companies try to keep nonunion companies from bidding their work.  Because nonunion companies don’t have this massive cost to pay for this generous union benefit.  Which can provide uninterrupted health insurance for an unemployed worker sitting at the hall for months waiting for another job.  As well as for his wife and his children.  Something people don’t enjoy when they get laid off from most other private sector jobs.

The union plans were already more costly to run than traditional single-employer health plans. The Affordable Care Act has added to that cost — for the unions’ and other plans — by requiring health plans to cover dependents up to age 26, eliminate annual or lifetime coverage limits and extend coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

As it has added to the cost for ALL insurance plans.  There’s a reason why before Obamacare plans didn’t cover dependents up to age 26, had annual or lifetime coverage limits and excluded pre-existing conditions.  Because they add great cost.  Insurance companies aren’t greedy.  They’re just trying to provide insurance.  Having people pay a little bit for a policy to insure against a large financial loss.

For insurance to work you need a lot of responsible people paying a little bit for those policies.  Forcing plans to cover pre-existing conditions, though, makes people NOT buy health insurance.  For they think why should I pay years of health insurance premiums when I can just buy a policy when I’m sick?  Which they will.  So they will consume a lot of health care costs that have to be paid by people who are buying policies.  While contributing nothing to the pot for others.  Making those policies under Obamacare very expensive.  Because with preexisting conditions covered a few people will now have to a pay a lot.

Workers seeking coverage in the state-based marketplaces, known as exchanges, can qualify for subsidies, determined by a sliding scale based on income. By contrast, the new law does not allow workers in the union plans to receive similar subsidies.

Bob Laszewski, a health care industry consultant, said the real fear among unions is that “a lot of these labor contracts are very expensive and now employers are going to have an alternative to very expensive labor health benefits.”

“If the workers can get benefits that are as good through Obamacare in the exchanges, then why do you need the union?” Laszewski said. “In my mind, what the unions are fearing is that workers for the first time can get very good health benefits for a subsidized cost someplace other than the employer.”

You see, the Obama administration cannot give a subsidy to the unions.  Because they have to pay for subsidies they give to low-income people with a ‘tax’ on other insurance plans.  That is, the people who can afford to pay for health insurance have to pay the subsidies for those who can’t.

The ultimate goal of Obamacare is to put the private health insurers out of business so the government can step in and get what they want.  National health care.  Of course, doing that has one big drawback for these unions.  With national health care you don’t need to belong to a union any more for the kind of health care benefit that provides for you and your family even when you’re unemployed.

Labor unions have been among the president’s closest allies, spending millions of dollars to help him win re-election and help Democrats keep their majority in the Senate. The wrangling over health care comes as unions have continued to see steady declines in membership and attacks on public employee unions in state legislatures around the country. The Obama administration walks a fine line between defending the president’s signature legislative achievement and not angering a powerful constituency as it looks ahead to the 2014 elections.

The cost of unions has pushed most of U.S. manufacturing offshore.  Public sector unions are bankrupting city and state governments.  And even the state of Michigan, home of the automotive industry, has voted to become a right-to-work state.  The heyday of the unions is over.  And they’re struggling to hold onto what little they have.  Especially in the private sector.  Where their ranks have done nothing but fall since the Sixties.

The unions poured money into the reelection of President Obama because Democrats are supposed to make things better for unions.  Not worse.  At this rate unions may start voting Republican.  For though they may not have as generous union contracts they may at least still have union contracts.  Because with the business-friendly environment of the Republicans there may at least be a building boom.  And more union construction jobs.

As the 2014 midterm elections draw close you may see a louder voice for the repeal of Obamacare.  This time coming from one-time vocal supporters.  Perhaps giving Democrats a difficult time at winning their elections.  Unless they come out for the repealing of Obamacare, too.  For unions may have at one time thought about how nice it would be to get rid of that costly benefit from their benefit package.  Which will happen if Obamacare evolves into national health care.  But now they’re seeing that this outcome may make unions irrelevant.  And are likely thinking, “My God, what have we done?”

It just goes to show you have to be careful what you wish for.  Because sometimes those wishes come true.

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