Continuing College Woes – Debt, Irrelevancy, Entitlement, Etc.,

As I looked across the countryside from my patio. I marveled at the beauty. How could a country girl from Iowa be so fortunate? Somehow my mind went back to the first school I attended on the Sand Cove, a country school near New Albin,Iowa. I was just four, but I didn’t know I was too young for the first grade. I loved it. I found a gold mine. I had a teacher and big kids to answer my many questions about my world.

I rather quickly traversed my early school experiences; my teacher’s faces had the same smiles; the wonder of the books and maps and the globe was still vivid; I could place my finger on the globe and dream. All held memories of excitement. High school in Lansing, Iowa, where my coach, Eddie Albertson, and the other wonderful teachers worked their magic, was small. The superintendent had a sign in his small office that read: There is always room at the top. It just added confirmation to what I already knew. I wasn’t staying on the bottom rung of any ladder–my own or any ladder placed in front of me.

And then I went to college. What an opportunity. I had no money; I had no job. I certainly did not have a college wardrobe. I didn’t have any idea what that might even be. But I never allowed those facts to cloud my screen of opportunity. I had the most important ingredient. I had faith. I did not have to see the entire path before I took the first step. And my experience and heritage taught me that hard work produced answers to dreams.

My mental journey stopped. I was back in the reality of today. I listened to the news while I was eating my breakfast. There were the college audiences gathered to hear the campaign rhetoric. These young voters are being trained better each year to believe that a college education is their right. But that’s not where the entitlement stops. They want grants. When there are no grants available, they are convinced that they are entitled to loans. They are convinced that the money they borrow is a good investment for their future. They get deeper and deeper in debt. Each loan, they think, will get them closer to the pay-off of their investment.

Colleges set a great table of choices; students can feast at the table no matter the cost since most are not spending their money. Tuition costs have risen sharply. College debt of students has become enormous. Young people finish a degree or two or even the terminal degree for a profession, and find themselves with staggering debt. They remove their cap and gown, say goodbye to their college buddies, and head out to collect on their investment. They have the piece of paper that says they’re ready. And maybe they are, but for what decade.

Educators have a thing about relevancy. We spend vast sums of money to make curriculum relevant for our students. But somehow while we fiddle with the same set of stuff, we haven’t noticed that the music is the same. We have the same disciplines in our colleges, the same teaching methods, the same kinds of classroom, and professors with tenure and their disciplines to protect to keep it that way. I hate to say this, because I love books and I have a lot of them, but our libraries are filled with books that will never be used again.

But back to our college students who are campaign targets. So far what I have heard is what they are entitled to have, including current talk of forgiving student loans. They are being trained to become permanent members of the culture of entitlement.

I want to hear some talk about students being responsible for their choices. I want to hear some straight talk about jobs. Tell them to be careful about their choices; check the economy. Tell them to ask the professor or advisor who is recommending  college majors to them, to give them the name of five recent grads of the program so they can check out where they work and what their pay is. Tell them to keep track of technology. Ask the young people who graduated in the last couple of years what the future holds for them. Ask them if the field they chose has any relevancy in this decade. Ask them if they need the expensive degree they have to do the job they are doing. And what about parents who held two jobs so their kids could get not only an irrelevant education but also were probably taught values that are contrary to parental values and to our founding principles.

In the past couple of years, I have talked with so many of my friends who have children or grandchildren with expensive college educations who are working for minimum wages in retail or fast food places. They have no chance to pay off their debt  with minimum wage.They feel cheated, deceived, and discouraged. Their hope is for change.

Don’t misunderstand me. I still believe in the value of a college education. And I have respect for the degrees people earn; I am proud of my doctorate from UCLA.  And if someone wants to study one of the great disciplines for enjoyment and knowledge, that’s great  But if they hope that their education is directly job-related, there needs to be more “truth in lending,” and colleges and universities need to have more job-relevant majors. If colleges and universities are to exist in the future, they must serve this generation and the generations of the future rather than the tenured professors who occupy their hallowed halls. I mean no disrespect for those many great and noble professors at our universities; I was a tenured professor at major universities. But I truly believe that our colleges and universities must become relevant, and they must be totally honest about how they fit into the future of this great republic.

When I was a Little Girl: The Lessons I Learned

I walked to school in snow that was occasionally quite deep. When I got to school my feet were cold, my mittens were wet, and my hands were very cold. The schoolhouse was nice and warm, heated by the pot-bellied stove that the teacher had started a fire in much earlier. I don’t know what time the teacher had to get there.

Now, when I was your age or when I was a little girl are statements that can produce the closing of the ear passages. The words can bring a sigh or at least non-verbal behavior that indicates disinterest. Or it might even bring the statement, “Well, would you like to go back to those horse-and-buggy days?”

No, I don’t want to go back to freezing hands and feet. And I don’t want my grandchildren to have to walk in deep snow to school, or run behind a horse-drawn bus to keep warm, or sit on the cold wood seat with a bag of salt or a hot brick to moderate the cold just a wee bit.

However, I wouldn’t mind going back to some other things I learned.

I appreciated the heat because I knew the cold. I appreciated the snow and the warm summer days because I knew both. I appreciated the teacher who went early to light the fires for her kids; I never heard her say it wasn’t in her contract or that her day started fifteen minutes before the kids arrived. I never heard one of my teachers say she had to go home when I wanted to stay and read a book; she knew I didn’t have books at home. She would just put more wood in the stove.

I learned character from my family and from the great stories with a message in my readers. I wasn’t separated from the concepts of our Founders that have made a great nation because of the “establishment clause.”  I read about our history as it really happened. I learned about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They were there to guarantee the freedoms that people fought and died for. It was presented as the lasting document that it must remain if we are to survive as a republic. No one suggested modernization to “fit the culture and the times.”  I learned from the writings of the Founders that they sought Divine Guidance in their work.

Yes, I learned to appreciate, to be grateful for the opportunities, to love my country and understand what has made it great. And I didn’t expect anyone to shovel a path in the snow to make my trek easier. In the process of it all, I learned to serve, to shovel paths that make it easier for those who follow.

 

The Able-Disabled Enabled

The news is full of the frightening increase in the numbers of people in the United States claiming disability. The increases are really staggering. There has been no physical disaster or national happening to create these vast numbers of disabled. The crisis has to be a cultural epidemic. Millions have declared themselves disabled. It is inconceivable that the large numbers collecting disability checks are truly disabled physically.

How then can we possibly explain why so many would be willing to enter the realm of disability entitlement? Why have we been so willing to accept such a diagnosis in our nation? Each one of us needs to ask what s(he) can do to help combat the culture of entitled disabilities. The culture of entitlement keeps spawning new species of “free stuff.” Part of the political correctness of our day is to make people feel comfortable about accepting things they haven’t earned. Part of the lie is that they are entitled to take from those who are the most successful. These attitudes suck the blood of energy, drive, hard work, and desire for excellence and replace it with an anemia of lethargy, lack of desire, and pride in not having to work. The joy of achievement, the love of earning and learning, the respect for the rights of others have been replaced with a smugness of gaming the system and anger when the system does not provide enough to feed the greed of unearned entitlement.

I have watched people strive to receive disability payments. For those who have real disabilities, there should not be the battle that  sometimes occurs. For those who are feigning disability, I have a feeling of profound sadness, because they are throwing away so much of what they have been given by their Creator and as citizens of this great nation–freedom to become all that they could be . They have to change their thoughts of accomplishment and wellness to thoughts of being disabled, to thoughts of inability to achieve. Soon their thoughts of gratefulness for being able to work, their thoughts of joy of accomplishment, must change to thoughts of I can’t do this.

As a counselor and a teacher, I have had students try to convince me that they were unable to do the work, or they were just not given the tools that would allow them to achieve. They would be happy to pick up the scraps on the beach and never even look to the horizon of opportunity. I never accepted their feigned disability; I have always felt I could serve them best by making certain that they could experience success. Expecting them to work, to achieve, to feel competent were necessary from me. I could not join their pity march to nowhere.

It is not rocket science; it is the brain. It has been said in many places in many ways that we are not what we think we are; what we think, we are.It is so true. Seeing is not believing as many would have us believe. Believing is seeing. What we believe is what we see.

This is the way of the mind. What  we think, we become. Whether it’s Biblical, philosophical, our mother and father or our coach–all tenets and instructions are to think on good things. All would want us to be healthy, productive, self-reliant, and happy. All would want us to think wellness rather than to think about ways we can get disability.

To know the science of the brain, the way of the thought processes of the brain, and the plasticity of the brain, is to know that if you think enough about how you can become disabled, you will win that battle. All the neurons in the brain that were occupied with positive thoughts of wellness can quite easily be occupied with different thoughts–thoughts of disability.

We must do everything we can to discourage phony disability. It is a total disservice to a human being, a child of God. No one can ever convince me that we have the number of disabled people in this nation who are currently collecting disability. If our government really cared, it would not battle with those who are really disabled by war, accident, or circumstances; it would do everything that it could to help those who are not truly disabled to reject their thinking road to disability. The job of government should be to help people live independent, free, and productive lives.

When the politicians and  our government have secured another entitlement vote by creating an able-disabled person making him/her believe that it is an available entitlement, they truly are robbers of the worst sort. They have taken the freedom that our Creator has given us to become all that we can be and substituted a government check and dependency.

It is evil for those who are free to gain political advantage or philosophical control of others by leading them down the primrose path of “free stuff” to a life of dependency and one that lacks the sparkle of the diamonds of self-respect, self-reliance, independence and freedom.

Every citizen should help those who are truly disabled, and enable the able- disabled to send their checks back to their government with the proud announcement: NO THANK YOU; I WANT TO BE FREE.

College Debt–An American Tragedy

More than a trillion dollars in debt hangs around the necks of our young people in this country. How sad, we proclaim and go about our business. It’s too bad, we say, and allow our colleges and universities to continue their self-serving practices of allowing students to borrow and borrow until the sum of the debt seems to be meaningless. They borrow more. These institutions continue to offer majors that offer no career paths for those who carry the yolk of the debt. They will be saddled with debt that has no end when a job after college pays a minimum wage.

These young people cannot buy a car, a house, or take the vacations they dreamed about taking when they finished college. They often cannot even afford their own place to live. We have heard much about them living with their parents. These young Americans went to our vaunted colleges and universities with great hope and expectation. This journey was a big part of their American dream. A college education was just a part of their itinerary. This piece of their life was on the main highway to reaching their dream. Instead, for many, it has become a seemingly permanent detour.

But that is not the worst. Now we are being told that young people are selling their bodies to help pay their college debts. If this is true, it is a tragedy. How can we look in mirror?

Yes, the students should take more responsibility. But for those of us who have spent a lot of time at a college or university, we know the environment is very enticing, particularly if you can borrow money so easily to stay there. Because so many have grown up in the entitlement culture, it is easy for them to feel okay with borrowing the money. They feel someone else will pay my college debt.

 

Food Stamps–A Blessing or a Curse

          Could it be both?

          Like so many issues, we are not willing to sort out the issues to answer that question. Political views focus on the politics of the situation, rather than the problem.

          It is easy to see the blessing for those who are truly in need. We all can advocate for the mother who needs food for her children; we can empathize with those who have lost their jobs. We know people who experience temporary misfortune. There are those who are not able to make to the end of the month. There are folks who need help. But I think when we reach the level of one of every five families receiving food stamps, it is truly necessary to “find the problem.” We must ask what is happening in our America.

          We all have seen the frauds, those who are happy to take the government aid whether or not they need it. There are those who see others getting a food stamps so they want to get theirs. And then there are the politicians who profit politically from the subsidies and aid that they can secure. I worry most about the insidious nature of those who believe that the folks who become dependent and believe that it is their right to be given  “free” stuff; will create a permanent voting block and therefore, give them control.

          There are so many pieces to the puzzle, and the more who get food stamps, the bigger the puzzle becomes. We nibble at the edges to put the easiest pieces in place much like we start with a jig-saw puzzle.  The larger the puzzle, the more difficult it is to sort out the pieces, but we can find those pieces if we are willing to identify what fits together. We take identifying colors or shapes or hints of similarity and create a manageable situation.

          We can do the same with the food stamps puzzle. We surely must know that not one in five families should be receiving food stamps. We surely know when we make it easier and easier and easier to get food stamps, more people will do so.

           We have plenty of evidence that feeling comfortable with one lie, one fraud, makes the second easier. We know that the farther from the source of the money received, the less personal it is and the easier to accept; it’s that big government pot–that rainbow of government gold.

          So what do we do? ”Tune in tomorrow.”

 

President Obama–CEO of the Transformers

President Obama has said on several occasions that he intends to transform this country. He has many followers and many who have preceded him who helped to lay the foundation for the entitlement society that has evolved over the past several decades. The transformers have taken the love of liberty away from our people, particularly the new immigrants that they want to control, yes own. They have replaced this love of liberty with license. They have gradually convinced more and more people that it is OK to accept government hand-outs. They have convinced so many with free stuff that welfare is a right, and there is nothing wrong with welfare even when you’re able to work.

Government programs are in place to break down the “stubborn pride” of people who want to make their own way, who don’t want to accept government charity just because it is available with a program the government is promoting. Food stamps are a good example. When people feel responsible as individuals, the transformers try to convince them that it is foolish, stubborn, senseless pride not to accept something free that will “help them.” These programs are here to help you, the government says. Your friends and neighbors are taking advantage of this marvelous program, the government spokesperson proclaims.

Soon you have created a culture of folks as well trained as Pavlov’s dogs to feel justified in taking what others have earned, to believe the government is an endless pot of money. The transformers are committed to the destruction of freedom as we know it and as our founders knew it, fought for it, and devised a system of government to assure and sustain God given rights.

The transformers have broken our “melting pot.” They speak the words with derision. They convince us that “losing our identity” is a very bad thing. They devised the term “multiculturalism.”  They use multiculturalism to advance their cause while destroying what our Founders gave us, freedom. We become a part of the diatribe about how bad our country is, how selfish our people are, and how arrogant and boastful we are. All the while, they accept our generosity and continue to condemn us.

As the transformers continue to extinguish the founding lights of “the shining city on the hill.” we must turn them back on. We the People have the switch to turn them back on. But we must switch it back on at every level. We must make certain that our elementary and high schools teach our real history and founding values; we must send these well prepared kids to our colleges and university to stun their liberal professors with those founding values and truths. We must send these well-prepared young people to our state legislatures where they become citizen legislators. And we must send people to our federal government and Congress where they, too, are citizen legislators and servants of the people. The switch to the lights for “shining city on the hill” is in our hands. It’s up to us to flip that switch. _

Religious Freedom and Our Schools

One of the more amazing things that I have come to examine more and more is how cleverly the transformers have used “religious freedom,” one of the great tenets on which our Founders based everything. Diabolically, they have taken this great foundation of tolerance for all religions and turned it on its back. They used our deep desire for tolerance of religion to preach to us about tolerance in all areas. While they are extracting tolerance from us, they are free to practice intolerance. If we show the least bit of resistance, they know how to make most of us feel guilty. They have most certainly used all areas of our society when and how ever they could.

They have flooded our schools with multiculturalism. They have used our national instincts for tolerance to promote their agenda. While they have been removing more and more Christian ideas and ideals from our books, they have been putting more and more about other religions in our school books. While they are teaching our kids more and more about tolerating other religion, they have been distorting the historical facts about the religious content of our beginnings.

Universities, where I have spent much of my career, are the worst offenders. To find a conservative professor is quite a task. I have taught my classes during student strikes; I was told by my peers that I must not do that. Opposing the strike was not a good political move. I insisted that I was only conforming with what they were striking for—freedom of speech and assembly. If the students who were striking had the right to not attend class, then the students who wanted to attend class must have the same right. Oddly, no one seemed to be able to dispute that logic.

Universities are populated with boatloads of Marxists. Many don’t outwardly admit to the name, but they teach and indoctrinate their students with those ideals. Most young people who attend the liberal colleges, most are, come home after a short time to discuss with their parents if conservative, how wrong they are. “You don’t understand. Your way of thinking is old fashioned. There are more modern ways of thinking about our political system and our economy.”

The change in many, including my own, occurs when they get their first pay check and discover how little “they have left” after all the deductions are made. “Mom, this is not fair.” It’s a natural place to take them back to what you taught them in the first place. They find an eternal truth. Old doesn’t mean bad or outdated. So it is with our Founding Documents, our founding ideals, and our God given rights. They are no more out of style than the Bible is for a Christian. .

Churches have been used extensively to fight the battles of the transformers. The strange part of this is that one would expect most religions to want to keep Christ in Christmas, would want to keep our Christian beginnings in the textbooks and in our teaching, and our God given rights ever before our student’s eyes as God given rather than government given. I suspect that sometimes our church people are the most vulnerable to the tolerance pleas and the subsequent guilt that follows if they don’t succumb.

Our School Boards that succumb to the distortion of the holidays, who don’t follow what’s in their textbooks or what is being taught in their classrooms, are also at fault. It is difficult at that level to know. Often you are “protected” from knowing for the fear of “micromanagement.” Our young people are in school many hours a day during their formative years. The battle that Texas and other states fought and are fighting, belongs to all of us. The inclusions and exclusions in our textbooks are critical to our future. As McBrien said in America First many years ago, “There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if “this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.”  This is so true for this day.

 

 

 

 

When I Was a Little Girl…

I walked to school in snow that was occasionally quite deep. When I got to school my feet were cold, my mittens were wet, and my hands were very cold. The schoolhouse was nice and warm, heated by the pot-bellied stove that the teacher had started a fire in much earlier. I don’t know what time the teacher had to get there.

Now, when I was your age or when I was a little girl are statements that can produce the closing of the ear passages. The words can bring a sigh or at least non-verbal behavior that indicates disinterest. Or it might even bring the statement, “Well, would you like to go back to those horse-and-buggy days?”

No, I don’t want to go back to freezing hands and feet. And I don’t want my grandchildren to have to walk in deep snow to school, or run behind a horse-drawn bus to keep warm, or sit on the cold wood seat with a bag of salt or a hot brick to moderate the cold just a wee bit.

However, I wouldn’t mind going back to some other things I learned.

I appreciated the heat because I knew the cold. I appreciated the snow and the warm summer days because I knew both. I appreciated the teacher who went early to light the fires for her kids; I never heard her say it wasn’t in her contract or that her day started fifteen minutes before the kids arrived. I never heard one of my teachers say she had to go home when I wanted to stay and read a book; she knew I didn’t have books at home. She would just put more wood in the stove.

I learned character from my family and from the great stories with a message in my readers. I wasn’t separated from the concepts of our Founders that have made a great nation because of the “establishment clause.”  I read about our history as it really happened. I learned about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They were there to guarantee the freedoms that people fought and died for. It was presented as the lasting document that it must remain if we are to survive as a republic. No one suggested modernization to “fit the culture and the times.”  I learned from the writings of the Founders that they sought Divine Guidance in their work.

Yes, I learned to appreciate, to be grateful for the opportunities, to love my country and understand what has made it great. And I didn’t expect anyone to shovel a path in the snow to make my trek easier. In the process of it all, I learned to serve, to shovel paths that make it easier for those who follow.

 

The Able-Disabled Enabled

The news is full of the frightening increase in the numbers of people in the United States claiming disability. The increases are really staggering. There has been no physical disaster or national happening to create these vast numbers of disabled. The crisis has to be a cultural epidemic. Millions have declared themselves disabled. It is inconceivable that the large numbers collecting disability checks are truly disabled physically.

How then can we possibly explain why so many would be willing to enter the realm of disability entitlement? Why have we been so willing to accept such a diagnosis in our nation? Each one of us needs to ask what s(he) can do to help combat the culture of entitled disabilities. The culture of entitlement keeps spawning new species of “free stuff.” Part of the political correctness of our day is to make people feel comfortable about accepting things they haven’t earned. Part of the lie is that they are entitled to take from those who are the most successful. These attitudes suck the blood of energy, drive, hard work, and desire for excellence and replace it with an anemia of lethargy, lack of desire, and pride in not having to work. The joy of achievement, the love of earning and learning, the respect for the rights of others have been replaced with a smugness of gaming the system and anger when the system does not provide enough to feed the greed of unearned entitlement.

I have watched people strive to receive disability payments. For those who have real disabilities, there should not be the battle that  sometimes occurs. For those who are feigning disability, I have a feeling of profound sadness, because they are throwing away so much of what they have been given by their Creator and as citizens of this great nation–freedom to become all that they could be . They have to change their thoughts of accomplishment and wellness to thoughts of being disabled, to thoughts of inability to achieve. Soon their thoughts of gratefulness for being able to work, their thoughts of joy of accomplishment, must change to thoughts of I can’t do this.

As a counselor and a teacher, I have had students try to convince me that they were unable to do the work, or they were just not given the tools that would allow them to achieve. They would be happy to pick up the scraps on the beach and never even look to the horizon of opportunity. I never accepted their feigned disability; I have always felt I could serve them best by making certain that they could experience success. Expecting them to work, to achieve, to feel competent were necessary from me. I could not join their pity march to nowhere.

It is not rocket science; it is the brain. It has been said in many places in many ways that we are not what we think we are; what we think, we are.It is so true. Seeing is not believing as many would have us believe. Believing is seeing. What we believe is what we see.

This is the way of the mind. What  we think, we become. Whether it’s Biblical, philosophical, our mother and father or our coach–all tenets and instructions are to think on good things. All would want us to be healthy, productive, self-reliant, and happy. All would want us to think wellness rather than to think about ways we can get disability.

To know the science of the brain, the way of the thought processes of the brain, and the plasticity of the brain, is to know that if you think enough about how you can become disabled, you will win that battle. All the neurons in the brain that were occupied with positive thoughts of wellness can quite easily be occupied with different thoughts–thoughts of disability.

We must do everything we can to discourage phony disability. It is a total disservice to a human being, a child of God. No one can ever convince me that we have the number of disabled people in this nation who are currently collecting disability. If our government really cared, it would not battle with those who are really disabled by war, accident, or circumstances; it would do everything that it could to help those who are not truly disabled to reject their thinking road to disability. The job of government should be to help people live independent, free, and productive lives.

When the politicians and  our government have secured another entitlement vote by creating an able-disabled person making him/her believe that it is an available entitlement, they truly are robbers of the worst sort. They have taken the freedom that our Creator has given us to become all that we can be and substituted a government check and dependency.

It is evil for those who are free to gain political advantage or philosophical control of others by leading them down the primrose path of “free stuff” to a life of dependency and one that lacks the sparkle of the diamonds of self-respect, self-reliance, independence and freedom.

Every citizen should help those who are truly disabled, and enable the able- disabled to send their checks back to their government with the proud announcement: NO THANK YOU; I WANT TO BE FREE.

 

 

At the End of the Driveway

The walk to the end of my driveway is one of my exercise paths. But it is more than that. It has become a part of my grateful walk. I can sit at the end and see so many things for which I am so grateful. Picture endless skies in the cool air of the morning. The tall palms that line the driveway are amazing. They shelter so many different species of birds that fly in and out as they pursue their natural ways. Amazing sounds emanate from the air as they fly their routes and claim their space with songs. The harmony of the sound is stunning. Only when you stop to be grateful do you notice.

Sometimes I think being grateful is a lost art. We even have folks who question whether or not Thanksgiving is necessary. It is only when we are grateful for what we have rather than complain about what we don’t have that we truly understand the abundance of our universe. Everything that we need is available to us but only if we ask. Availability is not a pie that has to be parceled out; if you take half then only half is available for me. No! The universe is more like the sand of the beach or the waters of the oceans. Plentiful.

But you have to ask to receive and you have to knock on doors if you want to have them open for you. And most certainly you cannot find anything if you do not search for it. What you believe you will see. Believing is seeing rather than seeing is believing should be our motto. The rest of the motto should be to receive with gratitude.

It is with that attitude of gratitude that I walk to the end of my driveway. As I look around and view my surroundings with gratitude  a wave of fear engulfs my being. The questions come in quick succession.

What will be left for my grandchildren? Will the entitlement culture devour their opportunities like the ravenous beast that it is? Will the people who believe that the government is their benefactor contribute less and less and require more and more from those who strive, who work, who believe they have an obligation to use their God-given talents? Will the entitlement culture drain the energy from the well of responsibility and the air from the atmosphere of self-reliance?

Those questions and more compelled me to write America First, Again. It is why at 91 I want to invite anyone of any age who is sitting around thinking things are OK to get out of their rocking chairs, or off their playground of complacency because things are not OK . We are losing our republic.  The lights are being dimmed on “A Shining City on a Hill.”