The Worship of Sports in America

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How The Middle-Class Got Screwed (Video)

A most simplistic explanation of how the economic problems of the middle-class has become an actual threat to their well-being.

Why I'm Not A Democrat...Or A Republican!

There is a whole lot not to like about either of the 2 major political parties.

Whatever Happened To Saturday Morning Cartoons?

Whatever happened to the Saturday morning cartoons we grew up with? A brief look into how they have become a thing of the past.

ADHD, ODD, And Other Assorted Bull****!

A look into the questionable way we as a nation over-diagnose behavioral "afflictions."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The You Tube Father's Laptop Shooting - You Go, Boy!

So by now, everyone who is interested has seen the now viral video of the North Carolina father who posted a video on You Tube of himself railing on his teenage daughter, ending with his melodramatic shooting up a laptop belonging—or rather formerly so—to her. The video, which father Tommy Jordan posted, was a response to his 15-year-old daughter’s Facebook-posted profanity-laden diatribe against her own parents for it appears, holding her to reasonable expectations as a child living under the responsibility, the authority, and the roof of her parents.

video

Setting aside the twin truths that: (1) I have been working with kids and teens in one form or fashion for the last decade or so, and am well aware of their narcissistic perspectives; and (2) that I am quite familiar with how often most of today’s teenagers exaggerate occurrences involving themselves, I am more than inclined to take the father at his word after watching the video—even without hearing the daughter’s side of the story. The simple fact is that today’s American youth—outside of each other’s approval—don’t respect a whole lot, especially the inherent and actual authority of adults, including their parents. To today’s teens, rules are merely suggestions and when they [routinely] break rules, they are often coddled by a justice system already overwhelmed with dealing with adult crimes.
After reading multiple online articles and posts about the shootings myself, it seems that public opinion is pretty split down the middle for support and condemnation of the father’s actions.
Regular readers to Beyond The Political Spectrum already know where I personally stand on the issue of parental disciplining of noncompliant and rebellious children; the Old School way of bringing up children is simply the best, the most result-proven way. Under the Old School regime of raising children, there was social consensus for the parent’s right to occasionally whip unruly children, including among law-enforcement and the courts…as long as parents didn’t cross the line into abuse. During those times, “abuse” was more narrowly-defined, prohibiting such blatant actions resulting in major physical trauma, such as cigarette burns, choking, broken limbs, and/or otherwise adversely affecting the child’s long-term physical health (by comparison, “abuse” today constitutes anything that may result in a broken fingernail or leaves a bad thought in a child’s head).
The direct parenting of the old ways enforced compliance with curfews, the authority of adults (especially parents and teachers), compelled school attendance and in most cases, academic performance, and cavorting with familiars (back in those days, if parents didn’t know a child’s friend or their parents, children weren’t allowed to play with them). Children didn’t expect everything to be given to them on a whim. Chores were performed based on nonnegotiable expectations. Substance abuse was the exception, not the rule, as direct parenting made parents well aware of their children’s proclivities and inclinations. Those with overly-liberal attitudes toward raising children—those who invariably condemn Jordan’s actions—can only blame themselves for how today’s children have turned out. “Sanctions” are limited to talking to children in a “therapeutic” manner (which flies in the face of logic; if such “solutions” were in fact valid, then we wouldn’t jail adults for breaking the law…we’d talk to them). We often make unjustified excuses for their actions. Half of us whine and scream, “Abuse” if parents even raise their voices at chronically unruly children, affecting the half of responsible parents who do believe in being given a free hand to raise their children in a manner they deem appropriate. It’s hard to imagine that many Americans either don’t remember, or don’t yearn for those relatively better parenting experiences.
Those who condemn the North Carolina’s father’s actions are simply not looking at the big picture; he could have just as well put the bullets in his daughter for publicly disrespecting her and his wife as responsible parents. But for showing restraint—and innovative thinking—as a parent in dealing with today's often disrespectful, ungrateful, lazy, and unmotivated youth, I say...you go, boy!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yes Virginia, There ARE "Lazy Americans!" (Conclusion)

Continued from Part 2

Let’s see now…we’ve explored the myth that Americans are not lazy from different perspectives. Americans are lazy when it comes to our children’ education. We routinely lower the educational standards instead of public school instead of raising expectations. We lazily teach for standardized testing instead of simply teaching concepts which foster academic literacy. We allow our children to routinely disrespect or even assault, teachers and staff in our public schools under the excuse that they have some sort of emotional and or/or psychological “condition.” We lazily tolerate particularly disruptive children to sap away the opportunity for the more stable children in our classrooms, under the mistaken belief that they have some sort of “right” to be there—bringing others down to their selfish level of uncaring and. We allow schools to adopt the misguided mandate to cater to students “needs’ rather than following the mandate to teach them. As a result, many students simply do not care if they pass their classes, as their poorly done work attest to.
Much of the laziness we produce in students/children is due lack of support in the home. As a former long-term substitute teacher in public schools, I witnessed many parent-teacher conference days where only one or two parents would actually show up to express concern for their children’ academic progress. Many of us lazily raise our children to embrace things rather than ideas. And they invariably develop an entitlement mentality rather than a sense of duty, an appreciation for hard work paying off, and a lack of patience; they want everything given to them now; perish forbid they’d have to actually make an effort and work for what they want. We permit them to smoke, drink, and otherwise become addicted to both substance abuse, and half-hearted efforts for most things which do not product instantaneous (and desirable) results. We defend their poor decision-making as being the result of having “issues.” We allow their intransigence to become the norm that we as adults have to adapt to, instead of the other way around.And in our relationships, laziness within ourselves prevents us—at every conceivable point—from not only finding who is good for us, but from making relationships work and/or last. The choice to personally mismanage our feelings as well as our mental well-beings has contributed mightily to our emotional laziness, which contributes to our high divorce rates and depression resulting from chronically-failed relationships.But our laziness does not stop here.




Financial/EconomicLaziness

Given how close the country—indeed the world—came to the totalcollapse of the current economic regime, our sluggishness when it comes tomatters of finance mirrors that of other aspects of our society. For starters, Americans—despite high rates of unemployment, housing foreclosures, anddiscontent with the economy—are investing in personal savings at almost historicallylow rates; some 3.6% of disposable income (“Savings Rate Is Dropping, and Experts Are Puzzled”),which was a minor contributor to the financial crisis of recent times. A major aspect of our lazy attitudes is ourpropensity to avoid putting off gratification, preferring instead to indulgeourselves in terms of raw consumption. Granted, some of the spending is done “to cover necessities like medicalbills and gasoline,” Americans also tend to spend money on frivolity such ashigh-end designer clothing and shoes, gourmet coffees, cigarettes, lotterytickets, recreational drugs, and fancy automobile trappings—money which couldotherwise easily be saved in interest-bearing accounts. The live-for-todayspending we tend to indulge in is a modern-day variation of the Ant and the Grasshopper…with no thoughtsabout not only saving for rainy days and/or retirement, but basicinvestment. This is especially true forindividuals in the lower- and lower-middle classes.
Another consequence of our laziness and our lack ofmotivation to save is that many of those who simple were not “designed” to workfor others—that is, those who desire to work for themselves—are not willing toput forth the effort that it takes to establish our own businesses (and no, I’mnot talking about internet start-ups). While it is true that national chainstores have taken some of the sting out of purchasing high costs items such agroceries for the typical family, they have done little in the way of fosteringthe sense of economic independence for the individual who simply wants to be hisown boss and control his own time. As achild growing up in both Chicago, and later in Michigan, I can remember beingable to walk to numerous stores in my neighborhood(s) and buying whatever mylittle heart so desired—when I hadthe money. Whether it was to buy a soda,pick up a drug prescription, or a quick run to buy a can of tomato paste torush back for my anxiously waiting mother, it was a given that there was alwaysa neighborhood market, store, or small shop owned and operated by Mr. or Mr.So-and-So. In many cases, they werepeople I could identify with on many levels. In some cases, I went to school with the stores owners’ children. But now, and at the risk of soundingethnically-insensitive or intolerant, most neighborhood stores are owned byrecent immigrants to America…those who have aggressively filled the vacuum of entrepreneurialmotivation once held by those born here. Unwilling to work and maintain a semblance of economic independence, manynative-born Americans, especially in urban areas, have sold their livelihoodsfor a quick monetary offer, and in short order become employees (remember, manyof us do not invest or save…we simply buy things meant to impress) instead ofemployers . Now, instead of thousands ofproud Mom & Pop shops in every neighborhood, we have a landscape dotted withforeign-owned convenience stores operated and staffed by hard working familiescomprised of first-generation immigrants.
The same can be said of wage-labor positions, once proudlyheld by individuals such as my father and myself. Such physically-demanding and labor-intensivejobs, which were often on the lower-end of the pay scale, were once the onlymeans Americans could get by economically. I myself remember working on various farms in my youth…not to acquireextra spending money, but to contribute to the overall household income (alongwith my mother and siblings). Most of us who found ourselves doing this type ofwork were black, with a sprinkle of poor whites and Latino migrants. Today,most of those doing these types of jobs are immigrants—both documented and notso—from Latin America. Now this is notto say that I do not value these individuals as contributors to the melting potof America, or that I do not admire their economic tenacity and hard-work ethic.It’s just that their presence represents how quickly someone else will workwhen Americans become lazy.
In many ways, it was this same type of laziness which contributedto the financial crisis a couple of years ago. Buttressed by greed and our proclivity to want things now, many Americans failed to follow thetraditional route toward obtaining the part of the American dream that includeshome ownership. In droves, manyAmericans opted to bypass the more traditional and economically-sound practicesof working to strengthen their credit ratings and/or levels of savings, andrushed to purchase homes with a bare minimum of savings, and with credit scoreswhich shouldn’t have allowed in a banks front doors. Unwilling to put in the work to avoidqualifying for subprime mortgage loans, many were willing brave the risks of easy(but costly) credit, high (and in some cases, variable) interest, and long-termfinancial commitment (despite an unstable economy) to purchase homes theysimply could not afford. This phenomenonoccurred en masse, and the result wasa hair’s approach to a sequel to the Great Depression similar to that of the1930’s.

Summary

Despite the flack that President Obama caught late last yearfor his taken-out-of-context remark that “Americans are lazy,” he actually tolda bold truth that many refuse to accept or see. Yes, many Americans are lazy, whether it be personally, professionally, academically,or emotionally. In addition, I suppose itwould not be too late to add that many of us are lazy mentally and civically too;too many of us are too apathetic to being a part of the political process and torationally analyzing issues affecting their lives (most would rather leave evenhow their beliefs are shaped up to talking heads on pundit TV and radio). We simply cannot delay immediate gratificationfor long-term benefit. We are fat, fullof excuses, and in ill-health, ridden with preventable maladies such asdiabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.
Many of us routinely show up late for work, do as little aspossible, and ask for too much (especially in the case of corporate officers, CEOs,and others whose “success” is built up the backs of those who do work hard).
A successful America requires the active participation of amotivated citizenry to ensure that socioeconomic equality is at the very least achievable. Any loss of freedoms, rights, or economic viability is due in partto the laziness on the part of American citizens.A successful America requires the active participation of a motivated citizenry to ensure that socioeconomic equality is at the very least achievable.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Yes Virginia, There ARE "Lazy Americans!" (Part 2)

(02/09/12 - Writer's Note: I want to extend my apologies to all of the regular readers of Beyond The Political Spectrum for the delay in posting my latest items. I have just completed a major move and career change over the past couple of months, and needless to say that affected regularly timely posting. Current issues in the news have provided me with much to post about over the past couple of months, so stay tuned for more exploration of these issues).

It’s funny how some things work out. Last posting (which seems like a lifetime ago, again apologies), I chronicled how in fact, Americans were indeed lazy when, in preparing for this follow up I came across a piece in a recent edition of USAToday. The report highlighted research revealing how the internet and related technology has enabled cheating in public schools to go high-tech (eCheating: Students Find High Tech Ways To Deceive Teachers"). It also validated my previous observation about how lazy Americans (and our children) are.
But education is not the only area where our sloth reigns.


Relationships

Perhaps no segment in American society illustrates our laziness more than our approach to relationships. Some of us change partners with greater frequency than changing our underwear, with no time in-between romps for assessing ourselves (or what went wrong in the previous relationships). Leading the way among industrialized nations, America’s divorce rate is second to none. This reality is based on, in part our laziness toward the effort it takes to make relationships last beyond our selfish realization that our partners don’t measure up to our internalized expectations. Divorce has simply become too convenient, and is the only aspect of this insanity that we are (ironically) willing to put work into.

In a time of exaggerated self-importance—exemplified, if not spurred, by the proliferation of personal web pages, personality-driven “reality” television shows (making everyday people famous-for-nothing), and You Tube—the selfishness of the me mindset has infected relationships to the point where anyone who doesn’t cater to our selfish desires and/or expectations are summarily dismissed. The institution of marriage notwithstanding, the notion of “compromise” is usually not given even a brief consideration. Men have grown too selfish and uncaring in the consideration (or lack thereof) and respect for their female significant others. While women have grown too demanding in expecting men to cater to a Hollywood-ized sense of romance, as well as selfishness in making their feelings the primary issue in relationships.
Compromise has become one of those moralistically-attractive words used by individuals who soap box about how about how relationships can be made better, but are often just as guilty in being a part of the same mindset of lazy selfishness. When we’re fed-up with our partners, many of us are too lazy to inform them that they are about to be trashed (totally unaware, in many cases, that they themselves are perpetuating a cycle whereby the dumper is doing what was done to themselves sometime prior). The feelings of another have become disposable casualties of our laziness to see or empathize beyond ourselves, work through issues, consider our partners, and/or work through our own individual issues before jumping seeking out (another) romantic relationship (why put forth such effort when it’s so much easier to blame another for either not living up to our idealized expectations or catering to our impatience). And such sloth has created a cottage industry of “relationship experts” whose private offices, magazine and newspaper columns, and television segments have multitudes of people lining up to seek their advice—instead of looking inward and applying a little common sense effort to our relationships. As with many things, we look to others to do the work we ourselves should be doing.


Child-Rearing

How we raise our children is a subject I find myself writing about often…maybe because I have spent much of the last 13 years working with and observing them. Simply put, many Americans have put the onus for instilling desirable values in their children on elements of society rather than taking personal responsibility, as common sense dictates.
During times past, when most of society shared the same level of constructive and positive family values, America as a society—institutions outside of the nuclear family comprised of schools, neighbors, churches, and extended family—could be trusted to supplement in-home child-rearing. In school, we were taught about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs use, and corporal punishment was an occasionally-used option to keep unruly and disruptive children in-line with the rest of the class. Teachers were every bit as respected by children as their parents.
Truant (or assigned police) officers could be trusted to keep a vigilant eye out for children who suddenly forgot the direction to their school.
Neighbor s didn’t mind—indeed felt obligated to—“being nosey,” and informing responsible parents about the illicit shenanigans of their children.
Respect for adult authority was a foregone conclusion.
And in the home, parents lived up to their moral (and legal) obligations to directly parent their children. Education was reinforced (and cherished) more than sports or extra-curricular activities; school attendance was closely-monitored.
Teenage pregnancies were rare occurrences which brought a level of shame to a decent family.
Responsible parents not only knew their children’ whereabouts, but the names of their friends (or at least a family member) they ran around with. They were able to look their children in the eyes and tell whether or not they were lying, so activities like drugs and cigarette smoking were non-starters.
At the time, parents didn’t coddle children in an effort to protect them from themselves. Bruises, scrapes, black eyes, even more serious potential injuries were a part of growing up. The word "no" had meaning, and children were not allowed to question "why."
Children were raised to be tough, to accept hardships as a part of reality...without whining about every little hangnail or papercut.
Children had structure, chores, an understanding for the need to work around the neighborhood in an effort to earn extra money, and a sense of duty to help keep them out of trouble.
And parents actually did the caring and raising…not video games, not cable-music television, and definitely not other individuals.
But with lazy parenting now the norm, children today have a sense of entitlement rather than duty. This is partly because lazy parents often indulge their children in order to receive momentary compliance, or as a guilt-filler for perceived deficiencies. Parents are unable to discipline their children in the traditional manner of occasional whippings because people lack the will to collectively challenge the authority of (arguably) well-intentioned but ineffective elected officials and New Age clinicians who have revised this parental obligation.
The lack of real options in sanctioning unruly children has today’s children thinking they are the equal of adults. Indeed, many children take the vacuum created by making in-school and in-home corporal punishment illegal to assert blatant disrespect and disobedience toward their parents, even verbally threatening to call the authorities if a parents dares to exercise their right to punish their defiance. It’s no wonder why so many teens become parents, equating puberty with adulthood.

Low-paid convenient store employees are expected to expand their responsibilities and take on the role of parents to police young people looking to illegally buy cigarettes.
Truancy and dropout rates have exploded, almost reflecting a level of apathy or fatalism among adults today who are not up to the task of ensuring children are attending school
Teachers are disrespected scapegoats for irresponsible and uneducated parents who expect classroom instructors to their children without parental support or discipline from home.
Doing drugs is no longer an activity to be shied away from, but—in extreme cases that I’ve seen—an activity to be shared between young people and “cool” adults…including irresponsible parents, too lazy to bother fighting against their children’ need to fit-in.
In truth, our youth are the way they are not so much as a result of the choices they make, but because of the influences of irresponsible adults, lazy parenting, and a society that has forgotten that things were better when everyone worked to make sure that young people did what right, and not concerned themselves with children liked.
Again, our quality of collective laziness crosses beyond the lines of the family and relationships.

…To Be Concluded.