Category Archives: Society

We Are Still America

This isn’t a gloat piece. This isn’t a puff piece. This is from the heart. From my heart. I know these are tumultuous times. Divisive times. But just stomach through this. This wasn’t written for one person, one party, one side. This is for everyone.

For years I avoided the news. I would try to keep up with certain local news, but the media at large was always so negative. The world, it seemed, was also going to hell. Crime, corruption, politics, wars, traffic, accidents, and generally just people being horrible to one another. Add on top of that the occasional natural disaster, disease, localized catastrophic event or pollution. I eventually cut cables entirely, and would avoid the news like the plague. It’s not that I didn’t want to know what was going on or that I thought it was nothing but propaganda. I’m sure a lot of it was. But I would hear and read about these horrible things happening around the world, of which I had virtually no control, only to get saddened, angry, stressed, and dismayed. It cannot possibly be good for ones health to be surrounded by that kind of negativity, all the time.

The election cycle didn’t change the news too much. Still incredibly negative. But social media has certainly changed or at least I finally noticed it change during this most recent election cycle. Social media is also something that for years I have tried to actively avoid but I couldn’t resist the allure of Facebook these past couple months as the political season heated up and finally culminated in the election. As I scroll through Facebook what I see bothers me more than what used to bother me when I used to watch the news: Rampant negativity. But instead of coming from a handful of news networks, this negativity was coming from dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people.

There are a lot of scared people out there. Worried and fearful. Afraid that the sky around them will start falling. As far as they are concerned, there was a tectonic shift beneath their feet.

It takes a lot to genuinely upset me. Namely watching Disney’s Fox and the Hound. But the one sure thing that gets me is the idea or presence of hopelessness. That someone can be so downtrodden that there is no light at the end of their tunnel. No path out of perdition. As I see the posts of friends and family members hurting right now, it breaks my heart. It truly does.

I get that there are concerns about a spike in racism, or sexism, or any other ism. That there is or will be a spike in hatred, or bigotry. There isn’t. And there won’t be. This may not come as much solace from someone who voted for Trump, but it just might. Maybe a little.

Listen, I don’t hate gays. I don’t hate women. I don’t hate Mexicans (I’m half). I don’t hate non-whites, or Muslims. I don’t hate the poor. I don’t hate people on government subsidies. There are a couple billion people in this world and I maybe hate one person, and no, it’s not Hilary Clinton.

The assholes out there were assholes before November 8th. The racists out there were already racists. Those inclined to burn down buildings and vandalize police cars weren’t born on November 9th. Some people are just shitty, and they don’t need a very good reason to shit all over everything and everyone else. To the people out there whose candidate of choice didn’t win, I feel for you. I really do. But I want to reassure you that the sky isn’t going to fall. You are not less safe now than you were on November 7th.

We need to remember that most people don’t wake up wondering how they can make other peoples’ lives miserable. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, we wish for the same things. Health, food on our plate, a roof over our head, a safe neighborhood for our children, all children, to play in. We want jobs, pride of workmanship, good communities, and good schools. We want the next generation to have a better life than we had. I don’t think it matters who you voted for, we can agree that we want the same things, it’s just that no two of us can agree on the best way for everyone to accomplish these things. But just because we can’t agree, doesn’t mean we can’t get along.

Trump won the election. He didn’t win the country. This country is still all of ours. It belongs to each of us, even those who feel disenfranchised, ignored, abandoned, or marginalized.

For all the squabbles, and bitter disagreements, we are still America. One America. Sink or swim, fail or fly, whatever we do we’re going to do it together. The person in the cubicle next to you that voted for the other candidate, they are still human. They were a decent human being before the election and they are the same person now that the election is over.

Thanksgiving is coming up and hopefully you have a large, loving family or group of friends to spend the holiday with. Some of those people you may not have seen in a very long time. Don’t botch the holidays over an election. Don’t lose a friend or sour a family event because of a political grievance.

I have my opinions but this specific post is not going to be me telling you how to think, or what to think. This isn’t a political op ed. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, socialist, green, independent, or if you voted for Trump or Clinton or wrote in Mickey Mouse. United, we truly do stand, and divided we will most certainly fall. Each one of us is a tiny red, white, or blue thread in the fabric of this great flag, and if we start tearing apart at the seams this entire thing will fall apart. Lets not allow that to happen.

flag-unravel

Fret not. Even if I disagree with you, I still want the best for you. We are still America.

Colin Kaepernick is… not necessarily unpatriotic

You’ve no doubt seen the deadlines lately. Long story short Colin Kaepernick didn’t stand up during the National Anthem because reasons and now everyone is in a big stink over it. I say reasons instead of actually providing a description because I don’t want to misrepresent what it is CK is protesting or oversimplify his thoughts on the issue. I’m not too big on the whole BLM thing so I would probably do it a disservice, but if I had to sum it up, he’s protesting police brutality and systemic oppression of black people in America.

People are calling him unpatriotic, and calling for him to be kicked off the team, and demanding things from the NFL, and the laundry list of usual demands that Americans of all stripes are quick to shout out over every single perceived slight.

People got mad when that crazy BLM supporter killed a bunch of police officers, and rightfully so. It was horrible.

People get mad when BLM supporters riot in the streets and burn shit down and vandalize communities because it’s idiotic and destructive.

People get mad when BLM supporters shut down a free way to make a point like they did on the 15 freeway in San Diego just a few weeks ago.

But Kaepernick didn’t do any of this. He didn’t kill anyone, didn’t injure anyone, didn’t destroy any property, and didn’t inconvenience anyone. He didn’t stand on a flag, burn a flag, defile a flag. He didn’t even hang one upside down. All he did was… well, nothing. He’s getting flak for not doing something. All the stupid shit BLM and cohorts have done in the past year or so that pisses everyone off – Kaepernick didn’t do.

So I honestly feel like this is people grasping at straws, trying to make something out of nothing. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not on the BLM bandwagon, but let’s be real here. This fervor over Kaepernick is about frustration over not being able to silence dissenting opinions and actions.

It’s easy to dismiss BLM and it’s supporters when they do stupid shit like the burn down buildings. But it’s much harder to brush it aside when they aren’t being unruly. It’s as if people thought that the only way BLM could possibly get attention to their cause was to act like idiots, and now someone comes along and doesn’t do anything illegal or violent and still manages to draw attention to the issue on a national level. Touché. Kaepernick scored a hit and there really isn’t anything to be said about it. Nothing legitimate anyway.

In the absence of any complaints of merit, Colin’s critics have gone with the low blow insult of being unpatriotic. The left has their own list of low blow, cry wolf insults like accusing someone of being racist, or homophobic, or a bigot, or xenophobic. I’ve heard it all, been called it all. And the right has just dusted off their nuclear insult, the brand of being unpatriotic. Easy to hurl, hard to catch, it’s the perfect weapon of choice as a last ditch effort when all else has failed.

The objective of such an insult isn’t to get Kaepernick to find a more constructive way of expressing his opinions. At this point, it’s intended to just shut him up. The proof is in the pudding. He’s a quarterback for an NFL team, so now people are demanding he be fired so that they can take away his podium to silence him on an issue they hope to sweep under the rug quietly.

To many, the National Anthem, or the American Flag are symbols of America. But before we get mad about this, lets stop and thing about what these things really symbolize, and what Colin is protesting.

I won’t go all philosophical on you. I’ll go literal on you. America isn’t just one thing. America is a million things. American is the country. America is the people. America is the land. America is the government. America is our senators and congressmen. America is our president. America is the constitution. America is our military. America is our tax payers. America is our culture. And America is our systems. See what I mean?

I love our troops, I love our police and firefighters, but I sure don’t have many nice words for the people on Capitol Hill.

I love our constitution, but I don’t have an IRS flag waving in my front yard.

When you look at it from a different angle, it’s easy to see how you can love this country so much, but also be fed up by certain parts of it.

Anyone who says that Colin Kaepernick was disrespecting the armed services is being disingenuous because you know for fact that’s not what he meant. He has a very specific grievance against once aspect of this great country and he protested in the most polite, effective way he could think to do. I don’t advocate for BLM but if anyone can name even one way he could have expressed his feelings as effectively that wouldn’t have pissed everyone and their mom off, I would honestly be interested in hearing it. I mean really. What would you have the guy do? Something entirely useless like change his Facebook profile picture and share an angry post? Write a blog? Tweet something?

My dad served in the military for 20 years. Three of my grandpas served in the military and fought in several wars. I have an uncle in the Border Patrol. I have countless friends, and childhood mentors who were in the service. If I honestly thought that what Kaepernick did was an offense to those loved ones of mine, I wouldn’t be defending him. But here I am.

I’m not gonna offer up some moral equivalency argument “well if you think that’s unpatriotic, then you should be even more upset about the blah blah blah statistic from wikipedia blah blah”. Because again, I don’t entirely see eye to eye with Kaepernick on the issue he’s protesting, so I’m not defending his position of protest, just defending the way he’s protesting.

Let me share with you a true story. A couple years ago I was driving through my neighborhood as part of my then regular route, and I saw an American flag waving from a flag pole… upside down. I thought it was weird and it certainly caught my attention. I drove by the house again the next day, and the flag was still upside down. Day after day I drive past this house and each day, the flag is upside down. But at night, the flag is taken down and the pole sits idle and bare.

Finally after about a week, I was curious so rather than drive past the house, this time I drove to it. I parked my car and walked up the driveway towards the front door of a very pretty house in this nice, serine suburban neighborhood.  A car was parked in the driveway with a Marine Corp sticker on the back window. Odd. I knock on the door and sure enough someone answers. The door slowly opens to reveal a senior freakin’ citizen. Not the 22 year old, zulu plug adorned college kid with a Che Guevara t-shirt I would have suspected. No, it was some 70 year old white guy in khakis and a tucked in polo shirt. I ask the guy what’s up with the flag and if he knew that it was upside down. He explains that he was unhappy with the direction the country was going in, and had turned the flag upside down as a sign of protest. He told me about having served in the Marines, and we chatted for about 10 minutes about politics and things we’d heard about on the news. Hmm. Here was this old, white, conservative, veteran, male hanging the flag upside down in a conservative neighborhood as a sign of distress for the condition of our country. Who would have thought? I thanked him for his time, (naturally handed him a business card,) and went on about my way and that was that.

It never once occurred to me this man was unpatriotic or hated America or was disrespecting the police or our armed forces. And I don’t see how what Colin Kaepernick did the other day was any different.

Orlando Shooting: Afterthoughts and Next Steps

It goes without saying that the recent shooting terrorist attack in Orlando was a horrible event to be condemned, and that everyone prays for the victims and their families. This unfortunately has been said many times following such events. My goal here is not to offer my heart on my sleeve. It happened, it was horrible, I cried, I prayed… and now what? Where do we as Americans go from here? What can we learn from this event and others like it before?

While the attack took place at an LGBT nightclub, it is my opinion that we all remember this was not simply an attack on homosexuals or transgendered people. It would be insulting to pigeon hole the victims into such narrow definitions. The victims may have very well been targeted because of their sexual orientation or lifestyle, but it is important to remember that above all else, they were people. Gay, straight, blue, purple, American or foreign, dozens of people were slaughtered, and everyone should feel that pain in their hearts.

I think this is one of the areas where Americans of any political leaning can find some common ground, and yet this has become a politicized issue. You’ll be hard pressed to find any pro-2nd amendment American who isn’t thoroughly frustrated that this man was able to legally purchase firearms. Who wouldn’t be? Here’s a man that was investigated by the FBI not just once, but twice, and as far back as 2013; three years before the shooting, and yet was somehow able to obtain firearms. I’m pro-gun and that pisses me off! This wasn’t a failure of laws. This was a failure of law enforcement. Myriad laws are already on the books that should have kept this man from getting his hands on firearms. How he was able to pass a background check to get a firearm, much less a job as a security guard for federal buildings should leave every American angered.

As is the case with any horrible events, people are desperate for answers, and we’re equally anxious to cast blame on someone, something, anything. I’m conservative but I certainly don’t blame liberals or democrats for this. I don’t blame guns for this. I don’t blame the gun store who sold the firearms for this. Despite a lot of anger directed towards the FBI, I actually do not blame them for this either. Individually, it seems as though every cog in the machine did what it was supposed to do. The problem isn’t that we don’t have systems in place to identify red flags, but that the various systems we entrust with our safety are not properly integrated well enough to allow us to act on those red flags.

Take for example a fax machine. One fax machine may indeed work very well; scan, print, and fax like it ought to. Another fax machine may be equally up to task. However, without a phone cord between them – a medium of communication – each fax machine is an island and functionally useless. What we have observed the hard way, through trial and error, and with blood, is that despite admittedly competent law enforcement agencies and well-intentioned laws, the integration of our various systems, architectures, and law enforcement agencies is sorely insufficient.

The war on terror is different than any war before it. Our military with all its might is all but useless in our fight against domestic terrorism. Stealth bombers, drones, sonar, radar, satellites, tanks, submarines cannot help us detect or stop homegrown or domestic terrorism. Stopping these attacks is not a matter of weeks, months, and years. It is now a matter of days, hours, and minutes. We have precious little time to prevent these attacks between the moment a flag is raised and the moment of an attack. As such, the need for agile and robust communication between law enforcement agencies and other interested parties should be priority number one. The emphasis is not so much on building up our law enforcement, as much as it is integrating it.

This is also not a time for political posturing. In fact, this is a politically humbling experience for both camps and that is because this attack crushed a lot of the narratives both sides habitually espouse and cling to. Omar Mateen was U.S. born, and seemingly self-radicalized, unraveling the narrative of terrorism being the byproduct solely of U.S. intervention in foreign, predominantly Muslim nations. Omar Mateen never having been exposed to the crisis of the middle east was purely motivated by religion, not personal experiences or losses. Given the discovery that he attended a mosque that was also frequented by another known Islamic terrorist, the threat of Islamizing mosques here in the states can no longer be ignored. It is entirely possible, and even plausible, that mosques in the United States are promoting hatred and propagating anti-US sentiment to the point of violent extremism. Omar Mateen was also able to purchase guns through all but legal channels, albeit illicitly and under the nose of law enforcement, lending credence to the argument that although the gun laws might be sufficiently strict, enforcement of said laws is clearly lacking.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, and the San Bernardino shooting, I thought to myself there was just no way that none of the attackers’ close friends or family members had any idea that they were up to no good. In light of the Orlando terrorist attack, we learned that someone did in fact know Omar Mateen was planning an attack – his wife. And despite the fact that she knew and supposedly tried to talk him out of it, she wasn’t so inclined as to notify law enforcement about it. This is a chilling, and telling fact about certain communities. People close to homegrown terrorists probably are aware, but reluctant to share. It’s too early to make any generalizing statements, but the U.S. might not have as staunch an ally in the broader U.S. Muslim community as we would hope.

For those on the political left, it is now time to acknowledge that surveillance and tighter scrutiny of Muslim communities in the U.S. might be our safest bet, even if it seems discriminatory. Political correctness may need to take a back seat to pragmatism.

For those on the political right, we need to apply our efforts to promoting law enforcement practices that crack down on illicit gun use and trafficking. The NRA through its active membership carries a lot of political weight. Gun owners need to use that influence to affect the changes in our government that is needed to prevent blatant mistakes like this from happening. Yes, that means pro-gun people need to push for law enforcement to crack down on ill-advised gun sales.

This is where waiting periods for firearms can actually be a blessing. A waiting period could allow the FBI ample time to cross check would-be gun purchasers with various criminal databases, suspected terrorists, and people on various watch lists.  If a flag is raised, the FBI can then alert and coordinate with other agencies and the gun store to monitor or even apprehend the buyer at the time of purchase/pick-up. Doing so may not have any measurable impact on preventing crime or terrorism, and extending this olive branch may not dissuade the anti-gun crusade of the left, but it might, and it would not place any noticeable inconvenience on lawful gun owners.

While gun ownership is getting some heat at the moment, the truth is that an armed and vigilante populace is still one of the safest hedges against domestic terrorism and violent crime. Gun owners in free states who choose to carry in public have the burden and responsibility of staying vigilant to resist attacks that may spring up. I applaud you, and wish that I too was able to legally join you here in California. May you never have to use your firearm to defend yourself, but God speed if you are forced to. We’ve witness how devastating a simple attack can be, and the sad fact is that we will likely see more of these attacks spring up in the near future, with shorter hiatuses between each subsequent attack as would-be attackers are made more brazen by the tragedy they see unfold on the news.

Let us all remember that we will find strength in unity. Generosity to a stranger can create a friend. The good deeds we plant today, will bear fruit tomorrow. We are fortunate to have thousands of men and women working diligently across the country as law enforcement, military, paramedics, firefighters and other first responders. Let us not make their jobs any more difficult for them, so please practice civility, responsibility, and caution in your everyday lives. Be courteous, be peaceful, be safe, and be smart. Firefighters have better things to do that pull you out of a car that you wrapped around a tree because you were driving recklessly. Police have better things to do than respond to a noise complaint. We must all do our part, however small, however tedious, however seemingly trivial, if we are to pull through these trying times as a nation united. It’s a bumpy road ahead, and we won’t make it on three tires.

College Isn’t All That

Over the last couple of years with the rise of ‘Democratic Socialism’, aka Socialists masquerading as Democrats, the idea of free college has been making a lot of headlines and gaining some traction within certain circles.

Although entirely flawed, the premises for this idea is as follows: There isn’t enough job opportunity without college degrees, which has resulted in unemployed and underemployed Americans, and the only remedy to this is to get more kids into college. Because without a college degree, people become criminals. But we can’t send more kids to college because it’s too expensive. Rather than finding ways to make college tuition itself less expensive, let’s simply pay an exorbitant amount of money to send everyone to college ‘for free’.

So that’s the idea. That horribly flawed chain of thought has led to the popularity of Bernie Sanders. In fact, Bernie said:

Implying that if you don’t go to college, you’ll go to jail, which is the roundabout way of accusing anyone opposed to jacking up taxes to pay for every kid to go to college as a heartless person who wants to see more minorities end up prison. Essentially.

But the fact is that college isn’t all that. There are plenty of ways to become successful without a college degree.

What has me annoyed and disgusted the most with this whole notion of free college for everyone is that it’s based on a series of false notions, it presents a false dichotomy, it attacks symptoms rather than root causes, it’s redundant, and it would in fact have the opposite effect as intended – meaning it would cause tuition to increase thus making college even less affordable, all of which I will explain below and back up with logic.

Camp Kool-Aid

These days most colleges are simply liberal indoctrination camps. I think a huge part of the reason for Democrat’s wanting more of America’s youth to go to college is to drink the liberal kool-aid and eventually join the ranks of the Democratic party. With their anti-free speech safe spaces, pro-Hamas antisemitism rallies, and trying to oust ROTC and Border Patrol kiosks from campuses and job fairs, you can see how today’s American college campus is the perfect breeding grounds for American liberalism.

Many college campuses are now not only anti second amendment, they are also anti first amendment with students and faculty being suspended, expelled, or fired for expressing things considered to be offensive.

False Dichotomy

Forget for a moment the political posturing related to the free college discussion, and lets circle back to what caused it in the first place. If you ask Bernie Sanders, we need to send kids to college because if we don’t they’ll likely end up in prison. That’s the false dichotomy being presented by the liberal left to America’s youth today: Get a college degree or fail at life.

In response to a like remark made by Sanders, television personality Mike Row had some very interesting things to say where he gives myriad ways to become successful without college, include his personal experience.

Neither my mom nor dad have college degrees, but both are very successful. But what about my generation? Some friends my age, who I went to high school with and who don’t have college degrees are also very successful. I know a handful of people who have college degrees and aren’t successful. And there are people like myself (I consider myself successful) who have a degree and don’t use it in the slightest bit. Had I known I could make as much money as I do without a college degree, I would have never gone to college and started out in my career five years earlier. Just don’t tell my mom.

The always-and-only-college mentality has left a huge blind spot in the American workforce. We’re actually experiencing a shortage of much needed occupations such as plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and other blue collar and vocational related trades. Despite the fact that one can make a good living without working at a desk from 9-5, certain occupations have been framed by society as being lowly, which is a shame.

College Isn’t for Everyone

It’s a waste of money to effectively give every student free education because many of those students will end up pissing away the money we spend on sending them to school. Not every person is made for college. This isn’t to say they are stupid, but that college is a very specific model that isn’t compatible with how everyone learns and thrives.

I have a close friend that has been in college for well over eight years without any measurable progress.  A relative of mine has been in college for 11 years without any degrees to show for it. No bachelor’s degree. No associate’s degree. I love both of them, but they are real life Van Wilder’s, and I think it’s safe to say neither of them will get a college degree.

I certainly don’t think it would have been a good idea to subsidize their education with anyone’s tax dollars because it is clearly working out to be a poor investment. My friend and relative are just two people out of nation of millions. Imagine how many other students would find themselves in similar predicaments, and how much tax payer money would be wasted on a large scale if we sent everyone to college.

Musical Chairs

Taking the previous point and expanding on it, aside from the cost factor of sending incompatible students to college, doing so would also make it increasingly difficult for students who legitimately could benefit from college. As it stands, most US colleges are already impacted. Kids with 4.0 GPAs and all the right motivation have a hard enough time as it is getting into the college of their choice, and the class and programs needed to complete their curriculum. And that’s with tuition costs being as astronomical as they are. If we lowered the bar so much that anyone with a pulse could join college on a whim, imagine how much the current problem would be exacerbated.

Cause and Effect

I don’t think too many ‘Berners’ have really put any thought into why college tuition costs are as high as they are – the root causes. Instead, all their efforts are focused on the ‘evil banks’ that finance student loans, – the symptoms – but for some reason they don’t have the same animosity towards the genuinely evil college system that charges such exorbitant rates in the first place.

After all, if colleges weren’t ripping students off with such high tuition, the student debt problem wouldn’t be so much of an issue. And if colleges are being such douche bags and ripping off students, why are parents so hell bent on sending their kids there? How can a liberal dominated college system be both the cause and solution to all of your financial woes?

Pro-college people argue that you need to go to college to get a good job to make money. And these same people are the ones reeling from hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt accumulated during their stint at liberal colleges. So what is college? Plague or panacea?

Another relative of mine posted the following image on Facebook back in February that shows the tuition change at Yale from 1970 to 2014, against the federal minimum wage of the time. Oddly, the image’s point is to use higher tuition costs as justification for increasing the minimum wage, as opposed to attempting to simply lower tuition costs, which are arbitrarily set.

yale college tuition minium wage
This image is incredibly misleading if for no other reason than Yale is in Connecticut where the state minimum wage in 2014 was actually $8.70 per hour, and it was $8.00 per hour in neighboring New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

I did some homework. Let’s say this image is accurate and that the tuition at Yale went from $2,550 in 1970 to $45,800 in 2014. That is 17.96 times higher, or a 1696% increase.

We’ll yeah Andrew, it’s called inflation! Duh! Just one minute though…

If we take that 1696% and divide it by the time span in years to get an average tuition percentage change per year, we get 1696 / 44 years = a 38.54% annual increase in tuition.

Compare that with the average US inflation rate of 3.22% over the last century, or even the average US inflation rate over that same period of time (1970 through 2014) of 4.08% (sources). Using these historical figures, Yale’s tuition grows nine times faster than inflation.

Basically, if Yale’s tuition moved at the rate of inflation, that $2,550 tuition in 1970 would have been about $14,815 in 2014. So why was it $45,800 instead? Maybe the problem here isn’t the banks financing the tuition. Maybe the problem is the universities who set the tuition. And perhaps supporters of more affordable college need to be scrutinizing the universities they hold in such high esteem.

Gateway to Extortion

The irony of this whole thing is that there is no surer way to increase college tuitions costs than by giving everyone free college. Liberals are determined to get free college for all at any cost, and they might succeed in ways they didn’t hope to.

If colleges around the country know that the US Government is writing blank checks to cover college tuition, what do you think is going to happen to tuition? It’s going to skyrocket. And it doesn’t matter what kind of clever legislation our politicians throw into the mix, the colleges are cleverer, and somehow, someway, they’ll find a way to take advantage of the situation and rip off the taxpayers.

Frugal Alternatives

These days, those of the left persuasion believe that the solution to any problem is to throw more money at it. This has led to the false belief that if you spend a ton of money on college as opposed to less money on technical or vocational school, it will always translate into higher pay. Or that a degree from an expensive, prestigious university will provide for better job opportunities post college.

Both of these myths have been largely debunked, and even in the rare instances where say a degree from Harvard will earn you higher income than a degree from SDSU, the extra income is negligible, and actually comes at a loss when taking into account the net difference between post-graduate pay and overall college expenses. If you spend 2x more on tuition, and make even 5% more per year after college, it would take you 20 years of working to justify (earn back) the higher tuition cost.

Many students want to go to the college of their dreams. And while following your dreams sounds, well, dreamy, when dreams start to conflict with reality there’s a problem. These students insist on attending some far away university, where they’ll get strapped with significantly higher out of state tuition costs, plus the added expense of room and board. All of which they could have avoided by simply going to a local, in state university and living with their parents for at least a portion of their college career.

Ultimately, college is a financial decision. Not an emotional one. So students, and more importantly their parents, need to start looking at college options closer to home where they can take advantage of the lower in state tuition. Take it a step further and consider attending a community college for as many semesters as possible and students can save tens of thousands of dollars per year on their education.

My freshman, sophomore and junior years were spent at Grossmont Community College where my cost per semester was about $600 (with books) as opposed to the $5,000-$7,000 it would have cost me at SDSU. I transferred to SDSU in my senior year where I finished my bachelors degree and graduated in the spring of 2009 alongside all my friends who went there for all five years, but in the processed I managed to save about $30,000.

We all want to have our dream house, our dream car, our dream vacation, our dream wedding, and go to our dream college, but the simple truth is that those things are often times cost prohibitive and well beyond our budget. It’s stupid to spend $50,000 on a BMW when you can only afford a $25,000 car, and it is just as stupid to attend an expensive college when you can get a degree every bit as good for a quarter of the cost. Some community colleges are also beginning to offer bachelor’s degrees of their own, negating the need for costly universities altogether.

Borrow Wisely

Another problem is that many students simply borrow when they don’t have to. Student loans should be used to cover tuition and books, and not much else. However a lot of students will finance everything they purchase while in college, from housing, to food, to luxury items like recreational spending and even overseas vacations.

This is unwise for a number of reasons. The whole point of a student loan is to pay off an expense you otherwise would not have had: college. However whether you attend college or not, everyone has food costs, housing costs, clothing costs. Just because you are in college, doesn’t mean your breakfast while in college is a college expense. It’s a living expense. Everyone has to eat. Students make the mistake of financing things they would have had to pay for even if they hadn’t gone to college. The result is that when they graduate you aren’t simply paying off five years of deferred tuition, they’re paying off five years of deferred life.

Additionally, students should actually start paying off, or saving to pay off, their debt while they are still in college. When you consider that student loans are basically the only loans in which the borrower is not charged interest for up to half a decade, student loans are actually the most relaxed form of lending on the market. You have 0% financing for 60 months! Don’t wait until graduation to start paying off your debt. Start on Day 1 of freshman year.

Reinventing the Wheel

The other hilarious thing about this recent sensation is that programs already exist to get college loans paid off easier, quicker, and so inexpensive that it is essentially debt forgiveness. About ten months ago I posted a blog written by my cousin-in-law Chris Johnson titled “The Truth About Federal Student Loans” in which he describes in amazing detail the government programs that have existed for decades to help alleviate student debt, and how such programs are alive and well today. It’s funny because democrats are crying for something that already exists.

In Conclusion

Liberals want to send more kids to college to be brainwashed into becoming liberals themselves.

There are many pathways to success, many of which do not included college. College is not a requisite for success.

Not every kid would do well in college, therefore giving every student free tuition would be a gross waste of money.

Because schools and courses are already impacted, sending ill-suited kids to college would jeopardize the education of students who actually are suited for college, by making it even harder for them to enroll in the classes needed for their degree and by spreading professors thin.

Yes, college tuition is high, but don’t blame the banks for student debt. Blame the universities for ripping-off the American public. Colleges across the country have routinely increased their tuition at a rate much higher than inflation would account for. Colleges need to be brought to task, not the lending institutions.

High tuition costs are avoidable though. By attending state universities and taking your general education requirements at a community college students can cut the cost of college in half.

Only finance college costs. Do not finance general living expenses. Students and parents should start paying off, or saving to pay off student loans from the very beginning. That debt should not be ignored simply because it is not yet due.

This is the truth behind, and the solution to the United States current student loan crisis. The fact is, college isn’t all that.

Trump Revisited

One of my recent blogs, Prepare to be Trumped, focused on why Trump has been so popular and why he has been surprisingly so successful in his presidential campaign. I’ll admit that I too got caught up in the Trump fervor. But I am also known to ruminate over decisions and their consequences.

Unlike Obama voters, and the current Hillary swarm, I don’t blindly follow any cause or candidate. I have my doubts and I question things, and I think that’s healthy. It’s useful. It’s necessary. I listen to and read the news, both right and left leaning. I hear what the pundits have to say, the talking heads, the masses, and of course those closest to me.

Mitt Romney gave a speech several weeks ago urging people not to vote for Trump for a plethora of reasons. Mitt is very presidential and a nice, respectable guy. And I voted for the dude in 2012 so I gave him the time of day and listened to his entire speech bemoaning the candidate that I was at the time currently favoring. He brought up some interesting points, and I weighed those points factoring them into my political decision.

Then Louie CK went on about how Trump is Hitler. And then SNL made a post about Trump supporters being KKK members and Neo Nazis. And then of course if you read Huffington Post or Slate, they don’t even make an attempt at unbiased work, and essentially claim that if you support Trump, you’re the devil. Or whatever the atheist version of the devil is. I guess that would be Trump.

One could say that I was starting to ‘lose faith’. Hearing so much garbage about the guy had me wondering if I’m the fucked up person that liberals say I am. I understand this is all part of the left plot to fracture the Republican party in order to win the election, but it had me thinking nonetheless.

But then I met up with a close friend and we discussed politics. Like me, he’s a California conservative, which means we are pro 2nd amendment, but run left on a number of social issues like gay marriage, weed, etc. Not having talked politics with him for a long time, when I brought up the issue of Trump didn’t know what his thoughts of the guy were. I suspected he might foam at the mouth with hatred. He didn’t. In fact he was very coolly and confidently pro Trump, but like me he was reluctant to say it too loud in a place where he frequents.

What frustrated him frustrated me – simple things like political correctness run amok and fear of being shamed and ostracized for holding ‘extreme views’ like securing your borders. Then I talked to my Catholic dad, and my Jewish mom, and my secular friends, who all support Trump. I wondered, if so many people support Trump, why is all I hear on TV, on social media, online, that people hate Trump and Trump is Satan?

I get it now. Conservatives may or may not be the silent majority, but we are certainly silent. Every other day you see liberals of some flavor off bitching and moaning and whining and protesting about some stupid shit. Black lives matter. Occupy Wall Street. Protesting at Republican presidential rallies. Conservatives don’t do that. We’re adults. We have shit to do. WE HAVE JOBS. So you don’t hear from us too often. We’re not out there every weekend with signs, burning down buildings, and shitting in public parks. We’re working our hands away to the bones so you hardly even notice us. We don’t scream from rooftops – because we’re toiling away at work – so our frustrations go unheard and our cries unanswered. Most of the military is conservative, and they’re advised not to be too public about expressing their discontent with the president because he’s the commander in chief, so in a way their cries go un(der)heard too.

And that’s why conservatives favor Trump. In a crowd of political introverts, Trump is our extrovert. Our poster child. Our spokesperson and our cheerleader. I can keep working, nose to the grinding stone, while he sticks it to the establishment. I can go on about my quiet life while Trump tosses up tables and burns down figurative buildings for me. Being an outspoken conservative in a liberal dominated workplace is career suicide (Luckily for me, insurance is a conservative dominated workplace, but still). So while good little Republicans get to work and go on about their day, Trump is fighting the fight we wish we could.

“Work hard and handle your own shit” is a tough sell. It’s not cool. It’s not sexy. And it’s all too easy for liberals to drown out sound arguments with a hail of sarcasm. The whole nice guys finish last thing. Trump will have none of it. Trump isn’t afraid to jump in the ring and spar with you. In fact he enjoys it. He’s got nothing better to do than stir up shit and piss off liberals, and I fucking love it.

I’m tired of being guilted for my thoughts, or my stance on issues, or the candidate I support. I’m tired of political correctness.

I don’t get why you can’t call illegal aliens illegal aliens since that’s exactly what they are. I don’t get why the term Islamic Extremist is a no-no. I don’t get why protecting our borders is xenophobic. I don’t get why if you work hard and own your home you’re the first person targeted for tax increases, but if you pop out three kids with two guys out of wedlock and manage to stay an unemployed leech on society you get subsidized housing and childcare. I don’t get why killing a baby in the 3rd trimester is totally cool, but water boarding a known terrorist or executing a rapist is inhumane. I don’t get why thinking you’re the wrong sex suddenly makes you a protected victim class in need of protection, as opposed to a mentally ill individual in need of psychiatric care. I’m tired of China reverse engineering everything we make and the U.S. not doing anything about it. I don’t get why shutting off water to people in Detroit who are 60 days delinquent on their bills gets the attention of the U.N., but China violating basic human rights such as their 1 child rule for decades has gone ignored. I’m tired of being made out to be a villain simply because I own a firearm. I’m tired of the U.S. losing. And Trump is a winner.

The Thing about (White) Liberals

I can go on for days about how and why I disagree with democrats on a number of issues, but what frustrates me the most is one specific flavor of democrats, and that’s white liberals. So please enjoy my blog, The Thing about (White) Liberals. And to be balanced, and because I’m an equal opportunity smack talker, I will follow it up shortly with another blog The Thing about (uber Religious) Conservatives.

White liberals try so hard to help people of color and those they consider minorities, poor people and other unfortunate souls, but they fail miserably because their policies (and to a large extent even their mentality) actually serve to make things worse for the very people they are trying to help. I would actually argue that many white liberals are unknowingly, yet subtly racist.

That’s not to say that I believe in some paradigm shift where all racists are white liberals, and all white liberals are racist. However while I think racism is spread pretty uniformly across all groups, it’s worth pointing out the oblivious racism in that exists in certain parts of society, because a wolf dressed as a sheep is more dangerous than a wolf dressed as a wolf.

White Liberal Policies

White liberals propose legislation like rent control, minimum wage hikes, protected domain, and mandatory unions which they think will better peoples’ lives, but which actually make the lives of their constituents even tougher. We can have a 10 hour debate about the effects such policies have, but let’s instead defer to the 40 year case studies known as the real world, in which such social experiments were expected to flourish, but instead floundered.

Look at rent control in Los Angeles and New York where lower income people either can’t afford to live in a nice place, or live in a place that hasn’t been updated in 40 years because the owner can’t afford to make the needed repairs. Protected domain in places like Santa Barbara have essentially stopped the construction of new housing. As populations swell, and housing remains fixed, rents will rise. And minimum wage jobs would be a great foot in the door for high school seniors and recent high school grads, but why the hell would a business owner pay an unskilled pimply faced teenager $15 per hour when they can spend the same money and hire someone with years of experience and who needs the money. So laws that were intended to help the poor, the disenfranchised, the needy, people of color, minorities, whatever you want to call them – have backfired.

White Saviors

Another tenet of white liberalism is that only white people – specifically white liberals – can save the poor, poor colored people. White liberals have appointed themselves as the savior to who they consider to be their feeble minded, hapless, colored brethren. That’s not my opinion. That’s their opinion.

In a world where words like racist, fascist, ignorant, xenophobe, and literally are among the most frequently misused and misunderstood words, white liberals and their policies of contradistinguishing black people and other minorities, and then assigning themselves as messiah, is literally racist.

If I told you that black people are inherently so incompetent that white people need to make special laws to make it easier for black people to get jobs (and that, oh by the way, I’m a Republican) you would consider that racist.

However if I told you my name was Joe Liberal, and I had this grand idea called Affirmative Action that would undo the wrongs suffered upon the blacks by white people, (and did I mention my name was Joe Liberal, right?) you would hail it as a victory of racial equality.

White liberals get an orgasm watching Avatar.

When you boil it down, that is their belief. They say it, they act it, they legislate it.

White Washed Nomenclature and Politispeak

We can’t even have an honest discussion about the struggles of different people in the country because everything has become a buzz word.

  • Instead of black people, or predominantly black communities, politicians say ‘urban America’.
  • Instead of non-rich white people, politicians say ‘middle America’ or ‘the  middle class’.
  • Instead of rich white people, politicians say ‘top income earners’.

At various points in time the correct way to refer to people who aren’t white has changed from ‘colored’, to ‘minorities’, to ‘people of color’, and I’m sure some new term like ‘post racial individual’ is in the works as we speak. Let me consult my quack, white social psychologist first. Vernacular created by white liberals is like iPhones – new ones come out every two years, and if you’re caught using an old one you’re a piece of shit and to be ostracized from society.

Vernacular created by white liberals is like iPhones – new ones come out every two years, and if you’re caught using an old one you’re a piece of shit

Each time a new word is ushered in, it’s because white liberals decided the old word was racist, derogatory, and antiquated. Except the stupidity of it all is that it was white liberals who years earlier came up with those terms in the first place.

raptor

 

In my college computer programming class, I read a meme that went “If debugging is the process of removing bugs from code, does that mean that programming is the process of putting bugs into code?”

Put concisely, yes, it does. So if the role of a white liberals in society is removing derogatory words from common usage they coined, does that mean that the role of white liberals is to create new, acceptable, derogatory terms in the first place?

The Liberal Problem Solution Dilemma

Up to this point everything has in some way been tied to race, and I attribute that to white liberals being the constant race baiters of the nation. Well… them and Al Sharpton. I think the truth is the majority of people (white or not) wake up and go on about their day and don’t give race or ethnicity or religion a thought. It’s not that they are avoiding the issue, it’s that for constructive people who have a fucking job and real world obligations, worrying about shit like which word is the least offensive really doesn’t make the priority list.

It’s amazing how in the light of things that actually matter, liberal policies tend to be bleached out. That’s because liberal propositions are not solutions to problems, but rather solutions in search of problems – answers to questions no one ever asked. I’ll conclude with four things which haunt American liberals, and why people can’t stomach them.

  1. Liberals attempt to solve problems that aren’t problems
  2. Liberals attempt to solve problems that aren’t theirs to solve
  3. Liberals create problems, say Republicans created them, and then fail to solve them
  4. Liberals don’t have the backbone to solve tough problems

One – Liberals attempt to solve problems that aren’t problems

Example, California Governor Jerry Brown recently enacted legislation that would remove the word “alien” from all legislation, presumably because it was ‘too offensive’. This will probably cost a good deal of money to implement, and will have no tangible benefits to anyone, yet alone aliens.

Two – Liberals attempt to solve problems that aren’t theirs to solve

Again, circling back to things like unemployment and problems that plague certain communities. Other curiosities of white liberals is legislating what foods parents are allowed to pack in their kids school lunch, or mandating that McDonalds get rid of toys in Happy Meals in San Francisco, or not allowing fast food restaurants to serve soda beverages of certain sizes in New York. In short, liberals try to legislate culture.

Three – Liberals create problems, blame Republicans, and fail to solve them

Rent control is probably the largest contributor to unaffordable housing and poor living conditions in predominantly democrat run communities. Another is unsustainably high minimum wage which discourages employers from hiring inexperienced workers for entry level positions – the very positions that in large cities would be filled by the democrat constituency. Affirmative action is the most notorious of the liberal policies, lowering the bar so much as to discourage competitive behavior in previously discriminated demographics. Decades since all of these social experiments have been implemented and black Americans are still staggeringly unemployed, underemployed, renting as opposed to owning their homes, and living in poverty.

Four – Liberals don’t have the backbone to solve tough problems

Liberals have cornered the market on complaining and being slacktivists. The notion that if you bitch and moan and stomp your feet long and loud enough, you can make change. Oh, and using sarcasm in the absence of an intelligent answer.

When Boko Haram was headline news a couple years ago, we had a bunch of whiney white liberals calling for ‘justice’ – whatever the hell that means – and writing letters, and silk screening t-shirts, and changing their Facebook profile pic, and all around just being annoying. They accomplished absolutely nothing. This is because liberals have no resolve. They lack the spine to do what is necessary. We’re talking about some child kidnapping war lord in war torn Africa and these pansy ass white college kids are talking about ‘delivering justice’ and having some guy stand trial. Oh yeah sure. For fucks sake, just start a kick starter, raise a couple millions dollars and hire some mercenaries to kill the fucking guy if you really want to make some change.

Summary

Whereas liberals think conservatives are trying to destroy the world, I won’t feign such stupidity by reciprocating. I do legitimately believe that liberals want to help the world, end famine, disease, war, and poverty. However despite their good intentions I think many liberals lack real world experience. Experience that when had, lends itself to pragmatism and hard knocks methods more typical of conservatism. While living a life of principle is admirable, living a life of fantasy is detrimental. It leads to inflated and unrealistic expectations, like free college, the prospect of never being offended, and a guaranteed job waiting for you after college even if you got a degree in something like ‘Ethnic Studies’ with no realistic career prospects.

The thing with white liberals isn’t so much in their ideals, as it is their ideas.

Please stay tuned as I plan on following up this post soon with The Thing about (uber Religious) Conservatives.

Stop Using Uber

Uber busted on to the scene a couple years ago and it has made a ton of waves and headlines since. The taxi cab replacing service has garnered tons of popularity and enthusiastic response. However what you don’t know can hurt you, and my guess is that in a few short years some of the popularity surrounding Uber will turn into notoriety.

The truth is, that as of right now, the current Uber model really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, not only might Uber simply not be as financially lucrative as many other articles have bemoaned, Uber might actually ended up royally fucking you over.

Most of the anti-Uber stuff I have read either deals with things like politics, whether Uber is profitable for drivers or not (the answer is no, it’s not), and then the occasional scare blog that you’ll get raped by your Uber driver. The authors of the pieces don’t do themselves any favors because the pieces are so narrowly focused on one minor issue that they downplay the real urgency related to Uber, it’s drivers and their passengers.

And while these might be real issues related to Uber, they aren’t central to the reason you should stop using it. Each driver will wrongly or rightly decide to what extend if at all Uber/Lyft and similar services are profitable for them, and if it’s worth doing. And the rape/murder kidnapping stories are to avoiding Uber, as shark attacks are to avoiding surfing – statistically ignorable.

Trouble with the Law

The real dangers with Uber are legal and liability related. Insurance isn’t sexy and it certainly won’t make any headlines but insurance – or the lack thereof – is the single greatest reason for not using Uber, especially as a driver.

(I am a licensed and very knowledgeable insurance agent, so trust that this isn’t just hearsay coming out of my ass. This is some real advice you can take to the bank.)

Vehicle owners are required by law to have insurance on every registered vehicle. Given that all reputable car insurance companies exclude livery service from their personal auto products, this effectively means that if you are an Uber driver, and you have a regular ol’ car insurance policy, you are driving without insurance, and you are breaking the law.

 

Don’t believe me? Ask your agent for a copy of your auto application. I know, I know. You flipped right to the last page, signed your name, and didn’t read a single line. But if you had, you’d have notice the part of the contract stating you decline coverage for livery, delivery, and other commercial use.

Ways this can screw you:

  • Having your driver’s license suspended
  • Having your vehicle registration suspended
  • Receiving a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation, in addition to the ticket you got for the original reason you were pulled over
  • Meeting SR-22 requirements (if you are required to have one, if for example you are required to because of a DUI)
  • Huge fines
  • Increased future insurance premiums

Insurance and Financial Liability

All the other stuff above is really just annoyances and inconveniences. Granted some of those things can cost you a couple hundred dollars, but ultimately they’ll waste dozens of hours of your time. I suppose time is money though.

But, back on track, Uber driving is a great way to screw yourself financially. Kids, it’s time to review insurance 101. In the United States owners of vehicles are financially responsible and liable for any damage or bodily injury resulting from the use of said vehicles.

What this means is that if you get into an accident and damage another party’s car or property, you are responsible for all costs of repairing / replacing whatever it is you messed up.

Now comes the real juicy stuff. What if in addition to damaging property you ended up injuring someone, or actually hospitalizing someone? Or dare I say it, you paralyze or kill someone?

Either way, if you don’t have insurance, you are screwed. And if you are driving Uber at the time the accident happens, I repeat again, you are screwed.

Uber has gained some negative attention in the past couple years for not covering accidents their drivers get into. The rationale was always that you were a private contractor, not an employee, and while Uber has applied that thinking to their stance on employee benefits, they’ve also applied it to their stance on auto insurance. You are responsible for your own insurance, not Uber. So while many rumors abound that Uber does over you, if that was the case you’d have to ask yourself why they mandate you have coverage of your own.

Extra Notes

Commercial Insurance

The only guaranteed way to have proper liability coverage would be to take out a commercial auto policy that explicitly includes coverage for livery services. Such policies are more expensive and might be with “surplus” carriers.

Financed Cars

If your car is being leased or financed for personal use (pleasure, commute, etc) and you use it for Uber or Lyft, you may actually be in violation of your lease/loan agreement since commercial usage is strictly prohibited. If you do your due diligence and get a commercial auto policy and submit it to your finance company, they’ll surely spot it, and take action against you. So while you might spare your left foot, you may inadvertently end up shooting your right foot.

By The Books

Proper licensing and decals are also important. Certain areas mandate that taxi cabs be registered and have all the proper decals. Uber is a taxi by any other name, like it or not. And if you are performing taxi services without getting all the necessary permits/licenses/registration in place, again, you may be breaking the law and subject to fines.

Passenger Risk

Lastly, you shouldn’t even use Uber as a passenger. Would you knowingly use a roller coaster if you knew the amusement park carried no liability insurance? If not, why would you get in someones car if you knew they did not have auto insurance? Considering 32,000 people in the U.S. die in car crashes each year, and only 3 die on roller coasters in the same amount of time, if you could justify not getting on an uninsured roller coaster, not getting in an uninsured car is should be a no-brainer.

In Summary

Uber drivers not getting paid enough or the prospect that your next passenger might be an axe murderer are certainly issues worth discussing in a different post. However the main reasons for not participating as an Uber driver is because you can get royally screwed in the event of an accident. Life won’t be very fun for you once the injured party lawyers up, and you’re staring down the barrel of a lawsuit with no insurance company standing behind you. Add to this that when the DMV finds out, they’ll also take away your license and your car, you’ll be traveling up shits creek, and it won’t be in an Uber.

Reading Material

http://fortune.com/2015/10/13/uber-crash-insurance/

https://www.policygenius.com/blog/insurance-secret-uber-doesnt-want-know/

http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2015/02/09/uh-ohuber-has-some-coverage-issues