Jack is retired. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.
This book is my story about the goodness of America. After hearing so many young people criticize our country and blaming America for many of the problems around the world, I decided to set the record straight. Many of the things I write about should be common knowledge. They should have been taught in our public schools. They should have been reported in the news fairly. They should be ingrained in the public psyche so that there should be no doubt about who we are as a nation. A nation of hope and peace and prosperity.
- Sept. 6, 2019
(14,100 word count, 44 Chapters)
updated Oct.11, 2019
(14,600 words, 45 Chapters)
Table of Contents
- Motivation x
- Introduction x
- The America I remembered... x
- Everything is Related x
- What Is Great About America? x
- Why Is It Taken for Granted? x
- Immigration Debate - Is it about race? x
- What is Immigration? x
- Anchor Babies x
- Civics - Our Constitution x
- Race, white privilege x
- Religion x
- A Parable x
- The Family x
- The Courts x
- Military x
- Economy x
- Energy x
- Climate Change x
- Athletics x
- Media x
- Balanced Representation? x
- Education x
- socialism x
- National Debt x
- Census x
- foreign policy x
- Abortion x
- Prison x
- Underlying Principle - Conservatism x
- Undeniable Truths x
- Past, Present, Future x
- How Can We Do Better? x
- What Other Countries? x
- The Proper Role of Government x
- Conclusion x
- Some Statistics x
- Appendix - Recommended Reading List x
- Postscript - My Personal Experience...x
- A Real Case...x
- Perception of America by Americans x
- What Group Do You Belong?
- A Personal Update x
- Acknowledgement x
The Motivation for This Book
Why did I write this book?
Who is my target audience?
I decided to write this book after hearing some millennials saying they prefer socialism over capitalism. They complaint about the income inequality of our system. They also believe that the US is still a racist country. They support groups like BLM and OWS not knowing what these groups are about and who are funding them. They also attack our government agencies such as ICE for trying to do their job under difficult environment. They are buying into the Democratic party’s platform of a Green New Deal and free universal healthcare and free higher education and a $15 minimum wage. They are discussing possible reparations for slavery 150 years after the emancipation.
There are several elements going on. First, a lack of knowledge of history on the part of these millennials. They were not taught some of the important aspects of our country, our founding, our Constitution and our history. Second, they also lack a proper perspective. It is easy to criticize some actions years after the fact. Finally, they are not able to discern our country compared to other nations around the globe. Most of them have never traveled outside the US. They just don’t have a good awareness of what is going on in other countries.
This book is an attempt to explore all related topics. It is trying to put things into perspective. It is also a sales pitch. It is trying to sale America to a new generations of Americans. A generation who knows very little of our past, and too quick to criticize and too complacent about protecting and preserving our culture. A generation that knows more about pop culture than our unique form of government. A generation that is self absorbed and cares more about feeling than facts. A generation which some have coined the term “snowflakes” to describe the delicate nature. So easily offended and need to be protected from “free” speech which they deem offensive.
It may seem unfair to paint a whole generation with a broad brush. However, there is enough evidence that these happenings are real. It was President Ronald Reagan who said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
This is my attempt to pass on my knowledge.
The America I Remembered...
I am 68 years old today in 2019. I am a first generation immigrant from the island of Taiwan, Republic of China. I immigrated here along with my parents and brother back in 1961, when I was just ten years old. I grew up in Queens NY in a mostly white neighborhood. I attended a public high school. I went on to attend a free public college called CCNY. It is no longer free, and has not been since 1977.
The America I remembered was a great place. It was welcoming, and full of promise and innovation and opportunity. My family worked hard and achieved the American dream more than I ever imagined. We were the embodiment of the great success story. Not that we didn’t face challenges. Over those 50 plus years, I and my brother pursued a career in the private sector. We got married, had kids and prospered. We lived through booms and recessions, wars and riots, and witnessed the first man landing on the moon.
The America I remembered was generous, and welcoming and full of promise. As long as we worked hard, play by the rules, we were assured a good comfortable life.
By contrast, the country I left, was undergoing tremendous changes.
Everything is Related
In our discussion on the various topics and issues, it is worth reminding that everything is inter related in some way. For example, you cannot discuss the implication of illegal immigration without also relating the economic impact and the impact on our social welfare system. By the same token, you cannot discuss race relations without the mentioning of quotas and criminal justice system and profiling.
Even the discussion on climate change cannot be addressed without mentioning the energy and commerce and the free market system.
Connecting the dots is one exercise we should all attempt to do. For example, the rise in teen pregnancy and single motherhood in the 1960s is tied to our government policies of welfare. When you offer free housing and childcare and baby formulas to single mothers, guess what? you will get more of them. Is it such a surprise?
The decline of religion over the decades since the Supreme Court ruling on Separation of Church and State had a direct effect on divorce rates.
The sex revolution of the 1960s led to experimentation into many forms of relationships such as the communes and the free use of mind altering drugs like LSD... It was the AIDs crisis in the 1980s that reverse this trend of free love and illegal drug use.
The point is, our social problems can be traced directly or indirectly to some government policies though good intentioned, had devastating effects.
The one thing that has not changed is human nature. Despite all the advances in science and psychology, people will act with self interest. It is how our brain are wired.
No amount of government intervention will change that. That is a lesson for the ages. Government, for good or for bad, can have some temporary effects but in the long run will fail if they don’t take into account the human nature element.
What are those basic human nature traits? Where do they originate? How can we work in conjunction with human nature to come up with the ideal government policies?
These are not new questions. They have been asked back in 1776, by our founding fathers. They were enlightened men, educated, and knew human nature well. They designed a new system of government and called it our “Constitution”. The answers are within that document though the various articles and amendments. These words were debated, and argued and negotiated and comprised in order to form a more perfect union.
The connection we all have is to the root of our founding as a nation. We may be immigrants but we all understand that history and readily embraced that new principle of liberty and equality and of self determination. It is that common bond that unite us as a people and a nation and a unique, exceptional country. One that has succeeded for over 240 years above all expectations. Through trial and tribulations and wars and conflict, we emerged triumphant and all because of our unyielding belief in that Constitution.
What Is Great About America?
It is our system of government that is unique and great. Not that we are perfect or we were ever perfect in the past. We are great, precisely because of our system designed to make changes and adapt to the environment. No other country to my knowledge has the same adaptability. Most countries either stay the same or deteriorate over time. We are the exception as one of few nations that seems to improve over time. In our short 230 years, we have gotten ride of slavery, we have given women equal rights and we have even adopted gay marriage.
We have also made some mistakes including the prohibition of alcohol beverage but we were smart enough to reverse that decision.
Here is link to my article called - The Greatest Success Story.
Why Is It Taken For Granted?
I belong to a writer’s group in my local library. There is a mix of people from various backgrounds who all enjoy writing. We share our writings and receive constructive criticism. This is to improve our writing and communication skills.
On one occasion, I read my article about the successes I experienced personally as a first generation immigrant. It was well received by everyone. One member made a comment that struck me. He said basically that he is happy for my experience but unfortunately, there are many Americans not given the same opportunity and therefore it is a reflection on our state of the country which still has a way to go to include everyone in this American dream.
He was genuinely affected by my story and wished that he could write his story which was quite different and full of hardships and disappointments and faced roadblocks.
The question for me is why? What else could America be or do to help people like him? What is the stumbling block?
We have immigrants who comes here without speaking a word of English, with few dollars to their name and yet, after a few short years can become productive and work and make money and raise a family and even send extra money home to their home country. How is this person able to do that while we have some American adult citizens, born here, went to public school, who speak English and yet are either unemployed or on disability or living at home in their parent’s basement?
The question for me is how can we make it better? It is unrealistic to think everyone can be a success. What policies can our state embrace that will give more opportunity to our citizens to help them succeed in life?
I am going out on a limb and try to explain the difference. In my view, the immigrants that come here are given the same opportunity as anyone else here. It is this freedom and equality of opportunity that gives our system the upper hand. It is not a guarantee. It does not insure automatic success. This system, encourages individual initiatives, taking a chance, working hard to achieve something great. From the point of view of the immigrant, they expect nothing more or any special privileges but only the opportunity to find work and earn a living.
For some of our citizens, they expect something more. They want or expect equality of outcome. If this is the case, they will always be disappointed. Our system is contrary to that goal.
It is a mystery to me how this happens. From my perspective, I went to the same public schools as some of my friends and we attended the same public University. We competed on the same varsity team. We had the same coach, learning the skills and the discipline to excel. Yet, we ended up on opposite end of the political spectrum. I am a conservative and some of my teammates are progressives.
I do not focus on race in my day to day dealings where as from my discussions, my friend looks at every issue through a racial lens. Let me just give one specific example. I should mention that my friend and I are both Chinese first generation immigrants.
The Immigration Debate - Is it about race?
When Trump made illegal immigration a top agenda for the 2016 election, my friend points to this as an example of Trump’s white racism and supremacy. “He wants to make America White again.” The code word for MAGA.
This is the progressive charge, along with the media and hispanic groups. They call this xenophobia. I will counter this from a conservative point of view.
To us, the border problem has several components and none of it has to do about race.
1. sovereignty - First and foremost, controlling our borders is to preserve our sovereignty. Every other nation does this. That is why we have passports and VISA and a process for people to come here either to immigrate or to visit for tourism.
2. Security - A second priority in the post 9/11 world is terrorists infiltration. Some ISIS members have found ways to get into our country through the porous southern borders.
3. Health - A third component is disease. We spend a lot of money and effort to irradiate some diseases from our population. That is why immigrants who come here must get a physical checkup and immunization shots. It is just common sense.
4. Economic - Forth, it is economics impact. We are all affected by a mass of unskilled workers coming here and driving wages lower, costing Americans jobs, and putting stress on our various infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.
5. Crime - Finally, crime especially related to illegal drugs and to human trafficking. The people crossing the borders are being exploited by these illegal activities.
As you can see, none of these argument has anything to do with the race of the individuals trying to come here illegally.
Immigration - What is it?
One of the revealing fact about the immigration debate is how the two sides view immigration. On the progressive side, they believe immigration is a right? They claim everyone has a right to come to America if they work hard. They also think American will not do the jobs some immigrants do. They quote the poem inscribed at the Statue of Liberty...”give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
For the rest of us, immigration is a privilege. Every country has the right to dictate who comes in. We have a set of laws that govern immigration and it goes back to our Constitution. We fought a revolution to establish this nation. It came with sacrifices and hard work. We created something unique in the history of this world. The people who wants to come here and make this our home are not the one who decides.
It is hard to understand why people do what they do. In my own family, I could not imagine my father who in his mid 30’s with a wife and two small children, decided to borrow some money, and come to America to study and later work for 4 years and save before sending for us.
To Americans who are born here, my suggestion is to talk to some immigrants. Ask them why they come here, despite the hardships and inequities. What makes them spend money, and risk getting hurt, travel thousands of miles away from their families to come to America. Perhaps, then, you will understand the goodness of America.
Another issue with our current immigration policy is the automatic citizenship of a baby born on our soil. This loophole is being exploited by some foreigners. There is a whole cottage industry of birthing hotels. There are people who comes over on tourist visas and stay for 3-6 months, gives birth, so that their child is now a US citizen. They can return to their home country and apply for permanent immigration as family of a US citizen. Or else, some illegal immigrant, comes over and give birth on our border, and now the child is a US citizen. Hence, the term - anchor baby. The baby is being used to allow the parent to gain legal immigration status. Very few other countries have the same policy.
To use an analogy. What if a bank robber, robs a bank, and use the money to buy lottery tickets, and then won the jackpot? Is he entitled to the winnings?
This is what is going on with anchor babies. A person breaks our immigration law, and come here, and have a baby. The baby is now a full legal citizen of this country with full rights and privileges. He can apply for benefits and entitlement programs. How crazy is that?
America is unique because of our Constitution. It is our civics that allowed us to work together as a nation of many states to come together and prosper and build a strong union. Our duty as citizen is to learn that civics and pass it on to the next generation.
Here is a short summary on our civics. Every citizen should read our Constitution at least once in their adult life.
Racism and White Priviledge
The history of our country, going back at least 200 years is clear. We were established as a new nation by White Men. Our Founding fathers were all educated, enlightened, white men. Many were slave owners. The original Constitution speak of slaves as counted as three fifth of a citizen. This was for the purpose of determining congressional seats, which was and still is a way to apportion power based on representation of the public.
Over the next 70 years, we fought a civil war to emancipate all slaves. Since then, we made amendments of our Constitution 17 times to extend voting rights to blacks and women and address all sorts of other issues.
We have made mistakes such as the Japanese Interment and our treatment of native Indian tribes. Over the years, we try to right the wrongs that existed since our founding. These perceived inequities are not unique to our country but exists through out the world. Even today, we have similar problems in other nations with regard to slavery and caste system and discrimination.
It is fair to say in 2019, we have eliminated “institutional racism” from our nation. We cannot outlaw bigotry on an individual level. At least, we have laws that prevent government or institutions of practicing discrimination.
The latest controversy on campuses around our country deals with White privilege. This is an acknowledgement by some that the race of some people have a distinct advantage over the rest. This is unfair and should be addressed somehow by our society. The problem is how should we address this? Where do we stop? Does race play a role in professional sports? Or in Modeling, or Hollywood or college entry?
These are important questions and very complex.
The latest democratic candidates for president in 2020 are also bringing up reparations for slavery. Many seems open to address the past wrong of over 150 years ago. Is reparation the answer? What groups are included or excluded? Many generations have passed and we are a melting pot of all ethnicity and race.
One of the main reason for immigration to the New World was religious persecution. In Europe and Great Britain, state religions were forced upon the people. The Pilgrims were seeking a new way of life in the New World. They want to have the freedom to practice their religious beliefs. So, when the American Revolution came about, the freedom of Religion was a prime objective. All the founding Fathers were religious beings. They believed in God. They also believed that the founding of our nation was guided by divine providence. If you read some of the letters and communication written by these men, it is clear they were Christians either Protestant or Catholic. They believed in the Bible and the Word of God. They prayed before any session of Congress. They swore on the Bible when giving testimony. This was our history up till the 1950s. What happened?
A group of secularists ACLU, along with activist judges, decided to use the courts to enforce their interpretation of the Constitution. They came up with this “wall of separation” between Religion and State. They used the arm of the courts to stop any exhibition of religious beliefs, including praying, and religious celebrations. Even religious songs to celebrate Christmas was banned from the public square.
Over the next 70 years, they have succeeded to eliminate most references to God and the Bible from the public square. They even wanted to remove “In God We Trust” from our currency.
As I said earlier, things are connected. When you mess with religion, you affect other aspects of our lives. Is it a coincidence, just when God is removed from our public schools, that discipline and reverence went away. Teachers are not respected as role models and student‘s performance declined and teen pregnancy sky rockets.
There exists real data demonstrating my assertion. Just look at any large cities and compare the public schools to religious parochial schools. You will find better graduation rates and higher academic scores in the parochial schools.
Religion and Politics. In my many debates with progressives, they point to the Christian philosophy of love thy neighbor...to claim progressives or liberals are more like Jesus... They and their policies care for the poor and points to conservatives as selfish and all the qualities that are anti-Christian...
It is an unfair accusation. Religion and politics never mix. It was Jesus who said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
What did he mean? Jesus makes a distinction between the secular world of Caesar and the spiritual religious world of God. When Jesus say feed the poor and the hungry...he meant the people not the State. When progressives, who have no understanding of God, since they are for the most part atheists, try to use religion to justify their good intentions and liberal social programs, it is a false reading of the scriptures. The same applies to socialism. Progressives claim Jesus would be a socialist today...On the contrary, Jesus supports individual initiatives and the fruits of labor that is gained from capitalism. He said “the poor you will always have...”
He is stating a fact of life. Our world is not a utopian one. Not everyone can be equal. There will always be someone richer, and smarter and prettier, stronger and more talented... The equality state in our Constitution is for equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
A Parable From the Bible
A Story about Three Servants
14 … A man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15 The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.
16 As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. 17 The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. 18 But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.
19 Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. 20 The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”
21 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
22 Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”
23 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”
24 The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. 25 I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”
26 The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. 27 You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”
28 Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! 29 Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don’t have anything. 30 You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.
What is the lesson of this parable? Which economic system does this mostly align with? Socialism or Capitalism? I will let the reader figure this out.
A basic tenet of a well formed society is the family unit. This is how our civilization prosper and grow and improve over time. Without a stable family unit, all bets are off. Why do people get up every morning, get dressed and go to work? What is the one key motivator? It is the desire to support and raise our family the best we know how.
Putting a roof over them, food, and clothing and providing a good education for our children is the motivator for most people. If you are one of the few lucky person who loves their work, then you have the added advantage and motivator to go to work because it brings you joy and satisfaction.
The family is key. That is why most religion support the family. Most religion have rituals and practices that enhance the family and reinforce the importance of marriage, having kids, and teaching them right from wrong and being a good citizen. This is the primary duty of being a parent. Obviously, having two parents is ideal. However, even a single parent is better than none.
In Chinese Confucius philosophy, ancestry worship is considered the most important aspect of living. It is almost like a religion. We pay our respect and honor our ancestors because we are their descendants. We have a part of DNA. What we do in our society reflects on them. In the old days, marriage was arranged between two families. This is considered archaic by today’s practice. However, it makes a lot of sense. Without the internet and dating sites, people in those days rely on their extended family to determine who is a compatible partner. You have a whole profession of matchmakers, whose job is to find the proper and compatible partner to form a family and raise the next generation. Primary to that process is finding out which family roots they each come from to maximize the success.
In the modern world, it would be similar to taking a DNA test to see if the couple is compatible in terms of their genetics. If there are any defects that would bring on children with some known disabilities.
One of the three branches of our government is the Supreme court. It is suppose to act as check and balances to our elected representatives. It is also the branch that insure our laws and regulations fall within our Constitution as it was founded, There are nine members of the Supreme Court and the members are appointed by the sitting president and approved by the Senate and its members serve for life. This is the only position in our government that are unlimited. It was designed that way for the specific intent to guide us over a long period of time. Presidents serve up to 8 years, Senators are elected to 6 years term while House of Representatives are elected to only 2 years term. A lifetime service for a justice can last 30-40 years. This will allow that person to have a broad view of where our country is going.
The Supreme court is the final arbiter of policies and laws. It is given the duty to determine if laws written by Congress falls within our Constitution. This is not an easy task. The Constitution was created as a guideline. It is up to the court to interpret laws to see if it is proper. A majority of the nine members is required to rule.
Historically, the court was non-partisan and makes decision based on Constitutionality. This is no longer the case. Slowly but surely, the court is now divided politically. You can see indicator of this in their decisions. Many cases are decided by a close 5-4 vote. You also witness this in the nomination of new justices. The recent confirmation hearing over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh was a prime example of the partisan nature. It is no longer about the credentials of a nominee but the politics of the president making the nomination.
I am deeply disturbed by the direction of the court. In some recent controversial cases, the ruling seems to be made contrary to the intent of the Constitution. A prime example of this was the ACA or the Affordable Care Act. This law passed by one majority party, was ruled Constitutional by a 5-4 vote. It was argued by the Chief Justice that the wording of the law does not reflect the intent of the law. He sided with the majority in ruling this law to be Constitutional even though the actual wording was flawed.
A strong military is crucial to our survival as a nation. All through the ages, the country with the biggest army are the ones that dominates. Every empire in the past got bigger due to a standing army and a prosperous trade. The money generated by trade help pay for a standing army. The army protects the interest of the country among neighbors who may not be so friendly.
The US became the world’s super power after the fall of the Soviet Union. Right now, the only challenger seems to come from China. It is a challenge based on commerce but also a growing military presence.
It was President Ronald Reagan who a generation ago articulated a winning strategy of “peace through strength.” It is a time tested winning formula.
The US military is not only for homeland defense. It is the only rapid response force in times of natural disasters. Remember Haiti? After hurricane Matthew struck in 2016, the island was devastated. All the ports were damaged. The only force able to perform rescue was the US Navy.
Another exhibition of the goodness of America.
The economy is a big part of all our lives. It encompasses work, wages, taxes, investments, commerce, trade and debts. One of the complaints of the millennials generation is income inequality. They claim that capitalism leads to greed and exploitation of the workers. Most are not being paid a compensation equitable and that the owners and corporations are exploiting these workers for personal gains. They point to the average salary of CEO which is 150 times of the average worker. They believe passing a minimum wages law of $15/hour will help address these imbalances.
They point to some socialistic countries in Western Europe where people are paid much higher wages and many of the social services are provide by the State. They claim healthcare is a basic human right.
Let me address each of these points.
1. Income Inequality
2. Minimum wage
Income inequality is in the eye of the beholder. If you would take a poll of all workers, all of them would say they are under paid. In economics, what is the best way to determine a fare wage? The answer is supply and demand. Depending on the type of work, the number of people qualified to that type of work and the number of job openings, the wage is set so that there is a balance. This is also referred to the “hidden hand“ of the market place. A highly skill profession, such as a doctor, or a lawyer would be paid a much higher wage than a waiter.
What is deemed “unfair” by some is the vast disparity of income comparing a factory worker to the CEO of the company. In some cases, the CEO makes a few hundred times the wage of an average employee. Is this fair?
The minimum wage does not make sense for a country as vast as ours and as diverse. The cost of living can vary by a few folds between cities like NYC and Jackson Ms. Minimum wage should be locally set.
Healthcare, like all other services, is not a right. It is the responsibility of the individual to provide food, shelter, clothing and healthcare for themselves and their family. People who work in healthcare, doctors, nurses, and therapists are making a living no different than a carpenter or electrician or teacher... They don’t work for free. They expect to be compensated for their services. Ultimately, someone pays. If not the individual, through insurance, or government through social welfare programs, or in some cases “free” as in emergency rooms visits by the uninsured, but subsidized by the rest of us who pays.
In a free market environment, the cost is determined by supply and demand. Healthcare, is no different. The reason we have the best healthcare system is because of competition. New drugs are developed by the pharmaceutical companies so that they can make a profit. New devices and machines like MRI and CAT scans are expensive. They were invented to help diagnose diseases but also to make money for the people that developed and manufactured them.
Innovation and the free market goes hand and hand. Without the capitalism enterprises that invest in these research and development, very few new technology will come about.
The bottom line is we have a thriving economy because of capitalism and the risk and reward associated with them.
Energy is one of the necessities to life. Air, water, food and energy are the 4 essentials for life. Energy encompass many sources, from water, to oil and gas, to solar and wind and nuclear. As a modern society, we require energy to run our factories, our hospitals snd our homes and businesses and our cars and trucks and planes. Most of the energy is in terms of electricity and gasoline. The energy sources are necessary for our survival. In some parts of the world, the only option is burning wood or coal.
A common sense approach to deal with this is to let the market decide. We should be pursuing all forms of energy sources. Some will be more suitable than others depending on application and needs. We need to take advantage of all the sources available and do so with care. The economics will determine which energy source is best at any given time.
The US is now a net producer of oil and gas. It was not always so. In the 1980s, we imported oil from the Middle East. We sent a good chunk of our wealth to OPEC. It was with technology advances like fracking, we are now a net producer of energy. This is a good sign.
The issue of global warming has been on the forefront since 1990s. It was renamed to Climate change due to the fact that the earth is not warming all the time. The argument is that due to CO2 and greenhouse effect, the climate on earth will be more extreme over the next few decades. More extreme and frequent storms, more flooding of coastlines and more droughts and wildfires, more melting of glaciers and leading to rising oceans.
The problem is the environmental extremists has co opted this issue. They are making this an environmental affair. They claim CO2 is a hazard and an air pollutant.
They want to control and limit the use of fossil fuel burning like coal, gas and oil in favor of renewable energy sources.
The ultimate goal is to revamp our economic system to migrate away from capitalism to socialism. It wood be less wasteful of our resources and protect the planet and lead to a more equitable economic system.
Climate change is not just a scientific exercise. The policy proposals have real economic consequences.
In recent years, some athletes, both professional and amateurs, have decided to inject politics into the sport. It started with Colin Kaepernick who decided to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem at the start of a football game. He was protesting the shooting of blacks by police. Most recently, a top foil fencer, at the Pan Am games did the same at the medals podium while the national anthem was playing. He tweeted later to explain his actions was to protest against some of the injustices of our country and naming President Trump as one of his many grievances.
As a former athlete at the college level, I have a strong opinion on this topic. While I understand these athletes have the right to do it, I disagree with them or the way they chose to exercise their first amendment rights. Athletic competition, going back thousands of years starting with the Greek Olympiads, was based on religious and pride of human achievement. It was said, war would be temporarily suspended every four years while the competition was conducted. People from all countries and races gathered to watch and participate. The symbol of the games was an olive branch. This is sign of peace.
Athletics and sports is one of the few areas of human endeavor that is apolitical. When people gathered to watch a sporting event, they are there for entertainment and not politics. We get enough of that in our regular life. There is also a sense of national pride when countries compete against each other. It is one of those unique moments where no matter which party you support, we come together and support our home country team in a fair competition among their peers.
There is a fine balance between what is legal and what is common sense practice. Our Constitution and our legal system provide the backdrop and the right to individual free expression. However, just because it is legal does not always make it right or appropriate. There is a time and a place for protest.
During the playing of the national anthem is not the time and the place to do it. There are many other avenues and option an athlete can express his ideas. He can also be a role model and offer inspiration and show the way to a better tomorrow. For example, he can donate his money to help the under privileged. He can donate his time and energy to help and support a good cause. He can give speeches and run for public office to affect real change in government policies. He can demonstrate his sincerity by making a real difference. Taking a knee does very little in comparison. It does create controversy and perhaps starts a dialog that may be needed. I will grant you that. What comes next?
The Media - Role
The media includes newspapers, broadcast TV news, cable news, online news websites and news magazines. Our founders enshrined in the Constitution the first amendment which includes a free press. They realized in order for the public to make informed decisions at election times, there needs to be an unbiased source of information. That role was the printed press. Their importance in our democracy cannot be overstated. They are to be the watchdog on our elected officials. They shine light on the truth.
It was the media that exposed the Watergate scandal back in the 1970s which led to the resignation of a sitting president. That media does not exist today any more. That is the greater danger. We have lost that watch dog when members of the media takes on a role of cheerleading for one party over another. When the media becomes part of the narrative instead of reporting on the facts. When the media selectively report or not report certain stories that are important to the public. This inherent bias creates an atmosphere of distrust.
Let me use a simple analogy to show what I mean. Suppose you have a friend who you trust. You knew this person for a long time. He has always watched out for you, protected you and helped you in time of distress. That is what a friend does. Now suppose he tells you some information that later turned out to be false. If it happened once or twice, you can forgive him for making a judgement error or a mistake. However, if that friend repeated lies and distorted information and some of that information lead you down a wrong path in life, what would you do?
Especially, if it is found out that this friend did this intentionally. What is the proper reaction?
This is how the mainstream media has been these past 10 years or so. The most recent “big lie“ is the Russian collusion of Trump. For two and a half years, we were feed this narrative. An independent counsel was appointed to look into and investigate. The media played along and provided many speculations and testimony of some insiders. They were so sure that some crime was committed. Unfortunately, it is not true. In fact, now we are beginning to find out it was orchestrated by some high ranking members of our government agencies. The media did not do their diligence and investigate and look for the truth.
The danger is this. Without the media playing the role it was designed, our democracy is in jeopardy. Imagine a future elected official, from either party, who actually decided to subvert the will of the people. How will we ever know? When the media is in bed with the government, bad things will happen. It is human nature. It is easy to take the shortcut. Why debate policies when you can just do as you please. That is the path down to tyranny.
Getting back to my analogy. I hope people will decide to terminate that friendship. If you find out your friend has betrayed your trust, you need to terminate that relationship. You need to find a new friend. The media has many channels. As a consumer, in a free nation, we have the ultimate control. We can decide who to read or watch or listen. It is an informed public that will keep our democracy strong.
One of the comments I often hear is that the left and the right are two sides of the same coin. What they perceive is that both sides act with extreme prejudice...and use exaggeration and deception to attack the opposition. The so called “moderates“ who are caught in the middle cannot make sense out of this division.
This is an unfair assessment of the situation. Yes, there are extreme groups on both sides. Those are the fringe elements, perhaps the most vocal but still a small minority.
What is true is that once you factor out the two extremes, you are left with the main stream media, both in TV broadcast news and cable news and in print. Among these groups, the “media” is 90% liberal and 10% conservative. In terms of audience, the two groups are more evenly divided. That is to say all polls have shown that our country is 40% Conservative 30% liberal and 30% in between. Therefore, the audience, whatever media they read or listen to...are more or less evenly divided.
With the internet and the world wide web, the media field is now broadened. There are blogs and news outlets like Drudge Report and even entertainment shows like the Daily Show which are being accepted as news outlets. With social media being so pervasive, FaceBook and Instagram is now also purveyors of news.
Here is the problem, there is no standards any more in journalism. The blending of news and editorial page is the problem. These media have lost their main objective. They are treating news as a vehicle to influence public opinion instead of just reporting the news as it happens. The spin they put on the news is the problem.
Getting back to the charge that the left and the right are equally responsible and equally at fault for this current toxic environment.
I disagree. Let me cite one example as proof. Recently, a TV personality, Bill Maher, has called for or wished for a recession in order to get Trump our of office by 2020. This is just insane. In the 8 years of Obama, never would a Conservative say something so extreme. Let me get this straight, a US citizen would rather wish for a recession to hurt millions of his fellow citizens just so that can get rid of a President he disagree with...even though all indicators are that Trump is the very reason the economy has turned around.
Another example is Brian Ross of ABC. He is the poster boy for the TDS afflicting so many media personalities and celebrities. He was a respected journalist for many years until the election of Trump in 2016.
On December 2, 2017, Ross was given a four-week suspension without pay after erroneously stating during a special report that Michael Flynn was preparing to testify that Donald Trump had directed him to make contact with Russian officials during his presidential campaign. Ross issued a clarification on World News Tonight later in the day, explaining that Flynn had not been told to make contact with Russian officials until after the election, and that Trump had only asked Flynn and other advisors to "find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots" during his campaign. The incorrect report was criticized by conservative commentators, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 350 points after the report.
Here is a national journalist willing to give up his reputation and impartiality in order to take down a President. He is willing to affect the stock market to do it. If this is not a case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, I don’t know what is?
The way I see it, the playing field is not even. Not by a long shot. You have liberals dominating the main stream media, Hollywood, the academic community, while conservatives dominate talk radio and political books. Top best sellers are mostly conservative point of view. Why is that?
A final point about bias. I think everyone has bias and even news people who claims impartiality has some form of bias. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it is checked. At the end if the day, the truth of the information should be the ultimate decider. No matter where it comes from, if the information provided is true, than that is a reliable source. In the network connected world we live, it is the ultimate leveler of the playing field. We all have a computer and a keyboard and can have access to information across the globe. Unlike in China, we don’t have new censorship. All it takes is a little effort on our part to get at the truth.
Our next generation is only as good as the knowledge they are able to gain from attending school. For the majority, that is the public school system from kindergarten to high school. After that, if they choose, they can go on to college. Besides the basic three Rs, reading, writing and arithmetics, history and civics is part of that education process. This makes total sense. How can we preserve our democracy if the citizens, who votes, are not taught our founding and our history? Unfortunately, in recent years, some of our schools, especially the inner cities, are not doing a good job of educating. Due to the power of the teachers union, many local school districts are prevented from improving their performance. The unions are against many of the ideas to improve our school system such as charter schools...
We have a global economy where everyone in the world is competing for jobs and resources. The new AI advances puts pressure on the labor market. The lower skilled manual jobs are slowly being replaced by automation and robotics and artificial intelligence systems. Even higher functioning jobs such as customer service via the phone is being replaced by intelligent systems.
Our education system needs to keep up and help our citizens stay competitive in this global market. Despite all the faults with our public education system, we still have the best college and graduate programs in the world. It comes down to freedom of choice.
Our system place high value on freedom and individual choices. Our higher education schools are an integral part of that. The best and brightest ends up here getting advanced degrees and move on to work in industries or start ups which bring forth the next technological breakthroughs.
This is also a reflection of how capitalism works better than socialism. Not everyone is cut out to be the same across the board. Not all students needs or should go to college. We are all individuals with different skills and aspirations and passions. Where socialism pushes equality, capitalism foster competition and in turn leads to constant improvements. There will be winners and losers. We are not going to be equal in outcome.
In recent political debates, the subject of democratic socialism was proposed by some Democratic candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders. They claim it is a better way for government to level the playing field and provide for its citizens. They want to tax the rich to pay for free healthcare and free college for everyone...
What is this idea? Can it coexist with our capitalistic system. The answer is a definite no. Our system is the best and with all its warts, it is still the best compared to all other competing ideology.
The reason socialism and capitalism are incompatible is because socialism is for the group we while capitalism is for self determination. While socialism wants the State to control everything, Capitalism wants minimal government intervention. These are opposing goals.
Here is my article explaining socialism to millennials.