November 27, 2014
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My Take on the News
No free ride to a high school diploma
Lonnie Barham

OBAMA THINKS WE’RE DUMB: “This is the United States, not North Korea,” Bishop Tobin declared as he accused President Obama of trampling on religious freedom with his edict that church-affiliated organizations must provide birth control to employees. Obama backed off the policy somewhat but is still insisting these church-related institutions’ insurance companies must provide birth control for free. Does Obama think the insurance companies won’t pass the cost along to the church-affiliated employers, or to all employers, through higher rates? Is Obama that stupid or does he just think we are? The whole stinking affair serves to emphasize how much Obama and his socialist-leaning government is intent on restricting American freedoms. Though many of Rick Santorum’s (and Mitt Romney’s) positions are way too conservative for most Americans – especially his positions on women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage, his comment about this latest Obamacare issue is 100% spot on: “It’s not about contraception. It’s about economic liberty. It’s about freedom of speech. It’s about freedom of religion. It’s about government control of your life, and it’s got to stop.”

CHAFEE EMASCULATING EDC? First, Governor Chafee wants to take some of the Economic Development Corporation’s jobs-creating mission away and give it to his new “Jobs Cabinet”. Now, Chafee is taking from the EDC its $5.8M energy fund – one of its key tools for luring new businesses to RI through energy loans and grants. Such loans are approved by the EDC’s Board which is representative of all RI stakeholders. Chafee intends for these decisions to be made by one person – the director of his Office of Energy Resources, a position so “important” it has been vacant for ages. It’s not clear why, but it certainly looks like Chafee intends to emasculate the EDC. This will be very bad for RI!

HIGH STAKES TESTING: A bill has been introduced in the General Assembly that would prohibit the use of standardized tests to determine whether students meet minimum proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics before graduating. Advocates insist proper supports are not in place to help disadvantaged students reach proficiency. Let’s look at this from the view point of prospective employers. Should a factory owner have to employ a high school “graduate” who has not demonstrated that she has the proficiency to read manufacturing instructions? Should a shop owner have to employ someone with a diploma who has never had to show he has the math skills to make change for a customer? Our students need to learn that life is tough! You don’t get a free ride – not even a free ride across a graduation stage. With our state approaching economic collapse, our only hope for recovery is to strengthen our business base. We can’t afford to tell prospective employers they just have to take a chance and hope the high school graduates they employ can read, write and compute.

PUBLIC vs. CHARTER TEST SCORES: Teacher unions and other naysayers will continue to throw rocks at charter schools, but recent test results show charters are improving far faster than public schools. Not a single public school system improved its students’ proficiency more than 15% - most far below that. Yet, 60% of charters increased proficiency between 28% and 48%! So, which type of school is making progress faster? From this data, the answer is clear - it’s the charters.

SUPER-PACS AND OBAMA HYPOCRISY: Having railed for two years against super-PACs, calling them “a threat to our democracy,” President Obama has now decided to support those super-PACs that campaign on his behalf. After repeatedly excoriating Republicans for tolerating super-PACs, Obama now exposes himself for what he is – a hypocrite – for now supporting his own super-PAC.

FORECLOSURE SETTLEMENT: The banks that agreed to the $25B “foreclosure abuse” settlement, and their shareholders, have borne the resentment of homeowners and the wrath of prosecutors in relative silence. The banks lost documents and, instead of using bank officials, signed replacement documents with automatic or substitute signers. The banks also did not halt foreclosures for homeowners who sought last-minute modifications after their mortgage payments fell far behind. There’s no mention that the homeowners involved failed to pay their mortgages for months or years before the banks foreclosed! We can hate big banks all we want, but most of us own these banks through our pension plan investments, mutual funds, or stock investments. Yes, these banks should be penalized for their robo-signing mistakes, but let’s not forget the banks’ actions were the result of homeowners failing to honor their end of the deal. Banks are not charities; they represent the interests of their shareholders. If we forget this and make banks charities, they will soon fail and the American dream of home ownership will be out of reach for all Americans.

GREEN ENERGY LOANS: The Obama administration is lending $24B to companies for “green energy” programs. A White House review of the loans indicates an anticipated loss of $3B. That’s a loss of 12.5%. How many investors would buy stock in a company that tells you it plans to take a 12.5% loss? The answer is zero! The government has already lost over a half billion dollars on these loans and expects to lose $3B more? What Obama lunacy keeps this program in place!
MARINE IGNORANCE? It is very hard to believe that none of the ten Marines who posed for a photo in front of a Nazi SS flag knew the lightning-bolt SS symbol represented Nazi storm troopers. Granted the Marines are young and WWII was long ago; however, the Nazi SS symbol remains pervasive in movies, TV, wartime art, and on many Internet sites. These young men surely knew the symbol’s significance. The Marine Corps needs to step up its efforts to ensure its “elite” units are not developing a storm trooper attitude. Our country can ill afford military units that subscribe to such a murderous ethos.


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