Saturday, July 4, 2015

Big Government Wins--From E.L. James to Pope Francis our Culture is Obliterating Our Desire for Freedom

Today is July 4, 2015.  Tonight, skies across the U.S. will light up with fireworks as we celebrate this nation's 239th birthday.  Against the backdrop of these celebrations, we will see increased law enforcement presence as a reminder that there is a violent segment of the globe that wants to see liberty completely annihilated in the world's foremost example of the power of freedom--the USA.  But for many Americans, tonight is basically just a great light show and a time with family and friends; they no longer have any real interest in the freedom we celebrate. The real threat to freedom in this country is not coming from ISIS--it is coming from our own culture which is chipping away at our desire to be free.  And that is the real war we are fighting in our country--once desire is gone, the rest is easy.

If you don't believe me take a look at three examples from the last thirty days.  The most compelling is, of course, last week's Supreme Court rulings legalizing gay marriage in all fifty states and shoring up the failing debacle that is Obamacare.  Advocates of Obamacare don't care that the system is a disaster--they just want to keep the subsidies of big welfare going. The recipients of these subsidies--estimates range from over 6 million to over 8 million of those who have signed up who receive an average of $277.00 a month--also don't care that Obamacare is ruining the medical system. Like all other beneficiaries of government welfare programs they just want their handout--no matter what the overall cost.  None of these people cares that judges are ignoring the Constitution and legislating from the bench.

The same goes for the gay marriage ruling last week.  In all the giddy excitement of the White House bathed in rainbow-colored lights and #LoveWins hashtags everywhere, it was hard to hear the few voices who pointed out that the Supreme Court stripped the rights of voters in the fourteen dissenting states to choose for themselves whether they supported gay marriage. While in states like Texas, our governor Greg Abbott and our AG Ken Paxton immediately released press releases supporting the religious rights of people to oppose gay marriage, the religious rights of clerks and judiciary to refuse to perform gay weddings and the rights of churches to speak out against gay marriages, few mentioned the millions of voters who had their voices taken away from them by the Court. When 50% of the people support gay marriage in polls, that conversely means that about 50%--half the society, oppose it.  What about our rights?  And why should roughly 96% of the society change its collective thinking to fit the desires of 3-4% of the society?  But in a world where Twitter will add a rainbow heart to any Tweets hashtagged #Lovewins  these bigger issues are lost in the excitement of celebrating one gain for the gay community.  So what if democracy lost?  Isn't love more important than freedom?

A couple of weeks ago, I was working on Twitter and quotes from E.L. James' new book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series were trending at the same time as Pope Francis' Encyclical.  I could not help thinking how ironic it is that while on the surface these two works appear to be diametrically opposed, they share one very important similarity--they both encourage renunciation of freedom.  James' pornographic BDSM romp is famously badly written--in fact, specifically what was trending was the worst lines from the new book.  Yet, it is has been devoured by hundreds of millions of women--many of whom are successful and make good incomes.  Here in Dallas, one of the business development officers arranged a Fifty Shades of Grey lunch and movie date for Realtors.  When I suggested to this woman that this might be seen as offensive since the books and the movie have been denounced by organizations that work to stop violence against women, she stared at me like I was speaking Swahili.  These women who flock to the books and films are being indoctrinated with the idea that submission is preferable to freedom, and that bondage and slavery are sexy and exciting--much more exciting than their lives of work and independence and individual responsibility.  I think it is appropriate that this series skyrocketed to the top of the bestseller lists in 2012--the same year that Americans chose to re-elect Barack Obama and go further into socialism.

For the more religious who might correctly identify Fifty Shades as vile porn, there is the Pope's Encyclical.  This is short and very much worth reading.  In his long awaited environmental treatise, Francis references the 1992 Earth Summit which launched Agenda 21 and calls openly and clearly for its goals to be realized.  He is calling for restrictions in the power of media, which he says distract people from thinking clearly, an end to fossil fuels, a return to manual labor for most of the world's population, a curbing of technology, and a  global government to enforce the goals of Agenda 21 and its follow-up conference from 2012 Rio + 20.  These actions will lead to a new global poverty which Francis tells us will actually be liberating for mankind.  His words remind me a little of Nancy Pelosi's delighted exclamation that Obamacare would free Americans from "job lock" and give them time to pursue hobbies such as art and music.

This is how the Pope expresses that same concept: "In reality, those who enjoy more and live better each moment are those who have given up dipping here and there, always on the look-out for what they do not have. They experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them. So they are able to shed unsatisfied needs, reducing their obsessiveness and weariness. Even living on little, they can live a lot, above all when they cultivate other pleasures and find satisfaction in fraternal encounters, in service, in developing their gifts, in music and art, in contact with nature, in prayer. Happiness means knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer."  (Laudato Si)

In other words, the Pope is expressing the Communist ideal that the happiest people on earth are the poor and oppressed.  While Catholic clergy do take vows of poverty, this is a personal choice-- a very unpopular one in our 21st century world that has made it ever more difficult to recruit new priests.  From his opulent office in the Vatican, the Pope conveniently ignores the truth that as the middle class and the poor become increasingly destitute, the wealth and power of the upper classes grows proportionately so that at the end there is a handful of people ruling with an iron hand over the masses.  Nothing could be further from Biblical truth. 

Unfortunately, Biblical truth (and objective truth in general) is what is missing from all of these debates and from our society in general and our new national love affair with all forms of bondage including Socialism and Islam (incidentally, the word "Islam" literally translates to "submission") is filling the void.  Our society does not want truth--of any kind. Women do not want to hear the truth that violent men do not normally reform--they normally escalate and become increasingly dangerous or that in cultures where women are property their lives are ghastly and they are not pampered princesses--they are slaves.  We do not want to hear the truth that a government big enough to give us everything we want is also big enough to take away everything we have.  We certainly do not want to hear the truth that marriage is ordained by God between one man and one woman for life--no court can dissolve it and no one can redefine it. Finally, we don't want to hear the truth that freedom is a gift that God has given to us but it is ours only as long as we protect and defend it.

Freedom is a lot work.  It is costly.  It requires blood and sacrifice and sweat.  The millions of Americans who died in the World Wars and the various wars before and after gave their lives defending freedom.  The men and women who legally immigrated to America had a long, difficult road ahead of them in building a new country.  Most of them never saw the fruits of their efforts in their own generation.  It was a difficult life.  Choosing the freedom of America meant choosing difficulty.  They made the choice because the desire for freedom was stronger than their fear of obstacles.  Desire to protect America and our way of life was stronger than fear of death for the men going ashore on D-Day.  As long as the desire for freedom was strong, no obstacle could stand in our way.

Today we are losing that desire.  A life of bondage is easy--miserable, but easy.  Slavery takes everything from the enslaved and requires nothing.  In a culture that tells us that bondage is sexy, bondage is righteous, poverty is a greater good, and democracy is self destructive, how long will we be willing to stand for freedom?  Not long.

For those patriots who want to change this country, we need to be addressing the culture.  Margaret Thatcher famously said that we have to win the argument before we can win the election.  If we want our country to remain free, we are going to have to show why freedom still has value.

Happy Independence Day!

Alexandra Swann's novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website athttp://www.frontier2000.net.  


Friday, June 26, 2015

The Freedom Prayer

In light of what has happened over the last two days, I have been asked to repost this prayer.  Our country needs revival desperately.  We all need to remember that our freedom is a gift from God and it is only through returning to Him that we will be allowed to hold on to it. In that spirit, today I repost The Freedom Prayer:

“Lord we come to You tonight to ask for Your forgiveness. The Bible promises that when we seek You, we will find You, if we search with all our hearts.

"Lord we confess that we have not followed Your commands. We have not loved You with our whole hearts--we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not stood for the truth of Your Gospel. We have sat by and said nothing when Your name was blasphemed and mocked. We did not take a stand when we saw Your laws despised.

“We know that many times we ourselves have been among the worst offenders. We have lived sinful lives that are contrary to the word of God. Like Esau, we have traded away our birthright for a little convenience; we have despised this incredible gift of freedom that You provided for us and allowed all of the liberty that our country offered to be trampled down. We have forgotten the words of King David who said that it is better to fall into the hands of God than to be at the mercy of men, and so we now find ourselves living under the rule of a cruel and despotic government who has stolen everything from us and shows us no mercy.

“We know that everything that is happening to us is a result of our bad choices, both individually and as a nation. You gave us the gift of being born into a free nation—the greatest nation the world has ever seen. You gave us a form of government unlike any other that had ever been known by any other people, and we did not value it enough to defend it.

“For all of these things, Lord, we ask Your forgiveness. We pray tonight that You will change our hearts so that each of us will begin to love what You love, to hate what You hate and to want what You want. We ask You to save our nation, for we know that the Bible teaches that salvation belongs to our God—no political party, no ideology, no government can save us. If we don’t find salvation in You, we won’t find it at all.

“Please turn Your face to us again, and give us back our freedom, and restore our country so that we can truly be one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We ask all these things in the name of Your son, Jesus. Amen.”


Alexandra Swann's novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What Did They Die For?

I write this post the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend thinking much more about our freedoms than I have in several years. This weekend we honor the millions of men and women who have died to protect and defend this country over a little more than two centuries even as collectively, we are abandoning our Constitutional freedoms to an increasingly greater degree.

We saw this most recently in the shootings in Garland about two weeks ago, when ISIS followers decided to kill Pamela Geller for sponsoring a cartoon contest depicting Mohammed.  While the only people who died in that attack were the would-be murderers, the media's response was decisive--Geller was the one in the wrong for "inciting the violence" by doing things that would alienate Muslims.  All of the "freedom of speech and expression" arguments evaporated in the face of a potential violent threat by a small minority of our society.

This spring we have also seen arguments at the Supreme Court to nationally legalize gay marriage.  Under the current laws, if same-sex marriage is federally legalized, then same sex marriage becomes a civil rights issue.  Under the precedent set by past SCOTUS rulings, any church or church school or non profit who discriminates against a same sex couple--by refusing to perform marriage ceremonies or admit children from these households into schools or even by teaching that this lifestyle is morally wrong--risks losing their tax exempt status.  So the granting of new rights to a small minority of the U.S. population (according to a new survey less than 3% of Americans still identify themselves as "gay") can lead to the loss of rights for those who criticize them for their lifestyles. The right to marry of the few trumps the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech and expression of others.  SCOTUS could leave this alone and say that marriage is a states' rights issue and that each state needs to decide this matter for themselves--but they probably won't.  Regardless, though, of any particular federal or state laws permitting or denying same-sex marriage, no state or institution or government should have the right to bully, fine, imprison or destroy any person for speaking out against same-sex marriage or refusing to provide services connected to same-sex marriages. Our country has always made provisions for "conscientious objectors" for all situations, including going to war, because as a country we have recognized that the strongly held religious beliefs and values of a few must be respected and protected, even if the majority of Americans does not share those beliefs.  We do not compel people to behave in a way that violates their conscience and we cannot begin to do so now, or we will destroy what America has been and turn instead down a road to real tyranny.

Last, but certainly not least, we saw this week Rand Paul's filibuster against the NSA surveillance program and "metadata" collection.  Paul stood for thirteen hours and argued compellingly that information that can be used to kill people is not just neutral data being stored by the government.  The Patriot Act has given the federal government broad powers to surveille the American people in clear violation of the spirit of the fourth amendment to the bill of rights  And the NDAA gives the government broad powers to detain, indefinitely, Americans accused of terrorism without trial, in clear violation of the spirit of the fifth and sixth amendments.

This year, over this holiday weekend as many of us contemplate cookouts and barbeques and gatherings with family and friends and sales at the malls, we need to also remember the cemeteries where our soldiers are buried.  Our country has lost millions who died in the prime of their lives fighting to defend this nation. They fought for our freedoms of speech, religion, expression, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, and freedom from imprisonment without due process.  They were willing to die to defend the freedoms of people they would never meet, so that we and our children could live in peace and safety.  Now is the time to look the mirror and to ask ourselves, "What Did They Die For?"  When we refuse to defend those freedoms, we dishonor their sacrifices. 

We have a moral obligation and duty to protect the Constitution in this country and to defend it against all enemies--foreign and domestic.  We owe that to the ones who have gone before us.  Happy Memorial Day.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I May Disagree with What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say it....

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980's I saw a lot of envelope-pushing, outrageous behavior as our society redefined itself in the post Christian, post hippie final quarter of the 20th century.  Shows like All in the Family depicted those who were uncomfortable with the liberalization of society as ignorant redneck bigots.  "Archie Bunker" was not merely a character on a TV show--he was the embodiment of small minded, white Protestant Americans who could not face the new realities of a multicultural, pluralistic America.

The resounding theme of all liberal progressives in those days was the defense of free speech, freedom of expression and freedom of or from religion, which was embodied in the popular phrase, "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  We were told that pornography, no matter how offensive to some, had to be permitted under the freedom of expression clause of the U.S. Constitution.  All speech, no matter how sordid, insulting, blasphemous, profane or obscene, had to be protected also.  If we draw the line against one set of behaviors, where does it stop?  The same Constitutional protections applied to Hustler's Larry Flynt as to the pastor who prepared his church bulletin every week.  If we stood against Flynt and his magazine, we were really extinguishing our own freedoms.

Today, the world has changed.  It is no less blasphemous, or profane, or obscene, or permissive--in fact, it is more so.  But perhaps because we have allowed all of this bad behavior in the name of free speech, we no longer seem to value the true freedoms given to us by the First Amendment.

I now live in the DFW area and last Sunday night I watched live updates on the local news as the media reported the attack on the cartoonists' contest in Garland, Texas.  I watched as the unmanned robot was sent to investigate the car left behind by the terrorists after they were shot to death by the local police.  I was proud to live in a state--and a city--that clearly knows how to deal with attacks on its citizenry and does so without apology.

To me it seemed so simple--Muslim terrorists attack a free speech event in Garland.  Muslims are killed by local law enforcement.  No civilian casualties (the injured security guard was taken to the hospital and released a few hours later).  Texas One -- Terrorists Zero.  Game over.

That is why I have been so extremely disappointed this week to see so many across the nation, and even across the state, blame last Sunday night's events on Pamela Geller and her organization rather than the two men who traveled here from Phoenix hoping to kill innocent civilians.  Pamela Geller organized an event with a prize for the best cartoon depiction of the prophet Mohammad.  Because this makes Muslims uncomfortable, she invited this attack.  In the wake of the intense groveling by the American media, ISIS has taken credit for this attack and promised many more.  One Muslim cleric suggested that Geller should be tried under Sharia law and executed for disrespecting Mohammad.  Even Franklin Graham, whom I respect and who is normally a staunch defender of freedom, said Geller was in the wrong for being disrespectful about Islam.

Conspicuously missing from this dialog were the voices that used to tell us, "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."  If there were ever a case where this phrase applied
it is this situation. I personally don't think that drawing caricatures of Mohammad would be the best use of  my time, but I do not have the right to criticize those who choose to do so.  Over the past forty years we have seen vile depictions of Jesus Christ.  No one has stormed any of these art events with automatic weapons threatening to kill the artists or the other participants.  If any professing Christian had done such a thing, they would have been denounced by the secular media and the Christian community. This is America--we may not agree with what you say, but you do have the right to say it.  But now, as Muslims flood this country we are giving up that right to cower to people who practice ancient acts of brutality such as beheading and crucifixion, who believe that their religious laws trump our Constitution and who insist on living in the West while despising Western culture and civilization.    The new mantra seems to be, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it unless you offend a Muslim who might actually kill me."  It is the same attitude my then eighty-two year old grandmother showed after 9/11 when she said that she did not want the U.S. to go to war in Afghanistan because "if we make them (the terrorists) mad they might really do something to hurt us."

In focusing on Pamela Geller's cartoon contest this week, what was totally lost is that men and women HAVE died to protect her right to put on an event in Garland mocking Mohammad.  From the founding of our country, many men and women have died, first to extend, and then to preserve and protect our First Amendment freedoms.  My grandmother's generation lost an estimated half a million people to stop Hitler and Fascism.  Over 50,000 Americans died in Vietnam.  Most recently in the last ten years we have seen thousands die and many wounded, returning with life-altering injuries, from a war in the Middle East to stop terrorism and protect our rights.  This year Dancing with the Stars features Noah, a young veteran of the Iraq war who returned missing an arm and a leg but who has overcome his injuries to become a motivational speaker, popular personality and now a semifinalist on the ballroom dancing competition.  These stories of loss and death to defend our freedoms are not far in the past in my grandmother's generation--they are part of our generation and our story.  How then can we be so eager to throw away the freedoms that these people have sacrificed so much to protect.

As we look to the future of our country, we need to look to the past.  Our freedoms were bought and paid for in the blood of our soldiers and citizens, and they are more important than the feelings of beliefs of any group.  The disrespect shown in Garland this past week was not to Mohammad, who has been dead and buried for over 1400 years.  It is not to Islam.  Every time that any person says that we need to alter statements or our expressions or our events or our way of life to cater to Muslims, or any other group bent on silencing us, they disrespect the memory of every man and woman who has suffered and died for this country, every father and mother who lost their child to war,  and every brother and sister and husband and wife and fiance who grieved a loved one they would never see again because that person fell defending freedom.  If we allow the terrorists to silence our speech and destroy those freedoms we defame our nation, and our soldiers as we announce through our new found collective cowardice that all of those people died in vain.  That is inexcusable.



Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Death by A Thousand Cuts

A few years ago, I wrote a post for this blog titled, Death by A Thousand Cuts which highlighted the proliferation regulations on the mortgage industry that were shuttering thousands of small companies and forcing independent loan originators to work for bigger companies.

For over five years we have seen more and more regulation crush American business.  In the mortgage industry, this really started with the "new" good faith estimates in 2010--which now are about to be completely revised again just five years later--and the compensation rules of 2011.  But when the Dodd Frank Act was passed in 2010, it created a framework on which to hang endless regulations for all types of financial service companies.  In November of 2013, even the proponents of Dodd Frank (the NY Times) were reported that the law was creating 42 words of regulation for each word of text.  And we have been told repeatedly by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her socialist cohorts that these regulations are necessary to protect consumers and keep the economy safe from another crash.

I was surprised, therefore, to see someone else using the "death by a thousand cuts" analogy today.  This is not a fellow financial services professional, or a blogger, or even a conservative politician.  Today the individual speaking out against over regulation of the financial services industry is none other than the SEC commission Daniel Gallagher. 

Gallagher is not pulling any punches about the costly and negative impact of the excessive regulation on financial service firms.  To make his point, he has created a startling graphic to demonstrate the impact of regulations on financial service firms since 2010. 

To see a bigger version of this picture click here



Gallagher is very frank about the impact of over regulation and the real cost of regulatory burdens.   "No regulator, as far as I know, has considered the overall regulatory burden on financial services firms when determining whether to impose additional costly regulations," Gallagher told Mortgage Professional America. "We as regulators are, when it comes to the possibility that our rules are causing death by a thousand cuts, the proverbial ostrich—head firmly entrenched in the sand."

MPA goes on to quote Gallagher, "The stakes here are considerable: regulatory burdens divert capital away from the real economy—this acts as a barrier to entry for new market participants and further entrenches those institutions that are increasingly 'too big to fail.'"  

Gallagher says that he had his staff create the graphic to help the public understand the real impact of rule making over the last 4.5 years adding that he hopes it can spark public debate on the very serious issue of over-regulation and its impact on all of us.

Every once in a while, a federal regulator gets it right.  I applaud Gallagher for raising this issue and illustrating it so profoundly.  I hope that the country will wake up to what is happening in our country.

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net

Sunday, March 1, 2015

An Open Letter to John Boehner and the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on DHS Funding

Dear Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Members of Both Houses:

I write this open letter today to remind you that all of us who vote in every election do so to uphold and protect the system of government guaranteed by our Constitution--a system based on laws properly made through the legislative branch of the government and implemented through the executive branch.  Over the past six years we have seen this system steadily eroded as the executive branch has seized more and more power away from weak members of the other branches of government.  Last fall, when we voted you into your present majorities, most of the American people who did vote did so with one purpose in mind--to stop this slide towards lawlessness and to reinstate the checks and balances system of government.  We gave you all of the tools that you needed to be an effective check on executive power.  So my question to you now is, why are you once again abdicating your responsibilities by refusing to stand up to the president's latest unlawful action?  Why are you so willing to once again hand over your power by passing a "clean bill" to fund DHS? And why are you whining that it is too late to stop this--that the best chance was at the end of the last session when the budget was passed?
 
Lest you forget, the budget deal was passed while Harry Reid was still Senate Majority leader.  Under his supervision there was NO chance of defunding amnesty or of stopping any of Obama's other flagrantly illegal acts.  That's why we elected you.  You have a chance now to actually do something about this, and yet you are once again waffling.
 
For those of you, and I know there are many, who are actually in support of amnesty, who actually are listening to the myriad corporate voices telling you that America needs its undocumented immigrants, that business relies on the work of undocumented immigrants, and that Hispanics will never vote for you again if you defund DHS, I have just one word for you: "STOP."  As a four decade long resident of a community which was 85% Hispanic I can tell you with reasonable certainty that Republicans will never have a majority of the Hispanic vote no matter what they do. Hispanics who are interested in free enterprise and upward mobility without government help will find you on their own.  But Hispanic countries are by and large socialist countries with socialist mindsets.  Most of the immigrants from these countries believe in a big safety net even if that big net means that most of the people live in poverty.  In this at least Ronald Reagan and all of those who have come after him were wrong--Hispanics are not  a natural voting block for the Republican party, and they never will be. The sooner you admit that, the sooner you can stop chasing votes you are never going to get.
 
However, the bigger issue here is not whether Hispanics can be converted to the GOP or not.  The question is not whether the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports amnesty (it does).  The question is not even whether it is morally right or financial expedient to deport people who have lived in this  country for decades and have children who are citizens.
 
The real issue here is the overreach of power by President Obama.   The question you all need to be asking yourselves this week is not "How do we resolve the issues of immigration?" but rather, "How are we going to respond to the problem of executive overreach?"  That second question is the ONLY one you are answering right now.  Funding an executive order to legalize between 4 and 7 million people not only rewards the illegal behavior by those who broke our laws to enter this country; it also rewards the president's illegal behavior.  By funding this initiative, you are saying that Obama does have the right to use his pen and his phone to do whatever he pleases.  You are abdicating your authority and responsibilities as a co-equal branch of government.  And you are betraying the people who elected you to stop this nonsense.
 
On Thursday many Americans, including me, took time to call the offices of various Senators to ask them not to vote for any bill that would fund amnesty.  By the time I was finished with my phone calls I was finding offices that had their answering machines on because of the volume of calls.  (Senator Marco Rubio's office had a message that the office could not receive any more calls because the voice mails were full.)  I was encouraged; I knew that my fellow citizens were on the phones letting you know what WE think about all of this.  And lest you forget the lessons of the last six years, we voted you in to stand up to Obama.  If you fail to do the job we elected you to do, we can just as easily vote you out.  We hired you and we can fire you.
 
I hope that you will take the time to think seriously about your responsibilities to the United States, and your responsibilities to the people who elected you.  I hope that you will consider the precedent you are setting right now if you do not uphold the systems of checks and balances.  I would rather see the Department of Homeland Security permanently shut down and all of its agents in the private sector than to see one penny allocated to support this illegal initiative.  Shut it down and leave it shut down--for the next two years if you need to.  We have enough law enforcement in this country without it.  But don't think for one minute that you can fund this and then tell us you had no choice.
 
It's time to stand up and do the job you were elected to do.
 
 Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.
 
 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

If You Want to Know What Free Community College Will Be Like, Take a Look at Your Free Healthcare

Is anybody else in this country sick and tired of being treated like an idiot by our government?  I am only asking the question because it seems that no matter what we do, Washington D.C. never changes its tactics.  After two presidential election cycles of massive spending, lies, blunders and embarrassment, last fall we sent the Obama Administration a clear message--ENOUGH!  This week, a new Senate was sworn in and whether or not they do a good job, we as Americans made ourselves heard:  We're tired of all this nonsense.  We've had it.

You would think that Washington would finally understand.  Apparently not.  On Thursday, Obama reverted back to a familiar pattern.  I am going to promise you all the free stuff you want.  Never mind the cost--somebody else is going to pay for it.  This has disturbingly the same ring as the 2008 and 2012 elections--the government is here to pay for everything for you.  All you have to do is vote in another big government liberal in 2016.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

For the next two days, Obama's newest promise, #FreeCommunityCollege was a trending hashtag on Twitter.  Suddenly, everyone is excited over the idea of the first two years of school being provided free. For every person who wants to go to college, for every parent who had their savings wiped out and will have a college age student in a few years, this one's for you.

Unfortunately, the truth is that virtually nothing in this life is free.  The air we breathe is free.  Sunrises and sunsets are free (although our view of them is not).  If we are Christians we believe salvation is free.  That's pretty much it. Everything else costs someone money.  If I have lunch with a friend at a posh downtown Dallas restaurant, and my friend picks up the check, that lunch is certainly not free--I just did not have to pay for it. If the owner of the restaurant is a close friend and he comps the check for me and my friend, the lunch still is not free--the owner paid for the food and venue and cost of the service. There is never a point at which my lunch becomes free--it is just a matter of who pays.  And as adults we know this, but unfortunately, as we saw in the case of "free" healthcare we don't care.  We really don't care how much something costs or who pays for it as long as the party doing the paying is not us.  So when Obama promised Americans free healthcare they all rushed down and voted for him--twice--blissfully aware that, just as with lunch, healthcare can never actually be free but the cost was going to be paid by someone else.  We were very happy to vote in a system that would transfer the cost of our healthcare from us to the American taxpayer--oh wait, that actually turned out to be us!  Or maybe we could transfer it to the those evil rich people--unfortunately that turned out to be us too.  Free was not really free, free was subsidized and those who did not get the subsidy had to pay ten times as much for a product that was substantially inferior.

Now it is 2015, and we all know this.  Unhappiness over Obamacare was one of the reasons for the massive shift in control of the Senate last fall.  But Obama is starting all over again with free education.  But just as with lunch and healthcare and the rest of life, education is not and cannot be "free".  It can only be subsidized.  And as we saw with healthcare, it cannot be subsidized for everyone--just a select few.  Obama says that he wants "free community college for those willing to work for it".  That is as big a lie as "if you like your doctor you can keep it."  The trending hashtag should be #Freesubsidizedcommunitycollegeforthosewhoqualifyforeverybodyelseitwillcostmuchmuchmore.  At least that would be honest, though admittedly hard to tweet.

I taught at a community college for four years after I received my master's degree, so this is a subject I know something about.  I have family who work in the community college systems.  There is a place for community colleges.  In the late 1980's and early 1990s when I was teaching, there were essentially three types of students who went to community colleges.  The first were kids straight out of high school who had been given three options by their parents--go to school, join the military or get a job.  These were by far the least motivated students.  Most of them started classes and dropped them, but continued to hang out in the halls so their parents did not know they weren't in school.  The second block was older returning students who were picking up some courses for a job.  On the Mexican border we had several mothers who took English classes so that they could understand their high school age children who only spoke English at home.  There were men in their late thirties and early forties who needed courses for their jobs.  Most of these people were good students and finished the classes diligently, but they were not on a degree plan.

The third block was people in their twenties who wanted to get a degree but were put off by the cost and some of the difficulties of going directly to the university.  Every year I would open my classes by asking each student why they were taking my class and what they hoped to get from it.  There were always a few who were taking the history classes at EPCC because they had a better chance of passing.  History classes at UTEP averaged about 200 students and were mainly taught by a Teaching Assistant who was usually a grad student.  To be certain, there was a professor with his or her name on the class roster, but the TA was the only person with whom the students had any real contact.  The TA did a lot of the grading There was really no way to get any assistance.  History classes at EPCC were much smaller--about 50 students per class and were taught by an instructor with a master's degree in his or her field.  We did the grading and we interacted with the students.  After credits became fully transferable from the community college system to any state college in Texas, the community college became a better option for students who were taking difficult classes and could not get help in a bigger university setting.  Plus, the courses cost much less.

Interestingly, nearly all the students I taught were receiving financial aid.  One of my inlaws got his Associates Degree through EPCC and paid his own tuition.  He was in and out really quickly on registration day because he paid his own way and the line to do that was quite short.  The line for the financial aid students wrapped around the building.  As long as students stayed in class and earned a decent grade, they received their financial aid.

I stopped teaching in 1993 and moved into the private sector, but I did revisit the community college systems.  I taught for a summer in 2006.  During my six years on the board of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce I became friends with the then president of El Paso Community College and attended programs at the campus.  I currently have family members employed by the Dallas Community College.  The model has not changed, but it has expanded. Today, many high schools offer programs that allow students with good grades to earn their last two years of high school and their first two years of community college in the same program.  Far from being less accessible, community college is actually more accessible than it was when I taught.  According to the Heritage Foundation, the average cost of a community college today in 2015 is $3800.00 a year.  That works out to a little over $300.00 a month.  For the student graduating this year who will not receive any help from Mom and Dad toward higher education, that figure is low enough so that he or she can work and pay for classes to earn a two year degree.  In Texas, those credits are fully transferable to any state university.  So conceivably, with a little planning, a student could pay $7600.00 for his first two years of college, and then transfer 100% of those credits to the University of Texas system and get a degree that could help him land a job.  It is an option that makes sense for working families.

If, however, community college becomes "free", that option will go away.  Whenever the government begins to subsidize anything for a select group, the price for everybody skyrockets.  So "free" community college will mean much higher tuitions for those who don't get the subsidy--just like Obamacare.  An option that allows young people to get a degree affordably is suddenly going to be a lot more expensive--out of reach of the private pay.  When the government starts tossing around the "F" word whatever they are subsidizing becomes really expensive.  Not only is it not "free"; it's also no longer "affordable".

The irony is that by their nature community colleges are heavily subsidized--through state governments, through federal grants, through private foundation grants, etc. Subsidies and grants pay for the entire system. This is just the federal government seeking more control--disguised as another freebie which in the end will have a huge price tag.  But as long as that price tag is being paid by somebody else, we are not supposed to care.

After everything we have already been through with Obamacare, with Dodd Frank, with the Obama phones, and all of the other "free" stuff over the last six years. I would like to think the American people are way too smart to fall for this again.  But then I look at the 2012 election, and I'm just not sure.  So what about it?  Are you tired of it yet?





 Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.