"If at age 20 you are a conservative then you have no heart. If at age 30 you are a liberal then you have no brains."
Sir Winston Churchill

Obama obviously knows very little about economics, specifically that "Society stagnates when independent productive achievers begin to be socially demonized and even punished for their accomplishments." This dilemma fogs Obama's reality. To him, accepting this truth is a "false choice", his answer to things he doesn't understand. And by the way... where is John Galt?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


In the northern mountains of Luzon in the Philippines lies the remote Province of Ifuago, home to the historic Rice Terraces of Banaue.  The terraces, 5000 feet above sea level were built by hand two thousand years ago, carved into the mountains and still worked by people living along their rims  and in the valleys that separate one set of terraces from another.

The people in the valley in particular live largely without electricity eking out a living as harsh and primitive as you will find in the developing world.  This is a hard life for all who depend on the rice, but one that illustrates the indomitable strength and will of the human spirit.
One day at dawn from the balcony of my hotel in the village of Banaue, which looked over a portion of the terraces which go on for many kilometers, I watched a speck of a person  on the far side of the valley that separated the terraces, begin an hour long trek down one set of terrace steps, then across the valley floor and the stream that split one side of the valley from the other and then up the corresponding terrace steps to the top of the other rim.  The speck was a schoolgirl with her book bag and she made this pilgrimage by foot over hard terrain every school day  be it monsoon season or dry season because not going to school is not an option to her and her family.
Elsewhere in southeast Asia, Viet Nam specifically, school children in rural areas that flood during the rainy season, are put in large plastic bags and carried or dragged through fast currents of muddy brown water to the far bank.  One by one they are taken across to go to school and one by one are brought back the same way at the end of the school day. 
These are the faces of the third and second world poor who want a future and know that education is the road, however rough, muddy and sometimes impassable, that leads to a better life.
When you come face to face with this, you cannot help comparing these children to American  children.  The former live in a world where poor here would mean rich there.  And while comparisons may be odious, it is almost an imperative to make that comparison because somewhere along the way to becoming the richest and most powerful nation on the globe, we seem to have lost the spark to overcome adversity and now just accept it as a "new" normal.  In the not so distant past, we as a nation  used  the sheer force of our collective and individual will to become great.  We understood the lesson of history that teaches that while the climb to the top is long and hard, the fall to to the bottom or to the merely average can happen in the blink of an eye.
I had the occasion on another trip to the Philippines to interact with the teacher of an unruly grandchild who had been expelled for a variety of infractions. The teacher was without sympathy for my granddaughter who in truth had been lost to us for many years and then found.  The period when she was gone... living in the slums of Manila or with elderly relatives had taken their toll on her,  but in a society which had rules with teeth, she was not nor would ever be, the object of pity.
"Life is hard here" her teacher told us " and each child has to learn early that if you break the rules you are no longer welcome  and if you do not work hard ...you doom yourself".  My grand child was not reinstated but we found another school that accepted her.  Two weeks after we left to come home to begin efforts to adopt her, she vanished again.  I pray for her every day.
Here in America she would be probably passed from one grade to the next automatically, if in a public school.  If she was lucky she might get counseling which God knows she needed as well as a battery of psychological tests, but more likely she would probably not get as good a basic education as she would have gotten in the Philippines.
The lesson of her difficulties have not been lost on my other grand children nor I suspect on her former class mates.  She became a very real example of what happens when you don't try...when you don't follow rules with practical and valid reasons behind them.
These anecdotes vividly demonstrate for me something basic that spells out a sickness at the core of what has become our educational industry.
In order for education to succeed from generation to generation, it must start with the culture, the family, the child and the teachers. All must be in sync with one another ...all must believe in a shared set of values.  It used to be that way here but instead we have "progressed" to a culture of mediocrity and justification for failure.  As we enter into the most competitive economic, political and commercial period in world history...the weak, ill prepared and dependent will fall to the wayside and the strong, determined and disciplined will survive and prosper.
So for now...my money for that future... is on the girl with the book bag walking the Rice Terraces of Banaue


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