Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Need for ID: The Ultimate Irony

It's the second day of school
There is a kindergartner still at school 20 minutes after the noon dismissal.
Other students are coming in.
So when a man says he's here to pick up the kid, do you simply turn the child over to him?
There's more to the story. This particular school is in a mainly Hispanic area of Dallas. Many of the people in the area participated in a variety of marches and protests regarding things like requiring identification to vote, to live in an apartment in Farmers Branch TX and even traveled to Arizona to protest their law. What was that law again? Oh yes, the law was that people had to give law enforcement officers valid identification during the investigation of a crime or a traffic stop. People, including the president, are so up in arms over this law that the Attorney General is suing Arizona, despite the fact that many other states have similar laws on the books.

But back to Maple Lawn Elementary. You have a largely Hispanic parent population AND staff. The prevailing attitude is that asking for identification is "bad." So you don't require it. Instead you have this kind of laissez faire system where parents or other adults wander in, pick up random kids and then go. There's no list of acceptable rides home-banning non-custodial parents or vindictive exes from taking the children. There's no check of identification to ascertain that this person is who he or she claims. In short, it's a seriously delinquent system that was imposed because of a politically correct attitude that puts children in danger. Luckily this time, it was (supposedly) a case of mistaken identity. But the bottom line is this-in this modern society having valid identification is NOT optional. You must use it for writing checks, banking, loans, school access and to pick up your child at most daycare centers.

This is the same mentality that made Army officers hesitate to turn in one of their own that seemed a bit off and was embracing a jihadist attitude. That ended in treachery at Fort Hood when people DIED because someone was so very very afraid of causing offense. Of course there is also the side story that offense can often lead to expensive lawsuits. At some point we have to reel in the lawyers and stop tiptoeing around issues based on something as vaporous as hurting someone's feelings. PC attitudes are going to get people killed. This time we got lucky.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Creeping Liberalism

I admit it. I have watched Extreme Home Makeovers for a long time. I like shows where they take things that are broken or tattered and fix them. As the seasons have gone on, there have been serious undercurrents regarding past recipients of these over the top custom homes. I had wondered how a bigger house would translate into higher energy bills and property taxes for the willing recipients, but evidently that wasn't a consideration. I had also wondered why rather than salvaging some materials, the show resorted to increasingly elaborate ways of demolishing the existing, and evidently deficient, homes. Not content with bulldozers, the show has been exploding the houses leaving little to be salvaged. I also have an issue over what I see as over-specialized and highly limited spaces for children. That racecar bed or that princess castle has a limited desirability. Wouldn't it make more sense to do something that would allow for flexibility? I mean, I understand wanting to make the spaces special and I admit that I spent an entire night painting my own daughter's room pink for her fifth birthday, but you can make decisions that are adaptable for later use and more practical. That seems to be the sum total of my doubts, these houses, while they are superficially beautiful and wonderfully furnished, are sometimes more of an albatross than a swan.

So, I did some research and found these following stories. It's not all of the families that received the houses who are subject to these stories, but there are enough issues that I have to wonder if the producers of this show are paying attention to the aftermath. In one case, a California family took in five orphaned brothers to get a new nine bedroom house and then systematically moved the boys out. In another case the family took out a second mortgage of $450K and then lost the house for failure to pay. If you read in the comments, it is alarming how people who are given a luxury home that most of us will never be able to afford, and have their old mortgage paid off and have their medical bills paid and have college paid for all their children would somehow be able to manage things better.

http://www.therealestatebloggers.com/%20/real-estate-fraud/ge...
(read the comments....astounding)
http://www.arizonahousingbubble.com/2007/what-happens-to-thos...
(you will have to scroll down for this one)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8973501/
http://mikecandoit.com/real-estate/extreme-makeover-house-goi...
http://www.azcentral.com/style/hfe/decor/articles/2009/10/03/...
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/pardonourdust/2008/06/for-sal...

Please. take a look at these stories. You will find people compelled by greed to pretend they would offer children a home in order to get a new house. You will find people who absolutely could not handle money. You will also find out that the size of these houses pose a huge hurdles in terms of maintenance that was not anticipated by the producers or the recipients. The only thing that mattered was building the house.

At this point, you may be wondering about the title of this blog. I think this show demonstrates how well meaning liberal policies in government can be as much of a disability as a bonus. I am sure that the producers of this show are well meaning. They really want to help these needy people. But instead of giving them practical solutions and skills, the show makes the mistake of giving these families everything and not asking if there were skills in place to maintain them. Is this not what our government is aiming to do with every additional program down the line? By simply turning over money or grants or goods to people without making sure that they understand how to effectively use them in many ways is worse than doing nothing.

I think this gets at the core of the anger demonstrated by conservatives. There is no more giving nation than the United States. We gave billions in aid to Aceh after the devastating tsunami. We have given and are giving more to African nations than any other nation in the world. And that goes for nations like Somolia who are actively seeking to destroy us. There are countless charities that go around the world to make it a better place. When a crisis occurs, the US is where they turn for help. Many of the people who donate and work with charities do so on the groundroots level via local charities and churches. I know many who contribute time and money who are conservative. They don't want their names in lights, but they also don't like it that their contributions are ignored. The solution for many of our problems will not and cannot a liberal solution, nor will it be a conservative solution. But it must be pragmatic and practical. Right now what the administration is offering is the same as Extreme Home Makeover-all the goodies with no strings attached. Unfortunately, there are always strings attached.