Posts filed under ‘Social Policy’

Can We Just Leave McDonalds Alone

If you read my previous post about the absurd policy being implemented by Santa Clara county regarding Happy Meal toys then you will understand my complete irritation with the fact that a watchdog group is now suing them because of the toys. While I am not surprised by the lawsuit I am very angry. There are so many fallacies and just plain dumb arguments being made in this discussion that I truly don’t know where to start.

I was reading a piece by the LATimes. In the article they said that the “Shrek” toys lure children into restaurants were they are then likely to order food that is too high in calories, fat and salt. Ummm. Most kids don’t take themselves to McDonalds. Last time I checked my 10,8&5 year olds had to have someone else take them anywhere they went.

My next favorite line was this one, “McDonalds is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children. Their use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits childrens developmental immaturity.” This is from a guy named Stephen Garder who is the litigation director. So let’s think about this one . . . The toys in happy meals are undercutting my parental authority? I exercise my authority when I choose to either take them to McDonalds or NOT! It’s my choice. I am the parent and I make the choices. If I chose to give the toys to the dog that would be my choice. I exercise my parental authority all the time and don’t need a legal watchdog group trying to make choices for me.

But what be the best part of the article is this tidbit: “in April Santa Clara County supervisors won praise from nutrition advocates but ridicule from many conservatives when they voted to ban toy promotions . . .” Say what? So the conservatives are anti-nutrition? Right. I totally want my kids to eat junk food. Just like all my conservative friends. That’s all we talk about. Obviously Ms.Bernstein at the LATimes thinks so. Well here is why the conservatives “ridicule” the ban. It’s because it’s an invasion of our parental rights. It is a step into our personal live by the government to tell us what choices to make. It is a slap in the face to what is easily one of the more brilliant marketing strategies of a company. Instead of placing blame on the 0 calorie toys why not push harder for alternative foods? Why not recognize the steps the chains have taken in the past few years to have healthier options? Why are people who don’t ever eat at a fast food restaurant telling the rest of us what we should do?

The answer seems to be to have more government influence and control on our everyday lives. We knew when this horrible ban was voted on that it would not be the end of it. We knew it would trigger a chain of events that would bring a bandwagon of experts waiting to make our decisions for us. And that is why the conservatives ridicule the ban. I would also like to say I find it hard to believe that there are no non-conservatives against this too.

I think I might have to go feed my kids mcDonalds tomorrow now and maybe I’ll buy a few extra toys too.

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June 23, 2010 at 4:01 am Leave a comment

Happy Meals . . . not so happy in Santa Clara

So in what might be one of the most absurd pieces of legislation that I have ever heard of some of the children in Santa Clara county (the county we live in) will no longer be able to get a toy in their meal. The county voted today 3-2 to ban the toys in an effort to curb childhood obesity.

I just learned about the proposal yesterday when visiting my local McDonald’s. With an even bigger shock that the vote was today. If I had been able to go to the council meeting this morning I would have been all over it trying to understand this faulty logic.

The ordinance would prohibit restaurants from giving away toys with kids’ meals that are high in fat, sugar and calories. The ban’s reach will be very limited. It will only affect restaurants in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County such as San Martin. (from Mercury News)

Before I get on my issue with the childhood obesity relationship to toys, I am still trying to understand that they limited the ban to unincorporated areas, that with the exception of Stanford, are all less developed and more rural areas of Santa Clara county. I have not been able to locate the text of the this ordinance yet, but am still searching for it.

Now onto the toy = obesity debate: When I choose to take my non-obese children to McDonald’s for dinner, it is my choice. I do not do it for the toy. They are usually cheap and wind up broken or thrown away anyway. I go eat there because the convenience factor for me those days is worth it. I need to feed the children quickly and get where we are going. My daughter eats Kraft Macaroni, apples, and milk from Burger King. I would feed her that at home. So how is getting a toy with the food going to change what people are feeding their children? It’s not. The people who don’t go to fast food restaurants because the food is not healthy (which don’t get me wrong I don’t believe it is all that good for you) are the same people who won’t go there anyway regardless of the toys. And even if this did pass in my area it would not stop me from continuing to drive through on nights when I need a quick meal from my children. The obese children are not a result of fast food restaurants alone. In the brief portion of Food, Inc that I was able to make myself watch, I had to turn it off because I was going to have to stop eating altogether if I continued, profiled a lower-income family that shows how they purchase processed, convience foods or go to fast food restaurants because the healthy non-processed foods are more expensive and on their limited budget or food stamp that cannot afford enough food to feed their families. However, the cheaper processed food provide their families with a full belly after a meal and stay easier on their budget. Is this right? No. I think a reform of the Food Stamps program might be in order to try to increase the ability of the families to purchase healthier food items. So all that said, the people who are “obese” who feed their children at McDonald’s are going to continue to do so because it is cheaper and easier. The toy was just a bonus.

AND from there where does it stop? Stop selling X-Boxes, DS systems, ban Dinosaur Chicken or anything else deemed unhealthy or contributing to obesity in stores? Ultimately this is a parenting decision. You cannot make someone be a good parent. There is no one size fits all direction book for raising or feeding children. It is time for the government to stay out of my house and yours too.

In case you are from the area and were wondering Supervisors Ken Yeager, Liz Kniss and Dave Cortese voted for the ordinance. Supervisors Don Gage and George Shirakawa opposed it. The ordinance will return to the board May 11 for a final vote. It will take effect 90 days after that.

I will be at McDonald’s and Burger King Wednesday night for our weekly dinner on the way to Cub Scouts, happily having the right to still give my children the toy that comes with their meal should I choose too. And if you happen to live in an unincorporated area, then I invite you to come to the fast food chains in the rest of Santa Clara county and continue giving your children toys if you choose, since it is YOUR choice.

Oh yeah as an FYI – you did know you can just go in any buy the toy separately too. I have done that before when we wanted a toy and did not want to eat there. So what’s to stop the affected stores from simply selling them for a quarter with your happy meal purchase?

April 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm Leave a comment

Pot Calling Kettle

Today I am venting about a pet peeve of my mine.

People who do the exact thing that they complain about.

So to elaborate. You know that I will listen to any rational discussion about politics. Acknowledging that I most likely will not change my views, but am curious as to how other people rationalize their viewpoints. But what kills me is the hypocrisy of the complainant. I have family,  friends and acquaintances who do not share my political views. And with them I choose to NOT get into the argument (unless pressed and if they are erroneously misinformed). But it drives me crazy to read their facebook status updates. I know they think I am just as “uninformed” as I know they are. The problem comes down to the act of following. Believing something just because you heard it on TV and not reading and researching for yourself.

One of the most recent frustrating conversations I actually read involved the Tea Party movement. “If you want to see supposedly educated people making fools of themselves, look at some pictures from these Tea Party rallies, especially the homemade signs they make. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad that they actually believe this crap. It’s very sad that people have not learned to think for theirselves but just follow anyone that comes along.” Now really this just made me laugh and I stayed very clear of this. But can we say Hello Pot. I have no idea why we are making fun of homemade signs, that doesn’t even make any rational sense. Did they want people to buy signs? Where do you think rally signs come from? And I love the generalization that the Tea Party people are uneducated that alone should make us a bit angry if it weren’t so funny. But the best part was the part that says that we don’t think for ourselves and we just follow anyone that comes along. I mean really. Hello. Does the name Barack ring a bell? I am guessing they never saw this video?

This is not some statement on race. This is simply showing that some people (note I am not saying ALL) followed Obama out of blind obedience and adoration as opposed to actually learning the issues and knowing what people stand for. There is a great discrepancy between fact and perception in Washington. Choosing to not believe anything you hear on Fox is just as ridiculous as only believing what you hear on MSNBC (which is a crazy channel in my opinion). So back to my point it makes me crazy to hear ignorant people assume that people in the Tea Party movement have no idea what they are standing for. They do. They are against the expansion of government. They are for states and individual rights. This is not rocket science (although reading the bills might be sometimes). They are for honesty and integrity of our elected officials. Not people who say things like “we’ll find out what’s in the bill after we vote for it”.

The current generation we are raising of those who feel they are entitled to something from our country besides life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is amazing. The desire and the lust for handouts and the audacity to think that you are owed anything other that what you work hard to earn is crazy. Hard work and dedication will get you far. And if you want to debate the American dream with me here, the dream is to be able to have food on your table, clothes to wear, and a place to live. Not to have two BMW’s in the driveway, a summer and winter home, and an American Express Black card. The system is not perfect but what is. Social entitlement programs are a mess and should be totally redone to do a better job to actually help families and provide an exit strategy. They were not meant to be a way of life, but a way to get your life in order.

Anyway, enough of my ranting for today.

April 21, 2010 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

What a Day.

So after you get past the fact that today is Tax Day. The deadline that so many of us wait until to file our income taxes. I filed ours last night, so I am right there with the running late people. Not quite as bad as people who drive to post offices open until midnight to get theirs postmarked in time, but still on the late side. But heck, we owed money and who “wants” to pay any earlier than necessary. We pay A LOT in taxes already and paying even more is painful. So my title for today is about the downer that today is and I still need to read up on how the Tax Day Tea Parties went. I did not get to attend one this year since there was no daytime rally near me and with my three kids (age 5,8,10) I don’t think taking them out after school when they are already getting a crabby and tired anyway was a very good idea. But I was there in heart.

So my big reason for posting tonight. I have an acquaintance on Facebook who posted a link to a CNN article regarding Obama issuing hospital rights to gay and lesbians as well as widows/widowers and members of certain religions. The post was in reference to what the “Red States” will say about this and making some commentary as to what kind of comments Ann Coulter will make. Personally I have no issues with people have someone with them in the hospital. I have no issues with the gay community being allowed to be with each other in the hospital. This would be the same stance I would take on a heterosexual couple who were not married but in a common-law marriage. My issue is simply with gay marriage. Marriage to me is reserved to be between a man and a woman. There is a much deeper significance to me in the sanctity of marriage.

So personally I don’t think there will be a huge backlash on this issue. And if there is, it will be because people view it as a give an inch take a mile thing, but I don’t think it should be. I think going out looking for a fight with the “right” will not always result in what the “left” is looking for. The big bad right, you know us right-wing extremists stay at home moms who drive soccer carpool are not the big bad boogie man. The generalizations are amazing.

April 16, 2010 at 4:31 am Leave a comment

Parental Rights . . .

So there is currently a Human Rights treaty before the United Nations (which by the way I personally think we should totally pull out of) which will seriously restrict parents from making decisions regarding their children. Covering topics as broad as spanking, religion, to homeschooling. Essentially every decision you as a parent would make could be called into question by the government. With Obama in office the treaty is once again coming to a forefront.

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I will agree that there are situations and homes where children are being “abused”. But this treaty opens the doors to all of our homes and takes away the parents rights to help guide their children. Your ability to bring your children up with values and morals that you believe in would be under question. How is it that we are going to afford more rights to children than to their parents? My children are not ready to make these kinds of decisions for themselves. Children do need some limits and with the implications of the treaty it could limit my ability to assist my children to be responsible adults. I am sure the treaty has specific intents, but it will be prostituted and misused against innocent parents because their children don’t like something and groups like the ACLU will get involved and make things worse.

Currently the United States and Somalia are the only two countries who have not yet signed this treaty. If we sign this it will be next to impossible to get out of. This has been on the table since the 1990s. Madeline Albright did sign the document but it was not ratified by Congress mostly due to conservatives’ efforts to show it would create that list of rights which primarily would be enforced against parents.

The international treaty creates specific civil, economic, social, cultural and even economic rights for every child and states that “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” It is monitored by the CRC, which conceivably has enforcement powers.

According to the Parental Rights website, the substance of the CRC dictates the following:

*Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
*A murderer aged 17 years, 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.
*Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
*The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.
*A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
*According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.
*Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
*Teaching children about Christianity in schools has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
*Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
*Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.

“Where the child has a right fulfilled by the government, the responsibilities shift from parents to the government,” Farris said. “The implications of all this shifting of responsibilities is that parents no longer have the traditional roles of either being responsible for their children or having the right to direct their children.” The government would decide what is in the best interest of a children in every case, and the CRC would be considered superior to state laws, Farris said. Parents could be treated like criminals for making every-day decisions about their children’s lives.

“If you think your child shouldn’t go to the prom because their grades were low, the U.N. Convention gives that power to the government to review your decision and decide if it thinks that’s what’s best for your child,” he said. “If you think that your children are too young to have a Facebook account, which interferes with the right of communication, the U.N. gets to determine whether or not your decision is in the best interest of the child.”

He continued, “If you think your child should go to church three times a week, but the child wants to go to church once a week, the government gets to decide what it thinks is in the best interest of the children on the frequency of church attendance.”

He said American social workers would be the ones responsible for implementation of the policies.

Farris said it could be easier for President Obama to push for ratification of the treaty than it was for the Clinton administration because “the political world has changed.”

At a Walden University presidential debate last October, Obama indicated he may take action.

“It’s embarrassing to find ourselves in the company of Somalia, a lawless land,” Obama said. “I will review this and other treaties to ensure the United States resumes its global leadership in human rights.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the CRC, and she now has direct control over the treaty’s submission to the Senate for ratification. The process requires a two-thirds vote.

Farris said Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., claimed in a private meeting just before Christmas that the treaty would be ratified within two years. Now if that is not reason enough to get Boxer out of office I don’t know what is.

There is pressure being placed on Obama to strengthen the US relations with the UN by finalizing treaties such as this one that have been signed by not ratified.

Partnership for a Secure America Director Matthew Rojansky helped draft the statement. He said the treaty commands strong support and is likely to be acted on quickly, according to an Inter Press Service report. Ratification is going to come up. The public needs to understand what is at stake.

“I think it is going to be the battle of their lifetime,” he said. “There’s not enough political capital in Washington, D.C., to pass this treaty. We will defeat it.”

Check out Parental Rights for more information.

February 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Going Going Gone

legislation

Well, it will be all be going, going, gone if this bailout gets passed the way it is written. Consider more details of what this MASSIVE bill contains. Things that you are not hearing in the media. If you go through and read the bill you will find all this, the general public does not ever actually look at the contents of the legislation so we miss seeing what all is actually happening in these seemingly innocent bills. This is from Roger King. He is a computer programmer from North Carolina who operates the website Politically Incorrect Facts.

Democrats would like us to believe the $825 billion dollar stimulus package is required to recover from the recession. In fact, this bill is nothing but a conglomeration of the spending packages they have dreamed about for the past few decades. The main stream media also seems to have forgotten to tell us that with interest this bill comes to over $1.1 trillion dollars. This debt amounts to over $9,000 per family in taxes.

According to the Wall Street Journal only 12% of the package could conceivably be regarded as stimulating the economy. Even if we accept Obama’s claim that this bill would save or create 3.7 million jobs, that would amount to a cost of $200,000 per job.

Alan Reynolds article $646,214 Per Government Job also tells us the stimulus package doesn’t even target the groups hardest hit by unemployment.

The December unemployment rate was only 2.3% for government workers and 3.8% in education and health. Unemployment rates in manufacturing and construction, by contrast, were 8.3% and 15.2% respectively. Yet 39% of the $550 billion in the bill would go to state and local governments. Another 17.3% would go to health and education—sectors where relatively secure government jobs are also prevalent. If the intent of the plan is to alleviate unemployment, why spend over half of the money on sectors where unemployment is lowest?

Although many of the expenditures are admirable, they certainly can’t be considered a stimulus by any stretch of the imagination.  Below is a partial list of the earmarks contained in this monstrosity.

  • This bill would add from 244,000 to 330,000 new government jobs. These are jobs that will not add to the growth of our economy and would tend to kill many private sector jobs as dollars for these jobs are no longer available to companies.
  • Global Warming
    • $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects Link
    • $400 million for global-warming research Link
    • $600 million for grants for diesel emission reduction (Page 119) Link
  • Government Upgrades
    • $2.5 billion for the National Science Foundation Link
    • $2.0 billion for the National Park Service Link
    • $1.9 billion for the Energy Department for “basic research into the physical sciences Link
    • $1 Billion for The Follow-Up To The 2010 Census (Page 49) Link
    • $800 million for AMTRAK Link
    • $650 million for the U.S. Forest Service Link
    • $600 million for NASA Link
    • $600 million for new cars for the federal government
    • The Coast Guard wants more than $572 million for “Acquisition, Construction, & Improvements; They claim these funds will create 1,235 new jobs. Crunch the numbers and this brings the cost of “creating” each job to a staggering $460,000+ Link
    • $400 million for a new Social Security Administration computer system Link
    • $276 million to the State Department to upgrade and modernize its information technology Link
    • $245 million to upgrade the information technology of the Farm Service Agency Link
    • $227 million for oversight of the pork barrel spending in the stimulus (Page 11) Link
    • $209 million for maintenance work for the Federal Agricultural Research Service Link
    • $200 million for Dept. of Defense to acquire alternative energy vehicles. Link
    • $200 million to re-sod the National Mall Link
    • $150 million for maintenance work at the Smithsonian Institution Link
    • $44 million for repairs and improvements at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Department of Agriculture Link
  • Schools
    • $66B on education, but they specifically exclude private K-12 schools from getting one dime of it. Link
    • $17 billion for Pell Grants Link
    • $13 billion in IDEA, Part B State grants to help pay for “the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities. Link
    • $13 billion in Title I grants “to provide extra academic support to help raise the achievement of students at risk of educational failure or to help all students in high-poverty schools meet challenging State academic standards Link
    • $6 billion goes to college and universities link
    • $3.5 billion for higher education facilities. Link
    • $2.1 billion is for Head Start Link
    • $1 billion for Technology Education Link
    • $250-million for an after-school snack program. Link
  • Social Programs
    • $87 billion is to be spent on Medicaid, a welfare program already costing roughly $400 billion per year Link
    • $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don’t pay income tax Link
    • $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits Link
    • $20 billion for increased food stamps, including lifting restrictions on how long welfare dependents can receive food stamp benefits. Link
    • $6 billion program to “weatherize modest-income homes Link
    • $5 billion is devoted to public housing Link
    • $3 billion for health care prevention and wellness programs, such as childhood immunizations and other state and local public health programs Link
    • $2 billion is to be spent on Child Care Development Block Grants, which provide day care. Link
    • $1.7 billion is to be spent to help the homeless Link
    • $1.1 billion for so-called federal comparative effectiveness research in regard to health-care services Link
    • $1 billion goes for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, to help low income families pay their heating bills Link
    • $500 million to speed the processing of applications for Social Security disability claims.
    • $200 million goes for senior nutrition programs, such as Meals on Wheels Link
    • $200 million for AmeriCorps, to help satisfy “increased demand for services for vulnerable populations to meet critical needs in communities across the U.S. Link
    • $120 million to finance part-time work for seniors in community service agencies. Link
    • $100 million to reduce lead-based paint hazards for children in low income housing Link
  • MISC
    • New Programs $136 billion of the bill is for unproven ideas—to start 32 new federal programs. Link
    • $79 billion is to go the states to maintain their runaway government spending, particularly for such spendthrift jurisdictions as California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts Link
    • $5.2 billion for ACORN, the left-leaning nonprofit group under federal investigation for massive voter fraud. Link Community organizers, such as the left-wing lobbying group ACORN, would get their own new slush fund of up to $750-million. Link
    • $4.2 billion provided to the Neighborhood Stabilization Fund, which provides the funds to local governments to purchase and rehab vacant housing due to foreclosure Link
    • $2 billion for Superfund cleanup Link
    • $1.2 billion for summer jobs for youth Link
    • $1 billion to the controversial Community Oriented Policing Services COPS Hiring Link
    • $650 million for digital TV coupons to help Americans upgrade to digital cable television Link
    • $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Link
    • $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts to help “the arts community throughout the United States.
    • $400 million for “habitat restoration projects” of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Link
    • $246 million for Hollywood Link
    • $200M for plug-in car stations (Page 31) Link
    • $150 million for honey bee insurance
    • $75 million for smoking cessation Link
    • $10M for bike and walking trails (Page 65) Link
  • Here are some things to consider as well:

    1. Tax Relief. Tax relief is predominately for people who do not pay taxes. “For individuals, the plan would cut taxes for most workers this year through a $500 tax credit that would be delivered by reducing paycheck withholding, a key proposal from Mr. Obama’s team. But to reduce the cost of the proposal, House lawmakers pared down that benefit so that higher-income workers are excluded. The credit would begin to phase out at $75,000 for individual taxpayers and at $150,000 for couples.”

    2. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) is Obama’s top pick for Commerce Secretary. “Mr. Gregg’s appointment to the post could give Mr. Obama and his Democratic Party a victory in the Senate, clearing the way for them to pass legislation without fear of a Republican filibuster. It also would provide the administration a strong ambassador to the business community in Mr. Gregg, who devised the $700 billion banking bailout package last year.”  Is he really the best man for the job, or is Obama trying to undercut the Republican party?

    3. Illegal aliens will be qualify for cash payouts. “The legislation, which would send tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple, expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens, but it would allow people who don’t have Social Security numbers to be eligible for the checks.Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits.

    4. Expanding health care and Medicade coverage. “The new Medicaid Coverage for the Unemployed program is supposedly a temporary program to cover laid-off individuals via Medicaid. And the $30 billion COBRA coverage provision, provides assistance in paying for COBRA for individuals making up to $1 million a year. All of these short-term benefits, once granted, will be hard for any Congress, of any party, to take away.

    1. Tax Relief. Tax relief is predominately for people who do not pay taxes. “For individuals, the plan would cut taxes for most workers this year through a $500 tax credit that would be delivered by reducing paycheck withholding, a key proposal from Mr. Obama’s team. But to reduce the cost of the proposal, House lawmakers pared down that benefit so that higher-income workers are excluded. The credit would begin to phase out at $75,000 for individual taxpayers and at $150,000 for couples.”

    2. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) is Obama’s top pick for Commerce Secretary. “Mr. Gregg’s appointment to the post could give Mr. Obama and his Democratic Party a victory in the Senate, clearing the way for them to pass legislation without fear of a Republican filibuster. It also would provide the administration a strong ambassador to the business community in Mr. Gregg, who devised the $700 billion banking bailout package last year.”  Is he really the best man for the job, or is Obama trying to undercut the Republican party?

    3. Illegal aliens will be qualify for cash payouts. “The legislation, which would send tax credits of $500 per worker and $1,000 per couple, expressly disqualifies nonresident aliens, but it would allow people who don’t have Social Security numbers to be eligible for the checks.Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits.

    4. Expanding health care and Medicade coverage. “The new Medicaid Coverage for the Unemployed program is supposedly a temporary program to cover laid-off individuals via Medicaid. And the $30 billion COBRA coverage provision, provides assistance in paying for COBRA for individuals making up to $1 million a year. All of these short-term benefits, once granted, will be hard for any Congress, of any party, to take away.

    WOW. How much of that do you hear on the news at night? The no vote by the Republicans is not simply a partisan act. They are voting against something that the do NOT believe in. The way this stands now I would seriously question someone who did vote for it.

    February 2, 2009 at 11:42 pm 1 comment

    The High Cost of Higher Education

    When did it become a “right” for everyone to go to college. Don’t get me wrong I think the costs are getting higher, but the costs for everything are. I don’t think it is a right. I think it is a privilege that you should have to work to have. It should not just be a cakewalk that you just walk into.

    Everyone does not even want to go to college. There are requirements at every institution you might choose to apply to get accepted. These include your GPA, SAT or ACT scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, etc. It is not enough to just apply and get in.

    I personally do place a value on education. It was something that was important to my family and as such I appreciate it. But is it totally necessary? I would like to suggest that there are certain jobs (doctors, dentists, etc) that require a specialized degree. There are many other jobs that you can be extremely successful at (being considered wealthy under some current tax plans) and not have even an Associates degree.

    So while I do want my children to go to college. If they choose a career path that does not involve college, as long as it is legal, than I will be ready and willing to support them.

    I do wonder what college will cost as my children get there. A small private school cost $15,000 a year ten years ago, what will the cost be when my children are old enough to attend? The thought is somewhat staggering.

    I do not even really mind people having student loans. The Stafford Loan program has low interest rates and I do not know of anyone who did not qualify to get one. This is stated on the Stafford Loan website – Nearly all students are eligible to receive Stafford loans regardless of credit. They even have two versions.

    • Subsidized loans are awarded based on financial need. You will not be charged interest before you begin repayment or during periods of deferment. The federal government “subsidizes” (or pays) the interest during these times.
    • Unsubsidized loans are not awarded based on financial needs. Any eligible student can take out Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. You will be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed, to the time the loan is repaid in full.

    If you chose to attend a four year public institution your college debt would be manageable with Stafford Loans. Assuming that you actually chose to enter the workforce upon graduation. But that is a totally separate topic. And if you choose to start out at a Community College and get an AA it can be very affordable. There are some very lucrative professions that only require an Associates Degree. Look at Repiratory Therapy. I am not even sure what that is but some career projections suggest starting salary near $100,000 with a two year degree. Anything in the Medical field is usually a safe bet.

    But the choices don’t stop there, next there are Perkins Loans which have lower interest rates and can be forgiven sometimes through working in specific situations.

    And then here is a listing of all the ways to fund college and have your loans forgiven or have school paid for! This does not even touch scholarships, which are competitive but attainable. Or the Federal Work Study program. I got that too! It really helped. Or even the Pell Grant, I got that too! All from filling out the FAFSA – the Free Application for Student Aid.

    What I really see as part of the problem in higher education is the competitiveness to even get in. Schools have to report to the state their demographics. I have heard of some places where it is next to impossible to get admitted even with an excellent GPA, great test scores, plenty of relevant activities, etc. for specific types of students as it appears that often the schools are trying to reflect a certain amount of diversity in their profile. It ofetn feels like it is not enough to be average anymore, or for that matter even above average.

    Now here are the two presidential candidates “plans” to improve this:


    McCain

    Improve Information for Parents
    Institutions report on hundreds of factors to the U.S. government every year, but the government does nothing with the information. Making this information available to families in a clear and concise manner will help more students make more informed choices about higher education.

    – i am not really sure what information us not given or how it would really “help” me

    Simplify Higher Education Tax Benefits
    The existing tax benefits are too complicated, and many eligible families don’t claim them. By simplifying the existing benefits, I can ensure that a greater number of families have a lower tax burden when they are helping to send their children to college.

    – the tax benefits are available based on how much interest you paid on your student loans. if you are like me and use one of those spiffy little computer programs to do your taxes, you will get to a box that says something about, higher education – which is code for college. then the form that you got from the place you pay your student loan bill to will tell you what amount to enter in the box, and then the handy program calculates how much if any you qualify to have appiled to your taxes. it phases out based on income.

    Simplify Federal Financial Aid
    Too many programs and a complicated application process deter many eligible students from seeking student aid. The number of programs also makes it more difficult for financial aid officers to help students navigate the process. Consolidating programs will help simplify the administration of these programs, and help more students have a better understanding of their eligibility for aid.

    -and how much easier could the FAFSA get in the first place? it is not really a burden on people to complete the form and it provides far more information that is useful in properly determining financial aid. there are many more factors used to calculate the aid you qualify for than your parents tax return. heck, i will help you fill out your form, anytime – for free! but i do agree that consolidating the loans and programs to one place would help in making sure that each student received the full benefits that they qualify for and streamline the process.

    Improve Research by Eliminating Earmarks
    Earmarking is destroying the integrity of federally funded research. Billions of dollars are spent on pork barrel projects every year; significant amounts come from research budgets. Eliminating earmarks would immediately and significantly improve the federal government’s support for university research.

    – i am all for cutting out earmarks. go for it.

    Fix the Student Lending Programs
    We have seen significant turmoil in student lending. John McCain has proposed an expansion of the lender-of-last resort capability of the federal student loan system and will demand the highest standard of integrity for participating private lenders. Effective reforms and leveraging the private sector will ensure the necessary funding of higher education aspirations, and create a simpler and more effective program in the process.

    – not really sure what the turmoil has been. i know there was some significant concerns over the student loan interest rate in the past few years, but it is still among the lowest interest rates you can get for a loan.

    Obama

    Higher Education

    Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.

    – a few comments here. is that 100 hours of community service per year. and it is required. if you don’t do it you will have to repay the money. and let’s think about the cost of providing this amount per person. that could get to be quite expensive, and when we are talking about “fixing the budget and deficit” it is quite curious. And there are already many federal programs in place to allow for loan forgiveness or to provide for you to have your education funded.

    Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

    – again, i just don’t buy that it is that hard. if you are going to go to college you have a guidance counselor either at the college or at your high school who would be happy to help you through the process. or email me and i will help

    I do realize that I have offered what some will consider generalizations. I know there are always exceptions, but that is always true.

    I will give some views on Education and Schools soon! That is a totally different topic!

    October 16, 2008 at 5:14 pm 6 comments

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