“The Big Fail”

I put this in healthcare versus politics. Many want government provided healthcare. This book, and the article below about DA Henderson, show the dangers of doing so.

Government is too slow, too bureaucratic, too polarized to effectively manage healthcare. Our government, both sides, squelched dissent from scientists who have mostly been proven correct. If DA Henderson had been listened to millions would be alive today.

I recommend the book, a bit long but written for lay people and scrupulously researched with references noted.

Our republic depends upon and educated public, we are failing in that requirement to be around in a 100 years.

The weblink is from the Free Press and has pay wall, if you can’t access the book talks a lot about Dr. Henderson’s thoughts and policy recommendations.




Habits, two book reviews


I recently read a couple of books about habits, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg.

One of my clients recommended the first to me and the second was referenced by the first so I read that also.

I knew habits were both positive and negative, in our personal and public lives, but learned how powerful they are in determining our ability to achieve our goals. They also operate semi-consciously in most everything we do. Our brains want to use little energy, so a habit enables us to act in the most efficient manner possible.

Atomic breaks down how a habit is established, how they are maintained and how to change a habit we may find objectionable. It is easy to read, summarizes each chapter, provides examples of each point that are relevant to us all.

The Power does a similar analysis but in much more depth.

Both books are worth the read to assist us in establishing positive habits and ameliorating negative ones. I would read Atomic first, then if more detail is desired The Power second.

Again, I learned how much of our actions are habits, meaning we don’t think about what we are doing thoroughly enough sometimes.

K through 12 education competition

I recently was involved in a conversation at my church about K-12 education and its’ lack of positive results over the last few decades as measured by the PISA scores and lack of knowledge and skills of high school graduates. My solution is competition, allowing parents to control where their tax dollars are spent for K-12 education.  My talking points are below.

K-12 Education Funding, More parental control of where to use taxpayer funds  February, 2024

I am an engineer by education, a former military pilot and over thirty years as a businessperson. Objective measurement of performance, data and continuous improvement have been my operating values in all these endeavors.

Let’s talk about some data. Our country and society owe the rising generation an effective education, so they are prepared to participate in their economic future and be responsible citizens. In 2022 80% of children attended traditional public schools, 6% charter public schools, 9% private schools, 3% home and 2% parochial. So 14% of parents paid taxes for public schools as well as tuition for other types of schools. All of these schools have to be certified by the state as providing appropriate minimum levels of instruction.

On average, the U.S. spends $15,908 per pupil on secondary education. The U.S. spends the fifth-highest amount per pupil compared to the 37 other OECD countries, behind Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, and Norway. Our PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) scores placed us 20th.

Senator Tuberville recently said half of high school graduates can’t read their high school diploma Politifact, a political fact checking organization, put out a statement contradicting those facts  by offering the following data.

  • 50% of U.S. adults are unable to read an eighth-grade level book.
  • 46% of U.S. adults can’t understand labels on prescriptions.
  • 66% of American 12th graders are rated “basic” or “below basic” in reading achievement.
  • Only 37% of 12th graders reached or exceeded the academic preparedness benchmarks for both math and reading that would qualify them for entry-level college courses.

The irony is Tuberville overstated the facts, but the data supports the thrust of his comments. Looking objectively at these results has led me to investigate what we need to do to improve our results.

There is a strong movement for parents to gain control of the tax dollars and use them where they feel their child will get the most appropriate education. This movement has been growing over the last decade or so and crystallized when Terry McAuliffe said parents shouldn’t influence what schools teach in a Virginia governor race debate and when covid hit. Parents were thrust into the education process and were not happy with what they saw. Almost all parents want an effective education for their kids.

Some of the issues driving the demand for more parental control of where that money is spent are:

  1. 100,000 kids attend 206 schools in Alabama that are rated as “D or F”, 2022 data.
  2. USA PISA scores have been “average” as compared to OECD competitor countries for decades.
  3. Diplomas issued without objective evaluation of skills and knowledge.
  4. Social promotions
  5. Too much focus on “Going to an academic College” versus other types of post-secondary education, or the military.
  6. Court ordered elimination of religious themes.
  7. Teacher Tenure in K-12 schools means firing someone for being a poor teacher is very difficult. Alabama teacher compensation is based on time in grade and academic degree and is disconnected from student achievement. Other states do have a component of compensation based on achievement.

Some of the reasons we haven’t done much to improve the results are:

  1. Political partisanship, hardening of positions.
  2. Those with performing schools are fearful of their schools being affected.
  3. Teacher and administrator resistance to changing the status quo.
  4. Interest groups advocating for their particular mindset, both conservative and progressive.


A recent Stanford University study that detailed the above average performance of charter schools was featured in the February 3d edition of the Economist in both the opinion as well as the US section. It also highlighted the ferocious opposition of the education industry and unions to any competition.

It appears to me that the choice of where to spend our taxpayer funding should be established in K-12 education. We all know kids have different education needs and adapting the government run bureaucracy to accommodate those needs is near to impossible. Many parents want their kids to have an element of religious education along with traditional subjects. My own experience with Vestavia schools is there were a few teachers who should have been retired and no longer teach.

Our system is choice-based once graduating from high school, why should it not be the same for K-12. International ranking systems continue to show US universities occupy 13 of the top 20 rankings, competition forces continuous improvement. Once students enter the workforce they are evaluated on performance, output, not on inputs which it seems is the way we measure our return on investment in education. Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, we need to try different approaches that the education industry and teacher unions seem to oppose.  Results are what matters. Choice will cause turmoil for a few years, but as with the rest of life, but choice will produce students better prepared for life and citizenship.

Bi partisanship is the answer, each side will have to give in on something. We try something, evaluate and change again until our results improve.

The End of Race Politics by Coleman Hughes

The End of Race Politics, Coleman Hughes

A 2024 book by Mr. Hughes. I learned of it from a Firing Line interview and was impressed with the clear headed and practical thought addressing a critical cultural issue for our republic.

I am 77, served in the Marine Corps and Alabama National Guard and then was employed by an international distribution company till retirement. I saw bigotry firsthand, as did my father who served during the second world war. My luck was being in an organization that was established as colorblind, meritocracy was the path to success. When a racist of any color decided to use their power to suppress another there was a culture and legal foundation to support others to stop injustice. Certainly not in every case but an overwhelming majority.

Coleman Hughes examines the current state of “neo-racists” who want to re-impose a culture that was fought against in the civil rights era. They are the other end of white supremacists. They play on past injustices to stoke the fire of resentment to create a place for them to reap personal and financial benefit for themselves and those close to them.

There are racists in our country today, of all colors. There always will be until we evolve out of the tribal, flight or flight creation of our species. One day maybe. Until then we enforce the laws against discrimination. We favor no one based on their race. We fix our K-12 education system so opportunity is available to all.

This was a short read but very powerful.

Work rules lead to positive results in public housing

Public Housing Should Have Work Rules, Too

Public Housing Should Have Work Rules, Too

By Howard Husock

City Journal

May 23, 2023

Thanks to the debt-ceiling showdown, Republicans appear to have a fighting chance to add a work requirement for those receiving SNAP (food stamp) and Medicaid benefits. They should also turn their attention to another major federal program that fosters dependency and discourages work: housing assistance. Local experiments across the country suggest that requiring those in public housing or getting housing vouchers to enter the labor market has positive effects, including upward mobility.

“Public and other assisted housing” is not a minor program. Housing vouchers are the largest item in the $73 billion Housing and Urban Development budget. At $30 billion, vouchers are almost twice as large an “outlay” as cash welfare ($16 billion), which has its own work requirement (though blue states have been finding ways around it.)

Unlike Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, housing benefits come with no time limit: about 32,000 New York City public-housing residents have lived in the projects for more than 40 years. What’s more, housing-benefit rules include a strong disincentive to work or raise earnings. Public and assisted-housing residents pay 30 percent of their income in rent—which means that, as their income rises, so does their rent. No private tenant would sign a lease like that, but it’s the rule for some of the poorest Americans.

By contrast, a handful of public-housing authorities—including Chicago and Atlanta, two of the nation’s biggest—have had work requirements for more than a decade. They’ve been among a small group of local public-housing agencies (39 of nearly 3,000) included in Moving to Work, a Clinton-era initiative.

The work-requirement experiment has been closely evaluated, including by the left-leaning Urban Institute. In Chicago, which exempted the elderly and disabled from the program and focused on public-housing residents rather than housing-voucher recipients, more than half of project residents (51 percent) had “no wage income” in 2010; by 2017, that proportion had declined to 38 percent. (Job training and other “good faith efforts” also satisfied the work requirement.) Average annual incomes rose from $11,568 in 2010 to $14,205 in 2015. Housing Authority staff interviewed for the report were enthusiastic, saying that, in their experience, “People want to do better. They want to work. They want money. They want to buy their children things.” The staff also noted that residents were not just working but, over time, getting better-paying jobs.

Work rules also resulted in higher rent payments, though that could also be seen as a negative, since it would be better for residents to keep more of what they earn.

Enforcement is serious. Residents looking to continue in assisted-housing programs must show pay stubs. Officials contact those known to be “noncompliant” weekly and offer help in finding work. Residents covered by the policy are given 90 days to comply or face the possibility of eviction (though that is unlikely).

The effects, by the standards of social science research, must be viewed as stunningly positive, as summarized in the bland language of the Urban Institute report:

The share of residents working more than 25 hours a week increased after the agency began enforcing its work requirement policy. The report found no increase in evictions and a modest increase in the rate of positive move outs because of gains in income attributed to compliance with the work requirement policy. A subsequent study that examined self-reported health and wellbeing outcomes found mixed effects associated with the agency’s work requirement policy; it found that residents wanted to work, and that increases in income decreased stress.

“Positive move outs” mean leaving the projects. Upward mobility means that those stuck on waiting lists may get a place—but be subject to the work requirement. This approach and others promise to change the culture of housing assistance.

Moving to Work has expanded from 39 housing authorities to 126. They will have good examples other than Chicago’s to emulate. In Atlanta, as I’ve written, high-rises were demolished and tenants were “vouchered-out” with a work requirement; labor-force participation rose from 18 percent to 62 percent. In San Bernadino, California, a five-year time limit has yielded strong results, according to an evaluation by Loma Linda University. Even without an explicit work requirement (though the city has begun to experiment with one), the imperative to prepare for an end to assistance led to a 26 percent increase in employment and a 145 percent increase in earned income after the five-year period. Education levels rose, too. All this will be news to Representative Pete Aguilar, who represents San Bernadino; the congressman had said that the work requirement for food stamps would “take food out of the mouths of kids.”

In insisting on linking work requirements to the social safety net, Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans are on to something—namely, that work requirements work.

Housing Crisis, To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”


Biden Courts Another Mortgage Crisis

May 22, 2023 | Edward Pinto and Tobias Peter

The Biden administration is making moves that could imperil the safety of the housing finance system. Recent mortgage pricing changes, which have generally decreased fees for borrowers with lower credit scores and increased fees for those with higher scores, have rightly garnered public outcry, but they are the tip of the iceberg. The administration’s other changes require just as much attention, particularly since the reigning mantra of the White House is to strengthen “racial equity and support for underserved communities”—regardless of who gets hurt or how much it costs.

Missed in the debate about loan-level pricing changes is that the Federal Housing Finance Agency already distorts the riskiness of loans it originates, and ultimately taxpayers are on the hook for those loans. Every year the FHFA shuffles up to $6 billion from higher- to lower-quality borrowers. The recent changes are another progression in a series of steps under Director Sandra Thompson that have hollowed out the risk-based pricing structure erected after the 2008 financial crisis.

Progressives claim these rules need to be altered so those who have historically had a harder time breaking into the housing market can get a shot. This approach has backfired. The last great credit expansion, done with the goal of expanding homeownership in the runup to the 2008 crisis, left some 14 million borrowers, many of them minorities, seriously behind on their mortgages as home prices crashed by more than 25%.

Rather than equipping borrowers with more financial reserves and allowing them to build equity to withstand a decline in home prices, progressives are now trying to eliminate the risk of foreclosure altogether. Remove that threat and—at least in theory—everyone can afford a mortgage. Some argue that since borrowers would no longer default, we could safely expand credit.

To this end, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on March 29 that it’s making payment deferral available to all borrowers with “eligible hardships,” which it conveniently doesn’t define. Neither does it state how many times a borrower could take advantage of this option. While some argue that this policy worked well during the pandemic and prevented many foreclosures, it isn’t that simple. Borrowers who received forbearance also could have benefited from expanded unemployment coverage, the Paycheck Protection Program, student-loan payment waivers, other Covid benefits and the quick recovery from the economic contraction.

But it doesn’t stop there. Progressives want to eliminate the use of credit scores in mortgage underwriting or create a government credit repository. Some already have labeled credit scores racist. While these scores are predictive of defaults, they also represent an enormous hurdle to expanding credit to underserved communities, whose members typically have lower scores and thus require risk premiums. But a mortgage finance system without the threat of foreclosure or proper underwriting standards is ultimately an entitlement program. If such a program were established, it would be here to stay—and would most likely grow.

What progressives fail to understand is that access to credit isn’t the root cause holding back Americans, particularly those of color, from owning a home. Notwithstanding numerous attempts and enormous spending by the federal government, the black homeownership rate today is barely higher than in the 1970s. Instead, the U.S. is undersupplied by millions of homes, which makes buying a home more difficult. In addition, there are far-reaching shortcomings in educational outcomes, marital status and earnings that need to be addressed. These socioeconomic factors explain most of the gap in homeownership between black and white Americans.

The administration’s recent actions to expand homeownership to underserved communities are both flawed and reminiscent of similar failed efforts, particularly those made in the runup to the 2008 financial crisis. Remember when in 1994 Fannie Mae committed to “transforming the nation’s housing finance system to make it accessible to everyone”? To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

We must oppose this administration’s misguided progressive housing policies, which extend far beyond changes to mortgage pricing, and stop them before they do lasting harm.

Mr. Pinto is director and Mr. Peter assistant director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Housing Center.


Mass Shootings

Root Cause Failure Analysis, Mass shootings

May 2022


Root cause and failure analysis (RCFA) is the process for investigating the root cause of a failure in a product, process, or service and using the information to develop and implement a change to prevent recurrence of the failure. https://www.isixsigma.com/dictionary/root-cause-and-failure-analysis-rcfa/

Mass shootings needs RCFA, obviously.

The last couple of decades have seen a rapid increase in the frequency of these horrible events. Some blame guns, others blame mental health, others blame everyone on the other side of the aisle versus themselves.

I am not an expert. I am a gun owner who practices on a regular basis, former active-duty USMC, and a member of the NRA who carries a pistol with a concealed carry permit.

Some will stop reading. If you do, you are part of the problem. Others will look forward to what is coming and be angry. No matter. Give me a chance.

  1. The 60’s produced secular and social movements that in my mind began to undermine the foundation of civility and accountability for personal actions that allowed many other policies to be put in place to reduce the identification of folks who might do such things. Our society needed many of the changes produced in this era, but like all change many went too far.
    1. Family cohesiveness has been attacked and has been badly damaged. All the of the disturbed individuals who have done such horrific things come from unsettled, abusive, uncaring, etc. families. Government policies that encourage dependence outside of the family are part of the problem. Religion has always focused on family cohesiveness and accountability; secular movements have not replaced this focus.
    2. Partisanship and contempt for the other opinion prevents a moderation of views, compromise is now a dirty word-from both sides of the aisle politically. This seeps down into society; it is OK to treat others with contempt. Both sides use verbiage of conflict versus compromise.
    3. Abortion has set men free from any responsibility if sex produces a child. The woman is totally responsible. Child support from the man should start at conception, not birth. Single parents can do a wonderful job raising children, but statistically those children have a much harder time as adults.
  2. Guns don’t kill, people do. A common claim from many, and it is true. These shootings have occurred in states with very strict gun laws, and in those that don’t. So gun control isn’t the answer, it is however important.
    1. Parents who own guns that are used in committing a crime should be held liable for damages.
    2. Red flag laws should be in place to give someone who is concerned a path to report them to law enforcement.
    3. Anyone who carries a firearm must complete the same qualification and re-certification as law enforcement. This certification must be performed by licensed facilities, and they are required to report suspicious activity as a red flag.
    4. Gun dealers should be required to inquire as to what a firearm is going to be used for, or larger purchases of ammunition, an also report red flags.
    5. Private sales of firearms should be reported as gun dealers do. Maybe even perform the background check for a nominal fee.
    6. Automatic weapons should remain highly regulated.
    7. Banning all guns, as some propose, would create such civil unrest it is unimaginable in a free society.
  3. Mental health. An issue both sides of the aisle have avoided. This is obviously time to act. The move to stop institutionalizing people had some logic behind it. But we have gone too far. Look at the homeless issue we face, some say lock them all up, others say they have a right to defecate on a sidewalk. Surely both sides see the need to compromise.
    1. Resume commitment authority to the mental health professionals, fund it, and out-patient facilities; ensure meds are taken as prescribed, etc. If meds aren’t taken as prescribed, that is what institutions are for. They are certainly taken as prescribed while incarcerated.
    2. We have seen mass shooters released by mental health professionals just before they kill, how come? The professions need to look hard at their standards of care, discipline those who refuse to comply, ensure liability is assigned to whomever dropped the ball. Prosecute those who disobey the law-mental health professionals, prosecutors, defense attorneys, a legislature, congress.
    3. School counselors must have the direction to identify those kids who display many of the indicators seen in teens that kill, anti-social behavior-alienation-being bullied-etc.
    4. The wall street journal on 5/26/22 editorial on the Uvalde shooting, a quote, “..society may have to adapt by rethinking our hands-off attitudes to antisocial behavior and mental illness.”  I agree
    5. Stop placing the burden of mental health on law enforcement and incarceration. That is the only thing I agreed with during the recent “Defund the Police” B.S.
  4. Background checks. Well, we know that they always don’t work due to lack of sharing of information, or there is no prior issue with someone. They should be done.
  5. I am in favor of teachers who are qualified as law enforcement having weapons in the classroom.
  6. Hardening schools is closing the door after the horses are out, a determined killer will not be stopped by this. But, one well-armed guard, trained to handle these type situations could have prevented some of the past shootings.

We are dumbfounded as to why these things happen. We shouldn’t be, we are all guilty in a way. By allowing our partisanship and contempt to prevent compromise. Politicians are creatures of getting re-elected, we the citizens are the only ones that can cause change to happen by telling them to compromise.

RCFA is the way to fix a problem, so it truly goes away. Our societal and political cultures work against solving this problem. Sad.

Finally, a prayer for all those who grieve in times like this, the victims of senseless violence-not just those who seem to get media attention, but the many thousands killed in a year-and also for the perpetrators, whom we must also love, as God loves us.



Gerrymandering—Hypocrisy on both sides

Both sides of the political spectrum accuse the other side when redistricting comes up every ten years. Oregon gained a seat from the last census, too bad, but those are the facts.

In the 2020 election republicans got 42% of the vote. With another seat under the new redistricting they are expected to win one seat. A supposedly “non-partisan” committee came up with the new districts. The Princeton gerrymandering project run by academics gave Oregon an “F”. Considering that university professors are 80% self identified as progressives, and Princeton is in the headlines limiting speech, this is a bullet to the heart. Or it should be.

Yet. Marc Elias who has stated , “We are prepared and ready to use every legal tool available to make sure that new maps do not unfairly treat voters.” Unless they are republican it seems as he has signed off on the Oregon results.

Mr. Elias’ law firm and Parker Cole (The law firm whose lawyer was just indicted for lying to the FBI during the Trump election) said the republicans weren’t cooperative, as if that justified the result. I am sure if the tables were turned both law firms would be on the warpath, suing everyone in sight. What happened to we should honor the popular vote?

What a bunch of smelly horse hockey. Another state I will never spend any money in.

Afghanistan, Should we have stayed?

The administration is lying about how well the retreat from Afghanistan went, David Petraeus commented that we should have stayed in the current deployed level, around 2500 folks plus contractors, to provide air support. The comments from the MSM that the Army ran away is accurate, the reason being they knew without air support the encroachment of the Taliban could not be stopped. I would have left too.

We stayed too long in a dysfunctional state. By doing so we created a growing obligation to assist those that helped us. I am 74, was an active duty marine from 1970 to 1976. When we negotiated with the communists we promised RSVN funds to continue their fight. Shortly after the treaty signing the democrat majority congress cut off all funds. Shameful. I was sure this kind of treachery would be learned from, but in my life we have shamed ourselves again, again the democrats-mostly.

I read today the Taliban beheaded a female soccer player this week. The consequences of a poorly thought out policy. Secretary Austin should have resigned once told to do what we did. He knew what the results would be.