Friday, November 1, 2013

Obamacare: What Might Have Been

This is my attempt to learn some hopefully non-partisan lessons from the Obamacare fiasco.  The overarching lesson is of such long standing in our culture as to have become almost a cliché, but it is true – that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. 

We all know that, and yet with Obamacare, political expediency was allowed to trump any and all other concerns.  To enact Obamacare, recent presidential campaign promises of transparency, public comment periods, and televised debates were slain in their cradles and replaced by secrecy, backroom deals, and midnight votes.  Zero buy in was sought from the other side of the aisle, and none was given.  The predictable product of this process was an unworkable hash of legislation, public response ranging from ignorance to outrage, and political opposition, especially when the inevitable difficulties arose,  ranging from schadenfreude to scorched-earth warfare. 

We will never know what might have come of Obamacare if things had been done well.  Would the public have been more accepting?  Would the political opposition have been more willing to reform rather than insisting on repeal?  I’m sure Obamacare’s sponsors console themselves with the belief that things would have been no different, but we’ll never know because they, even while they held all the cards, chose the quick way rather than the right way. 

I do see a hopeful contrast in Marco Rubio’s approach to immigration reform.  If he wanted to, he might be able to take a page from the President’s playbook and ram something through Congress (with an assist from Democrats).  But he’s so far refusing to do that.  He’s smart.  He knows that if his reform proposal is to succeed in the long run, he will need bi-partisan buy in.  He not only is giving a respectful hearing to the opposition, he is slowing things down and taking time to assure that all concerns are addressed.  He firmly believes that our immigration system needs reform, but he knows that bad, rushed reform is worse than no reform at all. 

How much better off we all would be if we had that kind of mature, reflective judgment, be it Democrat or Republican, in the White House.  I appeal to both parties to be careful in your selection of candidates for 2016.  Please pick someone who understands that American public life is more than political power.  Pick someone who understands that we all must live together and that the political opposition is a brother with a different point of view to be considered, not an obstacle to be hurdled or an enemy to be vanquished.  If two such candidates are nominated for 2016, then come 2017, we’ll all be better off than we are right now, no matter how the next election turns out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why are Rich People so Bad?

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning.  But before I tell you what it was, first let me explain a little about my background so that you can understand how striking this flash of insight was to me.  I am a Christian. Many would call me a "fundamentalist."  I am one of those many.  (You might have to think about that one for a second.)  I have been in fundamentalist churches for so long now that I am fairly steeped in certain Christian doctrines, probably none more than the doctrine of the depravity of man.  Like a drumbeat, I've heard (and read) for the almost forty years of my Christian life that mankind is fallen. The most common proof text for this sad proposition is Isaiah 64:6.  But that's far from the only biblical text that focuses on mankind's shortcomings -- from the third chapter of the Bible (Genesis 3) on, it's pretty much all sin, all the time.

I may be a bit more tuned into mankind's sinfulness than most -- memorizing Paul's epistle to the Romans as a teenager was quite formative for me. That first part of the "Romans Road," that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," locked in pretty early with me.  Plus there's my personal experience.  I might just be more sinful than most.  That brings me to another point -- I didn't really need the Bible to tell me that people are less than perfect (to put it mildly).  Everything about my existence told me that people are bad. We lock our doors at night; as children, we're told not to talk to strangers; these days, we take extraordinary efforts to "safeguard our personal information" -- all of which is smart because people are indeed unreliable at best, and downright nasty at worst.  Of course, not all people are bad all the time, but some people are bad pretty much all the time, and all people are bad at least some of the time.

So it does not surprise me when people behave badly.  But here's the epiphany that struck me this morning: "Poor people are fallen, too."  Let that sink in for a second.  I don't even know how I thought of it.  The controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins had me reflecting on whether it was merely another faux controversy created by political correctness run amok, and somehow that line of thinking led me to political correctness in general, which got me thinking about certain groups of people whom we're not allowed to criticize, and suddenly I realized that poor people are one of those groups.  But this post isn't about political correctness.  It's about how I had to be surprised to find that poor people fit the universal definition of mankind that I have had drummed into my brain for decades.  After all, I've never had to remind myself that rich people are sinners. As I reflected on my own surprise at this realization that poor people aren't sinless saints, I remembered a time when I articulated my own bias against the rich.  I was a newly-minted lawyer, and my wife and I were buying our first modest house.    That is a dangerous combination.  I kept trying to amend the form contract documents, and the real estate agent with whom I was working finally boiled over with frustration and swore at me.  Eventually cooler heads prevailed, and I joked with her about how if it was this hard to sell a small house, I can't imagine how much trouble she must have when a million dollars are on the line.  Her unexpected answer:  "You'd be surprised how gracious rich people can be." And now that I think of it, that's been almost universally true in my own life, too.  Pretty much all the rich people I've known have been okay, no worse than the rest of the lot anyway.

So why did I, of all people, assume that rich people would be harder to work with than someone of modest means like myself?  Well, the idea that "rich = bad" is drummed into us by the popular culture.  In any movie we watch, particularly including Disney films, if a wealthy character pops up, we can pretty much mark him down as a "bad guy."  If a character's poverty is noteworthy, then that character will likely have some nobility about her.  This anti-wealth current has become so strong in our society, that one apparently effective way to run against a political candidate these days is to point out that he's rich.  And so in the last presidential election cycle, we had President Obama spending millions of Hollywood's money to convince us that Mitt Romney was rich, which we already knew.  And this message stuck even though everybody who actually knew Mr. Romney seemed convinced that he was exceptionally kind and generous, as far as people go. And I apparently bought it, too, as reflected by my response to the real estate agent more than twenty years ago.

So what's the point?  I think the point is that when we make public policy, we should do so keeping in mind that all people, including poor people, are fallen and will behave badly, especially if not properly incentivized. We adopt public policy today as though poor people have some kind of inherent nobility that prevents them from engaging in anti-social conduct, even when we make it exceptionally easy for them to fail.  For example, giving Obamacare subsidies without income verification.  Are you kidding me?

Anyway, this is a tough subject to write about, as you can tell from the title of this post.  I thought about a candid title like "Poor People are Fallen, Too," but I thought "who'd read that?"  So I titled this post as you can see.  Apologies for the "bait and switch" -- I'm not perfect, either.  This topic seemed so problematic to me that I had decided not to write about it, until I read this story about food stamp recipients stealing so much food that they cleaned out a Wal-mart in Louisiana when the EBT system temporarily went down.  Apparently the limits on those EBT cards are absolutely essential.  After my reflection today, I've decided to try to control within myself the societal bias against the rich.  I've also decided to remind myself that all of us, rich and poor alike, must be constrained by law to prevent us from taking advantage of our fellows.  Bummer.  We live in a fallen world, a universally fallen world.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unseemly Republican Begging

We humans seem to be natural beggars.  We don't need to teach our children to beg.  We already know how to beg when we learn to talk:  "Please can I stay up one more hour?  Please, please, please will you buy me the toy I want?"  When it comes to begging, children have no shame.  Sometimes we even think it's "cute." But there's usually nothing cute about adult beggars.  You know, like the guy who begs his girlfriend to take him back after she dumped him?  We're tempted to say "have some dignity, and move on, man!" Well that's what I want to say to Republicans.

They keep begging the Democrats to talk to them, mostly about the budget.  The Republicans dutifully pass a budget every year.  They used to try to engage the Democrats in budget talks.  But the Democrats, in the person of Harry Reid, have just said "talk to the hand."  The Republican budgets end up right where all of the other legislation they pass ends up, on the scrapheap of Harry Reid's ignoring.

It's easy to see why the Democrats don't like to talk to the Republicans about the budget (or anything else). The Democrats know that it will not be an easy conversation -- the Republicans will want to cut spending. They might even want to balance the budget (eventually).  To say the least, that would not be easy.  It might even be quite unpleasant.  Better just to ignore the budget process altogether (which is why the Reid Senate usually does not even bother with passing a budget) and fund current levels of spending through a "continuing resolution."

So what do the Republicans do?  Do they say, "No, let's stick with the orderly budget process -- you Democrats pass a budget and we'll work our differences out in conference"?  No. The Republicans acquiesce, as they always do.  If the Democrats want to scrap the budget process and fund the government by continuing resolution, so be it!  At least the Democrats will have to talk about the continuing resolution!

That's where you're wrong, oh you groveling Republicans.  When it comes to the continuing resolution, the Democrats say it's "non-negotiable."  You Republicans just agree to fund present spending levels or "talk to the hand."  So what do the Republicans do?  They beg. In recent days, they've  passed four continuing resolutions to fund the government, each one requiring successively smaller concessions from the Democrats. Most humiliatingly, the Republicans' latest version would require the Democrats to talk with them.  Seriously, look it up.  The Republicans just proposed a law begging the Democrats to talk to them in a special conference committee.  What do the Democrats say to all this?  "Talk to the hand."  They've already declared it dead on arrival.

Now perhaps I'm being a bit too hard on the begging Republicans.  I can see why they feel vulnerable and weak.  They repeatedly try to compromise to fund the federal government.  The Democrats repeatedly say "talk to the hand," and what does the mainstream media say?  They say "the Republicans are shutting down the government!"  And so the Republicans beg to avoid blame.  They seem not to understand that the begging is pointless. It's pointless because the Obama administration and the Democrats in the Senate doing his bidding wanted the government "shutdown."  They knew that CNN would "blame" the Republicans, so the Democrats were going to shut down the government unless they got a "clean" (i.e. everything they wanted and nothing they didn't) continuing resolution, and that's what they did.

Well, hopefully the embarrassing begging is over now, Republicans.  Your worst fears have been realized. The Democrats have ignored you and shut down the government.  CNN and MSNBC are blaming you and will continue to blame you.  You can't change that now, and you never could.  So, please, have some personal dignity.  Get up off your knees.

The Democrats have done their worst to you. That's a fact. That can't be changed.  So get up, and move on. Why not try this -- how about playing the cards you've been dealt?  Pass a series of funding bills, funding various parts of the government, not necessarily at current levels, but at whatever levels you think appropriate.  Let those bills pile up on Harry Reid's desk.  If CNN squawks about some side effect of the "shutdown," just point to the bill that would fund that part of the government and say you've already solved that problem.  It won't be long before the Democrats will be anxious to talk to you.

You see, you earn the respect and cooperation of opponents, not by begging and appeasement, but by saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and standing on principle.  Try it, you'll like it.  But whatever you do, PLEASE stop begging!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Non-negotiables: Handling my personal #debtlimit

I hate to publicly air my family's dirty laundry like this, but here goes.  Our family finances are in trouble.  I make less money today than I did in the late 20th century, but our expenses have skyrocketed since then. Predictably, we've accumulated a debt that we may or may not be able to repay, but that's not the worst of it.  The real problem is that our debt is growing at an unsustainable rate.  And the bank has taken notice.  We are almost out of credit.  When we hit our limit, circumstances will force draconian changes on us.

The solution is obvious.  There is only one thing to do.  We must convince the bank to raise the credit limit on our credit card.

Things have gotten so bad that my wife, bless her heart, suggested a family conference to discuss what to do about it.  I have to give her credit for "thinking outside the box," but when I heard what she had in mind, I had to put my foot down.  She had a long list of ideas:  1) maybe we could eliminate or scale back our cable and cell phone services; 2) perhaps we could choose the higher deductible health insurance option to lower our premiums; 3) maybe we should temporarily scale back or suspend the money we've been contributing to the local boy scout troop; 4) maybe we should cancel the lawn and maid services and start doing our own cleaning and yard work; 5) perhaps we could eat out less often or not at all; 6) maybe we should cancel the new furniture that we just ordered yesterday.

Apparently she doesn't understand that I am a man of principle.  When I make a commitment, I stand by it. Each of those expenditures she wanted to cut were decisions that we had made together.  I'm willing to talk about scaling back future purchasing decisions, but I told her in no uncertain terms that the one thing I will not negotiate over is whether we should pay the bills that we have already racked up.

She quickly agreed that we had to pay back our accumulated debt, but she tried to convince me that cutting ongoing expenditures is not the same thing as reneging on financial commitments.  If only it were that simple. For example, we've had cable tv and cell phone service in our house for decades.  Can you imagine how disruptive it would be to eliminate some of the channels that we've grown accustomed to watching?  The same goes for all those other expenditures.  She tried to argue that we might not have ANY cable tv if we don't choose a plan that we can afford before it's too late.   But I stuck by my guns.  We've already made those spending decisions, and those are in the past.  There's nothing we can do about that.  Those expenditures must continue to go forward as they have for years. Principle demands as much, and I am a man of principle.

Now, hopefully, she'll end her unprincipled obstructionism so that she and I can work together on a real solution -- convincing the bank to extend us more credit.  One thing is for sure:  I won't engage in any more family conferences to talk about that other stuff.  I'll maintain my integrity to the end.

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Justice for Trayvon

As most trials do, the Trayvon Martin case  involves the clash of two perspectives.  Martin's perspective clashed with Zimmerman's, with deadly results.  From Martin's perspective, he was being following by a "creepy *ss cracker" (Trayvon's words).  From Zimmerman's perspective, he was keeping an eye on a dangerous stranger who looked like he was "on drugs or something" (Zimmerman's words). Both probably were right.

Martin found Zimmerman to be creepy.  The prosecution, which managed to prove little else in the case, might just have raised a jury issue on Zimmerman's creepiness.  Finding both the law and the facts arrayed against proving the crime they had charged, the prosecutors (with assists from the judge) resorted to putting Zimmerman's character on trial.  They portrayed Zimmerman, with at least some success, as a frustrated cop wannabe on a power trip.  Maybe he was.  One could understand why Martin found being followed by such a man to be "creepy."

From Zimmerman's perspective, Zimmerman thought he was keeping an eye on a dangerous stranger wandering around in his neighborhood. He may have been right.  While the jury didn't get to hear this, we know that Trayvon was outside his home neighborhood at the time because he was on his third suspension from school, this time for drug possession.  An earlier school suspension for writing obscenity on a locker also involved a search of his backpack which turned up a watch, a bag of women's jewelry, and a "burglary tool" i.e. a screwdriver that Trayvon claimed belonged to a friend whom he refused to identify.  We also know that Trayvon bragged about engaging in (and winning) multiple fights and that he was seeking to obtain a firearm.  Martin's brags about his macho exploits caused his friend to text Trayvon some good advice: "Boy don't get one planted in ya chest." Tragically, that wise advice went unheeded.  Finally, and the jury was allowed to hear this part, Zimmerman's observation that Martin appeared to "on drugs or something" was correct -- marijuana (the very substance he had been suspended from school for possessing) was in his system at the time.  In summary, contrary to the picture painted by the media, Trayvon was not a young man that you would want to meet in a dark alley, yet that is pretty much what Zimmerman did.

So what happened when these two perspectives clashed?  The overwhelming evidence indicates that Martin confronted Zimmerman and beat him while Zimmerman screamed for help until Zimmerman finally shot Martin to death.  So what would "justice" look like when the creepy cop wannabe meets the young punk thug?  Only Heaven knows for sure.  Our criminal system cannot make "justice" out of these circumstances, and it doesn't even try.


What our criminal justice system does is draw some bright lines that the creepy cracker and the young thug must not cross in their interactions with each other.  Zimmerman felt threatened by seeing Martin wandering through his neighborhood, but even assuming that Martin was the dangerous figure Zimmerman thought he was, there is nothing illegal about a young thug wandering through a gated community.  Martin crossed no legal line by being there.  Similarly, Martin may have been creeped out by being watched by Zimmerman. But, again, Zimmerman's watching Martin crossed no legal line.  Those who are clamoring for Zimmerman's head must be doing so because they think it SHOULD be illegal for a private citizen to be armed while keeping an eye on a stranger in his neighborhood, but it's not, at least not there.

The legal lines designed to allow the creepy cracker and the young thug to coexist were crossed when the first punch was thrown.  The jury apparently thought that punch was thrown by Martin, and the evidence amply supports that conclusion.  So Zimmerman was found "not guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt, which clearly was the correct legal result.  Was it "justice"?  I'm sure it doesn't feel like justice to Martin's family and friends, but it's the best our criminal legal system can do.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Boston bombers were Chechen terrorists? Oh, never mind!


“And maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.”  (1 Peter 2:12 NET Bible)

On Monday, April 15, at 2:50 p.m. a bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon. A second bomb exploded a few seconds later.  I heard about it shortly thereafter and posted the following facebook status at 3:38 p.m.:  “At the Boston Marathon? What's wrong with people?”  Not one of my better posts – just a gut reaction on the spur of the moment. 

I reacted quickly, but the left reacted even more quickly.  By 3:22 p.m. Charles Pierce of Esquire.com had already “cautioned” us against “jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism” and warned us “to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts.”  The implication was clear enough – this looks like the work of right-wingers.  Pierce did not have to speculate alone.  Later that evening Michael Moore initiated a series of tweets implying the same thing that Pierce had.  Moore suggested that he could put “2+2” together, a backhanded insult to anyone who didn’t reach the same simple conclusion that he had.

And so it went for days.  You probably saw the same coverage that I did – the talking heads perched on the edges of their chairs atingle with the anticipation that some right-wing nut might have been responsible for this.  Typical was the April 17 CNN piece asserting that the pressure cooker bomb formula has been used, not only by Islamic terrorists, but also “has been adopted by extreme right-wing individuals in the United States.”  Seriously. 

Well, now we know that the bombers were Chechen terrorists after all.  So should we expect the sheepish apologies to start flowing as fast and furious as the slanderous innuendo?  Of course not.  I guess Michael Moore has “apologized” in his own way – he tacitly acknowledged that he had slandered the right by tweeting a lame joke about his error.  I guess the victims of his false speculation aren’t worthy of a real apology.  It’s almost as though the left-wing media apparatus is channeling Roseanne Roseannadanna with a collective, “Oh, never mind!”

So be it.  We all have a tendency to assume the worst about those who differ from us.  We even have words for that tendency—words like “prejudice” and “bigotry.”  I’m certainly not immune, so I suppose that I shouldn’t throw stones.  But I do pray that the next time I publicly assume the worst about a group and am proven wrong that I will have the decency simply to apologize, without jokes and without excuses.  Now that I’ve written this, I suppose there might be someone there to help keep me honest.  I hope so.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

I think I just saved the White House Tours!

No need to thank me -- the smiling faces on thousands of kids around the country is thanks enough.  Here's how I did it.

As we all know by now, President Obama came up with this brilliant idea (known as sequester) that he and the Republicans would agree to slow the rate in federal spending (mostly in defense spending, which is why Obama likes the idea) if they could not agree in the meantime on a fiscal deal.  The Republicans thought they would be negotiating over spending cuts, especially to our unsustainable entitlement programs.  But the President fooled them by insisting on tax increases instead.  The Republicans went along with one giant tax increase on January 1, but when the President insisted on a second (apparently monthly) tax increase in February, they balked.  The President kept the pressure on by flying around the country on Air Force One railing against his own sequester idea (and playing golf with Tiger Woods).  But the Republicans called his bluff, and now the rate of growth in federal spending must be slowed.

Well, there's nothing that ticks this President off like slowed federal spending, and now he's mad.  To demonstrate his displeasure at not getting his second tax increase, the Obama administration has been implementing the reduced spending increases (sounds oxymoronic, doesn't it?) in the most painful ways that it can imagine.  Now my impulsive response to these vindictive and petty moves generally is:  "Do your darnedest, Mr. President.  We can take it."  After all, unlike the federal government, I've actually had to cut my spending before (not just slow its growth), so I figured I could stomach any "slowed growth" that the White House could dish out.

Then they canceled the White House tours.  Oh the humanity!  Kids from around the country are finding out that they won't get herded through the executive mansion by volunteer tour guides after all, and all because the mean Republicans won't agree to raise taxes (again).  The initial reaction of some was, "How does eliminating tours by volunteer guides save ANY money?"  The White House was ready for this rhetorical thrust and parried it by explaining that  the Secret Service has to step up security during the tours.  After all, you never know when one of those school kids (some of whom are even HOME SCHOOLED) might be a closet paramilitary commando bent on bringing down the Obama administration.

As it turns out, presidential protection does not come cheap, and ABC News reported that the extra security to make sure that the school kids don't blow up the White House would cost $18K/week.  Yikes!  Frankly, that seems a little high to me, but lets go with it.  I searched high and low to find $18K/week in alternate cuts that would allow the little children to see the White House, and I think I found it.  In fact, it was the President himself who showed me the way.  Remember all that flying around the country on Air Force One fighting his own sequester idea (and playing golf)?  I got to thinking, I wonder how much that costs?  And here's the answer:  Travel on Air Force One costs, wait for it . . . $180,000/hour.  That's right.  One less hour on Air Force One = White House tours for ten weeks.  Five fewer hours pays for the tours for the whole year.  Basically, if the President could find it in his heart to avoid one unnecessary campaign trip on Air Force One (or to spend Christmas in the continental US instead of Hawaii), then all tours can be restored!  You're welcome, kiddies!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Can President Obama Break His Own Record?

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires the President to submit his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year no later than the first Monday of February.  Obviously, President Obama has missed the deadline this year.  But this is not the first time.  Or the second.  Or the third.  In fact he's one for five in complying with this statutory mandate.  In only his first term, President Obama set the record for the most missed budget deadlines by a single president.  Now, every time he misses the deadline (again) he merely pads is own record.  But that's not the record referenced in the title to this post.  Rather, I'm talking about the number of days by which the deadline is missed.

Before President Obama took office, Bill Clinton was the holder of that record.  In 1993, he missed the budget deadline by sixty-six days -- more than two months!  President George W. Bush with his very first budget missed his deadline (the only deadline he missed) by a whopping sixty-three days!  Impressive you say?  That's child's play for President Obama.  In his very first attempt, President Obama missed his budget deadline by, wait for it . . . ninety-eight days.  While he also has missed three deadlines out of his other four opportunities, he has not yet matched the length of that first prodigious miss.  


Some think that President Obama's ninety-eight day overage is a record that will stand forever, but I'm not ready to give up on him just yet.  Records were made to be broken, and never one to shrink from a challenge, President Obama already has blown through the lengths of his other two budget deadline misses.  So we know for sure that his latest deadline fail will be at least his second longest to date (with three more chances to come)!  True, he'll have to push his budget proposal well into May to break his own record this year, but all evidence suggests that he may be up to the task.  The key to his success appears to be an almost uncanny (lack of) focus:  Don't get bogged down in the details of doing the job.  Instead, travel around the country on the taxpayer dime (racking up more deficits and debt -- another record!) talking about budgets.  

In fact, I think President Obama just might mean never to relinquish this particular record.  I can't confirm this, but I suspect that President Obama, taking a page out of Harry Reid's playbook, may just intend never to submit a proposed budget.  And, after all, why should he?  What has happened to the other budgets he submitted?  The last two haven't garnered a single positive vote.  In either the House or the Senate.  And the Senate has been controlled by the President's own party!  If his own political allies are going to disrespect his budgets like that, why should he submit them?

Anyway, if President Obama pulls a Harry Reid and never proposes another budget, then his own record never can be broken by any subsequent upstart president!  Pure genius.  This president continues to find ways to write himself into the record books.  I don't think anyone can stand in his way this time.  Hail to the Chief!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Skewed Priorities

Some people are working hard to reduce their credit card debt, and that sounds like a good idea, but I'm going to suggest that they are wasting their time.  That credit card debt is a drop in the bucket.  Americans owe $858 billion in credit card debt.  Sounds like a big number you say?  Worthy of your attention you think?  Try this on for size: The national debt is $16.5 trillion.  That's almost 20x all of our credit card debt combined.  Yet those of us with credit card debt fret about it and keep electing officials who are running us into the hole faster than we ever could pay our way out.  The national debt has increased almost $6 trillion during the Obama administration.  That means that every year of the Obama administration, we have added to our national debt almost double our total credit card debt.  So if the entire country had, over the last four years, worked extremely hard and had paid off ALL of our credit card debt, we'd still be about $5 trillion behind where we started.  My point is this:  If you're not worried about the national debt, then forget about your credit card debt -- that's chicken feed by comparison.  If your credit card debt is keeping you up at night, then you should really be pulling your hair out over the national debt.  Quit wasting your time trying to reduce your credit card debt and get yourself educated so that you can turn out the bums who keep running up your much larger national debt.  Better yet, get started paying off both.