Sometimes safety measures make us less safe

Recently, parents in California were charged with child endangerment for letting their kids walk home from the park unattended. That’s old news. You’ve already heard it.

But it got me thinking about my childhood. We walked to and from elementary school without supervision. We rode our bikes to High School because it was too far to walk. Back then, I never saw a kid wearing a helmet unless it was on the football field.

After school, we played in the woods across the road. There weren’t any parks. In the winter, we rode our sleds down the icy slopes, weaving in and out, between the trees.
We took chances and sometimes we got hurt – a scrape, a bruise, and sometimes a broken bone or two – but all my friends and all my classmates survived. That is, until we turned 18 and our government sent many of us to Viet Nam.

Maybe someone should charge Uncle Sam with child endangerment.

Life was risky, but with every risk we learned to make better choices. Kids today don’t have the opportunity to make choices. Experience is a great teacher. Without experience there is less learning. How will our children become adults? Maybe a better question is: What kind of adults will they be?

Many young men and women who went to Iraq and Afghanistan came back in much worse shape than our generation did. Could it be because this generation is less equipped to face obstacles?

You might say kids are safer now. Maybe they are, but I wonder if they are as happy as we were. It’s hard to be happy when you live in fear of so many everyday things. We are teaching them to believe security is more important than freedom when we should be teaching them the value of freedom and the spirit-crushing effects of fear.

Those parents I mentioned earlier said they were raising “free-range” kids. The opposite of “free-range” is “caged”. Is that really what we want for our children? It’s considered inhumane to treat animals that way.
Every effort to make us safer makes us less resilient. We are informed of all the potential dangers in order to convince us of the wisdom of whatever the latest safety fad happens to be.

Growing up, I seem to remember falling off my bike was part of the process of learning to ride. Now we have training wheels. Kids have to wear helmets to avoid hitting their heads if they fall. How can you fall with training wheels? I don’t remember anyone getting a concussion from falling off a bike, but I do remember a few broken teeth. Maybe we should mandate face masks, too. I’m surprised we don’t require seat belts on bikes. Maybe that will be next.

We also didn’t have seat belts or air bags in cars. One of my cousins thought seat belts were a great idea. This was in the ‘60’s when most cars didn’t have them. He paid to have them installed in his convertible and gave seat belts as Christmas gifts. He was afraid for all of us.

He was 19 when he missed a turn and ran off the road. His car rolled down the embankment three times before crashing head-first into a tree, The impact pushed the steering column through his chest, but I’m sure he didn’t feel it. On one of the roll-overs, his head had become detached from his body. Decapitated people don’t feel pain.

Without a seat belt he would have likely been thrown from the car. I can’t know if that would have saved his life, but I do know that being securely strapped in killed him. It was a long time before I could bring myself to fasten a seat belt. I’m still not sure it’s wise.

In order to convince us all to wear them, we were told numerous stories of people who died without one. They never told you about my cousin.
Society’s attitudes change within a generation or two. We’ve been overly protecting our children for a while now, so it shouldn’t surprise us that young adults have been more than willing to give up freedom for security whenever they’re told it’s necessary for National Security.

Those who would trade freedom for a little security will have neither. Remember that the next time you’re told to be afraid. And stop teaching your children to be so cautious.
Paul Anthony

CHARITY: The difference between Socialism and Capitalism

Occasionally, we hear about an altruistic person who goes to a third world
country to help build houses for the poor, donating his or her labor. The media
and the socialist-minded among us applaud.

But how much help did that person provide? If the standard labor rate in that
poor country is $2.00 per day, they only gave $2.00. That person might earn
$200.00 per day in the US, but it doesn’t matter what that person is worth here
at home. There, they are only worth $2.00 per day.

A capitalist thinks differently. If the charitable person had stayed home,
earning $200.00 per day, and sent all of his wages to the poor country – still
essentially working for free – they could have hired 100 local people. That
would give 100 people the chance to earn a living, supporting themselves and
their families.

And those newly employed people could have built 100 times as many houses.

Another feel-good charitable act goes something like this: People are starving
in Asia and Africa, so let’s buy a bunch of bread and send it to them! That
sounds like a generous gesture, but…

The do-gooders are buying bread made at first-world prices. The same amount
of money could produce much more wheat and therefore more bread if it were
produced in the third-world nation, and doing that would allow starving people
to become self-sufficient.

But even that isn’t a great idea, because these are people who have always
relied on rice, not wheat. You may be making a lot of people sick! You are also
putting local rice farmers out of business. Who will buy their rice when free
food is available?

Trying to help others without understanding the culture, customs and
economics of the region inevitably causes more harm than good. Call it
unintended consequences. But those consequences are avoidable if the
charitable person would spend more time thinking like a capitalist and less time
feeling like a socialist.

Capitalism is the allocation of resources in a way that produces the greater
good. Successful capitalists are usually people who think. People who feel are
likely to become successful in other fields, like acting or singing or teaching.

And, since such people feel they are right, they teach others to feel the way
they do.

So much more could be accomplished if our academics taught people to think.

Global Warming – a historical perspective

Earth has never had a stable climate. This is a fact that climatologists will tell you, if you ask the right questions – of the right climatologists.

If we want to know the history of the planet’s climate, one would think we should consult someone who specializes in “Historical Climatology”, but the method known by that label is the study of climate as related to human history and thus focuses only on the last few thousand years.

Another approach, known as Paleoclimatology, reconstructs past climates by examining records such as ice cores and tree rings. This method gives us a much longer historical span, and allows us to see patterns that indicate cycles in the Earth’s weather. From these folks, we learn that the planet has survived several Ice Ages and several periods during which temperatures warmed. There has always been a cycle of warming and cooling. We do not know why that has been the case, but the record indicates that this is natural.

Today’s climate specialists are quick to assure us that the current warming trend they are tracking is not in line with patterns established before. Since it does not fit the natural cyclical course of Earth’s history, they conclude that human activity is the cause. They may be correct. Were it not for the increase of greenhouse gases, we would be experiencing the onset of another Ice Age! In fact, those same specialists were warning us of that likelihood a mere thirty years ago. Based upon the long historical record, it seemed the logical next step.

But the Historical Climatology people, – the ones who study the relatively short range of history that is limited to the brief time humans have called Earth home – noticed a pattern that has gone by several names. The most common being: Global Warming (a misnomer, since only some parts of the planet are warming while other parts are predicted to get cooler) and Climate Change (a truer statement, but one that does not evoke the emotional effect of the former).

What has been lacking in this debate is the question of what would have happened if we humans had not tampered with nature. The answer is evident by history and by the climate models used as recently as thirty years ago. The next question that must be asked is, if we are able to reverse the warming trend, what will prevent Global Cooling.

The planet has been hospitable to human life for a very short portion of its existence. Naturally, we would like to stop the warming/cooling cycle that is the natural course preferred by Earth, and stabilize the climate so that we can continue to call Earth our home forever. We are chastised by the likes of Al Gore for having the audacity to tamper with the climate of our revered planet, while being told that we have an obligation to “save the planet” by tampering even more.
Let us be clear. The planet does not need “saving”. It has survived all these millennium without our meddling. For all we know, the climate cycles that it has experienced may be necessary for the survival of the planet. But we, so very smart and self-assured as we are, will save ourselves, even if it is the wrong thing to do for the planet’s sake.