The only thing certain about the death of Philando Castile at the hands of a cop is that procedures need to be changed…

June 23, 2017

 

NOTE: On July 16, 2016 Philando Castile was shot and killed by a policeman in St. Anthony, Minnesota during a traffic stop in an incident that appears to have been a tragic mistake. The officer was charged with murder, which is unusual, but was recently acquitted. He did lose his position on the force, though. One man is dead and maybe another man’s life is ruined.


 

The only sense I can make out of watching videos of the killing of Philando  Castile, a black man pulled over in a traffic stop, is that there needs to be better police training and a better way to handle things when an officer expects trouble (or maybe when he does not, but comes across it).

And some way in which the shooting of side arms multiple times rapid fire can be put somewhere down on the priority list, still keeping officer and public safety first in mind.

I have watched and re-watched multiple times the police dash cam video and have watched a video taken by Castile’s  female companion and can make no sense of exactly how and why it all went down.

And that is the trouble, most everyone who forms an opinion does so from limited knowledge. My opinion is not whether officer Jeronimo Yanez was justified in shooting or whether the victim was in the wrong, but just that something seems obviously wrong with police procedures or at least the way the officer handled it.

In fact he was charged with murder but was acquitted.

The fact is that Yanez was really pulling over the car because he suspected that at least one of the occupants might be a robbery suspect. But he went with the ruse of telling the driver that he was stopping him for bad tail lights, so as not so make him nervous.

But right off the bat I think that was wrong. I mean I have never had any police training but I’ll be doggoned if I was a cop and I thought someone might be a robbery suspect and I was pulling them over I would just casually walk up to the car and say I was stopping him (or her) for bad tail lights. I’d get on the PA system if I had one (most cop cars do I think) and direct the occupants of the car to carefully get out with their hands in the air.

And I’d want backup. And indeed officer Yanez did have another policeman helping him. No offense to the other officer, but the video I saw does not show that officer doing much of anything helpful. What he could have done considering the way Yanez approached it I do not know.

You have to see the available videos for yourselves — all on the internet. But what I saw was Yanez casually strolling up to the car, telling the driver he was stopping him for bad tail lights (and strangely using the future tense or something — like “it’s goona be your” such and such tail light). And then the driver, who we never see on the police dash cam video, but hear on audio, politely informs the officer that he has a gun. The officer responds something like: “ok, don’t pull it out” and then before you can even think the officer is firing his hand gun into the vehicle yelling don’t pull it out, and repeating that even after he begins firing his seven shots, more than one of which pierced Castile’s heart.

The problem is that we never can see what Castile, the dead man, was actually doing when he was shot. The officer claims he thought Castile was reaching for a  gun. Castile’s girlfriend says he was complying with the officer’s directions to produce I.D. Castile’s last recorded words were that he was not reaching for the gun. A gun was later found in his pocket with a loaded magazine.

The victim’s girlfriend made a video of the aftermath in which she seemingly professionally narrated it, despite the obvious stress she seemed to be in. And it is worth noting there was a four-year old girl in the car too.

Reports have Castile not as a robbery suspect but a well-liked cafeteria worker at a local school. And he was licensed to carry a gun (not sure why, but just a citizen’s right I suppose).

And there’s a lesson or message: guns can protect you but they carry an awesome responsibility and they can put you in danger too.

I think there has to be some better protocol to avoid shooting into cars with children inside.

One thing the dash cam video seems to show is that officer Yanez was in way over his head and panicked. If one is fair, one must feel almost as much sorrow for him as the victim.

Again, we cannot see the victim just before he was shot, but the officer’s testimony was that he felt Castile was ignoring his instructions or commands. He also gave testimony to investigators that he smelled what appeared to be marijuana, but right off hand I don’t see much of what that might have to do with a decision to shoot.

Even though the victim was black, I don’t think in this case it is a racial thing necessarily. Officer Yanez is I presume Hispanic (and that has nothing to do with anything either I would think). And even though we keep hearing about white officer’s killing black people during traffic stops, there was a recent incident where a black officer was the shooter.

But no matter what your race or skin color, you would be advised to comply with an officer’s instructions and use body language perhaps to demonstrate (but no quick moves) to save your own life. Complaints can be made later when you are still alive to make them.

(And what good would police be, really, if they could not exert legitimate authority and people complied? Just the other day I witnessed an incident at a truck stop between a security guard who was small in stature — I don’t think he was armed — and a larger and belligerent and uncooperative man. The guard said he was going to escort him off the premises. The man just told the security guard to basically get out of his face. The security guard backed off. We don’t want to put our police in that position. I felt sorry and embarrassed for the security guard.)

And shooting first and asking questions later needs to be taken off police protocol.

 

 


How deep is the Russian interference with our elections? And is Trump et al. profiting from it at the peoples’ expense? Those are the important questions…

June 9, 2017

It’s so easy to get lost in the forest of this ongoing Washington Russiagate scandal or whatever you might want to call it. One can hardly see the forest for all the trees.

Is President Donald Trump a liar? Is former FBI Director James Comey a liar?

Well, yes would seem the obvious answer to the first question, but an answer with little relevance. Truth is something nebulous and subject to change at a whim in Trump World. But everyone knew that all along, way before perhaps he was even a candidate for president.

Comey. Don’t know much about him except he has a reputation for being a straight arrow. But he seems to have a penchant for not being able to keep things confidential, something that is often important in crime investigation. First he goes and throws a monkey wrench into Hillary Clinton’s campaign for presidency by announcing she is being investigated over the email controversy. I personally don’t see how that was in his purview as a top cop and not a prosecutor — and prosecutors, unless I am wrong, don’t usually make announcements until there is an indictment. Anyway, then he strategically leaks info (by his own admission) so that it will go out in the news media and force the appointment of a special counsel to look into the Russia matter.

I do not feel sorry for Trump, but it shows one does not speak in confidence to Comey. If it would seem to benefit him, he will reveal. And Comey admits that the first of the two times he met in private with the president (then president-elect) it was his (Comey’s) own idea.

Now the idea stated or implied by Comey is that Trump tried to pressure him into dropping the Russian investigation and that when Comey refused Trump fired him.

Meanwhile the official line from Trump is that he never did try to urge Comey to drop the investigations.

While Comey supposedly took notes, despite an off-hand remark by Trump, there at this time seems no evidence of a tape recording of what was said between the two. Trump had, perhaps jokingly, suggested that Comey better hope there was no tape recording and Comey now in turn has said: “Lordy, I hope there is…”

“Lordy”? who says that anymore?

But getting away from the he said, he said, stuff, what we need to know is the extent of Russian involvement in our elections, everything from misinformation campaigns, to embarrassing (but true?) leaks from campaigns, to most sinister and dangerous of all, manipulation of the actual voting. While we have been assured at the federal level and by various state voting officials that no irregularities have surfaced, there was at least one story a few days ago that U.S. investigators have uncovered evidence of Russians attempting to hack into a voting program. And it does not take much to steal a presidential election (some electoral votes in the right states and you win the prize).

The focus should be on the integrity of our voting system. And I think it is in doubt.

And along with this, while it is unclear if there has been actual collusion between Trump and his supporters and family with the Russians, it seems the relationship with the Russians is all too cozy and is intermingled with politics and private business. To Trump et al. politics is just an extension of their own private business fortunes.

I’ll leave it to the lawyers to figure out whether Trump obstructed justice. I mean I have read that legal scholars differ on what the evidence shows so far.

Trump most likely did urge Comey to back off the Russia investigation but that alone is not necessarily obstruction. It might take more pressure than that. And yes, Trump did fire Comey. But he had the legal right to do so, even if he has told different stories as to the reasoning behind the firing.

Perhaps if the Russia scandal deepens and more substantive evidence shows collusion between Trump and his minions, then the Comey firing might be seen as obstruction of an actual high crime and misdemeanor and result in impeachment. And remember, “high crimes and misdemeanors” are not defined in the Constitution.

P.s.

Russian interference, to the extent there is, seems to have nearly brought down both the governments in Washington and London by way of stirring up some strange and misguided populist revolt — misguided in that it seems to have no clear direction other than tearing institutions down and the security that comes from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hillary did not lose the election as much as the Democratic Party did; Electoral College is weird but has some logic…

June 6, 2017

It’s a little late maybe but I’m still trying to figure out the exact mechanics of the Electoral College and the rationale behind it.

Yes I recall in school it was said it was a way to even up the representation between the bigger or more populous states and the smaller states. And then there is that regional interest thing, which in the early, early years was mainly the industrial and small farming North versus the plantation/slave labor economy of the South.

Okay, without going into the pesky and to me somewhat mind-boggling detail, we already know that we don’t directly vote for the president and vice president like we do for, say, our senators and congressmen, or even dog catcher in some places.

Instead, in all but two of the 50 states, whichever candidate wins the majority of the popular vote gets all of the state’s electors, each state being allotted one elector per congressional district and one for each of its two U.S. senators. Nebraska and Maine have a slightly different method, but the only thing that happened this last Fall was that even though Hillary Clinton garnered the majority of electoral votes from Maine, Donald Trump did get one electoral vote there.

(I won’t bother to go into whether an elector can or cannot vote for whomever he or she chooses, although I think clearly that is what the Founding Fathers had in mind. But the reality is that almost all the time they vote for whoever gets the most popular votes in their respective states.)

So back to the idea that minority or regional interests would not get a fair shake in the presidential contest and it would be the tyranny of the majority — it seems the way it turned out in 2016 is that we succumbed to the tyranny of the minority, with Clinton receiving way more votes than Trump but losing nonetheless. Al Gore lost to George W. Bush that way too, but the count was more even, but confused due to some strange or shaky system of voting in Florida — remember the hanging chads and butterfly ballots.

Ever since Nov. 8 I have cursed the whole concept of the Electoral College for making the unthinkable happen, not so much that Princess Hillary was due her spot on the throne as Queen, but that someone so openly ignorant and so boorish as Donald Trump would be president of the United States. I could have put up with Queen Hillary.

But looking at a CNN map of the results, which I provide a link to after this sentence, I see a pattern of voting throughout the regions of the U.S. that indicates Trump had wide support (albeit wide but not deep?), whether I like it or not. Unfortunately not everyone thinks as I do. And, I imagine right about now some are re-thinking it all — but it’s too late.

http://www.cnn.com/election/results/president

So, just for the record, and as I guess is shown in that link, it seems to me that Trump won over a large cross-section of the nation, looking at the pattern of the red dots. Using our system, such as it is, both sides knew the rules going in. And while Trump received some 3 million fewer votes he did get nearly 63 million, and that is no small number. Clinton garnered almost 66.

I think it is a bit unseemly now how Mrs. Clinton is going around blaming everyone but herself  (admitting only that she made some mistakes) for the loss. Oh, she does have reason to feel aggrieved, no doubt. But even Richard Nixon when he lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960 was gracious in defeat. Subsequently of course he famously was not gracious when he lost the governor’s race in California in ’62. But, he got over it and came back to win the presidency in 1968.

Unlike Nixon, perhaps, it is doubtful Mrs. Clinton will have a chance to return to fight another battle, but she is all but making that impossible with her snide remarks now.

With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight analysts can now determine they think why she lost to Trump. Should have spent more time in Wisconsin, and so on. I always thought the spectacle of the movable rope line to protect Queen Hillary was a bit much, but then how accessible was the thuggish acting Trump with all his hooligans around him, stirring up trouble and ready to brawl with protestors (who for their part probably egged it all on themselves much of the time)?

It’s perception and how it plays on the airwaves and over the internet — not so much in the papers these days I guess. Hillary’s fake smiles (it seemed) and her will-not-suffer fools attitude, and even a hint of feebleness, all hurt her.

The news machine could not seem to get enough of Trump. Did not seem to matter if his antics were good or bad. As the old saying goes, there is no such think as bad publicity for entertainers, and even if he was not entertaining to me, apparently he was to others (sad, I know).

And for sure there is a double standard: if a man acts tough, he is being a man. If a woman acts tough she is not being a lady. If a man is strident in making his point, he is respected. If a woman is strident, she is shrill.

Unfortunately for Hillary, although she is clearly intelligent and well informed and well versed in politics and governing, she does not always seem to have, for lack of a better description on my part, that smooth and graceful yet forceful style of say: Dianne Feinstein, or Madeleine Albright, or Condoleezza Rice.

But more than Hillary I blame the Democratic Party, so lacking in leadership and so disconnected from the people it claims to represent, that it could not have come up with a better candidate. This time the Democrats took a cue from the old GOP playbook and gave the nomination to the next in line, while the Republicans chose the outsider of outsiders.

Yes we do have primary elections, but the party apparatus it has been shown favored Hillary over Bernie Sanders, or anyone else.

And I am not at all sure primary elections are such a good idea — maybe the parties should be stronger and take back control and present their own candidates. Trump seemed forced upon the GOP establishment.

But even so, the choice between Hillary and The Donald should have been seen as experience (Hillary) over ignorant bluster  (Trump).

Let’s look ahead to the mid terms and let’s hope that Democrats can get back in the game by taking one or both houses of congress. The GOP needs the competition in order to save the nation and itself.

p.s.

Impeachment and/or resignation of Trump I think is still a possibility but if you recall the Nixon affair took time. Nixon served a year and a half into his second term until the Watergate scandal proved too much.

Meanwhile we have the spectacle and extreme danger of a mad man at the controls with no one able to immediately do anything about it. The nonsense of the presidential tweets alone would seem enough to judge Trump in an unfit mental state to hold office and subject to removal under the 25th amendment. Swallow your pride Republicans and do something to save the nation. We’d all be proud and thankful to you for it.

 

 

 


Have to agree with at least one part of Trump speech to Muslim nations: U.S. security is the prime concern…

May 22, 2017

The good news is that President Trump apparently did not say anything stupid or insulting to his Saudi Arabian hosts and to others in a major speech to leaders of Muslim nations in which he urged them to join with the U.S. to fight world terror.

While I have neither listened to all the speech nor read the full transcript (from which he may have deviated a little from time to time) I think I agree with this excerpted paragraph, as provided by The Atlantic site:

—————-

America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.


Back to my words:

I think our problem in the Middle East and elsewhere is nation building. We work with cultures we do not understand and stir up resentment even among people thought to be friendly to us.

But at the same time, just like Trump said, the safety and security of our citizens is our first priority — and of course how we get there in world hot spots is another question.

Example: we have no right to tell North Korea how to run its internal business. But the hands-off approach to the crazy-man regimes there has now come to a point where we are in peril.

We went into Afghanistan ostensibly in a search for Osama Bin Laden or maybe him and his Taliban but we got bogged down — not learning from the disaster the Russians had years earlier when they invaded that country — and at the time we supported Bin Laden against them. It gets so complicated.

There has already been criticism that Trump ignored the issue of human rights in Muslim nations he wants to work with us in the fight against terrorism.

We can encourage, sure, but it is not our business. Somehow I think the evolution in the Middle East will eventually lead to democracy. Some thought it would have happened rapidly during the so-called Arab Spring like it did for much of Eastern Europe when the old Soviet Union fell apart. It spent so much time using police and military force to repress its people and building up armaments and sowing seeds of socialist revolution around the globe that it caved in of its own weight. It failed to address the needs and aspirations of its people.

And back to the present. And then there was this is Trumps speech:

“Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

And it all comes down to this. An arms deal. We want their oil and they want our armaments.

Nothing ever changes.

But if Trump made no major gaffe that’s good.

And perhaps the realpolitik approach is better than the Obama apology approach. I understand they respect power or at least the attempt to project power and self interest in that part of the world — that is how they operate.

(Obama is a better man. He is a grownup. Despite his age, Trump does not seem to be much of the time. But in this instance the practical approach seems best. He did not write his speech.  But if he can stick to the script and lay off Twitter, we might all weather it for the time being.)

And really isn’t it about time we told the Muslim world to quit fighting among themselves over how to believe in God and drawing the rest of us in? Even Trump could not have said that, but isn’t that how you feel?


The current guy is not only like Nixon but he has a little Carter in him too…

May 20, 2017

Lots of comparisons between Nixon’s Watergate and the current Russia scandal (Russiagate??), and it does seem that although the fact patterns and political and historical background differ in many ways, that things are coming down at the rate of drip, drip, drip, with the drips getting faster and faster, like Watergate.

But it occurs to me that although you could compare Trump with Nixon on the malevolent side, there is a Jimmy Carter similarity there too.

Both Carter and Trump arrived at the presidency with no Washington experience and apparently no willingness to play well with the hometown crowd. Carter at least did have political experience as the governor of Georgia and a state legislator before that. But both came to Washington proclaiming things were not going to be done the old way. And even more importantly, they both depended on and/or took too much advice from people with no idea or interest in how things are done in Washington.

(And about this time anyone reading this might say, well that is the point, those ways needed or still need to be changed. Well certainly corruption needs to be eliminated but you really can’t take the politics out of politics and politics to me basically is the struggle for resources among disparate groups. It’s all about give and take and always will be unless we go to a dictatorship, and I don’t think even an often complacent electorate would put up long with a true dictatorship, not to mention the congress and the Supreme Court.)

But anyway what made me think about this was another thought:

Jimmy Carter has to be the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents. He just gets no respect. I’ve noticed through the years that every time someone wants to refer to a weak or inept or failed presidency they almost if not always single out Jimmy Carter’s.

(I confess, I think I have been guilty of that in this lowly blog.)

I was reminded of this while reading a piece the other day out of the Wall Street Journal. There was this in reference to the ongoing administration:


The historical analogy isn’t Richard Nixon, whose advisers were effective in their abuses until they were finally discovered. This is more like Jimmy Carter —outsiders who arrived to drain the swamp and are swamped by incompetence.

 


 

And then to refresh my memory of the Carter administration I ran across this zinger in Wikipedia:


In polls of historians and political scientists, Carter is usually ranked as a below-average president.


And in a New York Times story still another unfavorable comparison/mention:

In recent days, the radio host Michael Savage has acknowledged “the administration is in trouble.” John Podhoretz in the New York Post and later The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page each compared Trump to Jimmy Carter — the most damning of all conservative indictments.


 

Geez, give the guy a break. Wasn’t he a Sunday School teacher and a U.S. Navy veteran and didn’t he do all that good work for Habitat for Humanity after his presidency (of course that is after), and didn’t he oversee the Camp David Accords that gave a little peace or the promise of it to the Middle East? And today he is noted for working for world peace through his foundation (of course after the fact as far as the presidency is concerned).

And then I watched a biography of Carter on the internet (source of it PBS) and felt I had a better handle on it all, even though I lived through his presidency — gas lines, stagflation where inflation soared even as wages did not, and the humiliating Iran Hostage episode. And really informative and interesting, his wife, Rosalyn, offers for the camera that she urged him to just do something about the hostages — she felt like I did. But then the fact is pointed out that they all came back alive. Under pressure, Carter did order a rescue attempt, but it failed. But had the attempt gone on or maybe some multi-pronged assault been tried one could quite imagine that all the hostages might all have been killed. The story is that the hostages were not released until one minute after Carter handed over his one-term presidency to Ronald Reagan, thus the final humiliation. Carter had negotiated their release, Reagan got the credit.

The unpreparedness and unwillingness is where the Cater/Trump comparison ends.

Well, another damaging characteristic of Carter was that he did not see the big picture often because he was too busy micro-managing every detail every day, down to who was authorized to play on the White House tennis courts.

I guess in some respects Trump in a control freak, not that it has done him much good. His administration seems out of control, and some of his underlings find themselves having to lawyer up and one has even reported to have asked the White House for legal help (anonymous so far).

Shades of Watergate.

P.s.

It would seem that anything good that may come of Trump’s current overseas trip will have to be really, really good, like fabulous, to counter his Watergate at home.

On the other hand, if the economy does well and the nation as a whole feels secure, that will go a long ways in his favor. Even with Trump’s troubles, the Democrats need a savior, and then there is always Vice President Mike Pence ready (and getting readier with a new political action committee) and waiting in the wings.


In my day a ‘play date’ would be a pretend outing with a girl…

April 15, 2017

Just another old guy story, and I don’t even feel like an old guy, or another in-my-day story.

And I’m the baby of my family. One of my two brothers is 20 years older than I. But I’m a ’49er (1949 that is).

Anyway: until maybe ten or twenty years ago I never heard of the term “play date”. I first heard my daughter use it. She was taking one of her kids to a play date. She has three kids. One is an adult now. Another is closing in on adulthood, but the third is in second grade — she still drives him to the houses of little friends for “play dates”.

If I heard the term “play date” when I was a kid I would have thought it had something to do with that little girl next door who always wanted to play house or with those teenagers that hung out at the local drive-in.

It’s just the way things are nowadays. Parents, with good reason, don’t feel it safe to simply let their children loose to roam the streets (well for the most part or in most places).

But my sister and I were noting how different it was in our day (she’s a 1941er). “Mom had it easy; she just opened the door and let us out”, she noted.

I was always roaming around on my own, often on my bicycle. Except for my first three and 3/4 years of life living in San Francisco, I grew up in a series of three small Central Valley towns of California.

Were there dangers? I’m sure there were, but I suppose not nearly as much as today.

Once one of my cousins and his family visited us. He lived on a farm. While I am sure he, being an adventuresome type, explored every inch of that farm, he may not at his age gone much beyond. We left the house and walked a little around the neighborhood, sometimes taking alleyways. I think those alleys fascinated him, for sometime after we returned to my house he, unbeknownst to me or anyone else, took off again. At some point my aunt realized her youngest child was nowhere around.

I recall concern. I don’t recall any panic. Finally we got a call from the police. The found a little boy wandering out by the county hospital on the edge of town. I can tell you that was quite a little distance from our place — not a long, long ways I guess, but a pretty fair piece.

I rode along with my aunt and my uncle to go retrieve him.

He did not appear to be a bit scared.

I think the only danger might have been he could have been bitten by a dog. I say that because at some later date I was while riding a bicycle in that same area. Ouch! some pretty big teeth marks in my leg. Fortunately the animal control was able to capture the dog and determine it did not have rabies. The people whom I thought it belonged to claimed it was not their dog but a stray. Maybe, but how come it came back to them when they called it?

But back to the idea of free roaming. One thing in our favor when I was young was that in the small towns things were fairly close by. And most of my friends lived just down the street. And we had sidewalks and not many busy streets, although we actually lived on a busy street — a main thoroughfare and state highway. In fact, I got hit by a school bus on that street right in front of our house when I was in first grade. There is always danger. I was supposed to have used the crossing in front of the school where one of our teachers would serve as a crossing guard. Kids do not always do what they are supposed to. I was not too seriously injured. Maybe the bus had a dent in it — I don’t know.

And you know? there was another incident I doubt I even told my folks about. I walked along a seldom-used spur line of a railroad out of the city limits to what they called the gravel pits. I had been there with my brother before. But on this day I was alone. A kid a little older than I came up to me and pointed what appeared to be a handgun at me. Actually I think it was a pellet gun (still very dangerous of course). At first he was menacing, but then he relented and walked off.

And of course there are always neighborhood bullies. That’s part of childhood.

Also once I began hanging around the railroad station to watch the trains come in. Every time I heard the train whistle I would hop on my bike and dash off the several blocks to the old downtown station. Most were freight trains, still pulled by old oil-burning locomotives that looked like the old steam ones, but there were also passenger trains pulled by the more modern-looking locomotives. There was a nearby park. And there was an old man with a beard there who looked like Abraham Lincoln. He said he used to work on the railroad back east. I often talked to him. At some point I told my parents about my acquaintance. I was surprised to see concern on their faces. They advised me to avoid him. My parents were that way, that is they seemed to avoid outright prohibitions in most cases in favor of advisories, you might say.

These days “don’t talk to strangers” is a pretty standard rule for children — and for good reason of course. Way back then I don’t think I was in any danger. But one never knows.

My oldest brother spent much or at least several years of his growing up in San Francisco. Right off hand I don’t know at what ages. It was before my time. But I know from hearing my folks talk that he was always out of the house on his own when he could be.

Oh, and this transporting children all over the place in a car for play dates — and heck, what about the fact that at any elementary school you will see a long line of cars lined up to drop off kids in the morning and another to pick them up in the afternoon? All that would have been impossible when I was a kid because for one thing a lot of families only had one car and it was parked outside of a workplace somewhere.

I remember when I was in one town my schoolmates were jealous of me because I lived so near the school — just a few blocks away. They had to walk many, many long blocks. Although they often walked in groups, sometimes kids walked alone. I don’t recall of anything serious happening — no kidnappings or worse. But of course it could have happened.

(I had mentioned a school bus. In my time school buses were only for my classmates who lived beyond the city limits — country kids we called them.)

And more than the not getting car rides here and there, we as children spent so much time outside. And we did not have to have sophisticated toys. We used our imagination. My best friend and I often played cowboys like we saw on the TV westerns. We both had toy gun belts and hats and so on, but often we just dispensed with the costume, even the toy guns, and used our imagination.

We often did something like a reenactment of the OK Corral at a real set of old corrals next to that old rail spur line I mentioned.

I think all that outside exercise was good for our health. And I think our imagination was healthy for the budgets of our parents who did not feel obligated to make major purchases for our entertainment.

But all that is not to say parents in that time did not give expensive gifts to their children, and some really over indulged them.

It has been an ongoing evolution.

But I think we’ve lost something. We’ve lost a lot of the fun of childhood. We’ve lost our innocence. We’ve lost our security.

And of course it was far different for those who came before me I know. Somewhat better but somewhat worse.

Modern conveniences and advances in science and medicine have certainly made things better.

But not everything.


Maybe there ought to be tax incentives for stay-at-home parents…

April 3, 2017

Just read a story whose headline suggested millennials may be more amenable to the now old-fashioned concept of women staying home and taking care of the children. There were a lot of survey statistics and those always confuse me because sometimes they don’t seem to paint a clear picture in my mind, but that is not really important to what I want to say.

I think the story was basically trying to say that maybe some of the younger generation (younger than I) are seeing the problems of raising a family with two people occupied with work outside the home and that in some cases young men have grown up to see their fathers struggle with the fact that men have lost their dominance in the work place and often their role as main bread winner.

And I think there was a statistic that said couples without kids on the whole enjoy life better than ones with kids, that is if they both work.

In a little more than a hundred years we have gone from the extreme of women almost being forced by custom and law to stay home and rear the kids and in many cases having no right to own property to near equal footing in the workplace (except still maybe not in pay — and that is a hard one to figure), or maybe in many cases women are surpassing men in the workplace. It often seems easier for women to get a job than unemployed men.

I don’t personally make surveys, and like I said, stories that throw a bunch of statistics at me, especially ones that in some cases seem to contradict each other, muddle my mind. But I do know what I have seen in my life (1949 to present).

In my lifetime my own mother mostly stayed at home. However, she was older than most mothers by the time she had me. She had worked out of the house from time to time when she was younger, even after she had her first child. But that was seasonal work, such as working in a fruit cannery.

(And actually, when I was in high school mom returned to seasonal work. She worked in a peach cannery and then a prune processing plant.)

But in my childhood it was more like the old sit-com Leave it to Beaver.

Mom prepared three meals a day, mostly from scratch — a lot of baking and frying and boiling on the stove. She nursed us when we were sick. She read stories to me,  made Kool-Aid and cookies for me and my friends, was a Cub Scout den mother — oh yeah, she fed and cared for the family dog, supervising its periodic bath in the backyard. Mom did all the grocery shopping. And sometimes the family car was not available. As a toddler I recall riding my trike next to her while she carried two bags of groceries under her arms several blocks.

Did mom like the arrangement?

Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe not all the time.

I know she wanted to be able to work outside the house, partly for variety but mainly to add more income to the family budget. She envied women who had jobs — she envied two-income families.

As far as I can recall (and I would have never known for sure), most of the mothers of my classmates did not work outside the home — this was in the 1950s.

Of course the biggest difference between then and now is that almost all of my classmates had a mother and father at home. By the time my own daughters went through school they were an oddity in that they had both mother and father at home.

We live in a far different world now than when I grew up. For most households it seems people have found having both mom and dad work is a necessity in order to provide a roof over the head and food on the table. Now that might not be true for high-paid professionals but then they want to keep up with their peers in lifestyle.

Of course what I said about having both mom and dad work obviously does not apply if it is a single-parent household and there are so many now. And there are so many single mothers, the result I would say of a breakdown in society.

I don’t think we want to or even can go back to a time when most women stayed at home to rear the kids, society has moved on, but certainly there are advantages.

It of course does not have to be mom who stays at home. There are cases when dad stays at home. But whoever it is, if that person can cook, and especially if that person can go beyond opening cans or microwaving frozen dinners, oh what a savings in money and if balanced meals — including fresh fruits and vegetables — are served, oh what a possible boon to health. But even if the stay-at-home person primarily warms up prepared meals that would still be a major savings over fast food or restaurants or delis.

And of course having one spouse able to stay at home and do all the other chores on the home front, cleaning and watching the kids and so on, is both a savings and a relief from the stress of the work world  and would seem to promote a happier household.

We need paid maternity and family leave and probably tax incentives to allow one spouse to stay at home. In some cases, I don’t know, spouses might trade off.

I have to say, in the past it seemed rather natural that women took care of the house and kids — it’s kind of a biological thing, wouldn’t you say? But modern conveniences have lessened some of the workload around the house. And our society has liberated women from the slavery of the past — and no one, man or woman, should want to return to that.

So all I was really trying to say is that there can be major advantages to having a stay-at-home mom or, for that matter, a stay-at-home dad. I had not really thought about the tax incentive thing previously, but now that I did — yeah why not? I think it would be good for individuals and society as a whole.

P.s.

While I in no way want to criticize single mothers, I don’t think we should encourage this situation. It takes two to tango and we need to find ways to encourage living up to responsibilities.