Contrary to Popular Belief

Contrary to Popular Belief is the title of the just-issued book based on Michael Leppert’s blog about Indiana government, for which I was honored to write the Foreward. As he does in his blog, Leppert offers a thoughtful and informed window into state government.

If timing is really everything, the book should hit the big time, because (among other things), there are numerous observations of Indiana’s Governor, who is now a Vice-Presidential candidate on the “Mango Mussolini” ticket. (I stole that description from John Oliver.)

There are insights into Pence’s contract with Real Alternatives, observations about the departure of Lieutenant Governor Ellspermann (arguably the only truly competent member of the administration), about the Governor’s efforts to prevent resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, the “news” bureau disaster dubbed Pravda on the Prairie, the anti-abortion bill funeral requirement that sparked “Periods for Pence,” and of course, RFRA. Among others.

As I wrote in the Forward, Contrary to Popular Belief is an effort by one of Indiana’s most thoughtful, perceptive and informed observers to break through our cynicism, to avoid the constant hype and agitprop coming from entrenched interests, and to engage in what has come to be seen as an almost subversive act –actual communication about the ways in which our state and local governments function. Such communication, unfortunately, has become rare in our polarized age, especially when its focus is at the state level.

There are many valuable observations in the pages of this book, but there are three insights that I think are especially worth emphasizing. First, and perhaps most obvious, is a very personal and candid look at the reality of lobbying—a reality far removed from the popular image of nefarious characters in pin-striped suits working to subvert democracy in order to enrich their corporate masters. Such individuals undoubtedly exist, but they do not represent the legions of policy advocates who see their job as informing the legislative process and ensuring that contending points of view are adequately represented.

The second observation is related to the first: to the extent our democratic system fails to work, it is because all points of view are not equally or even adequately represented—and the reason that is so, the reason democratic institutions do not work as well as they should—is less likely to be the result of individual malfeasance than it is of systemic influences. One of the great virtues of this book is its author’s rejection of the impulse to paint “them” (insert your preferred nemesis here) as the source of all our problems, and his illumination of the ways in which our state and local governments actually work.

It turns out that there are many diligent and well-intentioned political actors on both sides of the aisle who actually want to improve the lives of Indiana citizens. Sometimes they agree on the best way to do so; sometimes they don’t. Making good policy, it turns out, is more complicated than simply electing those you believe to be the “good guys.”

And that brings me to what I personally believe is the most important insight Leppert shares: the fact that “the average person in Indiana now knows far too many trivial tidbits about high profile government types in Washington, D.C. and less and less about their state legislators, mayors and city councilors.” Americans—and Hoosiers—are dangerously ignorant of the governing systems within which they live and work, and the ways in which those institutions structure and affect their own daily lives.

The book is available on Amazon.



  1. Amen, Thanks.
    actually I thought there was a state law against: “actual communication about the ways in which our state and local governments function”

  2. “It turns out that there are many diligent and well-intentioned political actors on both sides of the aisle who actually want to improve the lives of Indiana citizens. ”

    The above copied and pasted quote reminded me of one of President Obama’s statements during his 2008 campaign. Lobbyists are, of course, interest groups; he stated that a “knitting circle of women” voicing concerns was also an interest group and deserved consideration. Doubtful that in the determination of Republican Congress to stop all forward movement of Obama’s administration that smaller “interest groups” were regarded with any attention.

    Coats left the Senate, moved to (I think) South Carolina for about 14 years to work as a lobbyist; returned a wealthier man and bought back his Senate seat…however briefly he planned to stay. Would this have been as easy to accomplish in a Blue State? Evan Bayh is “back in the game”; does the book cover the game of Musical Senate Seats? Let us not forget the GOP desertion of Senator Richard Lugar, replacing him with Mourdock who lost their seat in the Senate primarily due to one stupid, sexist remark.

    Having begun my working years with the City of Indianapolis in 1972 under Mayor Richard Lugar, I saw the basest form of cronyism, nepotism, sexism, racism and political patronage. Incoming Mayor Bill Hudnut began an immediate and ongoing cleanup of City government; something the general public could not have been aware of. Nor were they aware of Goldsmith’s dismantling of all that Mayor Hudnut had accomplished and adding some devious tricks of his own. A microcosm of the Nixon administration ensued. Nor did the public learn of the disastrous conditions Mayor Bart Peterson found when he moved to the 25th floor office. I’m wondering if this information is included in the book?

    Just as the public is unaware, and often uncaring, of the inner workings of businesses, they only look at results – or lack thereof – to make their voting decisions. This morning I received a Facebook post seeking signatures against Conversion Therapy for LGBTQs which is part of the Trump/Pence presidential campaign foundation. With Pence as running mate, Trump will benefit from his foreknowledge of what works and what doesn’t work to pull in the anti-LGBTQ votes. Pence has tried and tested the issue here and managed to gain national recognition on this issue and all it entails to gain that particular bloc of voters.

    So; it is of national interest to know and attempt to understand the inner-working of state and city level government bodies. Thank you Sheila for this heads-up.

    Nancy; thank you for your info, I had planned to go to Amazon when I sign off here.

  3. Joann… it does say you can order now and it will be delivered as soon as available…

  4. Lobbyist is an advocate. What then, is American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which is basically a state wide bill mill for corporations and lawmakers? If you look on their website or Wikipedia, no mention of “lobbyist” exists.

    What about all the “think-tanks”, “institutions” and “centers” which contribute to lawmaking these days? Are they lobbyists?

    Michael is paid by an organization to lobby, therefore, he must register as a lobbyist to allow the press to see how our lawmakers are influenced. And, remember, who established those laws?

    Also, we now have contributions and influence being peddled at national, state and regional parties. Money and influence is peddled up and down the chain. Same goes for DGA and RGA, which allows “lobbying” to take place which isn’t traceable.

    What about all the professors hired into these institutes who peddle policy ideas for Billionaires who make donations to their universities – are they “lobbyists”?

    I guess my point is our corrupt lawmakers make the laws which dictates what is lobbying, and what is not. They need to raise lots of money and sell their influence for cash. Policy ideas are then peddled in a plethora of ways. If I host a fundraiser for Mike Pence and the three largest donors want 10 minutes with Mike to pitch him beneficial laws or reduced legislation which favors their company, does that make them lobbyists? 😉

    Remember, our corrupt lawmakers in Washington were told by the President that he wanted an end to insider trading in 2010. I was in shock that “insider trading” was legal in 2010. Also, if you want to know why it’s so hard for third parties to develop in this country, look no further than our lawmakers who establish laws and requirements making it almost impossible for them to compete.

    Therefore, if they’ve established laws making some “lobbyists” register for tracking purposes, it’s simply a gift for appearances. Yes, I’m sure my local Motorcycle and Sewing Club can hire lobbyists to inform the state about their causes, but if anyone thinks they are the groups destroying our democracy, well…

  5. JoAnn,

    “Just as the public is unaware, and often uncaring, of the inner workings of businesses, they only look at results – or lack thereof – to make their voting decisions. This morning I received a Facebook post seeking signatures against Conversion Therapy for LGBTQs which is part of the Trump/Pence presidential campaign foundation. With Pence as running mate, Trump will benefit from his foreknowledge of what works and what doesn’t work to pull in the anti-LGBTQ votes. Pence has tried and tested the issue here and managed to gain national recognition on this issue and all it entails to gain that particular bloc of voters. ”

    Dangers of conversion therapy and working to ban the discredited practice.
    Latest News:

    Conversion therapy – sometimes known as “reparative” or “sexual reorientation” therapy – is a dangerous practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation, literally “converting” them from gay to straight.

    This practice – which can include violent role play, reenactment of past abuses, and exercises involving nudity and intimate touching – has been discredited by virtually all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

    When the disturbing details are exposed to the light of day, it’s clear that this practice based on junk science is worse than snake oil: Not only does it not work, it’s harmful to LGBT people and their families. People who have undergone conversion therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation. It can also strain family relationships, because practitioners frequently blame a parent for their child’s sexual orientation.

    Through litigation, education and advocacy, we’re working to expose and stop this harmful practice.

    In June 2015, a jury in our first-of-its-kind lawsuit in New Jersey found that an organization known as JONAH had committed consumer fraud – that offering services it claimed could change clients from gay to straight was fraudulent and unconscionable.

    In a landmark pre-trial ruling in that case, a judge excluded several leading conversion therapy proponents from testifying as defense witnesses because their opinions were based on the false premise that homosexuality is a disorder. In a blistering opinion that garnered international media attention, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. wrote that “the theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but – like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it – instead is outdated and refuted.”

    The American Psychological Association also has expressed concern that the positions espoused by some of the leading advocates of conversion therapy, such as the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), “create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”

    This is really dangerous. In the early 80’s, I represented the son of one of the owner’s of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team whose father was attempting to have him committed to Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital for CONVERSION THERAPY. I was successful in the original attempt to have him committed. But, a few days later he was again being held at the Hospital. When I went to visit him they intentionally failed to warn me that he had been diagnosed with Hepatitis. I’m sure they were angry with me for preventing their initial attempt to have him committed under the then New Mental Health Laws. It appeared on my visit that they were opening up a new section just for CONVERSION THERAPY at the hospital and were looking to my client’s father to fund it. He was of the most wealthy oil men in Texas. They laughed when they informed me that I had been exposed to the contagious hepatitis which meant that I would have to go through treatment to prevent the illness.

    My response was to file criminal aggravated assault charges against Timberlawn Psychiatric Hospital. The fallout from by Grand Jury testimony foiled their attempt to start a conversion therapy movement at that time. I wasn’t aware that the movement had picked up steam again.

    Many thanks JoAnn for your quickness. I wasn’t aware that Pence was involved in another Nazi-like idea.

  6. Is it even possible to crack the shell legislators have created through their carefully crafted laws whose primary aim is to providing protection for themselves, their donors and keeping the voting public uninformed? Since the two parties control the slating of candidates, there would seem to be no possibility of voting for a candidate who would even talk about reform at any level, much less draft and support any bill that would let the sun shine on the workings of “their” government.
    Mr. Smith is not going to Washington.

  7. What is happening in the U.S. is unbelievable. Yesterday, I was visiting Chamblin’s Bookmine and stopped for a moment at the “Judaic Aisle.” I noticed they had a copy of “The Murderers Among Us” by Simon Weisenthal. From the last chapter:

    “It was one afternoon in September 1944 near Grybow, Poland during the German retreat from the East. The Lwow concentration camp had been liquidated, its 200 SS guards had successfully “disengaged” themselves from the advancing Red Army, and I was one of the thirty-four survivors of the camp whom the SS men were “guarding” to give them a pretext for their retreat. That afternoon Rottenfuhrer (Corporal) Merz had invited me to come along on a walk to a nearby village…..Merz had been one of the few SS men who was always decent to the prisoners.”

    “Suppose an eagle took you to America, Wiesenthal?” [ What would you tell them there]?”

    I was silent. Was he trying to trick me into saying something foolish?

    “Just imagine, Wiesenthal, that you were arriving in New York, and the people asked you, ‘How was it in those German concentration camps? What did they do to you?”

    I didn’t answer. I was sure of Merz now. I trusted him. But it was hard to answer.

    I said–haltingly, I remember–“I believe…I believe I would tell the people the truth, Herr Rottenfuhrer.”

    Merz was still looking up into the sky. He nodded, as if he’d expected my answer.

    “Yes, I’ve thought about it–many times. I’ve seen what has happened to your people. I’m an SS man, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of night, and I don’t know whether it’s a dream or the truth.”

    I said nothing. It was safer to let him talk.

    “You would tell the truth to the people in America. That’s right. And you know what would happen Weisenthal?” He got up slowly and looked at me, and he smiled “They wouldn’t believe you. They’d say you were crazy. Might even put you in a madhouse. How can anyone believe this terrible business–UNLESS HE HAS LIVED THROUGH IT?”

    I had read the book before, but I hadn’t purchased it. It’s now in my library. It’s very “contemporary.”

  8. Marv: my cousin tried some ‘conversion therapy’ at his local baptist church in Ala a decade ago and I laughed when he told me about it. I said what happened? He said, I just kept waking up gay and quit after a few weeks.

  9. Thank you and Michael for this. It clearly represents what I experienced in 30+ years in state government but could not articulate so clearly and concisely.

  10. Yesterday I sent Sheila a link to a TED talk that I thought was particularly apropos to current times.

    It’s about Brexit by a Brit but there’s a larger message. It’s about progress and being liberal and globalization.

    IMO globalization is a fact now made possible by computers, multi-modal logistics, social media, and the desire of the rest of the world to live like we do.

    It was never a choice. While it has been the basis of many empires for centuries, technology finally evolved it into a two way street. It has taken on a new reality of its own.

    It’s an environmental change for us to adapt to if we are to live in the real world. It’s no more of a choice for us than it was for the Indians when the Brits arrived and said, “We’re new here but now we own your home and will change it to serve us at your expense”.

    Liberals accept adaptation as a lesson learned from nature once we figured out Natural Selection.

    As compared to liberals, conservatives believe that they can and should be in control. They can choose any future they want (which is typically much like the past) and insist it into reality.

    So, philosophical tension. Democracy says argue it out and over time a majority opinion will emerge and we’ll go with that. Conservatives say, “but we need to be in control”. Liberals say, “to us be free the only possibility for governance is Democracy”. The Neolibrals say, “let the wealthy decide because their wealth indicates that they’re the smartest among us”.

    There you have it. Today in a nutshell. We don’t have to fix democracy we just need to fix how we debate before democratically deciding.

  11. Todd Smekens, I agree with your post. I have long thought we need a third or fourth party, but as you imply the deck is going to be stacked against that happening. The establishment has essentially produced an interlocking defense system, with weak or non-existent laws that govern lobbying, campaign donations, pacs and super pacs.
    94 percent of biggest House race spenders won
    82 percent of biggest Senate race spenders won
    In 2010, only 0.26 percent of the US population — about 800,000 people overall — donated more than $200 to congressional campaigns. These donors provided more than two-thirds of all donations to those campaigns.

    Many members of Congress eventually become lobbyists. Indeed, nearly half of the members of Congress who left after 2010 are now in lobbyist or lobbying-related jobs.

    As A Baby-Boomer I was taught in Political Science or Civics Class the Soviet and Red Chinese limited choices to just one candidate. Yet, in many places across the US now there will be only one viable candidate.

    So if you are a betting man or woman bet on the candidate that spends the most money. We like to say we as proles have a choice – but we do not the selections are made for us. The Ancient Romans were more direct like the First Triumvirate Crassus, Pompey, and Julius Caesar competed against each other. Well at least they had a “choice” from three.

  12. Great minds think alike! This was just posted on “Think Tanks as Tax-Exempt Corporate Lobbyists”

    Sorry that I can’t post the link, for some reason.

  13. When I go to a car dealer a lobbyist generally appears almost magically by my side to extol the virtues of not only the brand he’s selling, the dealer he works for and their service organization but also himself.

    It’s marvelous how in every case I just happened into the perfect place to leave money behind in.

    Most DC lobbyists believe that what works best on their average customer is not what works in Honest Jimmy Joes Used Car Emporium. They have to actually provide some useful information at least in exchange for attention.

    So, as much as I hate ALEC it’s a component of Democracy. It represents those who believe in the past as compared to the future typically because it entitled them or felt safer to and for them.

    Democracy is a decision making process not a position. It’s up to us to insist that it’s the way to make decisions here and now among all positions.

    So anything that informs you and I and those we chose to govern about positions among which we must choose is Democratic as long as it is honest. That doesn’t mean nonpartisan. It’s up to the deciders to figure out what the partisan filter is between them and the sales pitch just like it’s up to me on the car lot.

    If you’ve ever been in business there’s a chance that you have hired or fired folks on the basis of their demonstrated judgement. Know that those you hire to govern are going to be called on to exhibit excellent judgement in evaluating competing sales pitches.

    That’s an essential prerequisite for public service.

  14. Marv—as usual, you have given a thoughtful and interesting take on a matter. By way of that compliment, I mean no slight to others who have posted today.

  15. It seems that the perfect democracy would be governed by duly elected non-partisans.

    We are not offered any by the two party system.


  16. In other words the perfect candidate would promise “I believe in nothing (Don the con) but am open to everything (uneducated)”.


  17. Marv; your comments so upset me that I posted a response on yesterdays blog and have no idea how to get others to read it, especially you. It has to do with Cognitive Therapy and will make no sense to those reading yesterday’s blog. I apologize to all; I am still very upset.

  18. JoAnn I can’t tell you how touching your story is. I’m sorry you and your family had to go through that but even sorrier that your son experienced what he did. I can see how the anger for that from all of you could be a life sentence.

    Among the oldest advice humanity has thought to give each other is live and let live. So darn simple but apparently impossibly difficult for some. Their God apparently advises against it.

    Willy Nelson and his son advise “Just Breath”. Good advice for everyone. We can help others but it starts with fully understanding and accepting those who could use our help (which is everybody, including, well, everybody).

  19. JoAnn,

    “Marv; your comments so upset me that I posted a response on yesterday’s blog and have no idea how to get others to read it, especially you.

    I read your comments on yesterday’s blog. I’m sorry that I reminded you of such a painful event. You’ve been through a lot and I can imagine how difficult it has been for you at certain times. But, you need to know that most of us can feel your exceptional strength and courage. And speaking for myself, you’ve been an invaluable source of knowledge and inspiration for me during the past year.

  20. Marv and Pete; thank you for understanding. I had no idea the Cognitive Therapy was the same form of horror, called therapy and paid for, that was used here. I wonder if there is a connection; there must be due to the title. Mark is also the son I talked about recently going to my friend with the “Trump” yard sign for help when he was found dead. We ignore one another’s yard signs and carry on our strong friendship; maybe that is a form of therapy.

  21. A new study finds that Medicaid expansion in Arkansas and Kentucky resulted in better healthcare and improved health outcomes among low-income Americans.

    The research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that two years after Medicaid coverage was expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in their states, low-income adults in Kentucky and Arkansas received more primary and preventive care, made fewer emergency room visits, had less trouble paying bills, and reported higher quality care and improved health compared with their counterparts in Texas, one of 19 states that did not expand Medicaid.

    “Medicaid is our nation’s strongest tool to combat health disparities, moving us, albeit slowly, toward a day when all people have the ability to attain the highest level of health.”
    —Elizabeth Taylor, National Health Law Program

    The findings came out Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
    The Republicans would like to dismantle Medicaid and the Democrats are too cowardly to propose Medicaid for all as a defining Political Statement. Medicaid for better heath care for all is DOA.

  22. Todd – I appreciate your comments.

    JoAnn – I read the comment you posted on yesterday’s blog. I am so sorry that you and your son had to go through such a terrifying thing. As mothers, we often feel our children’s pain more deeply than they do.

    Marv, great comments.

  23. what I find frustrating is the number of public figures that talk about needing a 3rd party when we have an excellent 3rd party (Libertarians) who have always had good candidates but this year have 2 national candidates that are the best of the bunch vs hillary and the donald. Libertarians are on the ballot everywhere and have a complete and tolerant organization. Yet people keep talking about starting from scratch everywhere, which sounds like they really DON’T want competition.

  24. Let me bring folks back to the original article. I ordered “Contrary to Popular Belief”, but it is not yet available. It will be sent when available.

    Another important point: There is another book entitled “Contrary to Popular Belief” mentioned on the same page that is currently available, but it has nothing to do with the book that Sheila mentioned. Nevertheless, it is a fun read designed to correct a number mistaken ideas held by large numbers of the public. There are lot of wrong “facts” outside of politics, too.

  25. To Marv and Pete:
    Thanks for responding to my post on Sunday. I got all tied up and unable to respond so the rest here will forgive me for being off topic.
    Pete, the reason I am following Sheila’s blog is because most of you are “proudly liberal”. I truly do believe that the first step in improving the quality of government we have in the United States is to discuss openly. Intensity does not bother me since I am a very intense person. You suggested that what makes liberals unique and relevant to 21st century America is their openness to new ideas. Unfortunately, liberals are unwilling to discuss new ideas about some sacred cows. One of my biggest concerns is the many counterproductive aspects to the welfare system, but you did not want to explore ways to improve it. Was I the only one disappointed to see POTUS bragging about the millions added to the welfare rolls (food stamps, specifically). Call me old fashioned (or stupid or naïve or brainwashed) but I thought JFK wanted to lift people out of poverty not brag about how many more were poor, but I digress. To date, any idea I mentioned was dismissed because I was brainwashed. If I attempt a different approach and suggest a problem we should discuss, and I am dismissed for not bringing any ideas to the discussion. I happen to have spent much of my life working collaboratively with people who had divergent perspectives. I have consistently found that people support what they help create. I have ideas on a particular topic but in a group discussion, it is better to identify a group perspective, therefore, I don’t bring a final solution to the discussion. I also have very thick skin so I do not need to be treated respectfully, but dismissal for being “stupid, naïve, brainwashed, bigoted, or evil” kind of ends any chance at discussion, don’t you think? You do not need to bother enlightening (or trying to enlighten) me, but I would think an effort to convert a passionate person who tries to be persuasive, would be time well-spent. Oddly, you copped out on disrespectful treatment by saying my predecessors started it. Seriously? High-minded, sensitive people constantly complaining about the coarseness of Trump and others are demonstrating similar behavior to others because, “they started it”? What are we, nine years old? I agree that it will take a while to return to civility and I confess that I resort to sarcasm too often in these discussions, but as the old adage warns, “The longest journey begins with a single step.”
    Marv, you said that others (Rush and Dobson) have succeeded in dividing America and I am hard-pressed to disagree with you (even if I wanted to). I do not believe the efforts have been one-sided, but division we certainly do have. I do not need a middle ground represented in this blog, it is a voluntary blog, so dissatisfied people are free to leave. I think most of the regular contributors to this blog are sincerely interested in making life better in America, for everyone. There should be a way to find such improvement, but brooding in a blog is not going to help. There are inevitably frustrations when the progress does not fit the timetable we want. I can respect some vocalization of that frustration and the temptation to blame someone, but I keep posting in the off chance that some may see that solutions come from collaboration rather than confrontation. I am bull-headed, but not stupid. I need explanations of why people believe what they believe and prefer to have some facts to back up that view. Pete is very good at telling it like it is, but when most anyone says, “But what about…” the response is invariably, “Naïve, brainwashed,…”
    I began following this blog because I was tired of posts that appeared to be written by Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews. I assumed that an academic of the stature of Sheila Kennedy, with thoughtful topics would stimulate well-reasoned discussions. As I see it, there is little interest. A blog only has two or three reasons to exist: 1) It is a safe place for like-minded people to congratulate one another about how smart they are. 2) There is a desire to publicize the view of the group to as many people as possible. 3) A place to learn something. How am I doing? Which of these reason (or maybe another) is your reason for participating?

  26. Thank you Ken for keeping the conversation going. You’re right the conversation is what empowers Democracy.

    My guess is that a major difference between liberals and conservatives is welfare and what brings it about. In my opinion the majority of it results from the inability of the private sector to find productive work especially for low skilled labor. Of course there are other causes as well: disabilities, unpayable medical bills, family deaths, old age, etc. Of course even another cause are single parents who can either work or parent but not both.

    Conservatives seem to feel that ignoring those issues will cause them to go away, therefore welfare is an enabler. I don’t know where they think the jobs will come from or where all of those causes will go to.

    My personal opinion is that it’s a small percent of the budget, some people are able to leave poverty as a result, and the social stability that it enables is the return on the investment. Every country that I know of which can afford it seem to follow the same practice and the ones that can’t seem to exist in a constant state of social trauma.

    What’s hard to measure is the perniciousness of poverty. While a few emerge a majority are stuck in that rut for generations. Some of that is racism but, on the other hand, more welfare goes to whites than blacks.

    Nobody disagrees that a country without poverty would be utopia. It’s never happened yet and I personally am sure that it’s a long, long way off.

    One of the lessons I learned in Africa is how tenaciously everyone hangs on to survival. People do literally whatever they have to, there are no limits.

    I’ve lived in Mexico too and seen the same thing. When I left both places I can’t tell you how good it seemed to be back here.

  27. The is a large faction in the conservative camp that simply wants to end welfare. I believe most do not. Your assessment of the price of welfare misses the social costs. Habitat for Humanity requires sweat equity in most of their homes. It personalizes the charity and creates gratitude and commitment in the hearts of donors and recipients. The system encourages fathers to turn their backs on children and penalizes industrious mothers finding work. Idle hands are the devil’s playground. Job training is a start, but upon completion, taking a job costs benefits. Gotta be a better way. If government was working on the problem, there might be progress. Any time a conservative suggests changes they are accused of wanting to starve women and children. And so it goes.

  28. Ken, some facts to consider.

    “Gotta be a better way. If government was working on the problem, there might be progress. ”

    I personally am wide open to a better way.

    I think that Habitat is one but it’s limited to available volunteers, and funding.

    There are many job training programs and all can claim some success.

    We do our best to educate everybody in public schools but teachers can only pull off only so much magic.

    I also respect the army of social workers that do their best to get the right help to the right person.

    It’s hard for me to accept that there’s any lack of effort or commitment to find the most effective approaches but there is no more stubborn problem IMO.

  29. Pete,

    It looks to me that you have had another day of batting 1000. What a batting streak!! Lou Gehrig would be proud.

    However, I understand Ken’s frustrations. But JFK has been dead for 50 years. This is a much different world than the 60’s. We need to stay focused on TODAY.

  30. Marv! You sound like my students. Since JFK it is just too hard. We put a plan in place half a century ago with one solution. The premise of the bureaucrats seems to be, how many we serve rather than how well we serve them.

  31. Ken,

    “Marv! You sound like my students. Since JFK it is just too hard.”

    I’m a little too old to be one of your students. However, it sounds like I’m in agreement with your students. I’ve always have been for what JFK stood for. The same for MLK. However, JFK’s vision is now impossible to enact. That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in his message. Hopefully, some day we might START AGAIN toward the future he tried in vain to communicate. It’s not that “it is just too hard,” it is impossible right now.

    Nevertheless, you’ve advocated your principles very well. I admire you for your position. It sounds like you’re a superb teacher.

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