Wednesday, 27 June 2012

From My Neighborhood

Last week I blogged on the University of Virginia, where the board had fired the Chancellor....mostly because she just plain refused to cut the budget (the second cause was a lack of pushing on on-line course development and building up more business in this direction).  I noted at the time that a number of folks were all disturbed on campus about terminating the Chancellor.

Well....things have simmered down now....mostly because the board re-hired the fired Chancellor.

The governor got involved, and a bunch of the board members got dumped on by various members of the community.  The students are all happy, and everything seems to be going back to "norm".

So, here's the thing.  In about twelve to eighteen months....there's going to be this announcement of a four-to-five percent increase on tuition costs for the University of Virginia.  The students and their parents will be all upset and whine about this for a week.  The Chancellor will choke back some kind of tears (mostly fake) over this terrible decision.  Two years will pass, and another four-to-five percent increase will occur.  Most folks upset, more tears, etc.

At present, it's around $11,500 for a in-state kid to attend for tuition.  You can figure by 2025, it'll be fairly close to $16,000 for yearly tuition.

I wouldn't worry about this cost business if I were the Chancellor.  It's like having a collection of magic beans and finding enough naive folks to convince that the magic beans will grow and give you a chance of finding some mythical and magical golden harp somewhere.  There's always going to be enough of these naive young folks around to sell this dream onto.  And it doesn't matter what you charge....folks will just keep returning for the magic beans.

Simply Observations

In 1960, 1964, and 1968.....if you were a big-name Democrat within your state....you went to the Democratic National Convention.  You might have gotten interviewed on the street by some fancy-pants CBS reporter, or the New York Times.  You generally ate rich food, drunk a fair amount of booze, and partied with other Democrats.  Today?  There are a growing number of Democrats who are hinting strongly that they won't be at the Democratic National Convention this summer.  Reasoning?  They don't want to be identified too strongly with the President or the various speeches to be read.  A big group?  No.  Just based on comments....I'd be guessing forty folks who generally would be known just in their state or region.  The interesting thing here is that a generation ago.....it was the dream of every single hardcore Democrat to attend the Convention, and today?  Well....things have changed.

The FBI has kinda hinted that they are tracking in some fashion....about a hundred guys who are in the US military and identified as Islamic extremists.  Naturally, if this topic came up in conversation with any US military unit....everyone would be concerned and asking who the heck these one hundreds folks are, and why they haven't been kicked out.  The truth is....you might be an Islamic in the US military, and simply gotten involved with some Islamic charity which is extremist in nature. The FBI has connected the dots, while you are sitting there and thinking that charity action is all pure and simple....no evil intent.  Who might be telling you about your charity with possible issues?  Well...not the FBI.

This week, it was reported that CNN is back to the statistical ratings that they had twenty-one years ago, which means they've dropped down to the level of Golf Channel or BBC America.  At best, it's around 450k folks who watch CNN during the decent evening hours, out of 350 million Americans.  Does anyone care?  No.  That's really the story here.  CNN could bring on a Finlandic blonde gal with a terrible accent to do the Pier show, and the numbers would stay the same.  CNN could hire some Iowa farmer and some Latin American dictator to do the 8PM news show.....the numbers would still be the same.  CNN could run a full hour of interviews with John Edwards.....the numbers would be about the same.  That's the sad thing about this entire story.

Finally, over the past week.....a vast number of folks from my home state of Bama....sat down and got into a deep analysis situation....with the BCS bowl suggested change.....a four-team play-off.  I started to look around at various chat discussions, and you can detect a vast amount of football analysis going on here.  There are at least twenty potential opportunities from years past, where Auburn might have made it by some miracle into the fourth NCAA slot, and won the NCAA title.  It's kinda like sitting next to a drunk and having him note what could have been or would have been.....while on the eighth beer of the evening.  Me?  Well...here's the thing....if this four-team play-off goes forward, what are the odds of Auburn and the University of Alabama meeting for the national championship game?  You can sense Bama pride at work here, and a miracle of sorts to occur within the next five years.  The TV networks would be all upset over such a match, but every single guy from Bama would be stocking up on refreshments for such a national match-up.

Why America is Great

Just a moment of your time.   You can go back to ESPN to view the Braves game, or switch over to an episode of I Love Lucy, or update your Facebook page after you finish my piece.

A lot of people walk around and want to spout off as an expert on why America isn't great, and get their three minutes of fame on CNN.  Some French or German folks will spend an entire hour discussing to the 44th degree why America is not great.  Off in some dusty cave in Pakistan....a half-dozen Islamic thinkers will discuss the evil America.  And in some Icelandic pub....four half-drunk Icelandic elitist intellectuals are going over the finer points of how America "isn't" anymore.

So you sit there in the heartland and lean against the barn, and you feel kinda angry.  You feel like someone just locked up John Wayne in the local jail.....that some Barney and Andy just got fired from their job in Mayberry....and that corruption is absolutely rampant in America.

So here's the blunt truth.

We are the most imperfect country on the face of the Earth.  You've taken from almost every single society and country, blending them into various cultures, and somehow arrived at some distinctive group which is supposed to function as a nation.  You are asking for most of what would be identified as a miracle.

America can never please anyone.  You could land 100k troops on Normandy, in an impossible invasion plan to counter the Nazis.....and someone would still identify faults in the results....seventy years later.  We could be asked to bring rescue forces onto some remote island in the Pacific, and there's bound to be someone who complain that we didn't get there within twenty-four hours of the emergency.

We often end up doing some things for the right reasons, and some things for the wrong reasons.  People hate the conviction of Americans because we will stick with the game-plan.

But here's some things to consider:

Generally, we aren't leaving our country.  Oh, some idiots will discuss the two thousand who gave up citizenship because of our screwed-up tax issues over the past issue.  But for every American who leaves.....there's a thousand sneaking in, and another three thousand who'd like to legally enter and stay.

If you were looking for the best place to open a business totally on your own.....this is still the best country to do that.

If you were looking for a country where forty neighbors would come over after the tornado wrecked up your house....to help you pick up belongings and offer up food and shelter....for days and weeks at a time.....this is only country where you might find neighbors like that.

If you were looking for a place where a guy could declare bankruptcy and ten years later....be in a recovery phase where you actually own another business, and making a total success out of it.....then you'd be in America.

If you were a fireman, and at age forty....you suddenly realized that you'd really like to be chemical engineer.....this is the only place where you might achieve that dream.

So for all the people who sit around and want to chat on why America just isn't great anymore.....the mere fact that they don't have much else to do....but whine about America....ought to make you laugh.  It's like some idiot who wants to talk to you over the direction that you cut your grass (it ought to be always pointed toward the road).  Or like the idiot who says your dog ought not be sitting in the lawn furniture.  Or like the dimwit who preaches that whipped cream should never be used with pecan pie, because they were told this via some TV cooking show.

We don't need to sit around and admire ourselves or get all peppy about feeling great.  We need to admire the dew on the grass.  We need to clean the grill for the best Fourth of July ever.  We need to saddle up and help neighbors after a storm.  We need to move heaven and Earth when innocent lives half-way around the world have been put at risk.  We just need to accept the fact that John Wayne never did walk away from a mess, and our attitude ought to be just as bold and just as strong as his.

At the end of the mess or the day....as we Americans quietly sit on our porch.....and you need something bad....just come around and ask.  We will offer our help....no matter how much bad-mouthing you offered last week.  It's the right thing to do.