Tuesday, September 16, 2014

America's Greatness - An Exceptional US Postal Worker

Letter delivered to the US Post Office

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog?

Abbey died yesterday and is with you in heaven.

I miss her very much.

I 'm happy that you let me have her
as my dog even though she got sick.
I hope you will play with her.

She likes to swim and play with balls.

I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog.

I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

The letter was put in an envelope along with a photo of Meridith and Abbey - with Meridith's return address - addressed to God. Several stamps were added since "it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven" Meriidith and  her Mom took it to the Brook Hollow Texas post office and dropped it in the letter slot.

Three days later -  a package wrapped in gold paper arrived on Meridith's front porch. Inside the package -  a book by Mr. Rogers: "When A Pet Dies". Taped to the inside front cover - the following letter:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
Having the picture was a big help
and I recognized her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore.

Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart.

Abbey loved being your dog.

Since we don't need our bodies
in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture
in so I'm sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother
for helping you write it and sending it to me.

What a wonderful mother
you have. I picked her especially for you.

I send my blessings every
day and remember that I love you very much.

By the way, I'm easy to find.
I am wherever there is love.


True story: Photo of Meridith Scrivener daughter of Joy and Greg Scrivener - Brook Hollow, Texas :



Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Do Teachers Unions Hate Eva Moskowitz? More On An "American Hero" Ed Reformer Springing The Minority Poverty Trap

By Jonathan Chait NY Magazine

If you were to compile a list of American heroes of social justice, Eva Moskowitz would be near the top. Her network of Success Academy Charter Schools has been a staggering triumph of upward mobility, helping hundreds of mostly poor, mostly minority children selected at random to achieve academic success on par with or even beyond that of wealthy, privileged suburban children. And Moskowitz is a hero to some, but mostly she is a beleaguered figure of controversy.

The reasons for Moskowitz’s controversial standing, as itemized in this mostly favorable New York Times Magazine profile, are many. She makes a lot of money. (“That Moskowitz’s wealthy board members choose to highly reward her track record — her salary and bonus for the 2012-13 school year totaled $567,500 — only adds to the union’s fury.”) She is brusque (“I asked Michael Mulgrew, the president of the union, why Moskowitz stirred such anger in him and his membership. “It’s her conflictual way of approaching everything,” he says. “It’s, ‘I’m going to show we’re better than public schools.’”) She raises money from wealthy people. (“[Diane] Ravitch indicted the hedge-fund titans and business moguls — including Kenneth Langone, a founder of Home Depot, and the Walton family of Walmart — who put their weight behind promising charter schools, leading their boards and lending political clout.”)
Given that brusqueness was also the thing that annoyed people about Michelle Rhee, I would guess it is an occupational requirement for a driven idealist who struggles against an entrenched bureaucracy. I have no particular problem with a person who successfully educates underprivileged children earning half a million dollars or raising money from otherwise unsavory characters. I’m more interested in the fact that Moskowitz’s schools, which are open to all and take applicants by random lottery, produce eye-popping test scores whose performance stands the test of rigorous controlled studies
Moskowitz’s network hires non-union teachers, who are paid well but can be fired for non-performance and provide their students with extended learning time. 
Not long ago, I described the split within the Democratic Party as centering around “whether public services should be designed for the benefit of providers or consumers.” Some readers objected that that description, and fair enough — opponents of education reform certainly do argue that their policies would benefit children. But it is also demonstrably true that some of the opposition to education reform is driven by a belief that it unduly prioritizes educational results over the welfare of incumbent teachers.
One recent Washington Post column defended teacher tenure laws specifically as a means of preserving jobs for the black middle class. The author, Andre M. Perry, did a poor job of defending his thesis even on its own terms — he asserted that eliminating tenure laws leads to a reduction in black teachers without presenting any data to support the claim. Indeed, according to the National Education Association, 30 percent of charter-school teachers are minorities, compared to 17 percent of traditional public-school teachers. (The comparison is not perfectly fair to traditional public schools, since charters operate disproportionately in urban areas.) But that is beside the point. More noteworthy is Perry’s frank admission that urban schools should not maintain a singular mission of educating children, but should balance that mission with providing jobs to adult employees:
"The education-reform community has convinced us that closing the achievement gap by any means necessary is a worthy, final end. No. Education is just one path toward a stronger community.  …
Schools should develop minds, train future workers and enrich communities through employment opportunities for its members."
The same premise comes through in a column by Justin Minkel, published in Valerie Strauss’s anti-education reform blog. Minkel argues, “We don’t need to swap out all the bad and mediocre teachers for better teachers, anymore than we should swap out our struggling students for more advanced students.”
If you believe schools should be designed solely to promote education, then this equivalence is bizarre: Getting a quality education is a universal right, while holding a teaching job is not. Why should we treat these conditions as equivalent? On the other hand, if you consider teachers and students to be stakeholders with equal rights, to be balanced about equally, then the anti-reform line makes obvious sense.
Update: Since numerous comments have complained about it, this seems like a good time to bring up in a more sustained way my wife's work. My wife, Robin Chait, works in education. She currently works for Center City Public Charter Schools in Washington.
Robin has worked in a number of capacities: as an analyst at the U.S. Department of Education, as a public school teacher in Washington via the D.C. Teaching Fellows program, as an analyst at the Center for American Progress and then at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Do I claim my views are independent of Robin's? Absolutely not: My views are utterly dependent on hers. Enjoying the benefit of her deep, thoughtful knowledge of education policy is one of the smaller perks of being married to Robin Chait. I have learned more about education from Robin than anybody else, though she should not be held responsible for my writing, since, among other reasons, my grasp of the issue pales next to hers.
It is clearly the case that Robin broadly favors education reform. As the chronology of her career demonstrates, the causal mechanism is: Robin supports education reform --> Robin works for charter schools, as opposed to the reverse.
I have brought up her work before, and the reason I haven't done so more often is that I've been reluctant to boast. If my meager attempt at modesty appears to some critics to be a form of subterfuge, this is the opposite of my intention. I am extremely proud of my association with her. If you think I am a proxy for Robin's views on education policy, you are giving me far more credit than I deserve. I wish I knew enough about education policy for that to be true.
Read a related article published in the New York Times Magazine September 3, 2014
NYT Magazine: The Battle for New York Schools: Eva Moskowitz vs. Mayor Bill de Blasio

Monday, September 1, 2014

Leadership Vacuum

H.L.  Mencken, the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920

"As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

America's Greatness - NYC Charter School Ed Reform Leader Continues To-Make Public School Choice A Huge Difference For Thousands Of Parents and Their Children

Eva Moskowitz - President - Success Academy Charter Schools has yet again proven that chartered public schools - operating in New York City public school buildings, funded by New York State, can provide a quality education for disadvantaged minorities.

(See previous post - )
  • 94% of Success Academy scholars passed math. compared to just 35% of students citywide.
  • 64% of Success Academy scholars passed English Language Arts compared to just 29% of students city wide.
  • Sucesss Academy scholars scored in the top 1% in math and the top 3% in English among all 3,560 schools in New York State. If the Sucess Academy network of schools were considered as a single school, it wooulsd rank 7th in the State.
  • Scholars with disabilities At Success Academy were nearly twice as likely to pass math as New York States's students without disabilities (82% vs. 41%)
It is impossible to overstate the impact that Eva has had on the lives of so many families. She and her cohorts at the Success Academy Network have demonstrated - using extraordinary leadership skills and basic teaching techniques - with undeniable and measureable results, that disadvantaged minoritiy students can be among the very best. If given the chance beginning at the kindergarten level to get a quality public school education right in their own neighborhood, they can enjoy the same success that kids from more privileged neighborhoods enjoy.

There are now approximately 10,000 Success Academy kids who walk along side their neighborhood friends every day to go to school in their local antiquated public school building. The only difference between them and their friends is they were lucky to win a lottery slot at Success Academy so they could  go to a different floor and be taught by young 'with it', high energy, well trained teachers who are managed by enlightened principals using really cutting edge but very basic teaching techniques. The crying shame of all of this is that there are thousands of parents and kids in the last 8 years who desperately wanted to win a lottery slot at Success and didn't get the chance to enjoy the same education as their neighborhood friends at Success Academy. Eva's goal is to eliminate the lottery so every NYC parent is given a public school choice.

The huge goodness that Eva has achieved lies within the reality that an increasing number of poor NYC blacks and Hispanic parents no longer have to take for granted that their children will be permanently trapped in poverty by being forced to attend failing public schools. They actually have a chance to go to a first class college and get a high paying job!!

Here are some links to published articles and editorials on this subject:

How Does She Do It?
New York Daily News, August 18, 2014

Is Success Academy the Climate Change of K-12 Education?
Interesting analysis of Success Academy's 2014 state test results, done by Jarod Apperson, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia State University and John Keltz, a researcher for the Atlanta Public Schools. 

Study These Schools 
New York Daily News Editorial, August 20, 2014

New York Test Scores' Message: Save Our Students! 
New York Post Editorial, August 15, 2014

Success Academy Makes Up Top 7 of 15 of State's Top Scorers
New York Post, August 16, 2014

Eva Moskowitz Just Got More Toxic
New York Daily News, August 18, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Leadrship Vacuum: The Result of Leading From Behind - History Repeats itself

Excerpts: Bruce Bialosky Auguist 24, 2014
Our President may be a well-educated and a very smart guy, but he seems to have skipped out on his world history classes. He certainly would have learned the absolutely true saying that “history repeats itself.” He would also know that any dithering with ISIS will only cause us more pain and lost lives in the future.
Our President stated he learned from his path in Libya. Mr. Obama told (New York Times columnist) Tom Friedman “Intervening in Libya to prevent a massacre was the right thing to do.” He stated that doing it without sufficient follow-up on the ground to manage Libya’s transition to more democratic politics is probably his biggest foreign policy regret. That was after he set in motion abandoning Iraq. If he had studied our actions in post-war Japan, Europe, and Korea, he would know that we need to leave troops and supporting structure in place for decades. Look what happened when were able to do such in those locales.
By leaving a power vacuum in Iraq and not supporting opposition forces in Syria, Mr. Obama has allowed a small discolored spot to grow into a significant cancer. Because ISIS is winning, the nutcases of the world are flocking to their side. President Obama needs to stop reading polls that say Americans are war-weary. His job is to lead the American people in these situations and to educate the unknowing as to why we need to take military action.
Let’s review some basic facts. No American wants to go to war. Saying you are anti-war is inherently American. It is also stupid and infantile. Just because you don’t want to go to war doesn’t alleviate the fact that there are maniacs in foreign lands that want war. Our actions don’t inspire them to their actions. That is a hollow canard. My suggestion is grow-up and face the reality of the world – a world that is so much smaller than it was a hundred years ago when World War I started. We cannot be protected by two oceans any longer; and, if we don’t eradicate menaces overseas, they will be on our shores as evidenced by 9/11.
Next, please stop telling us what polls say about these matters. Newscasts consistently inject a new poll into the discussion of our national defense. Who cares what the polls say? We are not talking about a transportation bill here. Our government was formed to protect us against enemies foreign and domestic. That is what it is supposed to do. If you don’t think ISIS is our enemy TODAY, you are seriously misguided and potentially delusional.
These are madmen of the worst kind. If you don’t believe me watch one of the beheadings they perform on video for the entertainment of the masses. I did. It was thoroughly sickening and brought clarity to the fact these people need to be eradicated. There is no redemption. There is no salvation. Our only choice is to kill them before they kill us.
No one else is going to do it. We will get support from other countries as some have already offered up troops. We can certainly use our allies on the ground like the Kurds, but rest assured America has to take the lead and if needed -- boots on the ground. The longer we wait to annihilate these barbaric monsters, the heavier the cost will be. We have already let this fester too long.
We have seen this happen before, over and over again. We try to make nice with savages and they play upon our goodwill. We end up having to fight a larger war. 
Despite what David Axelrod said that occupying Iraq was a tragic mistake in the first place, it was one front in a multifaceted war. We abandoned that front and the world is now paying the price.
Obliteration is the only solution for ISIS. They are evil incarnate. The sooner they feel the full force of the world led by the American people and our military, the sooner we can move to a peaceful solution and an eventual victory over radical Islamic terror that wants to control the world.
Read the rest of the story:

Leadership Vacuum - Everyone Gets It

Maureen Dowd: New YorkTimes
First the president couldn’t work with Republicans because they were too obdurate. Then he tried to chase down reporters with subpoenas. Now he finds members of his own party an unnecessary distraction.
His circle keeps getting more inner. He golfs with aides and jocks, and he spent his one evening back in Washington from Martha’s Vineyard at a nearly five-hour dinner at the home of a nutritional adviser and former White House assistant chef, Sam Kass.
The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket.
The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.
Almost everything else — from an all-out push on gun control after the Newtown massacre to going to see firsthand the Hispanic children thronging at the border to using his special status to defuse racial tensions in Ferguson — just seems like too much trouble.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Leadership Vacuum: Accountability Is Dead

Excerpts: Mark Davis Town Hall
Accountability is dead. Long battered against the ropes, the concept of identifying and delivering consequences to the proper purveyors of various evils has been lost in a jungle of political correctness and racial paralysis.
In Ferguson, it is impossible to know for certain which side to take in the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have identifiable bad guys.
 1) It is bad to bring a self-aggrandizing caravan of race-baiting into that tense town. That would be Al Sharpton.
 2) It is bad to suggest that a “vigorous prosecution” is in order before we have sufficient basis to believe a crime was committed. It is bad to speak of “justice for Michael Brown’s family” without knowing whether Michael was the victim or the aggressor. That would be Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. 
 3) It is bad to sashay into Ferguson to weave yarns of past racial slights you have suffered when you know the intended supposition is that Ferguson is a proven source of such mistreatment. That would be Eric Holder.

There is plenty of bad behavior to go around in the Ferguson mess, but these misdeeds will go unpunished amid a protective media culture in a nation afraid to call out race-baiters. This should not be surprising, for we are even hesitant to call out rioters. An African-American president and attorney-general would be powerful forces if they were to deliver the following message:

“To all of you who have shattered one window or thrown one rock or defied one police officer: you dishonor Michael Brown’s memory with this kind of criminality. We have no idea what happened in this tragic story, but we must have faith in the system that will investigate it. n the meantime, we are to be peaceful. We cannot demand respect while having disrespectfully. We will allow no room for violent reactions. We do not yet know what happened in Michael’s shooting, but we do know what will happen to those who protest violently. They will be stopped by all means available to law enforcement so that the streets of Ferguson can be safe once again.”
That’s called accountability. But remember, it is dead.
James Foley is also dead, and accountability is required there as well. It is impossible to avoid righteous fury at the sight and sound of the British-brogued monster next to a kneeling Foley on video moments before slaughtering him. Adjusting his tee time by a few minutes Wednesday, President Obama seemed almost as peeved as if he had three-putted on the eighteenth green.  ISIS’ “ideology is bankrupt,” he proclaimed, following up that sledgehammer with the warning that “People like this ultimately fail.”

Ooooh, failure awaits them? And ideological bankruptcy? I can see caves full of terrorists trembling at the thought. Adding outright comedy to this sorry scene, the CBS news story referred to these mild words as coming from “a visibly angry” Obama.
I actually don’t need my President to be angry. I need him to be strong. I don’t need him to respond with furious words, I need him to respond with resolute actions that speak far louder. These words might be a worthy accompaniment: “I join every American in condemning this vile act of terror against one of our citizens. ISIS should know that this act of war against the United States will be met with our strongest possible response. Terrorists everywhere should know that we will do whatever is necessary to destroy their ability to attack us in our homeland or in theirs.”
But this, of course, would involve the President speaking the word “terrorist." It would involve speaking truth to evil. It would involve the language of accountability.
But accountability is dead.
Read the whole story

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Every American Who Believes In Government And Union Job Protection Should Read This Article

Truly sad - real life stories of  the European job market and hopeless future for young Europeans - published in the Wall Street Journal - August 9, 2014.

The consequences of decades of the European tax, borrow and spend brand of socialsim - coming to America.

By the time the parents of Serena Violano were in their early 30s, they had solid jobs, their own home and two small daughters.
Today, Serena, a 31-year-old law graduate, is still sharing her teenage bedroom with her older sister in their family home in the small town of Mercogliano, near Naples.
Ms. Violano spends her days studying for the exam to qualify as a notary in the hopes of scoring a stable job. The tension over her situation sometimes spills over in arguments with her sister over housework or their shared space. And with her 34-year-old boyfriend subsisting on short-term contracts, Ms. Violano doesn't even dare dream of building the sort of life her parents took for granted.
"For our parents, everything was much easier," she says. "They had the opportunity to start their own life. Instead, we don't have any guarantees for our own future."
Ms. Violano's stunted adulthood and dashed expectations mark a generational divide between younger and older Europeans that is challenging the Continent's dream of broad-based prosperity.
In Europe's weaker economies, people in their 20s and 30s often have little hope of achieving the careers, wealth and economic security enjoyed by their parents. In places like Spain and Italy, the employment rate has tumbled for people under 40 since 2008, even as it has stayed relatively steady or grown for their parents' generation.
Their predicament is exposing a painful truth: The towering cost of labor protections that have provided a comfortable life for Europe's baby boomers is now keeping their children from breaking in.
The older generation benefited from decades of rock-solid job protection, union-guaranteed salary increases and the promise of a comfortable retirement. All this has allowed them to weather Europe's longest postwar crisis reasonably well.

By contrast, many younger Europeans can hope for little more than poorly paid, short-term contracts that often open a lifelong earnings gap they may never close. Employers in many countries are reluctant to hire on permanent contracts because of rigid labor rules and sky-high payroll taxes that go to funding the huge pension bill of their parents.
The breach is widening: Median income for people over 60 rose between 2008 and 2012 in nearly every European Unioncountry, according to Eurostat; it declined for people under 25 in almost half the EU countries, including in Spain, Portugal, the U.K. and Holland.
This has left young people increasingly dependent on the older generation. In turn, parents are frustrated that children in their 30s and even 40s can't cut the cord.
A recent study by EU social research agency Eurofound showed that the number of people aged 18-29 living with their parents rose to 48% from 44% between 2007 and 2011, while youth poverty has risen almost everywhere in Europe.
The rift will weigh on future growth in Europe, now experiencing a fragile recovery, since lengthy spells of joblessness for young people can penalize earnings for years and drag on growth. Over the next two decades or so, the forgone wages of young people in Spain and Greece, with youth unemployment over 50%, could translate into lost gross domestic product of about 8% and 6% respectively, according to a January 2013 report by analysis firm TD Economics.
Italy offers a striking example of the generational gap. The employment rate of Italians under 40 fell nine percentage points since 2007, while it rose the same amount for those between 55 and 64 years, according to Eurostat.
The Italian economy slipped into its third recession since 2008 in the second quarter of the year, making it even harder for the young generations to bridge the gap with their parents, who enjoyed a phase of economic expansion. Italy's triple dip into recession also complicates the battle of young Premier Matteo Renzi against youth unemployment, which climbed to a new record high of 43.7% in June.
The steady climb of boomers like Vincenzo Violano, 67, and his wife, Irene, 62, fueled rosy expectations for their children.
Vincenzo earned an accountancy diploma and started working at 24, first in the private sector and then in local municipalities, before retiring in 2010. His wife got a stable job as a middle-school teacher soon after graduating in education.
When the Violanos bought their two-level apartment abutting a sprawling park in Mercogliano in the late 1990s, they wanted more space and autonomy for their two teen daughters. They gave them the largest room in the house, with twin beds and a big closet, never imagining they would still be sharing it as adults 15 years later. But like many Europeans, young Italians are leaving the nest at increasingly older ages. In 2012, 64% of Italians 18 to 34 years old lived with their parents, up from 60% in 2004, according to Eurostat.
Serena used to imagine her 30s as a new, exciting phase. Instead, she feels stalled, having spent the past four years working as a low-paid legal apprentice and studying for the notary exam. In the meantime, notaries have seen their income fall by 45% in five years due to the crisis.
"And now, I'm more than 30 and I'm still here, waiting," she says. "I feel like my life is constantly hanging in the balance."
One source of the problem is the proliferation of low-paid, short-term contracts, expanded in Italy and Spain in the 1980s and 1990s as a way to help young people find jobs because it made it easier for employers to hire and fire relatively cheaply. In 1998, 20% of Italians under 25 were temporary workers. Today more than half are, according to Eurostat.
But that created a labor market split between young people and baby boomers and opened a stubborn earnings gap. Entry-level wages began dropping in Italy in the early '90s and continued to fall, according to a 2013 Bank of Italy analysis, dropping nearly 30% between 1990 and 2010 for men. Subsequent salary increases never caught up.
Large layoffs in the past five years, which disproportionately targeted young people because of the contracts, then compounded the problem. The employment rate for Spaniards under 30 has halved since 2007 to 32% but stayed steady for the older generation.
As a result of lower wages and higher unemployment, spending by households headed by Spaniards under age 30 was lower in 2012 than in the late 1980s relative to the national average, according research by Pedro Albarran, economics professor at the University of Alicante.
The Spanish economy was booming in 2006, when Danna Domingo, then 24, won a job mixing customized medicines at a hospital pharmacy in Girona, in northeastern Spain. Yet she was hired on a temporary contract, and for five years, her bosses chained together consecutive contracts lasting from just a few days to up to three months.
Meanwhile, the situation of her parents, a teacher and the manager of a music academy, was starkly different. Spain's laws make it nearly impossible for her mother, a civil servant, to lose her job. Her father took over a city-owned music academy that did well in the country's boom years.
Ms. Domingo's temporary contracts left her ineligible for raises or promotions. Banks rejected her home mortgage applications, while landlords declined to accept rental agreements in her name.
At the hospital, the petite technician seethed silently at middle-aged workers with permanent contracts who seemed to take their duties lightly knowing their job was secure. Ms. Domingo sometimes had to work double time to compensate for the lackadaisical pace of older colleagues, meticulously concocting, for example, chemotherapy medicines for individual cancer patients, she said. She even got additional training in the hopes of securing her job. A spokesman for the hospital said neither its culture nor contracts dictate "that someone with an indefinite contract would work less than someone with a temporary contract."
Constant worries about her next paycheck caused her to lose sleep and weight. Once, she ignored doctor's orders to rest after a bicycling accident and returned to work right away because she feared losing her contract, she said. She lost her job in 2012, after switching to a temporary contract at a different hospital.
Earlier this year, Ms. Domingo landed her first permanent contract—part time, working evenings at a hospital radiology department for less than €1,000, or about $1,350, a month. She sobbed so hard for joy when she called her boyfriend with the news that he thought something terrible had happened, she said.
Despite the meager pay, she can now dream of buying a house or having a family. But she has given up hopes of mirroring her parents by having three children, resigned to having just one. Like many young Spaniards putting off childbearing, she had delayed having a child for fear that a pregnancy would hurt her chances of winning a new contract. On average, Spanish women today have their first child in their early 30s, an age that has been rising for decades, according to Spanish government statistics.
"I feel like I'm running behind," she said.
Weak entry-level wages and short-term contracts have kept European youth tethered to their elders and dependent on "generational welfare." For instance, Italian grandparents are providing more essentials for their grandchildren. Baby boomers bought 15% of all diapers and about 30% of all children's cookies last year, up from 12.5% and 27.6% respectively a year before, according to Nielsen research.
But by supporting their children financially, parents have unwittingly also blunted public pressure for changes to labor rules and pension rights that could make it easier for their children to get a start, says Luis Garicano, a prominent Spanish economist at the London School of Economics.
For Andrea Tarquini, a 44-year-old son of two pensioners, returning home was an extreme solution. He had left at age 22 and worked in a call center. He lost that job four years ago and tried to start a video production company. When it struggled, he was forced last December to move back home, where his movie posters, DVDs and books now contend for space with his mother's oil paintings and his nephews' toys.
"I feel guilty because my choices are falling back on them," he says. "My parents have become my social safety net once again."
His 67-year-old mother, Maria Giuseppina, says Andrea's return to their two-bedroom apartment in a working-class Roman neighborhood obliged the whole family to reconsider roles and spaces, leaving her anxious about her family's future.
With a small living room and one television to share, Andrea often tries to leave his parents space, spending his free time in the tiny bedroom he shared with his sister as a child. He's single and isn't planning to marry soon. Italians and Spaniards now typically marry in their early 30s, a decade older than in 1980, according to the United Nations.
In turn, Mrs. Tarquini fears that the family finances—hers and her husband's pensions total only €1,400 a month—won't be sufficient to support Andrea in the long run if his new video company doesn't take off.
The couple, who once owned a perfumery, has been forced to sacrifice summer holidays, outings to the theater and dinner with friends.
"Sometimes I have to make up excuses, when they invite us out for a pizza, because now we can't afford it," says Mrs. Tarquini, who sometimes takes anti-anxiety medication because of her worries.
Andrea gave himself one year to make his company work or start searching for a stable job that would allow him to regain his independence. But he and his parents know that goal may be far off.
"I'm trying to accept this situation … but I don't have much hope left," says Mrs. Tarquini. "He's a man now and his return was a broken dream for all of us."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Grim Prediction - Where We Are Today.

Excerpts: Israel National News - November 7, 2012 - Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, New Jersey
The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo - for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress. They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility. And fewer people voted.
Romney did not lose because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy that devastated this area, nor did he lose because he ran a poor campaign, nor did he lose because the Republicans could have chosen better candidates, nor did he lose because Obama benefited from a slight uptick in the economy due to the business cycle.

Romney lost because the conservative virtues - the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness - no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.

The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is Obama's America is one in which free stuff is given away: The lure of free stuff is irresistible.

Almost half of the population has no skin in the game - they don't care about high taxes, promoting business, or creating jobs, nor do they care that the money for their free stuff is being borrowed from their children and from the Chinese.

That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is ignorant and uninformed. That is the indelicate way of saying that too many people vote with their hearts and not their heads.

Obama mastered the politics of envy – of class warfare - never reaching out to Americans as such but to individual groups,and cobbling together a winning majority from these minority groups.

The road to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and to a European-socialist economy - those very economies that are collapsing today in Europe - is paved.

A dangerous time is ahead. Under present circumstances, it is inconceivable that the US will take any aggressive action against Iran and will more likely thwart any Israeli initiative. The US will preach the importance of negotiations up until the production of the first Iranian nuclear weapon - and then state that the world must learn to live with this new reality.
Old America is gone. The takers outnumber the givers and that will only increase in years to come.
Written in November 2012 - read the whole story