Dooger Rants about Ohio Issue 1

Dooger Rants about Ohio Issue 1

The main premise of Ohio issue 1 on the November 2018 ballot is that “prison spending should be focused on violent and serious offenses.”  Certainly, I agree that prison spending should be focused on violent and serious offenses.  The mistake supporters make is  assuming that drug abuse is NOT a serious offense.  In 2017, there were 710 murders in Ohio.  During the same year, 4854 Ohioans died from drug overdose.  Which is the more serious of these two violent crimes?

Supporters assume issue 1 will generate cost savings by reducing the number of inmates.  Afterwards, the money can be redirected to drug rehab programs.  Cost models exist that support both sides of the issue.  Most of the models in support of issue 1 are based on the per-diem of a prisoner which is around $74.  Those against the bill argue increased costs of the local courts to process the increase in misdemeanor cases.  What I would like to see is a model that shows the daily cost to keep a user on the street.  One dose of Narcan is around $140, or twice the amount of a single day in prison.  Add on to that the cost of first responders, homeless shelters, and foster care and I would argue that $74 per day sounds pretty cheap.

Statistics from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) show that 1004 out of every 100000 EMS events in 2016 involved administration of Narcan.  Drug overdoses account for one percent of all ambulance runs.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, two thirds of the chronically homeless have a substance use disorder. While substance abuse could be either a cause or effect for homelessness, there is strong evidence that there is a correlation.

Being a foster family, we have seen the devastation that drug abuse has on families.  In 2016, 34% of Children Services cases were directly related to parental substance abuse.  The real tragedy in the opioid crises is not the addicts but their innocent children.  Because of their parent’s poor decisions, many children suffer the consequences of drug abuse.

Many groups have spoken up for and against issue 1.  One disturbing fact about the campaign in favor of the issue is funding.   Two out of state billionaires, Mark Zuckerburg and George Soros, provided 94% of the funds to put this issue on the ballot.  In contrast, many of Ohio’s judges and lawyers oppose the bill.  Chief Justice O’Conner opposes it because it severely limits the incentive for addicts to seek treatment.  Drug courts have made progress in recent years by offering treatment as an alternative to prison.

While you can easily find opinions with pros and cons, it’s difficult to find the text of the proposed bill.  Before you cast your vote on November 6th, I encourage you to read the actual text of the bill.  Do not simply rely on other people’s opinion, including my own.  Substance abuse is a very serious crime that has drastic affects not only on the user, but also on society.  As for me, I will be voting against the bill.  I hope you come to the same conclusion, and use your vote wisely.

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Dooger rants about work

Dooger rants about work

As a young boy, I often went to work with my dad.  Like most families today, I grew up in a two-income family.  The difference back then was that dad earned both incomes.  Mom’s duty was to train the kids and take care of the house.  This job was often more difficult and stressful than dad’s.  Even though we only had two incomes, dad actually had three jobs.  The job that paid most of the bills was rebuilding automatic transmissions in the mechanic shop.  The fulfilling and purposeful career was pastor at a small church.  Perhaps the hardest manual labor of his three jobs was the rental properties that he kept.  On one occasion while digging a septic system by hand, he told me that when I grew up, I should get a job working with my head instead of my butt.

Unfortunately, my generation has done a poor job passing along the work ethic that we learned from our parents.  Consider the recent news story about Michael Rotondo.  His mother and father filed an eviction notice to remove their thirty year old son from their home.  A few weeks later, he was in court again because he was behind on his child support payments.  This appearance, the judge ordered the able bodied man-child to get a job.

This story didn’t really hit home for me until this past weekend when I attended a home-school conference with my wife and pre-teen boys.  Many of the classes that my boys attended focused on inspiring them to think about vocation and work ethic.  Next door to our home-school conference was the annual Wizard World conference.  The convention center was filled with thirty year old kids all dressed up as their favorite comic book heroes.  Instead of learning strong work ethic, they were attending debates on whether DC or Marvel has the best villains, or attending workshops teaching how to play Pokemon.

In the last interview before his death, Stephen Hawking talked about the affects of Artificial Intelligence and technological unemployment could have on our society.  Some may agree with Mr. Hawking and say that the un-employed thirty year olds living in their parents basement are proof of Mr. Hawking’s predictions.  He talks of a Utopia where all of the work is performed by robots and the wealth is evenly distributed in a communistic society.  If nobody has to work, we can all waste away our waking hours dressed up like comic book characters and playing Pokémon.  I personally do not think that would be a very fulfilling life.

I wonder what Mike Rowe would think about the utopia that Stephan Hawking describes.  Since his Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs, he has been on a campaign to change America’s work ethic.  Most of us have been taught to make as much money as quick as we can, while working as little as possible so we can retire early leaving the hard work for the next generation.  Even my own dad’s instruction for me to work with my head is very similar to the advice Mike’s high school guidance counselor tried to give him, “work smart, not hard.”  Mike’s advice to us is to work smart AND hard.

When I think of utopia and these two viewpoints on work, I tend to agree more with Mike’s thoughts.  Being an atheist, Hawking may not have considered or consulted mankind’s instruction book.  The bible says in Genesis 2:15 that God placed man here to work and care for the garden.  This garden was a true utopia, and it included work.  When man disobeyed God and brought a curse on the earth, that utopia ended.  Man’s aversion to work, and our desire to waste away life doing as little as possible is not why our Creator made us.  We were created to work, and I believe in order to be truly happy, we need to fulfill our purpose.

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Dooger rants about free range parenting

Dooger rants about free range parenting

Utah recently passed a free-range parenting law.  When the law passed, it was the first time that I heard the term “free-range parenting”.  Even though I had never heard the term, I am familiar with the concept.  When I was young, my parents allowed me to walk the railroad tracks a mile to my best friends house.  While there, we played football with no protective gear.  Some days, instead of walking, I rode my bicycle on the curvy country road with no helmet.  In the winter, we would brave the frigid cold to go sledding on hills that had barbed wire fences at the bottom.  My sister even once persuaded me to eat mud pies.  How did kids of my generation survive such perils?

Fast forward to the present day, and my own parenting style.  We have a quote on our wall from “Where Main Street Meets the River” written by Hodding Carter in 1953.  In the book, he says “A wise woman once said to me that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.  One of these she said is roots, the other, wings.  And they can only be grown, these roots and these wings, in the home.”  I am a firm believer that we need to teach our young children to make good decisions.  If we do so, we can safely give them the freedom to explore the wonderful world they live in.  The problem I have with laws such as this is that there is no one size fits all solution.  There are many parents that give their kids wings without first growing roots.

My kids are less free-range than I was at their age, but our circumstances are much different.  I started growing roots at a very young age.  We adopted our children from the foster system.   Many kids from that background have little supervision or parental guidance before being placed in foster care.  They raise themselves while mom and dad smoke crack.  While most parents that buy into the free-range style of parenting do not simply turn their children out into the world without teaching them to be safe, we need to realize that there are some who truly are negligent and place their kids in dangerous situations.

Kids do need the freedom to learn and explore on their own, but only after responsible parents have taught them how to be safe.  My boy’s scout leader says that little mistakes have little consequences, and we need to allow the boys to make little mistakes in a safe environment.  Doing so helps them grow and learn not to make bigger mistakes that could have life-altering consequences.  I think that laws written to give more freedom to parents are good as long as those laws also account for situations where child safety is truly in jeopardy.

In 2003, the Supreme Court in my home state of Ohio commissioned a subcommittee to study child abuse and neglect.  In 2006, the subcommittee released its report.   The recommendation was to change child welfare case management at the point of screening and intake.  The committee proposed laws be more child-centric instead of focusing on the punishment of the negligent parents.  Basically, Children’s Services would focus on kids and rely on law enforcement to deal with negligent and abusive parents.  Representatives Pillich and Belcher presented House Bill 371 in 2009.  Unfortunately, the bill did not pass, but the ideas behind the Children in need of Protective Services (CHIPS) study are still alive and being considered by Ohio legislators.

There is so much for kids to learn by exploring God’s great big world.  Parents should demonstrate safe habits while exploring together with their young children.  The more time parents spend planting roots, the more their kids will be able to safely explore as they grow older.  The real tragedy is when parents use the free-range parenting as an alternative to spending time mentoring their offspring.  While my mom and dad practiced free-range parenting, they also spent an extraordinary amount of time with us when we were young.  Mom did not work outside of the home.  Dad was a mechanic and was never too busy to allow me to tag along to the shop with him.  In short, we were their priority when we were young.  Because of that, we were equipped to make good decisions when we were old enough to roam without direct supervision.

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Dooger Rants about school shootings

Dooger Rants about school shootings

In the aftermath of another tragic school shooting in Florida, many have opinions on how to eliminate the threat.  Some claim that the government should enact stricter gun control laws.  Others say that we should arm our teachers and other responsible school officials in order to protect our kids.  Some claim violent video games and movies are the cause.  Neither of these solutions addresses the root problem.

My opinion is that kids do not go on killing rampages simply because they have easy access to guns or video games.  I also believe armed teachers would not discourage suicidal and homicidal kids.  I think the root cause of the recent school violence is the result of our culture.  Society is sending a message to our kids that life is meaningless and hopeless.

Consider “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao“, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that my older son recently studied in public school.  The main character is a young Dominican boy growing up without a father in New Jersey.  His main goal in life is to play video games, read comics, and find a girlfriend.  He turns to alcohol, falls in love with a prostitute and attempts suicide multiple times.  In the end, jealous goons of Oscar’s prostitute girlfriend beat him to death.

This story no matter how well written does not convey a very hopeful message to our youth.  Many kids can relate to Oscar’s home life.  Some like Oscar turn to sex, drugs, and alcohol as an escape from this hopeless life.  When that doesn’t work, some turn to suicide and violence.  We must present all kids with an alternate message. I find it disturbing that Oscar Wao is the type of story our society would consider Pulitzer Prize worthy. Even more disturbing is that this is the message our society would want to teach young impressionable kids in public school.

Compare this novel to “Ishmael” and “Self Raised” by EDEN Southworth which we recently read with our homeschool children.  Southworth chronicles the life of Ishmael who like Oscar was raised without a father, and in very meager circumstances.  The difference in the two characters is that Ishmael was presented with a story of hope from a very young age and Oscar was taught that his life was cursed.  Those who influenced his life instilled integrity, loyalty,  and determination.  His aunt taught him that despite his pathetic situation, his life was valuable, and he could rise above his circumstances.

We tell kids that they’re monkeys, and there is no meaning to life other than to feed their selfish desires. We back this message up with broken homes where dad’s care more about sex drugs and alcohol than they do about their wife and kids. Mom’s have to work full-time jobs to feed the kids. Deadbeat parents allow television, a perverse culture, and an apathetic school system to raise their kids.  It should not be shocking that this is the system that breeds mass murderers who do not value their own lives or the lives of their schoolmates.

In the not too distant past, before school shootings were common, our public school teachers talked about God without the fear of losing their job.  They were allowed to teach that humans are wonderfully made in the image of their Creator and not in the image of monkeys.  Teachers taught that everybody is equal.  Professors showed through words and actions that all lives matter.  They encouraged students to pray in school just because they were thankful and not because their lives were in danger.  If we really want an end to school shootings, we will once again teach our kids the true meaning of life and give them a message of love and hope.

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Dooger rants about God, relationship, and PINK

Dooger rants about God, relationship, and PINK

Bono, lead singer of U2 said, “Great music is written by people who are either running toward or away from God.”

Alecia Moore aka PINK was born in 1979 to a Catholic mother and Jewish father.  Early in her childhood, her parents divorced.  The hurt of growing up in a broken home likely contributes to her lyrics.  Bono might describe her as an artist running away from God.  Consider her popular song “What About Us”.  She starts the song by describing us as searchlights, rockets pointed to the stars and billions of beautiful hearts.  I agree with Pink’s outlook on the greatness of the human race.  The maker created us with a great capability to love each other and do great things.   Pink goes on to say that God sold us down the river.  She states broken happy ever afters and plans that end in disaster as her reasoning.  Pink, like many New Age religions, has an understanding of man’s greatness, but no understanding of his wretchedness.

My favorite mathematician (yes, I’m a geek) Pascal once said: “The true religion would have to teach greatness and wretchedness, inspire self-esteem and self-contempt, love and hate.”  Pink has a good handle on the greatness of man but fails to understand man’s wretchedness.  Instead, she blames God when we don’t live happily ever after and when our plans end in disaster.

Religions based on the bible explain both sides of mankind quite well.  Humans do great things because we are created in the image of a God that does great things.  Chapter three of the very first book explains that Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought a curse upon the Earth.  The curse explains why man is capable of evil.  In one line, Pink says “We were willin’, we came when you called.”  I submit that we did not come when called.  Instead if running toward God when He called, I submit that we ran away.  Genesis 3:8-10 says that when God called Adam and Eve, they hid from Him.  Had they not run from God, perhaps things would be different today.  If Pink would start running toward God, maybe she would have a different outlook on life as well.

Pink goes on to say “We are children that need to be loved”, and she asks God about all the times He said He had the answer.  Fortunately for us, our Creator loves us greatly.  The Bible answers the problem that was created when Adam and Eve ran away from God.  Read John 3:16.  God loves mankind so much, and so desires a relationship with us, that He sent His son Jesus to Earth in order to redeem us back to Himself.  If we accept His plan of redemption our happily ever after will last for eternity.

What does Pink mean in the last verse when she says “It’s the start of us, waking up, come on Are you ready?” The line “I don’t want control, I want to let go” may hint that she is ready to turn control of her life over to Jesus and re-establish her relationship with God. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to Trust in God and submit to him, and He will guide our lives.  If we submit and run back ti Him, he will restore the relationship like Adam and Eve had in the Garden before their disobedience.

Could it be that Pink starts the song running away from God, but then turns and starts running toward Him?  The “What about Us” at the start of the song is clearly asking about all of the human race, but “What About Us” at the end may be asking about her own relationship with God.  Pink may not reveal the true meaning to these lyrics, but this is a question worth asking.  What about your own relationship with The Almighty?  Are you running toward or away from God?

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