Arizona Sends Kids as Young as 10 to Gender and Sexuality Chatrooms

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Arizona Department of Education directs students to LGBT-themed chatrooms for children as young as 10 to discuss gender and sexuality as part of its student resources.

The chatrooms are part of the department’s effort to support LGBT youths, and they were put together with the help of “members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community,” according to the Arizona Department of Education website. The website directs students to numerous LGBT resources, including local clubs, guides for gender transitions, and LBGT chatrooms.

Both of the chats linked to by the state Education Department have moderators, either volunteer or staff, monitoring conversations, some of whom work at LGBT centers.

The Gender Spectrum chatroom advertises online groups for “trans,” “non-binary,” and “gender-expansive youth” and can be joined by video, audio, or chat. Discussion groups are divided into age groups and facilitated by trained volunteers.

Students aged 13-16 and 17-18 are encouraged to sign up, but the 10-12 age group was at capacity, the website said.

“Gender Spectrum hosts free online groups for pre-teens, teens, parents, caregivers, and other family members and adults,” the description of the chatroom on the Arizona Department of Education website said. “These groups provide you with the opportunity to connect with others, share experiences, and feel the comfort of a supportive community.”

The other chatroom is called Q Chat Space and is targeted toward LGBT students ages 13 to 19, according to the state Education Department website. Chats are facilitated by staff who work at LGBT centers but are not mental health professionals, according to the Q Chat Space website.

The Q Chat Space project is put on in collaboration with Planned Parenthood and two LGBT groups, CenterLink and PFLAG.

The site also has a “quick escape” button feature at the bottom of the page that takes users immediately to a blank Google page.

“A Community for LGBTQ+ Teens … Find and give support, have fun, connect around shared interests and get good information,” the website says. “Chat with like-minded peers in live chats designed for you & by you, facilitated by folks who care.”

The Arizona Department of Education, Gender Spectrum, and Q Chat Space did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

Mom Reads Aloud Purported Assignment Given To Daughter. School Board Cuts Her Mic Because It’s Too Obscene

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

A Nevada school board temporarily cut off a mother from speaking as she read an assignment reportedly given to her 15-year-old daughter, according to video footage of a school board meeting.

“This will be horrifying for me to read to you, but that will give you perspective on how she must have felt when her teacher required her to memorize this and to act it out in front of her entire class,” the mother said.

The assignment allegedly read, “I don’t love you. It’s not you, it’s just, I don’t like your d**k. Or any d**k in that case. I cheated Joe.” The mother was immediately cut off after she read the assignment.

Board of Education member told the mother that they cut her off for the use of profanity.

Clark County School District told the Daily Caller that the mother “was given their full time for public comment.” A complete video shows the school board allowed the mother to complete her thought.(RELATED: High School Questionnaire Asks Why Straight People Are So ‘Sexually Aggressive’)

The mother claims that she met with the district with the help of a parent advocacy group. She said she is hopeful that the district will correct the situation without terminating the teacher.

Clark County School District told the Daily Caller that it is “investigating the circumstances surrounding a class assignment consisting of a student-generated writing exercise that produced content not conducive to student instruction.”

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This article was published by Daily Caller and is reprinted with permission.

Cancel Culture in Action: Wrecking Peoples Lives in Retaliation

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Let’s face it:  free speech for California’s teachers and educators is dead.  If you are a teacher or guidance counselor in California and make an internet posting that happens to offend students, teachers, and/or administrators who make up the woke mob, you may very well lose your job.  The truth of what you wrote makes no difference to the free speech-haters.  Indeed, the greater the truth, the greater the amount of hatred it’s likely to draw from the mob.  If you doubt this, look no further than the case of Patricia Crawford, formerly a guidance counselor at Rubidoux High School (“RHS”) in southern California.  This case, more so than many, illustrates the total depravity and evil of Cancel Culture.

On February 16, 2017, a host of RHS students skipped school (itself a violation of norms and, technically, truancy) to attend a protest in support of “A Day Without Immigrants.”  The protest was part of a nationwide boycott against President Trump’s immigration policies.  Together with other students who skipped school without necessarily attending the protest, they made up about one-quarter of the entire student body.

RHS was an overcrowded school and, not surprisingly, the absence of one-quarter of the students made it less so.  A teacher emailed the staff about the high rate of absences.  Patricia Crawford emailed back:  “The PROFESSIONAL staff members and SERIOUS students are here today, boycott be darned.”

Later that same day, RHS teacher Geoffrey Greer posted on Facebook that he was uncertain whether the missing workers “had the intended impact or sent the desired message.”  He went on to comment that attendance in the classes he taught was down by 50 percent and proved “how much better things might be without this overcrowding.”  He concluded by stating that “that’s what you get when you jump on some sort of bandwagon cause as an excuse to be lazy and/or get drunk.  Best school day ever.”

Ms. Crawford commented on Greer’s post as follows:  “Cafeteria was much cleaner after lunch, lunch, itself, went quicker, less traffic on the roads and no discipline issues today.  More, please.”  Note the likely truth of these comments:  if attendance was down by one-quarter, it stands to reason that lunch would go quicker and there would be less traffic on the roads.  If students routinely left some trash around, the mere fact of fewer students would imply less trash (with no implication that those who skipped school were any dirtier than their counterparts who chose to follow the rules and attend school).  Discipline issues could be determined based upon the school’s records, but, again, if discipline issues arose equally per capita among those who boycotted and those who did not, fewer students would imply fewer discipline issues.

The Facebook exchanges continued.  Several students responded on Facebook to these two posts, expressing that “many students are taking these comments in a negative way.”  One student wrote that Crawford’s remarks were “very, very disappointing.”  Crawford defended herself as follows:  “Disappointing is to think that some of my students still don’t get it about education.  Staff members who are sympathetic to the cause were at school today.  The kids who care were there . . .   What I saw today was more proof, just like last year, that boycotts, especially of education, aren’t the answer.  It just keeps the ones who need it the most as useful fools.”  Finally, she wrote on Facebook “My post was meant to be snarky.  Get over yourselves.”

It was for this exercise by Patricia Crawford of her free speech rights that the Jurupa Unified School District sought to have her fired.  The stated basis for the dismissal was that she had engaged in “immoral conduct” by writing the things quoted above.  She was placed on administrative leave the next day, February 17, 2017.  In May 2017, the District informed her that it intended to fire her.  An organization named the “Commission on Professional Competence of the Jurupa Unified School District” heard Crawford’s appeal against the District’s decision and ruled in the District’s favor.

If you are shocked to learn that the Commission and the District would regard telling the truth as “immoral conduct,” you will be even more shocked to learn that the District’s and the Commission’s rulings were upheld in the California Superior Court and the California Court of Appeal.  

The new definition of “immoral conduct” for educators in California is this:  anything written on Facebook or other social media that happens to offend the woke mob or the media and draws their negative comments.  Effectively, the woke mob and the media have been given the power to strip California teachers and educators of their guaranteed First Amendment free speech rights.

What is most noteworthy about the Court of Appeal’s decision is that nowhere in the Court’s opinion is there any discussion about whether what Crawford wrote was true.  One reads the opinion in vain for any discussion about whether it was true that the cafeteria was cleaner after lunch, whether lunch went quicker or whether there was less traffic on the roads.  In this new Orwellian world, truth is no defense.  And to be sure, that makes sense in a twisted sort of way.  If you had publicly written in Nazi Germany that Hitler was a murdering tyrant, the Gestapo would pay you a visit and your new home, if you were not immediately shot out of hand, would have been a concentration camp.  Arguments to the Gestapo that it was true that Hitler was a murderous tyrant most certainly would have been unavailing.  Here in California, the truth of social media postings is no more defense for educators than truth was a defense in Nazi Germany.

So if the truth was not even the slightest bit relevant in determining whether Crawford had engaged in immoral conduct, what was relevant?  What, precisely, was the immoral conduct?

The District received 51 emails complaining about Crawford’s Facebook posts, she herself received 10, and nearly 40 people complained at a District Board meeting held on February 21, 2017.  There is no indication any of these emails or complaints addressed the truth or falsity of Crawford’s postings; they appear to have expressed only outrage and anger.  Additionally, Crawford’s postings drew widespread negative attention in the media at the time, and this was considered to have bolstered the case for a finding of immoral conduct.  Crawford’s allegedly “immoral conduct” was making postings on Facebook that (1) were in all likelihood either true or an expression of her opinion and (2) happened to offend students, teachers, and members of the media. 

There was indeed immoral conduct in this case, but it was not the immoral conduct found by the august body of Solons that calls itself “the Commission on Professional Competence.”  The immoral conduct was that of those who had as their objective the destruction of Patricia Crawford’s First Amendment rights.

This is the new world in which we live, a world where the totalitarian Left and their apparatchiks in government seek to ruin the lives of those who oppose their vision of an Orwellian future for the United States of America.  Other parts of their sinister program are to eliminate the Electoral College, pack the Supreme Court, make the District of Columbia a state, bring in hordes of immigrants who they hope will vote for them, and allow teachers to groom young children without fear of prosecution for child abuse.  To say that we fought the American Revolution to get rid of people like this would be an overstatement, because in truth and fact the British who ruled colonial America were not even close to being as evil as today’s woke mob.

What must be clearly understood is that the Cancel Culture’s minions are not merely people with a different point of view, any more than the murderous Bolsheviks or Nazis were merely people with a different point of view.  To the contrary, they are evil human beings who would do much worse things to us if they could.  During the French Revolution, people who spoke the truth like Patricia Crawford were guillotined, and during the Bolshevik Revolution they were shot or sent to the Gulag.     

Although these events occurred about five years ago, it would be a mistake to think things have changed.  Indeed, they have only gotten worse.  The Biden Administration has established a new Ministry of Truth entitled the “Disinformation Governance Board.”  How long will it be before goose-stepping, jack-booted thugs wearing badges and uniforms will knock on your door because of something you wrote on the internet?  Across the pond, Breitbart News reports that the left-wing mayor of Liverpool, England asserts that advertisements on public transit promoting an appearance by the Reverend Franklin Graham constitute “hate speech” and should be removed.  And what do these allegedly hate-filled ads say?  They say “God Loves You Too.”

 

 

 

 

Our Schools Aren’t Competitive But Money Is Not The Problem.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

America’s schools, including Arizona’s, are stuck in mediocrity. Our academic achievement indicators trail 20 of our OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] peers in every subject. It’s not getting better, either.

It matters more than national pride. The US has fallen to tenth in overall economic competitiveness, our lowest rank ever. Stanford’s Eric Hanushek estimates the US economy would grow 4.5% more in the next 20 years if our students just performed at the international average level.

We have to import workers in fields requiring advanced degrees and outsource tech jobs to other countries.  Employers struggle to find trainable applicants.

American educators typically claim academic failure results from inadequate funding. But that simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

In 2018, before the Covid-inspired spending boost, the US already spent $16,628 per student, well over the OECD average of $10,759. Arizona’s all-source spending, documented by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, exceeds $14,500 per student.

Other experts offer poverty and inadequate prenatal care as explanations for our achievement gap. But, again, living standards in the US are among the world’s highest. Prenatal care is provided to all pregnant women who are income-eligible, which included 42% of all births in 2020.

The causes of our systemic failure are more likely laid bare by the reaction found in an Arizona Republic article reporting that the BASIS schools had captured 10 of the 12 top spots in the ranking of Arizona high schools by US News and World Report.  Since BASIS Schools, which have also topped many national rankings in recent years, are public charter schools, have open admissions, and may not require testing or charge tuition, this was an astonishing accomplishment.

You might normally assume that the media end education administrators would be eager to know the “secret sauce“, what BASIS does to consistently excel. But according to the experts quoted in the article, it’s all about race and privilege.

So says Tomas Monarrez of the Urban Institute, “those rankings are really a measure of prestige and prestige as we know it in this country is very intertwined with history, with race, with income.“ Test scores can only reflect the quality of instruction “if the schools had the same student body“.

And indeed, seven of the top 20 public high schools are located in the wealthiest ZIP Codes in the state. The usual suspects, Asians, and whites, are over-represented in the high-achieving schools.

But here’s a simple logic test.  If wealth and privilege explain the superior performance of the top ranking schools why aren’t all schools in high wealth districts excellent? After all, the seven charter schools in well-off areas outperformed district schools with the same demographics.  The other 13 schools in the top 20 weren’t even in wealthy districts at all.

Here’s a more likely explanation than skin color or “privilege“. BASIS, like all schools of excellence, is unflinchingly committed to high-level learning for all of its students. BASIS stresses rigorous requirements and high expectations.

Students take an average of 11 Advanced Placement courses with six required for graduation. Students, parents, and school staff are all expected to robustly participate in educating.

Critics contend that the schools’ high expectations are a de facto barrier for many public school students. But there is nothing inherently racist or discriminatory about high expectations. In fact, they are critical for underprivileged students to be successful, as has been amply demonstrated by KIPP schools, New York’s Success Academies, and others.

The wealth-and-privilege explanation for excellence is also belied by the example of Tolleson’s University High School. Many students come from working-class or immigrant backgrounds, but Principal Vickie Landis offers no excuses.  On the contrary, “we pride ourselves on rigorous expectations and opportunities“. The school was ranked in Arizona’s 10 Best and was named the state’s only 2022 National Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education.

America’s education system structure is based on an outdated factory model, not suited to flexibility, accountability, and personalization based on consumer choice. Union-style work rules make excellence unlikely, despite many dedicated individual teachers.

But no more excuses. It’s hard to excel, especially with underprivileged students, but we can do better – and we must.

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Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute

 

Cultural Traits and Work Ethic: Human Capital Matters

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ Note: This essay could well be expanded as a theme to explore further because it is that important. If you are an employer or even have had work done around the house by outside contractors, you likely have discovered that for many younger workers the American work ethic is in decline. People often do not show up on time, have incredible imaginations for creating reasons for their tardiness, often don’t communicate well, know little of what they are doing, spend a great deal of time on their phone, quit without notice, and often feel a text message one hour before they go on duty is sufficient. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 6, in a front-page article, that many workers accept jobs, but don’t show up for duty! They vanish before they even start. We thought perhaps our personal observations might be just an older person making the proverbial cranky condemnation of the problems of the next generation. But it is not. In our conversations with business people, we hear the same thing all the time. It is harder and harder, especially since the government started sending checks to anyone who could fog a mirror, to find and maintain reliable help. One manager at Dollar Store recently was fired because he said he would hire Baby Boomers only because younger workers just didn’t have good work habits. We understand the frustration, but what is the cause? Is it a lack of parenting, protecting people from the consequences of their own actions through government benefits, schools without standards, perpetual adolescence through video games, handing out trophies for “participation”, and raising a bunch of snowflakes who would rather pout than engage? Likely, it is all of the above. What should not be in dispute is that it is happening, and if America does not want to turn into a third-world country, attitudes among the young need to change. Ironically, it is people from third-world countries that often work the hardest. They seem happy to be adopting American attitudes, and succeeding, while young Americans adopt third-world attitudes. Maybe it is because they chose to come here. Maybe is it because they have seen privation and our kids are spoiled. It is not a question of origin, but one of attitude about the importance of work. It is a topic that needs much more discussion.  But to the author’s point, there is a direct connection between economic success and traits such as grit, dependability, and responsibility. One can be very bright, but without the traits of a good work ethic, one can become just another intelligent person… you would not want to hire.

 

Countries are in an economic arms race to surpass competitors by accelerating levels of human capital. It is crucial that schools and universities not only graduate students with relevant certificates but also people with the appropriate skills to make a useful contribution to the knowledge economy. The failure of employees to maximize value by applying their skills will result in businesses becoming saddled with liabilities because an inefficient employee is an expense.

Indeed, human capital is a key ingredient for achieving growth, but we should appreciate that human capital is conduced by an intricate interplay of social traits. Being a student entails challenges of completing difficult assignments and graduating on time, so naturally, there is a selection for people who are higher in conscientiousness and patience. Possessing the potential to succeed in school and business is irrelevant when a work ethic is nonexistent.

Primarily because life is challenging, work ethic builds resilience; hence people who are easily perturbed by difficulties will easily quit and never actualize their potential. In school and in business, we are compelled to navigate hostile environments by managing complicated personalities. Without grit, entrepreneurs are bound to fail, since on the path to success they will encounter naysayers and bureaucrats aiming to derail their progress. If prospective entrepreneurs were intimidated by regulations, then we would not be enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Likewise, students contend with arrogant lecturers, incompetent peers, and mindless administrators. But when success is the only option, one must literally overcome the storm. People with laser focus are undaunted by the obstacles because they can conceptualize the long-term outcomes of their labor. On the other hand, since traits that induce performance are not equally distributed, obviously, some people will be deficient in social skills that enable success.

Another harrowing reality is that due to the unequal distribution of success-inducing traits, some characteristics are more abundant in certain countries relative to others. East AsiansAmericans, and Germans are known for an insane work ethic that’s not replicated in most places. Although there is a resurgence of interest in the relationship between culture and economic development, economists rarely identify culture as a direct barrier to the acquisition of human capital.

Researchers have observed differences in how people value time by classifying countries as having either a clock culture or an event culture. In the latter, people are unlikely to place a premium on time, whereas in the former, there is greater reverence for time rather than celebrating the event. Event cultures are usually less productive than time cultures since time cultures minimize waste by using time efficiently. 

The case of Jamaica adroitly illustrates how culture retards development. For instance, in Jamaica there is so little respect for time that people have created the concept of Jamaican time, thereby indicating that attendants should budget for tardiness. Now, for many in Jamaica being fashionably late is just another feature of Jamaican society, yet it has serious economic consequences. One avenue for young people to accumulate human capital is to learn a trade; however, professional institutions are unwilling to entertain tardy behavior; consequently, some young people are unable to keep a job because they lack the discipline to arrive on time.

Once, a young woman revealed to me that she was dismissed for arriving late on three consecutive occasions despite being warned. Even though she was warned, this young woman admitted that she was late because she had to eat her breakfast. If eating breakfast was so important to her, then she should have gotten up earlier to have her meal to allow her to arrive on time. Such dismissals deprive young people of the opportunity to improve themselves; however, unfortunately, many people attribute these dismissals to the grumpiness of managers. Even worse is that the subpar performance of the Jamaican worker is so glaring that Jamaicans are known for saying that one Chinese employee can muster the tasks of five Jamaicans.

Employers often complain that Jamaican workers will show up to do work on a site for the day, but you won’t see them for the rest of the week. So, to correct human capital deficiencies, some in the Jamaican private sector like Paul B. Scott are suggesting that the country import human capital from abroad:

There is little capacity on the supply side to effectively execute what needs to be done to fulfil the potential capacity of Jamaica. If you want another 10,000 hotel rooms or increase BPO (business process outsourcing) or have factories relocated here, then on the supply side, the labor front must be addressed.

Training the population would be an alternative in a different environment, but when natives are unresponsive to training and working, such recommendations raise serious problems.

Displacement automatically breeds resentment, yet the reality is that if Jamaican culture fails to evolve, then natives will be displaced. The decline of pork-barrel politics in Europe and modernization in Japan and Singapore indicate that people can mature if they elect leaders capable of reforming culture and institutions. Jamaica has immense potential, and it would be quite sad for its people to perish due to a lack of knowledge and visionless leadership.

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This article was published by the Mises Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Biden’s Orwellian “Truth Ministry”

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Challenging economic times are bringing out the worst in the Biden administration, which has turned desperate to the point of overtly undermining the First Amendment rights of those with whom they disagree. This pernicious trend has been acute in the climate change and Covid issues, and it is accelerating.

The Biden administration’s creation of a “Disinformation Governance Board” in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made a modern-day reality in the United States stranger than fiction. Indeed, this Board will serve as a real-life “Ministry of Truth” as described by author George Orwell in his famous book1984.

Incredibly, in a recent agency bulletin entitled, the Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland, the DHS subjectively describes terrorism to include “an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM).”

Yes, Biden DHS bureaucrats really wrote that, including the “MDM” acronym that now belongs in the same category as the 911 attacks.

The new director of this Board, a woman named Nina Jankowicz, makes this story more bizarre to the point of parody. The Biden White House and DHS surely saw the same cringe-worthy videos we viewed, including the one of Ms. Jankowicz embarrassing herself by imitating “Mary Poppins” – yet they appointed her anyway. The fact that her recent past also has been one of partisan dishonesty in advancing the Russia collusion hoax and other false narratives confirms the whole initiative is a political farce and dangerous.

If President Joe Biden and his insidious bureaucracy prevail with this blatant assault on freedom of speech, the First Amendment will become a dead letter since this abridgment will not stop with expression.

Freedom of the press has long become mostly a joke, with the major networks and media outlets willingly transforming themselves into propaganda arms of the Biden administration (and Obama’s previously). That’s not just the malicious Joy Reid or buffoonish Brian Stelter on cable news. That also means you, Nora O’Donnell, David Muir, and Lester Holt; the New York Times, Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, and other once-serious news journals. They willingly manipulate objective news and science to favor the Biden agenda in Washington, especially by skewing climate change realities – or ignoring facts and science that question that agenda.

There remains a substantial non-conformist media and Internet presence of alternative news and opinion. But for how long when a federal department with “security” in its title takes aim? And what of the other First Amendment freedoms of assembly and religion?

If the Biden administration’s overt attack on freedom of speech is not defunded and stopped, other freedoms will fall like dominos. Already, houses of worship across the country were forcibly closed under the guise of public health during the height of Covid-19. It can happen again.

Politicians and their government speech police trying to curtail the rights and freedom of individuals as a means of preserving and increasing their own power. Perpetuating a false climate change narrative – that humanity itself faces an imminent and existential threat – is a primary way government officials expand their power to direct the economy and society.

Accordingly, dissenters of the man-made global warming narratives must be censored and silenced, especially as the economy spirals downward.

The Biden policies to raise the cost of energy at the gas pump and to heat and cool your home were deliberate and designed to force the nation onto so-called “renewable” wind and solar projects and electric vehicles. But the public is increasingly fed up with higher gas prices and their ripple effect on skyrocketing grocery bills and every other commodity and service.

With inflation running at 8.5 percent in the last 12 months and likely climbing to double-digits, the Biden administration’s climate narrative and accompanying anti-energy policies are becoming way more difficult to inflict on the public.

Rather than take concrete steps to ease inflation by expanding domestic energy production and scaling back on massive new government spending, the administration is raising the stakes by making unprecedented attempts at societal control with the creation of its own Truth Ministry.

Never mind that the President of the United States has the largest bully pulpit in the world. Except, our 79-year-old chief executive can barely read what is scrolled in front of him, much less articulate a coherent response to a simple question, including from pliant media.

And forget the fact that the president’s spokespersons, including daily fabulist Jen Psaki and every cabinet member, can advance a political and media narrative.

Evidently, they’ve determined that their own speech is not enough for them to retain government power to fulfill socialist fantasies for the nation. Contrary narratives and pushback from the public – especially on climate policy – must be combatted by any means necessary.

President Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board is anathema to the U.S. Constitution and has no place in a free society with guaranteed inalienable rights. The Board’s brazen existence and purpose to censor opposing voices and squash dissent make it a threat to the liberty of all Americans, regardless of one’s views of climate change or any other political issue.

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This article was published by CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

Sweden Finally Gets Some Recognition

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

During the recent government panic over Covid, almost all governments in one form or another used “lockdown”, or the quarantining of the healthy, in order to stop the spread of the disease. This was a first in history because usually, isolating the sick or the especially vulnerable was the strategy.

The result was severe economic distortion including soaring debt, rising inflation, and completely tangled supply chains. We will all be lucky if a global depression can be avoided as a consequence of these flawed policies.  Starvation in the Third World is a real possibility.

But even simply on the basis of healthcare outcomes, growing evidence shows it was a terrible mistake. This includes no better fatality rates, a bulge in health problems from those who could not seek treatment for other ailments and conditions, soaring mental health issues including drug and alcohol abuse, catastrophic disruption of schooling and the lives of children, and the severe diminution of personal liberty.

In the early phases of the pandemic, given the unknown nature of the virus from China, and the severe response China had to a pandemic that they likely were more knowledgeable about than other nations, it would be charitable to give governmental officials some latitude. They simply did not know what they were dealing with and copied China.

Computer models vastly exaggerated the possible fatalities. It also seemed to feed into the needs of Progressives to control every aspect of life, kind of a dry run for their coming “lockdown” to save the world from “climate change.”

There was widespread fear that hospitals would collapse under the weight of the infected.

As more information began to become available, it appeared many of these measures did little good and in fact did substantial harm. Some countries, continued harsh measures, while others began to relax the regulations.

Within the US, typically states and cities run by Democrats continued severe measures and while Republican states, used a lighter touch. It soon became clear that outcomes were no better, and sometimes worse, in states with harsh lockdown policies. Yet, advocates of harsh lockdown decided to follow only the “science” that supported their policies.

This caused a further divide politically in the U.S., with die-hard lockdown politicians seeming to revel in their newly found power to abuse civil liberties, while Republicans began to protest, refused to comply, and mock the excesses of others.

It divided families and friends as well. One group seems forever terrified and wanted to force others to embrace their fears by forcing others to vaccinate, wear masks, and curtail group activities.

Others calculated their own risk and tried as best to go on with their lives within the restrictions.

The vaccinated and boosted members of societies began to get the virus and spread the virus. If this was a vaccine in the traditional sense, it seemed quite ineffectual. Even President Trump, ever eager to brag about “Operation Warp Speed”, began to have doubts about the role he played in all of this.

But, we could have had mass vaccination without lockdown.

Even today, it is not uncommon to see people wearing masks alone while walking outside or riding in a car. It is hard to recall any period in U.S. history where such fear gripped a large segment of the population. The mask became a talisman to ward off evil spirits, it would seem.

To vaccinate very young children, who have virtually no chance of dying from the virus, but yet run the considerable risk of adverse reactions, still continues to be promoted.

Among nations, really only one pursued fundamentally a different strategy. It was generally to protect the vulnerable elderly while leaving younger citizens with lower risk to make their own calculations of risk.

We highlighted this experience in multiple articles to our readers as we found their approach much more balanced and their results really no worse than severe lockdown states.

The country, of course, was Sweden.

Sweden generally has designed a mixed economy, high taxes, generous state-provided benefits, and open immigration, while allowing considerable room for enterprise and personal freedom.

It does not exactly fit the description of a government that would pursue this lighter touch to the pandemic. But English-style democracies like Australia and New Zealand were among the most dictatorial, while quasi-socialist Sweden took another route.

Yet Sweden was constantly mocked for its approach. You just don’t stand apart from a good bureaucratic stampede.

To date, little press has been given to the remarkable difference in Sweden. Perhaps, this is because the information is so embarrassing to the more popular harsh lockdown politicians around the world.

We are proud that at The Prickly Pear, we repeatedly tried to call attention to the Swedish approach with multiple articles.

That is why it is perhaps an encouraging signal that a reckoning is coming for the harsh lockdown crowd with the publication in the Washington Monthly, of a major article on Sweden, and an analysis of all the terrible unintended consequences that followed in the U.S. from harsh lockdown policies.

The Washington Monthly is not known for being particularly conservative and its readership is Beltway elites. That makes their piece on this subject all the more revelatory. This is not a fringe publication, but rather one popular in the corridors of political power, the same corridors that produced awful lockdown policies.

Here are a few snippets from What Sweden Got Right About Covid :

But Sweden seems to have been right. Countries that took the severe route to stem the virus might want to look at the evidence found in a little-known 2021 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The researchers found that among 11 wealthy peer nations, Sweden was the only one with no excess mortality among individuals under 75. None, zero, zip.
That’s not to say that Sweden had no deaths from COVID. It did. But it appears to have avoided the collateral damage that lockdowns wreaked in other countries. The Kaiser study wisely looked at excess mortality, rather than the more commonly used metric of COVID deaths. This means that researchers examined mortality rates from all causes of death in the 11 countries before the pandemic and compared those rates to mortality from all causes during the pandemic. If a country averaged 1 million deaths per year before the pandemic but had 1.3 million deaths in 2020, excess mortality would be 30 percent.

There are several reasons to use excess mortality rather than COVID deaths to compare countries. The rate of COVID deaths ignores regional and national differences. For example, the desperately poor Central African Republic has a very low rate of fatalities from COVID. But that’s because it has an average life expectancy of 53. People in their 70s are 3,000-fold more susceptible than children to dying of COVID, and even people in their 20s to 50s are far less likely to die than the elderly. So, it’s no surprise that the Central African Republic has a low COVID mortality rate despite its poverty and poor medical care. The U.S., by contrast, with its large elderly population (and general ill-health compared to most wealthy countries), was fertile soil for the coronavirus.

Excess mortality is the smart, objective standard. It includes all deaths, whether from COVID, the indirect effects of COVID (such as people avoiding the hospital during a heart attack), or the side effects of lockdowns. And it gets rid of the problem of underlying differences among countries, allowing a direct comparison of their performance during COVID.”

They go on to say:

Even among the elderly, Sweden’s excess mortality in 2020 was lower than that in the U.S., Belgium, Switzerland, the U.K., the Netherlands, Austria, and France. Canada, Germany, and Australia had lower rates than Sweden among people over the age of 70—probably because Sweden failed to limit nursing home visits at the very beginning of the pandemic.

The U.S., by contrast, had the highest excess mortality rate among all 11 countries in the Kaiser study. We also had a stunning number of COVID deaths—more than 1 million. Our lousy rate is probably due to multiple factors, says Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Our underlying health is worse than most wealthy countries because of our wide wealth gap, high rates of poverty and obesity, spotty access to high-quality health care for the poor, and an aging population.”

There is much to be learned about this whole Covid affair. Where did it come from? Why did governments react the way they did, even as information came in contradicting their policy? Why did so many people abandon their freedom and responsibility for their own lives? What role did the media play in spreading irrational fear? Will any of our leaders ever be held accountable for their decisions? Where were the checks and balances in our American system?

Maybe the process of self-examination can now begin because a beltway publication is now willing to talk about it. Let’s face it, our leaders, our press, and our medical establishment failed us terribly.

What is The Main Purpose of Education?

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Our country’s K-12 public education system is being transformed into something it was never intended to be. Academic rigor is taking a backseat to an ideological mission, as schools go beyond teaching reading and math to focus on reshaping students’ attitudes and beliefs to advance a political agenda.

But most Americans do not believe this shift is the primary purpose of education, according to a survey by EdChoice and Morning Consult.

“Core academic subjects”

In Minnesota, most survey respondents said that mastery of “core academic subjects” for students in K-8 and mastery of “skills for future employment” in high school is the primary purpose of education. (Learning core academic subjects was a very close second for high school students.)

Additionally, teaching students how to be good citizens was also identified as an extremely important part of students’ K-12 journey, along with them becoming independent thinkers and learning socialization skills.

“Fixing social issues” came in last as education’s main purpose, with only 23 percent noting it “extremely important” for K-8 students to learn and 26 percent saying so for high school students.

A fundamental shift

Most Americans agree the classroom is not the place to implement a political agenda, but the advancement of an ideology with such contempt for achievement is being advanced by unaccountable teachers’ unions, unchecked bureaucracy, “equity” consultants, and philanthropic foundations that spend billions of dollars perpetuating the racism they claim to want to address.

As more parents wake up to the educational issues within our K-12 system, fundamental questions about education should get asked. This must include forcing the debate about education’s primary purpose and what students need to be set up for success outside of the classroom. Literacy and numeracy skills, paired with preparing students to further develop into responsible, enlightened, and civic-minded adults and members of society, must be prioritized.

 

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This article was published by The Center for the American Experiment and is reproduced with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Just Got Back from a Trip

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

To Saturn. I was there for six years. Boy, have things changed. I am not talking about Joe Biden being President which is shocking enough. I am referring to the fact that the hottest issue in America is not even climate change. It is people changing gender, what gender you are, how you refer to yourself, and teaching children about their gender identity. Wow, things sure changed while I was gone.

When I left, the country was just adjusting to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Many people were delighted and the issue of being gay was now a thing of the past. From 1969 to 2015, not even 50 years, Gays went from The Stonewall Riots to being fully accepted. People didn’t care anymore whether someone was gay except for the odd person behind the tree. I had not cared for a long time as certified by the fact my Best Man at my wedding in 1986 was and is gay.

When I left for Saturn, the entire issue was settled. I returned to a massive uproar. I knew the Sparks song All You Ever Think About is Sex, but I figured it was obscure, now it had taken over the nation.

The groups supporting gay rights and gay marriage did not want to say, “we won, we are done.” So, they found a new cause – Transgenders. Thus, these activists are still in business and raising more money than ever. I asked many others if they ever thought there would be so much focus on such a small group of people, and they just looked at me in amazement that this has happened.

The problem is if you are not on board with people changing their gender, you are branded a bigot. Most people do not care if someone wants to change genders, they just do not want to hear about it and they do not want to pay for it.

A fracas broke out about males becoming females and participating in either high school or college sports. When anyone questioned the right to do so, they were branded a bigot. Here is something I noticed when I returned – not one of the people who were against former males participating in women’s sports had ever argued against former females participating in male sports. Why is that? If they only argued one way because they said it was unfair to the female athletes to compete against former males, can you really brand them a bigot? Doesn’t that provide validation that they are not arguing against Transgenders but instead arguing for fairness in sports competition?

Discussion about gender has become all the rage. What you call yourself is now a thing. When I left people referred to each other as men or women, he or she, her or him. Now there is a laundry list of names you can call yourself. There are new terms like “cisgender.” Who makes this stuff up? Don’t they have real jobs? And all the pronouns. And stating what you want (preferred) to be called. I was referred to a professor at U.C. Berkeley who is the sister of a childhood friend. I went on her Wiki page which stated her preferred pronoun was “They.” I read her bio and was deeply confused by the references made every time “They” was used. It reminded me of when people used to use the royal “We.” Our response looking at the person was always “What, do you have a mouse in your pocket?”

Boy, have things changed. It seems it is now mandatory to teach children about gender identity even as early as kindergarten. We used to focus young children on other matters like getting an education and learning how to read. One state decided that teachers may not discuss the matter with kids 5-8 years old and World War III broke out. I saw a video of three grown women skipping down a hallway arm-in-arm saying “Gay, Gay, Gay.” What has happened folks? Do six-year-olds need to hear this stuff? Will it not just confuse them? Can’t they just be kids? They will have plenty of time to deal with these matters and choose their preferred pronouns. In the end, isn’t that the role of their parents to discuss this with their children?

Then I saw a video of a teacher saying that because of this law he could not share the weekend activities he had with his gay partner with his students. I do not have a perfect memory, but I searched back in it and could not think of an instance where a teacher conveyed anything about their personal life to me. Not even when I was president of the School of Business at San Diego State and spent hours and hours with professors and the Dean. Certainly, my third-grade teacher never discussed even going to see the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra with George Szell or the Indians or Browns. It just did not happen, and I cannot see a reason it should. My, have things changed.

Yes, coming back from Saturn was shocking. Not only was all this going on, but the Chicago Cubs had won a World Series. Now we know the world has totally been turned upside down.

Amazon Employees Melt Down Over ‘Traumatic’ Conservative Children’s Book in Leaked Video

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Once again, Amazon has shown it’s on the side of leftist activists, not free speech.

Matt Walsh, a popular conservative podcast host and writer at The Daily Wire, just released a children’s book titled “Johnny the Walrus.” The book, according to the description on Amazon, tells the tale of Johnny, who likes to pretend to be a dinosaur or a knight.

But one day “when the internet people find out Johnny likes to make-believe, he’s forced to make a decision between the little boy he is and the things he pretends to be—and he’s not allowed to change his mind,” states the description.

Amazon is clearly trying to squash Walsh’s book. 

According to Walsh, his picture book has been removed from the category of children’s books and moved to political books. Ads for the book on Amazon also have been rejected by the tech giant as not being “appropriate for all audiences”—an umbrella term for standards that ban advertising for books promoting incest and pedophilia, among other things.

Amazon did not respond to The Daily Signal’s emailed request for comment.

Despite all this, Walsh’s book is soaring on Amazon, becoming No. 1 in books Wednesday.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has targeted conservative books. Last year, Amazon blocked ads for the new book, “BLM: The Making of a New Marxist Revolution,” by Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and editor. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation, which attempted to purchase the ads.)

After The Daily Signal reported on its actions against the Gonzalez book, Amazon reversed its decision and claimed the ads initially were blocked due to “inaccurately enforced” policies.

Last year, Amazon also banned Ethics and Public Policy Center President Ryan T. Anderson’s book,  “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.”

In response to a letter from four U.S. senators inquiring as to why Amazon had stopped selling Anderson’s book, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, responded, “We have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.” Anderson, however, notes that his book doesn’t characterize LGBTQ+ identities as a mental illness.

Meanwhile, while Anderson’s book is too dangerous, Amazon continues to sell Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” 

And just like every other Big Tech company, Amazon never seems to censor or block leftists. Nor does it treat leftist books as too political to be classified as children’s books.

Here’s a sampling of woke children’s books that Amazon still lists under the children’s books category:

1. “Jacob’s Room to Choose,” by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, is a picture book about Jacob, who likes to wear dresses and gets kicked out of the boys’ bathroom, and his friend Sophie, who has a similar experience in the girls’ bathroom.  “When their teacher finds out what happened, Jacob and Sophie, with the support [of] administration, lead change at their school as everyone discovers the many forms of gender expression and how to treat each other with respect,” states the description on Amazon.

2. “Antiracist Baby,” a board book by “How to Be an Antiracist” author Ibram X. Kendi, who champions critical race theory.

3. “I Am Jazz,” by Jessica Herthel, is a picture book that tells the story of TV personality Jazz Jennings. “From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body,” states the description on Amazon, which adds that ultimately a doctor “said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way.”

4. “Jack (Not Jackie)” by Erica Silverman is about Susan, who realizes that her little sister “doesn’t like dresses or fairies-she likes ties and bugs!” The Amazon description continues, “Will she and her family be able to accept that Jackie identifies more as ‘Jack’?” and notes: “This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance.”

I could go on—there’s a shockingly robust selection of propaganda books for little leftists—but you get the point. On Amazon, it’s OK for people with the “right” views to write about gender identity for kids. But it’s not OK for Walsh, just because the views he holds aren’t seen as acceptable. 

Doubt that? Popular Twitter account Libs of TikTok released two videos Tuesday that appears to show an Amazon internal meeting where company employees discuss Walsh’s “Johnny the Walrus.”

“‘Johnny the Walrus’ is a bit of a problematic book—not a bit—it is not a bit of a problem, it’s one hell of a problem,” states a man who appears to be the meeting host. He adds at another point, “I also saw someone mention that this is really tough content if you’re transgender, if you’re gender nonbinary … and this is super triggering … I would understand if you needed to leave.”

Amazon did not respond to The Daily Signal’s email requesting comments on the videos.

And if you’re still wondering what the popular sentiment is at Amazon, consider this: In 2020, donations from Amazon employees to President Joe Biden’s campaign totaled $2.3 million, per Open Secrets. Donations to President Donald Trump’s campaign totaled a measly $289,000. 

It’s clear that Amazon is not committed to a level playing field for all books, regardless of ideology.  Once again, another Big Tech company is making clear that there’s one set of rules for leftists and another set for conservatives.

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This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.