Letter to Violence Prevention Agencies on Parenting

September 20, 2014

Ms Marilyn Atler
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
123 North Enola Dr.
Enola, PA 17025

Dear Ms Atler

The NFL and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center have a unique opportunity now to redirect the spotlight of attention from individual instances of domestic violence to the general lack of education on family health. The No Child Left Behind law requires teachers to drill students in reading, writing, and arithmetic to the exclusion of other subjects of equal or even more importance. As a result, American kids tend to graduate from high school with adequate academic skills, but inadequate human skills. They don’t know how to discipline children or resolve disputes with partners or foster healthy families. The NFL and the NSVRC are in the spotlight now, but the problem is common throughout society. And who could be surprised? If we don’t teach kids how to function as partners and parents, how can we expect them to acquire these skills? I urge you to seize this moment to direct attention to where it is needed, i.e., on the social inadequacy of American education, and I offer my services. I have extensive experience in family matters and would be happy to develop a course that might be offered to the NFL and could serve as a model for similar courses that could be offered to all students in all schools. I enclose an op-ed on this topic. Thanks for considering.

Sincerely,

Doug Dix, Ph.D., Professor, and
Secretary/Treasurer of MOMS: The Fund for Mothers with Young Children

Dix@hartford.edu

Sent also to National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Jonathan Alger, President, James Madison University

 

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Letter on Licensing Parents to the NFL

September 20, 2014

Mr. Jerry Richardson, Owner/Founder
Carolina Panthers
800 South Mint St.
Charlotte, NC 28202

Dear Mr. Richardson:

The Panthers and the NFL, have a unique opportunity now to redirect the spotlight of attention from individual instances of domestic violence to the general lack of education on family health. The No Child Left Behind law requires teachers to drill students in reading, writing, and arithmetic to the exclusion of other subjects of equal or even more importance. As a result, American kids tend to graduate from high school with adequate academic skills, but inadequate human skills. They don’t know how to discipline children or resolve disputes with partners or foster healthy families. The Panthers and the NFL are in the spotlight now, but the problem is common throughout society. And who could be surprised? If we don’t teach kids how to function as partners and parents, how can we expect them to acquire these skills? I urge you to seize this moment to direct attention to where it is needed, i.e., on the social inadequacy of American education, and I offer my services. I have extensive experience in family matters and would be happy to develop a course that might be offered to the Panthers, and, perhaps, the NFL and could serve as a model for similar courses that could be offered to all students in all schools. I enclose an op-ed on this topic. Thanks for considering.

Sincerely,

Doug Dix, Ph.D., Professor, and
Secretary/Treasurer of MOMS: The Fund for Mothers with Young Children

Dix@hartford.edu

Sent also to Roger Goodell, Zygl Wilf of Vikings, Stephen Bisciotti of Ravens, and William Bidwill of Cardinals

 

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Letter on Taxing Colleges for Undelivered Public Service

September 2, 2014

Mr. Matthew Weir
Director, Rulings and Agreements
Internal Revenue Service, Exempt Organizations
Room 4024
P.O. Box 2508
Cincinnati, OH 45201

Dear Mr. Weir:

Colleges are tax-exempt on the assumption that higher education is a public service. This assumption may have been conspicuously valid in the past, but it is not so now, and I ask that you revaluate the tax-exemption for colleges and universities.
Colleges enable the ideas that fuel health care and our economy, but both are in ruins. America ranks last in health among peer nations according to a recent National Research Council report, and our economy only serves the ultra rich. Median CEO pay exceeds $10 million/year, while the median wage earner takes home less than $42,000/year. Students pay more for college now than at any time previous and they graduate with bigger debts and smaller career prospects than every before. Colleges teach contempt for health stressing students and junior faculty and tolerating tobacco, alcohol, and junk food, and by promoting concussion-prone sports. While students struggle with rising college costs, college administrators have awarded themselves ever-larger salaries and staffs.
Colleges occupy prime real estate and utilize host municipality police, fire, and emergency medical protection along with sewer and public works while paying no tax. Many colleges have sizable endowments, but pay no tax. Yale’s endowment is larger than the gross domestic product of 108 countries, and it grows at more than 10% per year. Why is Yale not paying tax? Why isn’t every college that doesn’t contribute more in public service than it gains from tax-exemption?
If colleges paid tax, the public could offer tax-breaks for desired public service and in this way force colleges to become what they were founded to be. I enclose an op-ed on this topic.

Sincerely,

Doug Dix, Ph.D.,
Professor, and
Secretary/Treasurer of MOMS: The Fund for Mothers with Young Children

Dix@hartford.edu

860 768-4261

also sent to Melaney Partner, Director, Customer Education and Outreach at IRS, and Tamera Pipperda, Director at IRS, and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at P. O. Box 589, Ben Franklin Station, Washington DC 2004-0589. Also sent to Representative John Larson, and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy.

 

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Letter on College Vouchers

Dear Senator:

I ask that you consider a matter that will benefit all residents of Connecticut, but particularly those of low-income.
In America, we are free to shop for whatever we want, except education. Parents certainly have more choice now than in the past about where to send their kids to school, but nowhere near free choice. Parents could have free choice if the state issued vouchers for each child that could be redeemed at the schools of their choices. But there is legitimate fear of school vouchers, for some parents would likely make bad choices and their innocent children would suffer the consequences.
That fear doesn’t apply to college, where adult students are ultimately responsible for their own choices. There is no good reason to use tax revenue to subsidize state colleges rather than issue vouchers to residents that could be redeemed at the colleges of their choices. Residents that like the state colleges will redemm their vouchers at those colleges. And residents who like other colleges will not be required to pay both for the college they attend and the state colleges they do not attend. I enclose an op-ed on this topic.
Please survey your constituents to find the percentage that would prefer college vouchers to subsidizing state colleges. If the percentage is high, please begin the process of making college vouchers a reality.
Many low-income students don’t enter college or drop out early for financial reasons. Others graduate with ridiculous debts. Vouchers are the perfect solution, as some colleges will cut frills and costs to attract low-income students.

Sent to Beth Bye, Representative; David Baram, Representative, and Eric Coleman, Senator. Also sent to Governor Malloy, Representative Jason Perillo, Representative Tim LeGeyt, and Senator Toni Boucher.

 

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Letter to Protect Children from Collision Sports

September 2, 2014

Mr. George Jepsen
Child Advocate
999 Asylum Avenue, 1st Floor
Hartford, CT 06105

Dear Ms Eagan:

Connecticut football coaches teach hard and clean football. They don’t want anyone injured and they do all that they can to protect players. But football is a collision sport, and collisions are inherently dangerous. Blocking and tackling cause injuries, and teaching kids to act in ways that cause injuries is illegal.
Injuries are common occurrences, but in non-collision sports, such as baseball, track, and tennis, injuries are always caused by accident or foul. In collision sports, such as football, boxing, and hockey, injuries are often caused by properly playing the game. Despite the benevolent motives of collision coaches, teaching kids to collide qualifies as abuse and risk of injury to minors.
According to DCF, “abuse is a non-accidental injury to a child which, regardless of motive, is inflicted or allowed to be inflicted by the person responsible for the child’s care.” According to CGS 53-21, “any person who (1) willfully . . . causes or permits any child under the age of sixteen years to be placed in such a situation that the life or limb of such child is endangered . . . shall be guilty of a class C felony.”
Please enforce these laws to protect children from collision sports, or explain why you refuse to do so.

Sincerely,

Doug Dix, Ph.D.,
Professor, and
Secretary/Treasurer, MOMS: The Fund for Mothers with Young Children

Dix@hartford.edu

860 768-4261

Copies to Joette Katz Commissioner, Department of Children and Families, 505 Hudson St., Hartford, CT 06106
and Sarah Eagan, JD, Child Advocate, 999 Asylum Ave, 1st Floor, Hartford, CT 06105

 

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Parenting Without a License

A license is required to become an adoptive or foster parent. The same should apply to becoming a birth parent.
In all of life, there’s no activity so important as parenting. Non-humans do it perfectly by instinct. Our great grandparents did the same. But soon after the invention of television and the mall, kids were captured by a cult that replaced natural instinct with artificial ingredients. Now kids are raised indoors by computers and peer networks. They’ve no idea what it means to be natural or parented. Neither do their parents, having grown up in the same cult. The result is wholesale abandonment of life’s most important activity. Kids view parents, not as role models to emulate, but as puppets to manipulate. Parents view kids, not as apprentices to mentor, but as royals to mollify. Money serves both parties, and, at first glance, that seems good for the economy. Domestic tranquility is for sale. But the price is extracted from character, and lack of character isn’t good for anything.
Kids learn to want what can be bought, and parents the peace that comes from buying it. Whether what’s wanted contributes to health or habitat or social fabric is irrelevant. Poor families suffer by comparison: Kids feel deprived, parents inadequate. Unlike our great grandparents, contemporary poor seek remedy in entitlements rather than sacrifice.
Poor kids don’t do they’re schoolwork, and their parents don’t make them. They’re disrespectful to teachers, and their parents don’t punish them. They drop out of school, become chronically unemployed, and turn to crime or welfare as a way of life. Poor kids suffer more than rich kids from obesity and diabetes because their parents don’t make them eat right and exercise. Poor parents like to claim they can’t afford good food, but good food is cheaper than junk food. Brown rice, dry beans, powdered milk, and vitamin/mineral pills make a perfect diet. Add some olive oil and vinegar and herbs and it even tastes good. Jumping rope, jogging in place or up and down stairs, and push-ups and sit-ups are free and safe, and all the exercise anyone needs. Poor girls, more than rich girls, get pregnant and contract HIV because poor parents don’t enforce safe sex. When poor kids become parents, they perpetuate the cycle of deprivation and entitlement.
Rich kids do their schoolwork and treat teachers with respect, but they also cheat more than poor kids do because rich parents care about success more than integrity. Rich parents shower their kids with unequal opportunities, e.g., elite schools, private lessons, summer camps, travel abroad, influential internships. When, eventually, rich kids join the executive ranks, they assume they’re entitled to exorbitant compensation, and they’re not ashamed to hurt health, habitat, or social fabric to get it. When they become parents, they perpetuate the cycle of affluence and entitlement.
The woes of our world – chronic diseases, environmental devastation, social and economic decay – emanate from lack of character. We shouldn’t expect legislatures or schools to solve these problems. But we can demand that legislatures require schools to teach parenting skills, and to prohibit parenting by kids who fail to acquire these skills. What are parenting skills? More than anything else, they’re about saying “No” to selfish desire, and teaching kids not to want more than they need. Parenting isn’t fun or easy, and it breeds domestic discord. But it can empower children to “sit down together at the table of brotherhood and judge each other,” not by physical or intellectual achievements, or worldly possessions, or popularity, “but by the content of their character.”
According to a recent Brookings Institution report, Connecticut residents lead the nation in social and economic mobility. Let’s take that leadership to the next level by demonstrating how to empower all kids to parent for the good of the whole. Let’s require schools to teach kids how to say “no” to selfish desire and “yes” to good character. Let’s award a “License to Parent” to high school graduates who acquire these skills. And let’s make pregnancy without a license an automatic “Hotline” call to the Department of Children and Families.

 

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Vouchers Would Improve Colleges

If you’re an American paying private college costs, you’re paying twice: once to your private college, and once to your state’s tax collector to support public colleges. It’s worse than unfair. It’s counterproductive. State colleges have a captive audience. Kids attend not because they like what’s offered, but because they can’t afford an alternative. There’s no incentive for state colleges to please prospective customers. As a result, they please trustees and legislators. If instead of subsidizing state schools, taxpayers provided residents with vouchers to be redeemed at the colleges of their choices, all colleges would compete for the same students, and some colleges would cut costs to attract them.
What’s the minimum cost of a bachelor’s degree? Vouchers would answer that question, and inspire others. Why are colleges tax-exempt, for instance? Whether your paying private college costs or not, you’re paying for all colleges in the form of lost tax revenue. And in Connecticut, that loss is unfathomable. The Yale endowment of $20 billion is equal to the annual budget for our State and greater than the gross domestic product of 108 countries. And it grows at more than 10% per year. But Yale pays no tax on its endowment or educational property because higher education is assumed to be a public service. But what kind of public service could possibly warrant that kind of tax-break?
Colleges provide entertainment in the form of sports, but you could get that at a much lower cost by simply fielding state teams, rather than state college teams. Colleges enable the ideas that fuel health care and the economy, but both are in ruins. America ranks last in health among peer nations (National Research Council, “U. S. Health in International Perspective: Shortened Lives, Poorer Health”) and the economy only serves the ultra rich. Median CEO pay, for example, exceeds $10 million/year, while the median full-time worker earns less than $42,000/year. Yale is popular because it makes lots of CEOs. Could anyone think that’s a public service? College costs are bigger than ever and ordinary college graduates have smaller career prospects and bigger debts than ever. Where’s the public service?
Colleges treat financial aid as public service. Yale brags about its scholarship program for New Haven high school graduates and its no-cost program for low-income Yale undergraduates. But financial aid just allows some smart, lucky poor kids to get rich along with the smart, lucky rich ones. It does nothing to diminish disparity or protect our environment or foster liberty and justice for all. If you want any or all of that, vouchers are your ticket.
By empowering customers to shop, vouchers will do for college what the free market has done for appliances and cars and clothes and everything else that’s for sale, drive variety and quality up, while driving prices down. Some colleges will seek students by cutting frills and delivering meaningful, public-service-oriented, education. To the extent that students appreciate this kind of education, these colleges will flourish, and to that extent, disparity will decline, our environment will recover, and liberty and justice for all will once again become an American ideal.
When all is said and done, it’s not the college degree or the money it earns that matters, but only what students learn to love and what they learn to do for love. Let’s use vouchers to help them love better and do more public service.

 

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Collegiate Democracy

For the almost 4 billion years that organisms have lived on earth, they’ve been governed by brutality. The strong devoured the weak, and, in so doing, ensured that only the strong reproduced. From the origin of civilization some 10,000 years ago, people formed governments to administer the law of the jungle. But some 3,000 years ago, Hebrews and Hindus began to imagine a different form of government, a rule by truth or right and love. By 500 BCE Athenians gave birth to a form of government they called democracy. It manifested love of truth or right in rule by popular vote. Romans copied this form of government until 27 BCE, when the Senate abdicated authority to Octavian. With that, democracy perished from this earth until it was rekindled in the Virginia House of Burgesses (1619) the Mayflower Compact (1620), and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1636), which is the first constitution since the fall of Rome.

By 1776, some truths had become self-evident in America: All were created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, governments existed to secure the rights of the people, and, therefore, governments derived their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any government became destructive of this aim, it was the right, indeed the duty, of the people to alter or abolish it and establish a new, responsive, government in its place.

Democracy, defined as rule by the majority, is dangerous, however, because it offers no protection for the rights of the minority or individuals. Democracy can become mob rule. A constitution can protect the rights of all, and the United States is a constitutional democracy. Power resides in the majority but is limited by laws that are created in accord with the Constitution. A constitutional democracy can be synonymous with a republic, i.e., rule by representatives of the people in accord with a constitution. It’s what we have in the United States. But it’s not working, i.e., it’s not fostering liberty and justice for all. The rich are getting ever obscenely richer, while the poor are getting poorer and more numerous. The richest 20% of American families now own some 85% of the nation’s net worth, while the bottom 60% of American families own some 4% of the nation’s net worth. That’s aristocracy and peasantry. What will you do about it?

Will you vote? Will you write to your elected officials? Will you work for the candidates of your choice? That’s all been tried before. What makes you think it will work now? The Republic is 238 years old. Do you get the feeling it’s about to become more egalitarian anytime soon? So what will you do? Nothing? Some of us have pledged allegiance to a Republic that fosters liberty and justice for all. We can’t do nothing. So, what should we do? What can we do?

We can teach. And if we teach well, we can make what we want in one generation. What should we teach? We must teach the people how to control college, for whoever controls college, controls the future. Presently aristocrats appoint administrators to control colleges. We must temper that control with advice from the majority of students, faculty, and staff. The following is a preamble that begs for a constitution: “We the people of — NAME YOUR COLLEGE — in order to form a more perfect union amongst ourselves and with people and organisms everywhere do resolve to dedicate our every action to liberty and justice for all. “

Democracy is never a gift. And it is never secure. Like topsoil, democracy is under constant erosion, and must, therefore, be constantly protected and repaired. What are you doing to protect, repair, and enhance democracy? Are you content now to let government of, by, and for the people perish from the earth? Will you let the sacred sacrifice of those who won democracy for you be in vain? Or will you dedicate your efforts to the great task of bringing liberty and justice to all? You will answer this question by what you do, or don’t do, to bring the vote to campus.

 

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World Peace

From the youngest ages, kids learn to enjoy playing war and glorifying warriors. Fighting ranks among the most common forms of video entertainment for kids, and weapons rank among the most common toys. Violence against people, as in football, hockey, lacrosse, boxing, and auto racing, is portrayed as sport. Violence against animals, as in hunting, fishing, trapping, agriculture, zoos, circuses, and biology laboratories is portrayed as wholesome, necessary, educational, and fun. War reverence is reinforced in school, where conquest by combat is a major theme of world and American history. Kids aren’t encouraged to imagine how the conquistadors and pioneers might have peacefully engaged the Native Americans, or how wars might have been avoided.

In America today, young teens are allowed to join paramilitary organizations, e.g., JROTC, and, at age 17, the armed forces. The average age of enlistment into the United States Army is 20, a year too young to purchase or consume alcohol. Kids major in war at the Nation’s public and private military academies. But kids are not encouraged to wonder about war. When is it necessary? What, precisely, is America defending? If it’s American youth, recruiting them to stand in harm’s way is counterproductive. If it’s not American youth, what is more worthy of protection?

The U. S. Department of Defense, with more than 3 million employees, is the world’s largest employer, and commands more than 20% of the federal budget. It’s common for kids to know someone who is in the business of preparing for or perpetrating war. No comparable attention is paid to peace. Despite long-standing efforts to establish a U. S. Department of Peace, there remains no such department, and peace is not a topic for study at school. Peace knowledge and skills are not evaluated on state-wide mastery tests or the SAT. There are no departments or professors of peace at college, and peace is not a respected college major. It isn’t surprising that the world isn’t at peace.

Kids learn to care about their personal appearance. They learn to use cosmetics for their hair, eyes, lips, skin, and nails. They use perfume, clothing, and jewelry to enhance their desired image. Kids learn to care about entertainment. They buy admission to movies, amusement parks, sports events, concerts, and vacations. They learn to care about their rooms and, eventually their homes, and their cars and their hobbies and their favorite forms of recreation. Some kids learn to ski or scuba dive. Others learn golf or tennis or martial arts or fine arts. Kids learn to care about the taste of their food and the manner in which it is served. They learn to appreciate ambience and fine dining. Kids become cultured. Eventually they learn to care about their careers and investments and insurance. They learn to build financial security, and how to pass their culture to their kids. But no kid ever learns anything about world peace.

 

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Tax Colleges to Get Public Service

Colleges are tax-exempt because higher education is assumed to be a public service, bur that assumption is worthy of scrutiny.Colleges enable the inventions that fuel health care and the economy, but both are in ruins. America ranks last among peer nations in health (National Research Council, 2013, “U. S. Health in International Perspective: Shortened Lives, Poorer Health”) and the economy only serves the ultra rich. Median CEO pay, for example, exceeds $10 million/year, while the median full-time worker earns less than $42,000/year. College costs are bigger than ever and college graduates have smaller career prospects and bigger debts than ever. Where’s the public service? In every field, leaders are college graduates. And they exploit our environment and fray our social fabric for profit because that’s what they learned at alma mater. Colleges don’t feed the hungry, or shelter the homeless, or comfort the dying. They’re famous for sports, pomp, parties, and academics. Are these a public service? Colleges treat financial aid as charity. But aid just allows some smart, lucky poor kids to get rich along with the smart, lucky rich ones. It does nothing to diminish disparity. The only way to do that is to teach smart, lucky kids to share, but colleges don’t do that. If sharing were taboo, it could not receive less attention at college. There are no departments or professors or textbooks of sharing, and no one ever majors in the subject. Colleges owe the public a benefit that exceeds the amount of their tax-exemption. Let’s require colleges to publish annually the amounts of their tax-exemptions and public benefits. And let’s tax them to even the exchange.We might apply the same policy to all tax-exempt organizations, but colleges teach. If we ensure appropriate service from them, they’ll inspire other non-profits to follow. And if we set colleges free to compete, they’ll push each other to share more.Taxing colleges gives the public clout, as it can offer tax-relief for desired public service. A tax-break for banning tobacco or junk food, for instance, would reward colleges for protecting public health. Protecting our environment by encouraging conservation and recycling, or enhancing social responsibility by fostering use of Certified Fair Trade products might warrant additional tax-relief.It’s not the degree or the money it earns that matters, but only what students love and what they do for love. Let’s use tax to help them love better and do more public service.

 

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