Archive for October, 2017

Real World Graduation, Question 2

RealWorldGraduation_Question_2  <– PDF

Which of these societal forces have the most influence on the basic attitudes, behavior, and overall morality of a society?

  1. a) Government officials
  2. b) Teachers
  3. c) Religious leaders
  4. d) Friends
  5. e) It varies from person to person, but one the above has the most influence.


(Answer on p. 2 of PDF)

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Real World Graduation: Question 1

RealWorldGraduation_Question_1  <– PDF

Choose the correct answer.

What investment strategy is best to promote long-term prosperity for persons aged 18 to 25?

  1. a) A mixture of stocks and bonds
  2. b) Gold, silver, precious metals, jewels
  3. c) Real estate
  4. d) Fine art
  5. e) A mixture of the above


(Answer on p. 2 of the pdf)

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Real World Graduation: Introduction

RealWorldGraduation_Introduction   <– PDF

Congratulations, all you young people who have finished your formal education. Welcome to the real world.  No more lectures, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.

But there are a lot of things they don’t teach in the schools, especially in the public schools. The most important omission in the formal education these days is the lack of “critical thinking”, which is just a fancy phrase for applying for applying facts and logic to a certain situation to determine rational options. Back in the bad old days, this was called “common sense”.  “Common sense” is now an outdated concept, since the schools have consistently taught that it is best to rely on the opinion and analysis of “experts”.  There is nothing wrong with “experts”, but that should not imply that you, the citizen, are obligated to follow their advice or embrace their opinions as fact.  A citizen of a free society must be able to think for themselves.

This little series of essays is designed to present a set of practical questions, most of which deal with the kind of choices you will have to make for the rest of your life, but were not taught in school. Many of you I trust had parents who instilled this type of practical thinking, and if so, these questions should be fairly easy.

In our politicized culture, the media and influential people are attempting to convince you of the “right choices” based on their political views, even if the issue at hand is not inherently political. I believe that this large-scale indoctrination (which used to be called brainwashing) is corrosive to the nation, since it tends to eliminate debate.  When once we had debates in which issues were discussed using facts and logic, we are now frequently subjected to shouting matches about “talking points”, or reversion back to good old name-calling (like it was in first-grade recess).  But those only occur when any opposing viewpoints are even tolerated.

So here then are a set of “practical questions”, designed to represent an exit-exam graduation day into adulthood. Hopefully they will dispel any illusions you picked up in school, and they will likely address some things never discussed in school.  The idea is to tune up your intuition and common sense such that you don’t get fooled when faced with important decisions in the future.

To make it more interesting, I have eliminated the essay format, and have instead adopted a multiple-choice question format. (We used to call them “multiple guess”.)  All of them are “word” problems, which is the kind you will have to solve in your adult life.

All you have to do is choose the correct answer from the options listed, and the answer is provided on the second page. Good luck.

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Barack H. Obama’s Legacy, Part 12

ObamaLegacyPart12 <– PDF

It would be easy to criticize Mr. Obama for his policy toward North Korea, but it would be likewise unfair.  His policy was to do the best he could to ignore Mr. Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator, and not attempt to “negotiate” (which is to say, pay him off), as did Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton.  Mr. Obama’s administration referred to his policy as “strategic patience”, which means to take a wait-and-see attitude on Mr. Kim’s actions, while attempting to use diplomatic means to influence China to in turn influence Mr. Kim.  As expected, as Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton both found out, North Korea’s ultimate objective is to develop a credible nuclear force which (they claim) is only to serve as a deterrent to any invasion by the U. S. or South Korea.  They continued to develop nuclear arms, and set off several nuclear tests in 2013, despite diplomatic pressure from the Obama administration.  (They did so even in the face of an actual United Nation press conference during which the U. N. issued three formal harrumphs!  Mr. Kim is playing with fire now).  Whether Mr. Kim has intentions of conquering South Korea are not known, but it is reasonable to assume he will try to use his nuclear leverage to do so.  Mr. Obama either failed to realize or failed to accept the notion that Mr. Kim is not an independent actor.  Because the Stalinist economy of North Korea operates at a bare subsistence level, it is necessary for Mr. Kim to arrange for support from elsewhere, namely Communist China. China provides a great deal of military materiel, technical expertise, and food to North Korea.

Mr. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, (in essence, dictator of China) is likely in complete control of Mr. Kim.  Mr. Xi had throughout the Obama administration resisted repeated calls for tighter sanctions or other measures to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions on the grounds that he did not want to provoke a revolution in North Korea that would lead to many refugees crossing the border into China.  It is a patently absurd notion.  First, China certainly has the means to prevent all crossing of the Yalu River separating the two nations.  Secondly, with a population of 1.3 billion, it is hard to see how a few million more from North Korea would make any material difference; and besides, they are already trained slaves, easy to incorporate into China’s economy.  Third, there will never be a revolution in North Korea unless Mr. Xi orders it.  He will not order it so long as Mr. Kim remains his loyal puppet.  When Mr. Xi says ‘jump’, Mr. Kim asks “How high, what color, and how else can I serve you, Mr. Xi, my lord and master?”  One phone call from Mr. Xi and Mr. Kim, his family, and his regime will disappear from history. North Korea is allowed to exist because China finds it useful to have a client state capable of unnerving the U. S. and its Asian allies (South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, and sometimes New Zealand).  While North Korea’s antics keep the West off-balance, and unable to develop a coherent strategy against Eastern Asia, China does what it pleases elsewhere, especially in the oilfields of the Middle East and Africa.   Lastly, North Korea serves as a buffer state between China and South Korea.  Communist regimes have absolute power but also absolute paranoia.  Communist China needs a buffer state (like North Korea) to separate their nation from South Korea lest any notion of freedom leak over the border into China.

In the long run, there are three outcomes regarding North Korea.  The first is that China desires North Korea to conquer South Korea, thus drawing the U. S. into an Asian land war.  This attractive to China only if North Korea could do so quickly while not inflicting any casualties on U. S. forces in South Korea.  If the U. S. forces were to become trapped, they are handy bargaining tools by which China could promote an arbitration by the U. N., in which China gets whatever it wants, and China is seen as a peacemaker. Secondly, China may be using North Korea’s antics as a means to drive a wedge between the U. S. and its Asian allies, leading the U. S. to abandon South Korea and turn away from Asia in general.  That would allow China to become the dominant and uncontested power in the Southern Hemisphere.  A third possibility is that China allows North Korea to attack the U. S. directly, to which the U. S. will respond accordingly, and China will remain neutral.  This is highly unlikely, as it would put America at China’s doorstep, and would likely result in the U. S. turning Japan into a nuclear power, the situation the Chinese probably fear the most. In the long run, our main adversary is China, not North Korea.  Because it is too soon to tell what China actually wants, Mr. Obama’s policy of wait-and-see was probably correct.  I would say however, that Mr. Obama’s failure to identify the real culprit did not help our cause.

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