Tag Archives: Education

It’s time to MAN UP!!!!

Before I launch into today’s BRILLIANTLY written article I sort of feel like I need to put a big asterisk up front.  First, I have no delusions of grandeur. I know there aren’t many people who are willing to subject themselves to my brand of dumbassery, and follow my little blog, so I want to apologize upfront.  I just re-read everything I wrote today and, if you didn’t know me, you would think I was quite the chest-beating, tool-welding, animal-shooting, rather “crap outside” sort of Alpha male.  I’m really not…but I’m not really a “girlie man” either. Come to think of it, I’m really not sure I have much of a “feminine side,” but if I did, I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t stop touching it.  Several years ago I wrote one of my favorite articles entitledThings I Want My Sons to Know.” It was basically advice I wanted my boys to grow up knowing.  And then, more recently, I wrote an article entitled “The Worst Generation” where I discussed a few….hmmmm….oddities about the current generation.  All of that got me thinking about where we, as men in society, are screwing up.

This is the paragraph where I will lose half my readers.  I’m going to get religious on you for just a second, then I’ll go back to writing like the heathen that I am. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon.  A father, named Lehi, is dying.  He calls his sons to him to give them his last words of advice.  Here is some of what he said: “…arise from the dust, my sons, AND BE MEN…Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound…” (2 Nephi 1:21, 23 emphasis added.)

OHMIGOSH!!!  If we could do that.  If we could all just BE MEN.  

Now with this paragraph I’ll lose my other reader.  When I first started writing today’s article I was all, “You know, gentlemen, ofttimes when we engage in said behavior, the outcome is such…”  That just doesn’t convey how I feel.  Very often, when speaking to men about manning up you need to be blunt.  I don’t want to say “ofttimes,” I want to say “when you act this way you’re being a dick.”  That’s not being hypocritical.  For my liberal friends the word “hypocritical” is a fancy way of saying…PAUSE…what the hell am I saying…every liberal knows what the word hypocritical means.   I’m not being hypocritical…I’m being…paradoxical.  For my liberal friends the word “paradoxical” is a fancy way of saying: sometimes I’ll quote scriptures, and sometimes I’ll swear.  I might quote you a scripture and then tell you you’re a piece of shit. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite, it makes me a man.  It’s two sides of the delightful coin that is I.  This may sound weird, but I’m actually really proud of the man I should be.  I’m just no where near there yet. 

So…I’m going to tell the ladies to stop reading.  This is for men only.  Gentlemen, let’s get started.  

Selfies: The selfies have got to be toned down.  If you’re with someone you get a pass.  If you can’t be in the gym, or in a hotel room by yourself without taking a picture…it’s weird and WAAAAY vain.  (Remember, this is for guys only.  If there are any ladies still reading this…Look at you being all rebellious!  You go girl.   You’re not going to let me tell you what to do.  Hell yeah, you keep reading!!  That’s awesome….Also, feel free to keep taking selfies.)

Take responsibility: If you can’t feed ‘em, don’t breed ‘em.  Having kids doesn’t make you a man.  A real man creates a family and takes responsibility for it.  Feeds, clothes, shelters, protects, educates and does everything he can to make sure his children don’t grow up without a father. That’s what makes you a man. Any animal can breed.  If you can’t afford condoms, you can’t afford kids, and you shouldn’t be having sex.  


Stay committed:  All men look.  It’s hardwired into us.  If you’re not finished chasing skirts, don’t get into a committed relationship.  If you get married and decide chasing skirts is still for you, get a divorce first.  Don’t put your family through the pain of an affair.  If you make a mistake, make it right. Redemption and forgiveness is real.  In his book Love Must Be Tough Dr. James C. Dodson said, “Of all forms of disdain that one individual can show for another, there is none more profound than blatant infidelity.”  If you are blatantly hurting your wife and family, even if they don’t know it, you’re a piece of shit.  Grow up.  


Don’t use too many emoji’s: I don’t mean to get all emojnal on you (see what I did here?) but it needs to be toned down.  A few, every once in a while is okay.  If your girlfriend or wife, is being difficult and you say something like, “You’re being a bc3d7c2c8a8cafa979228ec72035e89a”  and you insert an emoji of a bee…Trust me you’re the one who is being a little bitch.

VOTE: You can’t complain about the country if you don’t try to fix it.  If studying the issues is too much for you, or not your thing, grow up and do it anyway.  At a bare-ass minimum figure out what your core values are and then vote for the party which most closely mirrors those values.  Just don’t be a sheep.  Listen to, or read both sides of the issues.  Don’t let anyone TELL you who to vote for, even if they are famous.  Seriously guys, why the hell is there a “Gender Gap” in voting?!  Man up and vote.    

Anything worth fighting for is worth killing for:  For my  liberal friends, get your panties out of a wad.  I’ll admit that title is a smidgen too much.  There are maybe three to five things worth killing for, it’s about the same list of what is worth fighting for.  Family and country?  Absolutely.  Someone cuts you off in traffic, takes your parking place, steals your TV,  or spills beer on your favorite shirt?  No. If you get in a fight over something like that, you’re an idiot.  Stop being a dick.  You aren’t given strength to punish others, you are given strength to uplift those around you.  Take a stance. Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  Defend and fight for others, don’t pick on and make fun of them.  That would make you a bully.  Only bullies like bullies, everyone else thinks they’re pricks.  


Fight real battles: Evil is real.  Fight it, however you can, and however fighting looks like to you.  Too many men hide behind the idea there is no right and wrong.  There is.  Too many are scared to fight real battles and so they create proxy ones: video games, or chasing women for instance.  Use your God given skills.  Could be, “you know like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills…”  My skills are sucking in my gut while stepping on a scale, eating chocolate covered cinnamon bears, and every once in a great while, I can successfully string three sentences together.  Yours might be helping your neighbor fix their broken car, smiling at others, being kind, opening doors for women, mowing a single mom’s lawn, complimenting people, or helping an underprivileged child learn how to read.  The point is to live outside of yourself.  Look for ways to be of service to others.  I saw a quote the other day that said, “If service is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.”  Think about it.  Be the good man you are capable of being.  


Shake hands like a man:  If you and I are shaking hands and you give me a limp-handed handshake, you are acknowledging to me, non-verbally, that I’m in charge.  Man up.

Stop pushing your fears onto others – don’t inhibit someone else’s freedom: For example, if guns aren’t your thing, don’t own one.  Don’t try to enact laws to take them away.  “But Danny,” you whine, “there is no reason anyone should own an AR-15.”  There is no reason anyone should be a whiny little bitch either, yet here you are (I don’t even own a gun like that, all my guns are girlie).  If being able to defend yourself and your family isn’t high on your priority list, you would rather sleep secure in the knowledge the police are just a phone call away, I respect that.  Stop trying to take away guns, or inhibit others from purchasing one.  Stop being a baby.   


Stop watching porn:  I remember when I was a teenager, George Michael came out with the song “I want your sex.”  It was scandalous.  Several months ago I was at a convenience store, getting my first dose of daily caffeine, when I realized I could hear moaning.  I looked around and discovered the guy in front of me was watching porn on his phone.  IN THE STORE.  My how times have changed.  I regret soooooo much not saying something.  I should have.  Pamela Anderson, who has been featured in Playboy 15 times, recently came out against porn.  She said it’s for losers.  She wrote, with co-writer Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “We’re not here to moralize or judge people on porn viewing, we’re rather saying that when porn becomes a replacement for real, live, sexual interactions between loving adults, we’re all in trouble. When the impersonal nature of porn supplants the passion and intimacy of real lovemaking, then we’ve lost the ability to connect. And the growing addiction to porn is creating a level of sexual desensitization that requires a national conversation. Porn is teaching men to view women as caricatures who are all cover and no book, all form and no substance. Both men and women deserve better.”  In other words, it changes how you treat women, it changes what you want from women. It warps your ideas of what sex is and should be. Go find a real woman. Treat her with respect. Stop with the porn.  It’s turning men into sadistic pricks who treat women like objects.  Like Pamela said, it’s for losers.  

Save:  It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much you save.  I am painfully aware that the first half of my life I effed this up.  This second half is going to be completely different. I’m not going to stop until my bank account looks like a phone number.  Right now I’m a fiftybucknaire, but it’s a start.  Life craps on everyone.  If you have a little cash stashed away, just in case, it will make life SOOOOO much easier.  When you do spend money, spend it on experiences and other people, stop buying crap you don’t need.  It’s stupid to spend money you don’t have, for stuff you don’t need, to impress people you don’t know, or possibly even like.  Money can be a great thing…if you use it to help others.  It is almost impossible to have charity if your cupboards are bare.  Stop wasting it on stupid crap.  Use it to enrich your life and the lives of others.


Educate yourself: Free education already exists.  Debt happens when you want a piece of paper that implies you’re smart.  Whatever you do in life, be educated on how to do it.  If you are just starting out, PUT IN THE TIME.  Do it.  To be successful you are going to put the time in anyway.  You can do it when you are in your twenties, studying, with a little kid crawling around, or you can put the time in when you are in your forties, at 3 o’clock in the morning, selling stuff on ebay,  just to make ends meet, with your wife asleep behind you.  I would suggest putting the time in while you’re young. Sacrifice whatever you have too. Educate yourself.  

Be a rock:  If the world is going to hell, things aren’t working out, make sure your significant other, kids, friends, co-workers, or whoever you are with, feel safe.  Staying calm when the crap is hitting the fan isn’t being naive, it’s being a leader.  John Wayne once said, “Bravery is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  Saddle up.


Stop correcting people:  If someone misspeaks, but you know what they meant, shut up. Don’t correct someone just to correct someone.  Everyone knows something you don’t, even the dull and ignorant. Everyone has something they can teach you. Go into every conversation with a touch of humility.  You are not always a professor and class isn’t always in session.

Look on the Bright side:  I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Life isn’t fair.”  Guess what I tell my kids?  That’s a lie.  Life IS fair.  Good people get crapped on all the time.  Sometimes life sucks.  It’s harsh. It isn’t easy for anyone.  You have two choices, you can whine and pout about it or CHOOSE to look at the bright side.  You can appreciate wherever you are and the opportunities you have.


Get a job:  Any well, able-bodied man who would willfully transfer the support of his family onto someone else is a piece of shit, whether the transfer is to family or government.  Everyone falls on hard times.  If you need help in the short term, that’s okay.  Family or government can be used as a safety net. But if you use either as a hammock, mooching off society or your family, you’re a piece of shit. Get a job, whatever it is, and then work your ass off. Be better than your wage, tough it out. Climb the ladder of success.  Too many men think they are above doing certain jobs.  You’re not.  Remember this life is on you.  If you’re happy or successful it’s up to you.  Stop blaming whatever outside forces are conspiring against you to make you miserable…’cause they just ain’t there.  Take control of your choices, control your thoughts and your life…or shut up.  

There is nothing wrong with being old fashioned:  There’s nothing wrong with saying “sir and ma’am.” Stop hiding behind technology.  If you are going on a date NEVER text that you are there.  Be a man and get out of your car, walk up to the door and get her.  HOLD THE DOOR OPEN FOR HER. This is true whether you are newly dating, or you’ve been married for fifty years.  Treat all women, children and the aged with respect.  

I could keep going, but I’m going to stop here.  I want you to know if anything I wrote today offends you, from the deepest recesses of my soul, I don’t give a shit.  Our society is becoming emasculated. Our men are weak, soft and vain.  Get your panties out of a wad and man up. Don’t be afraid to speak up.  There is nothing wrong with being a little critical or a little judgmental. A friend once told me, “As men we need to feel free to cast a ‘What the hell were you thinking?’ from time to time.”  I’m tired of watching our society being destroyed by guys who don’t know how to be men.  Figure it out.  

Watch some John Wayne movies if you have too.  


Lifezilla:  Waaaaaay better results than just mistletoe alone.  Trust me.



img_2093 img_3540


You Didn’t Earn That: Minimum Wage

You Didn’t Earn That: Minimum Wage

 The Misses and I have used “Dish Network” for several years.  We have always been happy with their service.  A week or so ago we were watching a recorded show when the screen froze.  LOOOONG story short we needed a new receiver.  Because I called after hours on a Friday night, the replacement wouldn’t ship until Monday and we wouldn’t receive it until Wednesday.  That’s right, almost a whole week without TV.  BLUH!! It was HORRIBLE.  We actually had to resort to talking to each other like cavemen…er…cavepeople (sorry).  I don’t recommend it to AN-KNEE-ONE.

Because we didn’t have the means, I was unable to watch the President’s State of the Union Address.  This simultaneously both irritated and thrilled me.  I had all kinds of intentions of watching the speech the next day, but didn’t, and I haven’t yet.  All I know is he talked about minimum wage, education and immigration (shocker).  These three things are the trifecta of Democrat dumbassery.   Hold on.  That’s not entirely fair.  They are the trifecta of Republican dumbassery as well, but for completely different reasons.

29 Programs

Democrats only have a few really good cards in their deck.  “Caring” and “For the Children” are their favorites.  The other most used is “Warmongering, racist jerk.”

Republicans, on the other hand, have the challenge to explain complex issues into a sound bite, which they know will never be played on Network Television.  And you can’t explain a complex issue on a bumper-sticker.  So Republicans are pretty much outta luck.

So even though it will bore me to tears, I’m going to TRY to get my thoughts down about these three issues.  I’ll start with Minimum wage.

If you don’t know, the President wants to raise the national minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I can see the President wanting to do it is for only two reasons.  The first is that it appeals to his base.  He gets to look like a knight in shining armor, swooping in to help the poor (for those who think it all the way through he looks more like an idiot in tinfoil).  The second reason is, it demonizes the Republicans.  They would look like a bunch of heartless meanies for not wanting to help.  If they don’t cave, like they normally do on this issue, the President can sob, saying the Republicans just oppose raising the wage because HE suggested it (see racism).

It’s a win/win for him.

2009 State of the Union

The fact of the matter is most Americans make well above $9.00 an hour.  So the issue is about other people.  It is super easy to get behind it.  “It doesn’t affect ME at all.”  So, as a country, we tune it out, go back to watching “Dancing with the Stars” and don’t think about the logic behind the regulation.  It is easier to bow to the social pressure.  After all, we don’t want to come across as uncaring.  Right?

So if it is a small, small percentage of Americans who make minimum wage, and everyone knows if you work hard you can demand more than minimum wage, is the extra $1.75/hr going to help the country as a whole?

I guess that’s my question.  Why just nine bucks?  It seems almost silly. Sure it’s a 24% increase, but in the real world it’s a buck 75.

Quick hypnotical: what would happen if Republicans demanded a substantial minimum wage?  Why $9.00/hr – which will help a very few – when you could raise it to $50.00/hr which will help a whole ton of people?  Sure, in a few weeks a loaf of bread would go from $3.50 (for a decent loaf) to $25.00, but at least we’ll be spreading the wealth around.  Right?

My guess is the Democrats would backpedal.  They know it would kill the economy quickly.  They prefer to kill it slowly, so they won’t get the blame.

Most employers (all of them) go into business to make money.  The more profit they make, the more goods or services they provide, the more people they hire, etc, etc.  When faced with a payroll hike they have one of four options: 1) Raise the rates to the new minimum, 2) Let employees go, 3) Downsize their jobs (employing them for fewer hours),  or 4) Raise the prices on their goods or services and hope people will still use them.  If you think about it, the forth option is really a hidden tax.

Most employers will do one of the four and then invest in goods to make labor more productive, so they can hire fewer people down the road, or shift their production overseas.  The effect on employment is still there, it just isn’t “in your face.”

It will never happen, but imagine if Republicans grew a pair and ‘upped the ante’- if they demanded a substantial raise.  At least it would force the country to have a grown-up conversation about it.

At the risk of sounding heartless, the sad truth is if an employee is worth more than $7.25 an hour and they are not being paid more, it is up to them to find work somewhere else.  If they can’t find it, they are probably only worth $7.25.  Having the government dictate that the employer pay $9.00 for $7.25 worth of work not only creates high unemployment for teens and unskilled workers, it is also intellectually dishonest.  If someone is having a hard time understanding this, have them explain why we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage to $50 an hour.


LIFEZILLA:  Not entirely sure what a “Propriate” is, but apparently I’m sometimes in it.

Free Stuff

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walk through a gate in the Columbia Parc Development to visit newly built homes in New Orleans

My Team of Writers

My Team of Writers

From this point forward I will refer to the voices in my head as “my team of writers”.  I have two issues my team of writers have been kicking around, but I’m not really sure how to make them mesh into one article.  They have been driving me crazy.  Maybe I’ll make it two articles.  I dunno, we’ll see.

Both issues have to do with education.


We are (what?) seven weeks into the New Year.  And I can list three similar stories that bother me.  The first was when a six year old kid was suspended from school for making a gun with his hand and saying “Pow”.  The second, was when a five year old girl was suspended for 10 days for making a “terroristic threat” for talking to a friend about shooting her with a “Hello Kitty Bubble Gun”.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A gun, in the shape of Hello Kitty, that shoots BUBBLES (Lawrence Welk would have been thrown in prison for life.)  And most recently, last week a seven year old was suspended from school for throwing an imaginary grenade into an imaginary box filled with “something evil” to save the world.

An imaginary grenade into an imaginary box…So he threw nothing into nothing…?  (hmm)

I can completely understand these young heroes desire to fight.  My favorite part about imaginary fighting is the fact you get to thwart evil.  You never get to thwart anything in real life.  I like to thwart.  My advice to these young patriots is to always have a backup finger gun strapped to your ankle in case your two primaries get confiscated again.

Is it just me, or does it sound like the administrators need to grow up?

Last week Dr. Benjamin Carson was at a prayer breakfast with President Obama and said he thought PC (Political Correctness) was dangerous (click here for the awesome speech).  I agree.

The second issue that has been bothering me is about an article I read. Apparently, in Texas there is a web-based system used in 70 percent of the schools state wide to assist teachers with lesson plans.  The system is “built by teachers, designed by teachers.”  Many are concerned that it is difficult for non-teachers to get a look at the program.


One of the lessons for sixth graders “showed different countries’ flags and instructed students to “notice that socialist and communist countries use symbolism on their flags.” It went on to ask students what symbols they would use if they were to create a flag for a new socialist country.”

Many of the other lessons “promoted pro-Islam ideals, or described participants of the Boston Tea Party as terrorists.”

Pardon me Miss?  I believe I ordered my brain-washing on the side.

The whole “designing a flag” thing BUUUUUUUUUUGED me.  But because I had recently had a conversation with a young man about the “Boston Tea Party as terrorist” the article kind of set me off.

For the record.  The Boston Tea party story has always rubbed me the wrong way.  It is part of history.  It happened.  I get that.  But terrorist?  Come on.

Quick review: The Boston Tea party was in response to the Tea Act of 1773.  The Colonists objected to the Tea Act because it violated their rights as Englishmen.  They, rightly, believed they should be taxed only by their own elected representatives and not by a British parliament in which they were not represented. “No taxation without representation.”

I remember being taught the Tea Party was the catalyst that started the Revolutionary War.  Hmmm…not really. In fact it probably set the whole thing back.  It really dispirited both American and British supporters, like Edmund Burke.

George Washington disapproved of the destruction of the tea, and Benjamin Franklin demanded the India Tea Company be reimbursed (they were).  Samuel Adams defended the raid by saying that all other methods of recourse, you know like…voting — were unavailable.

Many of the founding fathers considered the raid an embarrassment.  The Boston Tea Party was not celebrated for another 50 years.

Not one person was killed.  Paul Revere made sure to replace a lock that was broken during the raid and severely punished a man who stole some of the tea for his personal use (HEY…just like the terrorist of today who paid for the rebuilding of the…er…oh…forget it).

But kids today are taught that this great country was made from the act of terror.  Come on.  It took three years before our founding fathers engaged in their truly revolutionary act: The signing of the Declaration of Independence (for perspective the iPad was originally introduced three years ago in April).

In that document, they set forth, in clear terms, their complaints with British rule, their earlier attempts at resolution, and an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world for independence from the crown.  I remember a few years ago reading the Declaration of Independence to a group of Boy Scouts.  It was almost a spiritual experience.

Are these things being taught in your school?  I dunno if they are in mine. But at least we can sleep well knowing we are safe from six year olds with imaginary guns.

LIFEZILLA:  This Valentine’s day tell your lover the three little words she (or he)  has been dying to hear: “I love Lifezilla”.



The Opportunity Gap Myth

The Opportunity Gap Myth

By Josh Loveless

This is my first real blog post.  I am not sure I know how to write a blog.  But I do know you have to write about something close to you or something you are passionate about.  For me that’s the politics and sociology of the United States of America, the land of opportunity.

That word, opportunity, was used constantly during the 2012 Presidential Election cycle by both parties.  Each side claims that there is a gap in the opportunities available to American citizens.  One side fervently argues that the rich have more opportunity because of outdated policies and loopholes.  The other side fervently argues that opportunity for the middle class is dwindling because of excessive government and out of control spending.  Both sides however agree that there is in fact a gap in opportunity.

This is a long held belief in America, that access to opportunity is important and that some have more access than others.  In other words, as President Obama likes to quip, the “Playing field is not level.”  It is strongly believed by many that opportunity abounds for the wealthy members of our society and that there are little or no opportunities for the poor.  I guess the middle class is the median by this proposal?

In order to understand a potential opportunity gap we first have to understand what opportunity is.  I am not trying to patronize here.  I want to go beyond the definition.  We all know that opportunity means a chance for success.  But where does it actually come from, where do the conditions necessary for success originate?

First, life itself IS an opportunity.  Simply being born and remaining alive means we have the chance to experience first-hand both the good and the bad that a human existence has to offer.  To all humanity that opportunity is simply inherent and equal.

Then there are environmental opportunities.  These opportunities exist simply by where and to whom a person was born, and with what natural gifts they may have.  A person born in Central Africa does not have the same environment as a person born in Mongolia, Venezuela, or Canada.  Access to natural resources, level of education and culture are obviously different for every person.

I hope that we are all mature enough to recognize that you cannot “level the playing field” when it comes to environmental opportunities.  Technology has helped somewhat, but there will always be differences that cannot be reconciled.  Genetics alone prove that beyond any shadow of doubt.

So when we talk about opportunity gap we are talking about the things we have control over.  In other words we are talking about conditions that we as human beings create.  That’s an important concept.  These types of opportunities are not inherent.  Somebody somewhere must exert some effort to manufacture this opportunity.

This would be the difference between say an Ivy League education and a community college education, and furthermore no education at all.  Someone believed that they could create a superior education experience and therefore built a school and offered at a premium a quality education.  It is this “pool of created opportunities” that politicians believe can be leveled through government taxes, regulation, and policy.

But I personally find this notion to be the greatest of all American fallacies.  The idea itself is contrary to the very nature of these “opportunities of creation”.  It implies that there are a limited number of total opportunities, and therefore a limit on human intelligence.  It implies that once created, it can only exist in a finite box.  While that may be true to the extent that there are only 24 seats in a certain Harvard classroom, there is nothing to say that Harvard can’t build another.  Or, that a competitor can’t build a new and improved class and campus that allows for additional students.

The very idea that there will ever be a “level playing field” is a small minded one.  In fact it is when the playing field is the least level that opportunity abounds.  It is out of struggle that ideas are born and creativity abounds.  If humans had perfect minds that functioned like a computer we would never have invented the computer in the first place.  That’s just a rudimentary example, but I hope you see my point.

To further explain my view on this point you need to know a little about my background.  Yes, I am a white male living in the U.S.  I was born into a white family with two parents who tried to raise me correctly.  It was not a perfect home but it was a home and from that perspective I would never be one to argue that my access to environmental opportunities wasn’t very great.

But we struggled too.  My parents had six children.  My Dad worked hard, but we sometimes struggled.  I love my parents, they always made sure that I had clothes on my back and food and a roof under which to live.  As I became a teenager the struggles deepened.

My Dad lost his job.  He remained out of work or was severely under-employed for many years.  My Mom became the main breadwinner of the family.  I love my Mom and she worked hard at a local eye doctor.  But she had no education and her salary wasn’t exactly above poverty-line.  She would supplement by cleaning offices at night, a task that I helped her with throughout high school without pay.

Bills mounted just like they do for everyone.  Life just happens.  Let’s just say I know what people mean when they talk about the taste of government cheese.  It became apparent to me that if I wanted to have a few “extras” in my life I would need to work.  So at age 14 I got my first job.  By 15 I recognized my income simply wasn’t going to cut the mustard if I wanted new school clothes, or the chance to have an occasional lunch that wasn’t in a paper sack.

I started taking multiple jobs at a time, working fervently during the school year and doubly so over the summers.  I have worked full time (36+ hours) since that time (with the exception of my mission, which was 16 months).  Oh I have worked every job imaginable.  I have dug ditches, sold shoes, moved pipe, cleaned pig stalls, and even spent a summer working in a lake of human feces because it was the highest paying job I could find (that’s not a metaphor, nor am I exaggerating).

I did this in order to create opportunity for myself.  I did this to give myself comfort both in the present and in the hope of a better future.  While everyone else was enjoying their high school years, playing sports, going on dates, attending something called a prom (something I never experienced) I was working.

This was in South East Idaho.  The school I went to wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  Many of the teachers were full-time farmers and part-time teachers.  I struggled to manage my grades and work full time.  But I still worked hard at it, recognizing even then that my access to education opportunities were “shrinking” every day.

After high school I applied to several universities.  But as you know, they are competitive.  They didn’t care that my modest GPA (3.4) was the result of my workload.  If they had looked at my transcript they would have seen straight A’s in over 10 AP classes.  I didn’t get into the schools I wanted, but I did get accepted to BYU.  I was ecstatic.

I did all the things I was supposed to do.  I applied for grants, but got denied.  I applied for scholarships, but didn’t qualify.  I applied for government loans, but the approved amount was not sufficient (the student loan program didn’t work then like it does now).  I applied for other commercial loans to make up the difference, but I had no credit.

It became pretty obvious that a university education was not in the cards for me at that time in my life.  My opportunities again appeared to be “shrinking”.  I suppose if I applied today’s societal thoughts to my situation I would have been pretty bitter.  I mean hadn’t I been paying into the system just like any other worker?  I had been paying thousands in taxes since age 14.

But I didn’t accept that.  I didn’t think that way.  Instead I went to work.  I found my way into the IT industry.  I looked for ways to get a real world education and move up the ladder.  I busted my butt, working nights and weekends, sometimes 70 or more hours a week.  In other words I paid my dues; I created opportunity for myself when it appeared none existed.

So now here I am at age 34.  I admit, I’ve had a good run.  I’ve finally got an income and a job that is helping me pay for that university education.  I don’t have tons of discretionary money, but it’s enough that I can take the kids out to eat once in a while.  It’s enough that we can afford one moderate family vacation each year.  It’s enough that I can put my kids in organized sports and maybe give them piano lessons.  It’s enough that I get to help create opportunities for my children that I simply didn’t have access to.

It’s not the rich life, but it’s a good one.  These are the opportunities that I have created for myself.  They weren’t given to me.  I didn’t take them from someone else.  My having them doesn’t lessen the chance of anyone else in the world to do the same or better.

But now here we are back at my original point.  In 2013 the United States is facing a fiscal cliff.  For all intents and purposes we are hurling at this cliff at an incredible speed.  The argument of a “level playing field” that was campaigned so heavily on has still not been decided.  We are very likely to drive over the cliff at full speed, just so that each side of the debate can “prove a point”.

President Obama once said, “Elections have consequences”. This is so very true, if not somewhat obvious and patronizing.  In this case I want you the reader to know what the consequence is for me and my family.  If we go over the fiscal cliff my federal taxes will overnight jump by a substantial margin.  In fact, the margin is high enough that my entire discretionary budget will be wiped out completely.

That means I don’t get that extra time off to enjoy my small vacation.  It means I have to back to working harder to cover the incidentals that just happen because life happens.  It means more long nights and weekends, and more paying dues.  It means I won’t be able to finish my university education after all.  It means that my kids probably won’t get those music lessons I was hoping to provide.  It means my family will have less to spend on leisure activities and vacations that build our family morale.  It means they probably won’t get to play team sports for a while.

Now I ask you the reader, is that what is meant by “leveling the playing field”?  How is that level?  So it is to be believed that because my environmental circumstances were slightly more favorable than another’s, that they deserve the opportunities that I have created for myself?  This, some believe, is fairer?  Who is this mysterious arbiter of fair, because I have some words for them.

In this small minded, selfish, modern philosophy it is to be believed that because of the color of my skin, the place of my birth, my gender, my parentage, or my religion that I am less deserving or less “entitled” to the fruits of my labor.  It is to be believed that my opportunities should be taken from me and given to another.  More troublesome, the opportunities I have created for my children must be taken so that others may have them.

Surely when you look at the life of a single middle-class American family faced with higher taxes, decreased wages due to inflation, higher costs for basic goods and services, you the reader can see the disparity of this philosophy.  I at least hope you can.  I have never been, nor will I ever be, ashamed to be an American.  But this idea is wrong.  It is shameful. And it is disgusting.

I have hope for myself because I do not believe in this philosophy.  I do not believe there is a limit to the number and types of opportunities in this world.  I do not believe that there is in fact a finite pool of chances that have to be “spread around”.  I do not believe in the myth of the opportunity gap.

And it’s not that I am heartless.  Remember? I know what government cheese tastes like.  I give as much as I am able to charities that directly benefit folks in need.  But then that too will be affected by the approaching fiscal cliff.  In fact the idea that this philosophy of a “level playing field” is a “Christian” one is even more of a fallacy.  If you disagree, I would simply point you Jesus’ parable of the talents (Mathew 25: 14-30).  I don’t see anywhere in there where the man who magnified his talents was told to give it to the one who did not.

I will find a way, as I always do when faced with adversity, to create new opportunities for myself and my family.  But if I am being honest with myself, it’s getting harder every day to be the optimist.  It’s getting harder every day to believe that I can create more opportunity for myself and others.  Because when I do, I know that someone out there will believe that he/she has claim to the fruits of my labor.  I’ve been working full time for 20 years now, and some days I feel really old and tired.  I don’t think that is what 34 is supposed to feel like.

LIFEZILLA:  I hear a laugh track every time I open my wallet