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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Articles

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Spring is in the Air

With Spring here we've got tornadoes in Virginia and floods in Ohio. It won't be too long before the politicians from Washington will be flying into the disaster areas to spread your money around. In an election year like this, the lure of free publicity and the ability to pander for votes by rushing out with disaster relief money is just too strong a temptation for any politician to ignore.

While it is true that no one or no community can fully prepare for major natural disasters and it requires the help of local, state and Federal officials to help get things back to normal maybe there is a better way to fund these efforts.

However, it has long been my belief that politicians secretly love natural disasters. They are a terrible tragedy, but look at the great opportunity they present to politicians to show that they care and to throw our money around like, well, like it isn't theirs.

For years I've wondered if there shouldn't be a more rational and organized response to natural and other disasters than the current system of knee-jerk politicians swooping in and doling out our money in an attempt to show that they are compassionate and should be reelected to office.

If you have property, it is your responsibility to see that you have the proper insurance coverage to ensure that if something tragic happens you have the coverage to rebuild your house. Unfortunately, I believe that way too many people just assume that the Federal government will cover them in the event of a disaster so they don't worry about it.

With that in mind I, as President, would propose a national disaster insurance fund which would work as follows:

  1. There would be a specific set of disasters covered under the insurance. For example, the policies would cover losses from earthquake, flood, hurricanes and tornadoes.
  2. People and cities would have 5 years to decide to get into the program. After the 5 year transition period were over, if you didn't have the insurance, there would no longer be any Federal assistance to property owners in the event of a natural disaster.
  3. The policies would be sold through existing insurance companies, much as earthquake coverage is currently sold in California.
  4. No one would be forced to buy, but I would assume, much like fire insurance, that anyone who has a mortgage on their house would be required to do so by their lender if they lived in a zone where there was the potential for any of these major disasters. It would also be fiscally prudent for public agencies to ensure their properties as well.
  5. Prices would be kept reasonable by two key facts. There would be a large number of property owners involved in the pool which would spread the risk. The Federal government could subsidize the coverage - the subsidy coming from what is not given out each year in emergency disaster funding.
This program would accomplish several things.

First, it would make people (and cities) responsible for seeing that they do what is necessary to protect their property in the event of a catastrophic loss caused by a natural disaster.

Second, it would take away the ability of the politicians to use our money to further their own political gains - at least in this area of life.

Third, it would establish a true fund to pay for these events.

Fourth, it would allow those people in certain parts of the country to not always feel like their money is being used to support other parts of the country where these things always happen. Whether it is hurricanes in the South or Southeast, tornadoes in the Midwest or earthquakes in California, why should someone in Arizona (where natural disasters are fairly few) be required to contribute their tax dollars to continually rebuilding beach front property or homes in "tornado alley"?

One on the main planks of my Presidential Campaign platform is that of personal responsibility and I believe an insurance program of this kind is the responsible thing to do. People should be responsible for taking care of their own problems as much as possible as long as they are provided with the opportunity to do so. If they choose not to participate, well that is their decision and their responsibility.

Frank McEnulty - Independent Presidential Candidate | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit the campaign website

No Teacher Left Behind

Originally posted 5/6/07

We donít pay our teachers enough. We hold them to higher moral standards than the rest of our community. We ask them to put our childrenís needs above their own. We ask them to teach under daunting, sometimes even perilous circumstances and then blame them for the failings of the system. Teachers are often required to posses postgraduate degrees, undergo constant vocational training and yet are compensated on a comparable level to the manager at your local Starbucks. With all of that, we still wonder why there are so few really good teachers in the public school systems of America.

Education is important. Everyone from Snoop Dogg to the Queen of England will tell you that, ďstay in school, donít take drugs.Ē But survival often surpasses education as the primary objective in many of our nationís schools. We have turned our public institutions into holding pens by erecting fences and barring windows as much to keep the children in as to keep others out. Written permission is required to travel the hallways between classes. Bells sound to send students between secured areas where they are under constant supervision. There is a hidden subculture out of the view of authorities where kids group together for protection. Peer pressure trumps reason every time and safety in schools for many young people is almost an oxymoron.

Yet as awful as it all is, there is joy to be found. There is that moment when things all of a sudden make sense. Favorite subjects, favorite teachers, things that turn one small period of the day into something to look forward to. A good teacher can make a world of difference; a great teacher can change lives.

Great teachers are the ones who take chances and make subjects come alive, they are also usually the ones in trouble with the school board or PTA for not ďstrictly adhering to the curriculum. I once had a history teacher show up in Union Civil War uniform, twenty years later and I still remember that class. I also remember that the next day he got in trouble for insensitivity to Native Americans. In all fairness, to the Native American population the Union soldiers from the mid 1800ís up to the turn of the twentieth century were equivocal to the German SS to the Jewish community in late 1930ís and early 1940ís Europe. So our teacher went to the local community college and asked a professor of history there, who also happened to be a member of the Sioux Nation, to come and give the counter-point, also in full costume. That was a 7th grade American history class, and to this day one of the best I have ever taken. Mr. Williams was a great teacher.

There are still a few really great teachers rattling around in the public school system, but they are few and far in between. This is not to fault the teachers themselves; most are just hampered by the system they are forced to work inside. Teachers are asked to teach with outdated materials, and even those are in limited supply. Teachers are asked to give their lessons in such a manor as not to offend the 15-20 different cultural and religious view points represented in the class, all while keeping safety and liability issues in mind. No wonder they have trouble keeping the kids interested, we donít let them teach anything interesting. History is not always politically correct but our teachers are forced to teach children the history lessons in whitewashed PC terms so nobody gets upset. What about the lessons that should get them upset and motivated enough to assure that the failures of our past are not repeated? Great teachers inspire action but teachers cannot become great if we donít support them.

Children are our most valuable resource, and public school teachers are the people most entrusted with nurturing and developing that resource. The best young people qualified to be teachers are lost to the private sector on a regular basis. How can schools offering $35,000 a year hope to compete with Fortune 500 companies paying double that just for showing up to work? We must reexamine our priorities before it is too late. The teachers in many of our schools are on strike right now because there was no money for their negotiated pay raises, while there was seemingly plenty to cover money ear-marked for the administrators and school district officials. How is it that the districts can afford to send officials on trips across the country and around the world in some cases for ďseminarsĒ and still cry poverty when it comes to paying the people actually educating our youth? It is a system that collapses a little more every year and one that will continue to do so until something is done about it. We must actually pay the people we entrust our children to on a level equivalent to the amount of trust we are placing in them if we are to have any hope of bringing the system back from the brink. While weíre at it letís pay attention to what they have to say about how the job should be done as well. Somehow it seems reasonable that they would know more about what our children need than some bureaucrat who might see the students once or twice a year at a school assembly or football game.
Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to:

Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to


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