Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Law and Government

At the prompting of a friend I have read Frederic Bastiat’s book titled “The Law”. This book was originally published in 1848 during the revolutions and upheavals that followed the fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Louis Napoleon. At this time the only democratic models were ancient Greece, England, and the United States, which are referenced in passing but are generally ignored. The focus of this book is on socialism and communism and how these defeat the very intent of law and justice.

In general this book should be viewed as the very foundation of the Libertarian Movement. The basic premise is that the law exists solely to prevent injustice and to protect the life and property from others – especially the government in the form of legislators, a group of people whom he holds accountable for the perversion of government into a group of legal plunderers. However, the unspoken assumption throughout is that these legislators act in their own interest and not in the interest of those who elected them. In fact the idea that legislators are elected and that the government is not a democracy but a republic is largely ignored, although there are some off handed references to England and the United States, there is no recognition of the fact that the infringing laws he so abhors were the result of elected officials who can be turned out of office. There seems to be an assumption that the legislators are a separate class who act independently, which appears to be a residual recognition of the class-ism that continues to afflict Europe today. Nevertheless, this is a good book that makes some very compelling points regarding Socialism and Communism.

The primary focus of the book is on the individual and the right of the individual to enjoy the fruits of his labor unimpeded by the government or legislators who wish to redistribute his earnings to those who have less. Clearly this whole idea of wealth redistribution is wrong and just as clearly this is what the concept of proportional taxation is all about as well as the manifold social programs governments – including our own – seems bent on implementing. But the arguments against this plundering of the wealth of a few for the benefit of special interests fall short because they ignore some of the basic facts of human nature.

The underlying assumption in Bastiat’s position is that if people are left alone they will pursue productive employment, be prudent with their earnings, and live happily with their neighbors. However, this is the same underlying assumption that was made by Karl Marx. He assumed that people would pursue work for the sake of society as a whole. The difference between these two extremes is that the first retains private ownership and individual rights while the second rejects both of these. While it seems that these are diametrically opposed philosophies they both rely on unrealistic expectations regarding human nature. The fact is that some people are lazy, some are incapable of work, some have limited abilities, some are jealous or envious, and in general people are competitive and will act in what they think is their best interest, not the best interest of society as a whole. This was demonstrated by the total failure of Marxism in the communist countries and described in vivid detail in George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm.”

However, in spite of these flaws Bastiat makes a compelling case for individualism and limited government. The role of government should not be intrusive or intended to increase the power of the governors over the governed. Unfortunately the American society has tended since its inception to become more and more intrusive. In some cases this can be explained or at least justified as in the example of conscription during the Civil War. The same is true of the introduction of the (temporary) income tax to pay for WW I. But the reality is that the Federal Government has continued to increase its power over the governed to the point where the people are being taxed at a very high rate to pay for things desired by the government but not desired by the people. For example if a referendum were held today it is very unlikely the American people would vote to send money to the UN, or the PLO, or virtually every tin pot dictator around the world. But this is only the beginning of how the Federal Government has intruded on our lives. We are treated almost daily to examples of the government curtailing our free speech by establishing “hate crimes”, which are demonstrated by using words that are deemed politically incorrect and examples of “hate.” We are told that our children can celebrate Kwanzaa and Hanukah at school but not Christmas. We see the government curtailing property rights in order to protect some obscure bug. The government has created a Gestapo type organization—complete with police powers – in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency, which acts to protect things other than the citizens who support it. It is very unlikely that put to the vote that the American People would support or retain the EPA.

Bastiat calls all of these governmental ills – socialism – which to me is a misnomer but his point is valid. Government should be limited and without restraint the government becomes oppressive. It is probably time that the Constitution returns to our class rooms.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Response to the Denizens of California

I thought that with the election over, the liberal contingent of the Democratic Party would stop their bashing of the President and come to grips with the reality that they are in the minority. That their negativism did not resonate with the majority of Americans but apparently I was wrong because this is a missive I received in my mail responding to comments that I made regarding the lies spread by Soros, Moore, Kerry, and the Hollywood crowd.

you are just like the boat people they lie and then get mad when somebody
proves them wrong and wrong with their own words. You slam California but
at least they don't let people like Robertson and Bob Jones tell them what to
do. They elected Arnold and now they are finding out he is just like the
rest they lie and take your money and pass the bills off to the next generation
just like Bush. I don't have a problem with being a Christian nation I
probably go to church more than you do, but think for yourself and do not let
other people lead you, and Bush is leading us down a path I think this country
doesn't need to go down. The religious right is trying to force their religion
on everybody especially abortion when the majority of the people in this country
is for the women’s right to choose ( I personally don't like abortion but do
support the right to choose) Pat Robertson and Falwell and Jones and the like
are pushing Bush to appoint judges that will repeal roe v wade, and I’m sorry I
don't think that is right, you are right I think this country is going overboard
with religion out of government but the gang of religious leaders want
everything over turned and I don't support that either.

Please note that nothing has changed since the election, the rhetoric continues to be based on things unsaid, unsupported, but stated as facts. The fact is that Dan Rather, George Soros, Michael Moore, and the rest of the extreme left lied, they made up things and attributed them to the President or the Republican Party. The fact that these were later demonstrated to be lies is totally ignored – just as it is in this response. The fact is that President Bush made all of his military records available – Kerry did not. The President stated that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but was accused of lying about this. The 911 Report (which I have read) makes it very clear that the previous administration plus virtually everyone else in the world believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But President Bush is accused of lying, not making a mistake, not in repeating poor information, but flat lying meaning that he knew the truth but elected to state something different. Since that has been demonstrated to not be case, he didn’t lie but then his accusers are lying since they too know the truth but elect to ignore it in favor of a more convenient belief.

Also notice in the above response, that it is filled with beliefs, assumptions, and suppositions stated as revealed truths. Bush is being manipulated by Robertson, Falwell, and Jones – and how does anyone know this? The fact that Bush is a real Christian instead of a “convenient Christian” like many of his predecessors makes him a pawn of the religious right? I don’t think so. The fact is that the liberals are totally out of touch with the rest of the country. They are so smug in their belief that they are the intellectual superiors of the yahoos inhabiting the flyover country that they can’t let go but continue their whinny strident unfounded accusations. They continue to see President Bush as some dumb ignoramus from Texas. They really should look in the mirror and realize that dumb ignoramus from Texas made fools out of them so perhaps he is actually smarter than they are.

Answers Answers

Here are my answers to the 30 questions. I thought these were good questions to use as a conversation starter. But as I read answers they don't seem to be very provocative or even unusal, but here they are -- the real me.

Thirty Questions
1. Do you have a personal hero? If so, who is it?

I don't really have a personal hero, but the people I admire the most are George Washington (set aside absolute power), Winston Churchill - a true leader

2. What is your favorite book of all time?

I love books but the ones I have reread many times are the various books by Issac Asimov and Shakespeare, but I read extensively – mostly non-fiction.

3. What does "diversity" mean to you?

A left wing political slogan used to justify the destruction of the American melting pot and blatant discrimination against English Speaking Caucasians

4. What is the wildest thing you've ever done?

Getting drunk on Rum and Coke (I hate it to this day), falling into a river, losing all of my clothes, including a new pair of custom made boots, getting toasted over a fire by my roommate and the two of us waking up the following day without any clothes and no knowledge as to where they were or how we got home. I was hung over for a week and I no longer drink alcohol in any form.

5. Do you regret doing it?

No, it makes for some great stories when we get together now.

6. Can you drive a stick shift?


7. What’s the highest speed you've ever traveled in a car?

A bit over 130mph in my corvette.

8. Were you driving, or riding at the time?

Driving and I got a ticket too

9. How do you define success?

Difficult thing to define but I think if people respect you, seek your opinion and look up to you then you are successful. It has nothing to do with wealth. If your children grow up to be productive citizens that too is the mark of a successful person.

10. What is the most disgusting thing you ever ate?

I don't know but it was an unidentified Chinese thing – disgusting. I ate it at a business dinner and couldn’t refuse it. No wonder I hate multi-cultural diversity (LOL)

11. Have you ever wet your pants? Be HONEST!

Not recently, but once I was in such a hurry that I didn’t get it all the way out in time and managed to wet my pants pretty good. I covered by saying that I splashed water on myself (LOL) (Now that I think about it -- I guess SIZE may have been a factor in association with haste).

12. Was losing your virginity an enjoyable experience?


13. Should oral sex be outlawed or encouraged?

I don't think it is anyone's business one way or another

14. Name one man with a fine ass.

Believe it or not, I racked my brain and I can't think of any man whose ass I noted as either good, bad, or indifferent. I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms and can’t think of one ass that I remember.

15. Do you watch golf on television? If not, will you iron my shirts?

No and No

16. Who is John Galt

Character in Atlas Shrugged (bet you thought I didn’t know)

17. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I think I'd lose some weight and about 20 years

18. Do you eat raw oysters?

No. Maybe that was what that disgusting Chinese thing was??
19. Are you claustrophobic?

Not especially.

20. If you rode a motorcycle, would you wear a helmet even if the law said you didn‘t have to?

I wouldn’t ride a motorcycle to begin with.

21. Name five great Presidents.

Washington, Lincoln, Truman, Reagan, and George W. Bush All conservative except for Truman who easily weighs in as number 3..

22. Name three really bad Presidents.

Clinton, Carter, and Harding but I'm revising my opinion of Clinton so maybe Grant should be substituted.

23. What was the dumbest thing you ever did?.

Aside from the rum and coke incident, I stood next to a shooting (geophysical) hole when they blew 250lbs of dynamite. The result was I was showered with mud, crud, and humiliation since I just proved a college education doesn’t make you smart. Everyone else took cover. It did mark me as human rather than the priggish college boy that people thought I was.

24. This is the 4th of July. Did you set off any fireworks?

Too hot – watched the neighbors

25. Are you successful or unsuccessful?

I have always considered myself a failure since I have never achieved my goals, but then some one calls me every day looking for insight, advice, or help. So I guess by some standards I am successful as a person even if I am not as an executive. But I guess I don’t think of myself as successful.

26 What do you consider the most boring activity?

Watching most sports on TV – in fact I am not much of a spectator so I guess watching life go by is boring. Too many people must be entertained rather than entertaining themselves. So I think passiveness is the most boring thing.

27 Do you have a “best friend”? Who is it?

Not really. I have been in a leadership position since I was 22. That has isolated me from almost all personal connections. My wife is my best friend today and at various times in my younger life I had close friends. Even today I keep in touch with my college friends and my roommate but I don’t think I have a “best male friend.”

28 Have you ever been naked outside in a public place? Where?

Apparently the Rum and Coke incident resulted in me being naked outside in a public place since my roommate and I later found our clothes by the river side several miles away. Obviously we came home naked as jay birds so I was outside in public naked as the day I was born. However, I had several opportunities to be naked outside in a public place while I was in the Army and I am not shy about being nude even though I don't parade around naked.

29 Who is the most interesting person you know? (Spouses don’t count)

I know several well known psychics and they are quite interesting. I also know a gay guy who used to work for me who is an absolute stitch and he is a great conversationalist. But I find almost everyone interesting.

30 If you could have dinner and conversation with anyone in the history of the planet, who would you choose?

That's a tough question but I think I would pick Jesus Christ, to get the real scoop, Tallyrand - for his wit and consummate political skills, Winston Churchill for his command of English and English History, Cicero for his insight into law and history, and Benjamin Franklin for his intelligence, wit, and charm.

Well there you have it -- my life in a nutshell. Sort of like everyone else's life. I discovered a long time ago that people are all pretty much alike. There are some evil people in the world but they are a small minority. Most people are good upstanding people whose lives are pretty much like mine.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Tale of Fred E. Frog

Unfortunately I am engaged in a number of activities at the moment, which do not allow me to devote very much time to my usual pontifications. Hopefully by January all of my distractions will have faded into the past and I will once again have time to comment on the passing parade. So in the meantime, I will leave you temporaily with a little morality tale. This tale -- like so many morality tales is rooted in truth and describes some aspects of corporate America as I experienced it.

The Corporate Jumping Frog
A Management Morality Tale

Consultants are known for arriving on site, diagnosing the problem (too many enemy submarines), offering a solution (boil the ocean), collecting their fee, and moving on to the next ridiculously simple problem. (I really don't mean to pick on consultants, I are one, but as a group you must admit we make easy targets). However, for many of us at the far end of the management scale, we see some executives who seem to have moved from oblivion to greatness, without actually doing anything, or at least not bringing anything to conclusion. These people are like frogs jumping from lily pad to lily pad, catching all of the flies but never getting wet. How do they do it? Well if I knew the answer to that question I wouldn't be writing this essay I would be lolling on the beach with the rest of the frogs. However, we can look at the career of one of these frogs and watch as he jumps from lily pad to lily pad.

Fred E. Frog began his career as a philosopher-at-large but soon discovered that the last person to successfully ply this trade was Aristotle, so he quickly moved into business. Not as a salesperson, after all they have quotas and are measured. Engineering was out because it was not only difficult but there were schedules and deadlines. Accounting was out because every single bean had to be counted and if you were one bean off there were those troublesome procedures and measurements. Ultimately Fred E. Frog landed a job in marketing, but not the hard part, but the planning part. The part where you ran focus groups, interviewed people in cool places, and wrote lengthy reports summarizing the data without adding any personal opinions or conclusions. It was on this, the first of many lily pads that Fred E. Frog learned that reports should be lengthy, detailed, and boring. Charts and graphs should be excluded unless they are on a logarithmic scale accompanied by a series of completely incomprehensible formulas. (Actually the formulas don't have to pertain to the charts because if they are complicated enough no one will understand them anyway.) If the reports can be expanded into more than one binder that is even better because that assures that no one will ever read it. The cover letters and executive summaries must be concisely written but avoid drawing conclusions, after all that is the role of an executive, not a lowly marketing analyst. Having produced a number of these exquisitely bound reports and been singled out as a high producer Fred E. was ready for the jump to the next lily pad.

As the Product Manager for a new product, Fred was in a high profile position whose responsibilities included marketing forecasts, garnering R&D funding, product promotion, and progress reporting to the Vice President of Marketing. A truly wonderful job because the engineers did the work, the marketing team did everything else, and all Fred E. had to do was report progress. Of course his colleagues spent time with the engineers (a scruffy lot), lobbied for money (the beady eyed accountants), and worked with the sales team (well-dressed fellows) to refine the requirements and forecasts. The Frog devoted his time to preparing flashy full motion progress reports, playing golf at the same club as the Vice President of Marketing, and trolling for a better job. Before the product development cycle was completed, Fred was successful at landing another opportunity and was asked to head a task group to solve an account problem that was plaguing the Vice President of Marketing. At last Fred E. Frog was on his way. He was now known as Mr. Frog with an office and a job where he could claim all success but failures could be placed upon someone else. After all, the troubled account was already failing so if it continued to fail Mr. Frog arrived too late to salvage it. If by chance it succeeded, he could trumpet his success from the rooftops. It didn't take long before his success at turning this troubled account around landed him the job as Assistant to the Vice President. Of course it was unfortunate that the account cancelled their contract but that wasn't Fred's fault, after all the account was already in trouble and if the customer had just waited Fred would have been successful.

His first job as Assistant to the Vice President was to go back to his old job and fire the Product Manager who succeeded him. It seems the new product was a failure. The engineers complained that they never had enough money to do it right and the sales forecast wasn't large enough to warrant further investment. The troubled account was now suing the company so Mr. Frog reluctantly fired the account manager who couldn't seem to get the account organized. Clearly it was time to show his stuff, so Mr. Frog turned his attention to training. It seems the account managers were improperly trained. Fred commissioned some minions to create a fun but effective training course for account managers. The class was to be known as Fred E Frog's Management Seminar and it was a booming success. It was fun and entertaining and thousands of dollars were spent training everyone. Banners, buttons, and balloons were given by the score to the various students. After attending the first two classes (Fred never actually taught the class) he firmly established to his superiors that the class was a booming success and asked to be assigned to something more challenging. With such a track record of success, everyone agreed that Fred's talents would be better used in an operating environment.

Fred was made the temporary President of a troubled business unit. Of course Fred didn't know what the problem was or even how to determine it because he had never actually managed anything before. Up to this point Fred's career had been a series of starts with no finishes but he had learned the fine art of distraction. Therefore, he immediately terminated the incumbent management team, which showed the President he was action oriented and was on his way to getting things under control. Then he hired a new management team including a new financial officer, and set about telling everyone at corporate headquarters what a great job he was doing. In the meantime the seminars had ended, everyone had had a great time but there was no discernible improvement in the quality of the account management. This was not surprising since Fred had never set up any process to measure the effectiveness of the seminars and by the time they were completed the senior management team was on to something else. As expected the only thing they remembered was how great the seminars were. The new management team at the Business Unit was struggling to catch up, to get their financials in order, and trying to make sense of what was going on. Mr. Frog set about his usual routine of flashy progress reports and trolling for new and greater opportunities. The President of the company was so impressed with Fred E. Frog and how he had taken control of the troubled unit, that he promoted him to the position of Vice President responsible for several business lines. Fred E Frog was written up in the company paper, photographed, and interviewed by the press, and held up as an example of dedication and hard work. Here was a successful executive destined for even greater things.

I'm sure all of us recognize Fred E. Frog because all of us have encountered more than one of these executives who never seem to be tainted with failure or measurable contributions. Life in the corporation is much like life in the pond, the larger the pond the more frogs you find. The irony is that many of these Jumping Frogs jump over people more technically qualified but less skilled politically and they jump into some very important jobs. As you can see from this little example the technique for jumping is not difficult but like so many simple things doing it well is quite another matter. However, this is not about how to jump, but about what to do with a jumper when you see one. The surest way to thwart a jumper is to actually measure their performance and report the results. While this will certainly shine the light on the jumper it is like a flashbulb. The light is intense for a moment, it exposes everything, and then leaves everyone blinded. If the timing is good and the right people are watching you might be successful in pulling the lily pad out from under the frog, but just as often no one sees the truth because jumpers seem to be invisible when viewed from above.

In the actual case that Fred E. Frog is based upon the jumper did in fact become the President of a major corporate division but when he tried his usual stir things up and move on ploy, he finally got nabbed. The company President wouldn't allow him to change jobs until he could demonstrate some tangible profit improvement. Mr. Frog had never actually managed anything to completion and really didn't have a very good idea of how to go about organizing a team much less something as complex as a division. He floundered about, attempted repeatedly to change jobs, but the President kept him on a short leash and his repeated attempts to move on just raised the President's suspicions. When Fred realized the jig was up, he tried to bring in competent people to help him, but his reputation was such that very few would join up. As expected by those who knew him things went from bad to worse and Fred E. Frog, like the Captain of the Titanic, went down with his lily pad. So the facts eventually caught up with Mr. Frog and justice was served, but justice is blind and the Sword of Truth does not always find its mark like it did in this case.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Strategic Glimpse at Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine is creating some consternation among the deep thinkers in the Think Tanks and while I think there is some cause for concern I think that at least some of this consternation is not only misplaced, I think it includes at least some underlying view that America is imperialistic. However, while it is tempting to beat that tired old liberal drum once again, it is probably more productive to take a strategic view.

The underlying attitude seems to be that the Ukraine is a buffer state between Russia and the west with the west being NATO. Many of the former Soviet States have already joined NATO and others may join in the future – possibly Ukraine. With NATO sitting on its western border, Russia would then be defenseless and surrounded by American spheres of influence to the west and south. This is an untenable position for Russia so they cannot allow Ukraine to move into a western orientation – i.e. join NATO, but is this conclusion valid?

Certainly, Russia would like to restore its former power and once again become a power capable of balancing American power. The Ukraine is vital to that strategy for two reasons. First it was the intellectual capital of the USSR and secondly, it also was the breadbasket. It also formed a buffer state between central Russia and the West and it is this fact that seems uppermost in the minds of the think tankers, but is it relevant?

I think the idea of buffer states is a little quaint and has little relevance in modern warfare. This idea is predicated on the idea that wars of the future will be fought between nation states using vast armies of men moving en masse as they have in the past. Personally, I think the Gulf War was the last of the wars of big battalions. We have aircraft capable of flying nonstop to anywhere in the world and returning. We have missiles that can strike at will anywhere in the world – as do the Russians. So what role does a buffer state have in that type of scenario? Increasingly battles are fought with special forces at strategic points, not using massed divisions sweeping across territories like the Mongol Horde. At one time irregulars were viewed as poor soldiers not capable of inflicting great harm or overcoming organized opposition, but this is no longer true.

In Viet Nam the special forces – or irregulars played an important role and began to change the face of warfare. Since that time these irregulars have become mainstream and SecDef Rumsfeld is remaking the American Army with these special forces as the core. This is being copied by military worldwide. The current battles in Iraq are largely being fought with irregulars and certainly the major threat today is the Islamic radicals who are an irregular force. Therefore, the idea that Russia needs and must have a buffer state between its borders and NATO doesn’t seem to be a crucial or strategic issue, but a political and economic one.

The real strategic threat to Russia – if there is one – is the EU. Some of the former Soviet Republics have joined the EU and if the Ukraine were to look westward the EU would represent a greater threat than NATO. While it is true NATO is a military organization it was originally created as a counterweight to the USSR. Since that no longer exists, NATO has much less relevance and it increasingly viewed as a sort of central police force. The real threat to Russia is from the EU and the economic power it represents. If the Ukraine orients itself to the West and Europe then economic ties to the EU are unavoidable. Russia is struggling to throw off the shackles of communism but as anyone can see they are having a difficult time. Putin is increasingly becoming a dictator – a virtual Tsar in the making. The economy of the country is in a shambles through corruption and the legal system continues to be just as corrupt as it was under the communists. With the Ukraine under the influence of Russia then the Ukraine does indeed become a buffer state but not necessarily a military one but an economic one. If the Ukraine forges ties with the EU then capitalism – or at least what passes for capitalism in Europe – will bring greater economic growth to Ukraine as well as social and political order. This event will not be wasted on the Russians and thus the Russian government could become unstable – meaning that the reformed communists and their criminal allies could be in jeopardy.

So while the deep thinkers are not totally wrong in their geo-political thinking I think the real threat to Russia is more pragmatic and rooted not in military issues but economic ones.

Thursday, December 02, 2004


Several things have occurred in the last month that move me to make some observations about love, marriage, and the responsibilities that go along with marriage, children, and parenthood. These are simply my observations based on my own marriage and the marriages of my friends and family. These are not very scientific observations but they could easily be more realistic and accurate than those of the various pundits and psychologists who may be divorced themselves, study dysfunctional marriages, or view marriage in terms of groups and statistics. I’m not sure this is the way to study marriage or what makes it succeed or fail, but then my observations cannot be viewed as anything other than anecdotal and far from a universal view, nevertheless, these are my opinions based on experience.

Most people get married in their twenties, when the partners are young, healthy, and vigorous. It is an adventure filled with fun and frolic. But the excitement fades – usually after about a year – and life takes over. Things become routine, life assumes a pattern, and day-to-day responsibilities begin to intrude on the excitement. For those couples who expected life to continue much like it was before marriage the first signs of dissatisfaction begin to appear. There is a feeling of entrapment, of not being able to go clubbing with friends, of being obligated to pay bills, wash dishes, make beds, and in general act like their parents. Sometimes these marriages correct themselves but just as often the dissatisfaction grows and then divorce ends the adventure. Frequently, this begins a lifelong pattern of dissatisfaction because the individuals never get past the idea that life should be fun and that their personal happiness is all that matters – and this brings us to what I think is the very foundation of a solid marriage.

The cornerstone of a successful marriage begins with “liking”, not with love. Certainly love enters into it but the love that exists at the beginning tends to be passion rather than true love. Those who expect that feeling of exhilaration to last forever are in for a disappointment that usually culminates in affairs and ultimately divorce. Certainly this passion exists to a greater or lesser extent in all marriages but as it fades – and it always does – what is left is “liking” or friendship. Most happily married couples describe their partner as their best friend. If the partners truly like each other, this liking evolves into real love – something enduring and sustaining through all of life’s challenges. In these marriages the partners would rather be with each other than anyone else because they have more fun together than with others.

The second foundation stone in a solid marriage is unselfishness. The idea that a marriage is a fifty fifty proposition is totally false and anyone who thinks that it is doesn’t understand what a marriage is. The idea that each partner is obligated to carry half of the burden all of the time is unrealistic. The fact is that a marriage requires each partner to give 100% all of the time. Ironically when each partner is willing to give up everything for the other then neither partner must give up anything. A solid marriage requires that you give yourself 100% to the other person. When this happens then everything becomes equal and the partners have created a bond that grows in strength with each passing year. When you view marriage from this perspective you begin to see how arranged marriages might work, especially in societies where divorce is frowned upon.

It is worth noting that the purpose of marriage is not to have fun but to have children. Obviously some people cannot have children and others choose not to, but most people do and this brings one of life’s greatest blessings and greatest challenges – raising children. Although it is politically correct today to accept that there is no difference between women and men the reality is that they are different and different at a very fundamental level. If you doubt this watch very young children at play and which toys they select – boys and girls are different and all of the politically correct studies in the world will not change that and it is this difference that is carried over into marriage and parenthood.

Women are the child bearers and it is their role to love and nurture the young but their role is truly much larger. It is the women of the world who make a house a home. It is they who create the warmth and comfort that we all associate with home. They do this in many subtle and indirect ways and they do it while maintaining the home, preparing the food, and raising the children. Now I can hear the screeches now accusing me of being old fashioned, of sexism, of male chauvinism, and a lack of understanding of the current reality of marriage. However, I am talking about successful marriages and child rearing based on personal observations not the reality of the contemporary state of marriage or the politically correct view of gender roles. Nowhere did I say that women could not or should not work outside of the home. No where have I said that they should not have careers. What I did say is that it is the woman who makes a house a home and that it is the woman who feeds, loves, and nurtures the family. This does not mean that the male half cannot or does not contribute but this is not his primary role. The man’s part is to protect, defend, to provide shelter, food, and clothing but also to train and introduce risk. Not all men are up to this challenge, especially if they did not have good role models themselves, but the man plays a very important role in child rearing. While it is possible for a single parent to successfully raise a child, it is better if both parents are present.

Obviously this is a very simplistic view but not all people who get married and have children are prepared for these responsibilities. Some people become overwhelmed by these responsibilities for many reasons. Sometimes they are not financially capable of supporting the children, sometimes they are not emotionally prepared for the sacrifices that come with children, while others view the children as an impediment to their fun. These are the parents that leave their children alone and unattended, the ones that become abusive, the ones that neglect their children emotionally as well as physically. Many times these are the people who sink into alcoholism and drug abuse. These are the ones who lack the emotional strength to deal with life’s problems much less the responsibility of children. Ironically it is these parents who after a lifetime of neglect expect their children to love, respect, and care for them once the children are grown. A parent is a parent first and a successful parent may be friends with their children once they are grown but no parent has a right to expect anything from his adult children. Whatever they give should be from the heart and not from obligation.

And this brings me to the point and that is what responsibility does an adult child have toward his parents? In my opinion no child owes his parents anything and anything that they do offer should be done willingly and from the heart. If the parent was abusive, neglectful, or abandoned the child then why should the child feel guilty for being neglectful and abandoning the parent? Being a parent is a lifetime commitment and should not be undertaken lightly. The child has no control and is totally dependent on the parent but if the parent fails the child, then the child is absolved of any commitment to the parent. This is not to say that the child should abandon the parent but that they should do what they wish to do, not what society or others think they should do.