Musings on Tennessee State Representative Races

The August elections will see the election of local offices throughout Tennessee, but this will also be the date for state primaries throughout Tennessee. In this piece, I will discuss several of the contested state representative primary races across Tennessee.

Tennessee House District 2 – This Republican Primary dust up features incumbent Tony Shipley and a strong challenger, Bud Hulsey. Shipley barely won his previous primary and is again facing a tough challenger.

On most legislation, I don’t have a big problem with Tony Shipley, but there are at least two major areas where I do. Shipley was a sponsor of the legislation that opened Tennessee up to “no refusal” checkpoints where your rights are terminated and a police officer can force you to give a blood sample. Shipley also supports changing the Tennessee Constitution to remove your right to elect certain judges. This is simply an attempt to codify the unconstitutional move Tennessee made years ago with “retention elections.” If this is a good idea, how long before legislators decide you don’t need to elect them but simply vote to retain them?

I must admit, I am not sure where Bud Hulsey stands on many issues. That’s not a good thing since I have spent the better part of an hour scouring the web for some information. Hulsey does talk a bit about “smaller government” but doesn’t every Republican? I hope he doesn’t hope to win simply on name instead of where he stands. Those types of politicians rarely accomplish any good.

One who will be on the ballot in November as an independent will definitely be for smaller government. His name is J.R. Enfield.

Tennessee House District 3 – This race is a rematch from 2012. Timothy Hill is the incumbent and Kevin Parsons is the challenger. In looking at this race, there are two things that I have noticed. Kevin Parsons is going after Timothy Hill hard. The other is Kevin Parsons really doesn’t say much about what he will do. He says he is for this and for that, but Parsons does not give any specifics.

Back to the negativity in the race, if you go to Parsons’s website, you will notice a newsfeed. All that is in the newsfeed is negative stuff about his opponent. The first story is about his opponent’s use of campaign funds to purchase a mattress. While this sounds strange, a campaign can use campaign funds as they see fit for the campaign. According to the Timothy Hill campaign, this purchase was to make it easier for a staffer on the campaign so that the staffer did not have to travel back and forth so much. This is simply a non-story without more information that we don’t have.

Looking at more information, the posting date for more stories is recent. This makes the news stories seem recent. They are not. These seem to be nothing more than recycled attacks that are years old and are common knowledge.

Tennessee House District 4 – This is an interesting race in that it features Judy Veeneman, the sister of outgoing state representative, Kent Williams (famous or infamous for his vote or hijacking of the Tennessee Speaker of the House vote a few years back).

John Holsclaw Jr. seems to be another candidate who speaks in generalities (while telling you nothing). His campaign facebook page merely says he wants to represent needs in Nashville, return state funding to Carter and Unicoi Counties, support education, and promote new jobs.

Like her or not, Veeneman says where she stands. She says she is against Common Core and against vouchers. She believes we have a right to bear arms but it may not be a good idea.

Tennessee House District 5 – This is my home district. This one has gotten very interesting to say the least in the last week or so, as well. It features a rematch of 2012 with Ted Hensley challenging David Hawk. A quick look at 2012 would tell you that Hawk is vulnerable as he got under 40% of the vote, which is never a good thing for an incumbent.

If I were managing a campaign for an incumbent, there are a few things I would advise my candidate about. One is don’t debate if you feel you are the front runner by a comfortable margin or if you think it will open you up to a problem. Yes it may hurt and show weakness, but you can probably weather that more than a bad debate performance.

If I were managing a campaign for a challenger I would advise to hit the frontrunner hard and often on issues important to the campaign. Hammer home whatever issue that is.

Hawk has refused to debate. He was probably the frontrunner, but possibly by a thin margin where not debating could have hurt.

Hensley attacked, but it was seen as a personal attack. That is difficult to do and can easily backfire. It may have backfired, but I think more importantly, it gave Hawk a cover to refuse to debate because the campaign has become about personal attacks.

It will definitely be interesting to see where this one goes in the coming weeks across the finish line.

Tennessee House District 6 – This is formerly my home district and the district house seat I ran for back in 2006. Micah Van Huss is the incumbent who is challenged b Clayton Stout.

In looking at Clayton Stout, many of his answers to issues are great answers. He does seem a bit weak on two in particular. He doesn’t like that Van Huss was able to get rid of forced annexation of property. He also thinks Tennessee’s gun laws are where they need to be. I believe that Tennessee’s gun laws are still too restrictive.

I ask any readers who reside in the 6th District to vote re-elect Micah Van Huss.

Tennessee House District 7 – This is also formerly my home district. This is the district I grew up in and the one where I first cast a vote.

This race features three candidates but is expected to come down to Matthew Hill, the incumbent, and Phil Carriger, the challenger.

Matthew Hill is one of the most dedicated conservatives in the Tennessee House.

Carriger is soft on guns. Also when asked about raising the gas tax in Tennessee, he skirted the issue entirely.

I ask any readers who reside in the 7th District to vote to re-elect Matthew Hill.

Tennessee House District 61 – This is interesting in that it is shaping to be a battle over guns and a committee chaired by the incumbent.

Steve Gawrys looks to be the real deal while incumbent Charles Sargent was touting his NRA rating as his reason to be re-elected. That NRA rating has since been lowered.

I ask any readers who reside in the 61st District to vote for Steve Gawrys.

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In Tennessee’s 7th Senatorial District, One Candidate Believes Tennessee’s Constitution Can Be Ignored

Dr. Richard Briggs and Sen. Stacey Campfield faced off in a discussion that dealt with Tennessee’s Constitution.  Briggs stated that the Constitution should be ignored in regard to your rights.

Posted in Constitutional Issues, News, Politics, Tennessee News, Tennessee Politics | Leave a comment

In Reference to the Strange Obsession the Johnson City Press has in Tennessee’s 6th and 7th State Representative Races

The Johnson City Press has a vendetta against TN State Rep Matthew Hill (R – 7) and TN State Rep Micah Van Huss (R – 6). I have commented on their Facebook stories about Hill and Van Huss, calling the JCP out for their “obsession.” This is a comment that I left today on two new stories they have concerning the 6th and 7th Tennessee House District Primary races.

I think this goes to prove my point. Between Gary Gray and Robert Houk, the Johnson City Press has a seemingly unhealthy fetish when it comes to Matthew Hill and Micah Van Huss.

This election season has seen the JCP has transformed from a so-so newspaper into the latest episode of TLC’s My Strange Addiction.

I hope the involved parties seek medical help quickly before this escalates into something much worse.

Today the JCP also endorsed the challengers to Hill and Van Huss. They did so because they show “partiality” in their voting. As I have followed both of these men’s votes, I am glad to report that they do vote in a conservative fashion. I would guess that the JCP does not like this.

I have also noticed that the JCP did not like that Hill nor Van Huss bowed down to kiss their boots by answering their questions each time they wanted to attempt to drag them through the mud. Let me ask you, would you want to give the JCP the satisfaction of knowing you care what they say if all they want to do is try to tear you down? I applaud Hill and Van Huss for not being beholden to the local liberal media.

Also, you will notice that several come on to the JCP Facebook page to defend the JCP and tear down both Hill and Van Huss. I noticed this as well. I decided to investigate the pages and the “likes” that each of those people had on their own personal Facebook pages. My findings were quite interesting. You will find some who are true Republicans. You can expect that in any primary. The telling thing was the vast majority of those attacking Hill and Van Huss while praising the JCP, Carriger, and Stout were actually liberals. Several key terms kept coming up as I scoured their Facebook pages: progressive, gun control, Democrat, etc.

Make no doubt about it. Each of these races has a proven conservative in Van Huss or Hill. The JCP endorsed candidates past is much more to the left with support of forced annexation, anti-gun measures, and more taxes.

I urge voters in the 6th and 7th districts to ignore the white noise you hear in the background and look at who you see out in the community listening to police and firemen. Look at who hosts town hall events where the citizens of the community can ask questions. Look at who has the proven conservative voting record. You will see that each race has one: Hill and Van Huss.

Then I urge you to look to see who gets the local media giant to do their bidding. Look at who did not want you to have the right to choose whether the city annexed you. Look at who did not want you to freely exercise your 2nd Amendment right. Look at who is the choice of the left. At the end of that search, you find Carriger and Stout.

Voters who believe in limited government have but one choice in each race. Don’t let the JCP make the choice for you. Vote for Van Huss in the 6th District and Hill in the 7th District.

Posted in News, Politics, Tennessee News, Tennessee Politics | Leave a comment

ObamaCare Hit But Still Standing… For Now

Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that ObamaCare (or the Affordable Care Act) cannot force employers to pay for contraceptives due to religious freedom.  While this is a huge statement from the Supreme Court, the underlying issue is that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

I realize that many people are going to point to the Supreme Court’s decision over the constitutionality of the individual mandate.  In that case, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion saying that the individual mandate in ObamaCare is constitutional because Congress has the power to levy taxes.  By this ruling, however, Roberts gave fodder to prove that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

With the previous Supreme Court ruling that states that the individual mandate is a tax, the Supreme Court opened up a challenge on ObamaCare.  Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution says, “All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives…” Since the individual mandate was ruled a tax, then that tax must have originated in the House of Representatives and not the Senate.

Where did the ACA originate?  That would be the Senate.

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Give Me One Reason to Trust Tennessee’s Department of Education

A lot of attention has been put on Tennessee’s Department of Education in the past several months.  What I want is just ONE good reason that I should trust Tennessee’s Department of Education.  One reason should not be all that difficult to come up with.  There are obviously several reasons why I don’t.

1) TCAP Secrecy: Tennessee’s test, TCAP, is a test that seems about as classified as anything that might be found in Area 51.  Parents are not allowed to look at it, teachers are not supposed to look at it, nor are teachers supposed to discuss anything they might happen to see if they do accidentally see anything.

Why am I supposed to trust a test that I cannot see?  Why am I supposed to trust a test that I cannot review for accuracy?  Why is Tennessee’s Department of Education so scared of letting parents, teachers, and curious taxpayers review a test that accounts as a large percentage of the student grade, a teacher’s livelihood, and the staple of the community’s future?

2) TCAP Tests Do Have Errors:  Would it be outside the realm of possibility that a test given to all 3rd through 8th graders, with multiple versions, and with new tests developed each year to have at least one error on it?  Quite simply, that answer would be no.  There is a chance that any test would have an error or multiple errors.  The problem is that we don’t know how many errors there might be or if those errors are discovered and fixed.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), we do know that the TCAP has errors on it.  Unfortunately, we don’t know how widespread these errors are.

We do know that this year the 4th grade TCAP test had an error on a sample question.  The TCAP Sample question, which teachers view and go over with students after they have a chance to answer it, was reported to have asked what is 4 x 60?  The choices were F) 240  G) 160  H) 260  J) 140.  Obviously the students should have chosen ‘F.’  The teacher then read directly from the TCAP Teacher Manual that the correct answer should have been ‘G.’

Errors can happen, but do we know when they happen?  Do we know that they are later corrected?  Unfortunately not.

Hopefully this was an isolated incident, but there is a good chance that it is not.  It may just happen that we know of this error because it was a sample that the teacher was supposed to read.  How do we know that there not other questions that have a correct answer, but if the student chooses that answer his/her answer is counted wrong?

Pearson is responsible for creating the TCAP test, but other textbook companies make their own practice tests.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is another such textbook company.  On one such TCAP Practice test, they had two errors that were discovered.

3) “Post-Equating”:  Student scores factor into student grades.  This year there was a major issue as the student scores were not returned in time to be factored into their grades in time to be placed on the grade cards.  Some systems applied for waivers (and were granted them in violation of state law).  Some systems simply delayed grade cards.  All of this was done in the name of “post-equating.”

In short, students are given the TCAP test.  It is graded.  The Tennessee’s Department of Education steps in and “post-equates” (or manipulates) the test scores to fit whatever agenda they need to feed.

4) Teachers and Students Not Aware of What Counts on Tests:  Tennessee puts out a form that tells the percentage of test questions that will come from each group of standards.  Several standards were dropped from last year’s standards, but it has been stated that some of those dropped standards made up some of this year’s questions.  Is it possible that there were “dropped SPI” questions on the test but those did not count toward the score?

Also, two years ago, many teachers across the state in ELA (English and Language Arts – combination of traditional English and Reading) were told to teach the new Common Core standards.  Many teachers did just that, following orders to ignore SPIs (Tennessee’s Standard Performance Indicators).  Teachers did so at their own peril, as several SPIs were not covered but were asked on the test.  That reflected negatively on those teachers.

This year, many of those same teachers that did not teach SPIs but taught Common Core were not going to make the same mistake.  They taught SPIs since that was what was going to show up on the test.  Those SPIs were on the test, but apparently part of the “post-equating” process included voiding questions based specifically on SPIs that were not Common Core based.

5) Errors in the Tennessee Standards: Tennessee’s Department of Education has developed a new set of history standards.  8th grade US History Standard 8.7 says “Explain the reasons behind the settlement of the Georgia Colony, including the role of John Oglethorpe…”  I was very familiar with the Oglethorpe name but John, not so much.  I did a quick Google search of “John Oglethorpe” and Georgia.  All of the results came back with the name “James Oglethorpe.”  Unless there is some “John Oglethorpe” that even Google doesn’t know about, this is just another example of an error.

6) Tennessee is Devaluing History:  Common Core and Tennessee are devaluing history in education.  Most people talk about how important it is to be able to do math, read, and even science.  History is often looked at as the red-headed stepchild in education, but history is very important.

Students, as individuals, have to excel in mathematics, reading/comprehension, and possibly science in order to get the best jobs, get into the best schools, and to be considered the best and brightest.  As a nation, much of our future strength in a global economy is based on math and science, while reading is the most basic necessity of having a strong workforce.  Unfortunately, history has found itself on the back burner.

Common Core has made a strong attempt to relegate history to be an extension of ELA.  It is as if history is a work of literature or a document to be read closely.  That is simply not true.  History’s greatest strength is a cultural glue that defines our culture and makes us great.

I am sure many reading this are thinking history isn’t that important.  Maybe you are thinking that you haven’t ever had to use history since you graduated high school or college.  Stick with me and follow this next point.

Take a look at the United States.  Think back to the United States thirty years ago.  Is this United States different?  What type of trend have we been on?  I would say regardless of political affiliation, many of us are not totally happy with the way things are going.  Let me ask this one question:  Is the United States on a downward trend because we can’t add well enough or can’t read well enough?  Or is the United States on a downward trend because we don’t know our history well enough to understand the importance of being involved in our government and the decisions made within the government?  I think you can answer that question fairly easily.

Now, let me pose one last question:  Can you give me ONE reason that I should trust the Tennessee Department of Education?

 

 

Posted in Education, Politics, Tennessee News, Tennessee Politics | 1 Comment

Two Examples of How to Cut Spending

Mayor Burchett of Knoxville and Mayor Terry Frank of Anderson County both put forth budgets that had cuts.  These are examples for other local governments to follow.

http://knoxcounty.org/news/index.php?id=77

http://oakridgetoday.com/2013/05/10/frank-proposes-cuts-in-county-property-tax-rate-law-directors-budget/

Posted in Local News, Local Politics, News, Politics, Tennessee News, Tennessee Politics | 1 Comment

Text of My Argument Against Greene County Wheel Tax to be Presented at Today’s Commission Meeting

In McCulloch v Maryland, Chief Justice John Marshall opined, “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”

We stand here today looking at another potential tax increase, just under a year since the last increase.

We, the people of Greene County, are taxed at an amount that is breaking some and angering more.

While Chief Justice John Marshall was not referring to a tax on the people, his words do ring true today.  The people of Greene County are at that limit where we cannot bear more taxation, whether it be on automobiles or property.

Our 30th president, Calvin Coolidge stated “The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny.”

Those of us who have looked closely at the budget and the spending of our county are many times left wondering if things are absolutely required and truly do contribute to the public welfare.  We know that at least part of the taxation we face is nothing more than legalized theft.

Don’t steal more money from the taxpayers of Greene County.

Our Founding Father, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and our 3rd President of these United States, Thomas Jefferson, said it best when he said, “Excessive taxation…will carry reason and reflection to every man’s door, and particularly in the hour of election.”

It is unfortunate that many of you have already voted for increased taxation.  Some of you have voted for wheel tax or property tax increases in the past, while some of you have not.  The fact is however, that many of you have indirectly voted for increased taxes when you voted for increases of spending.  You vote for it when you give money to non-profits.  You vote for it when you vote to give extra money to airports.  Much of the spending of this county is simply just not needed, nor is it yours to give.

I and many others will be help bring that reason and reflection that Jefferson spoke of to each voter in Greene County to make sure that you hear us next election day.  It is unfortunate that the prospect of reelection is what causes our elected officials to hear our voices.  Yet, I ask you to hear our voice now.  Vote against any more taxation be it a wheel tax, a property tax, or the bloated budgets and increased spending we too often see.

Thank you.

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Greene County Taxation

Taxation

In 2012, Greene County voters were asked to vote on a wheel tax increase.    Many argued that if a wheel tax increase was voted down, a property tax increase would be put in its place.  Those people voted for a wheel tax increase.  Still a vote on the wheel tax increase lost.

The people did not just vote against a wheel tax increase.  The people voted against any tax increase.  Our leaders do not understand that.

The school system was able to effectively rally some of the teachers when a county commissioner e-mailed teachers to come to the commission meeting, and able to stir up a community by claiming that the commission would be closing a school when the commission does not open nor close schools.

The fake grassroots movement of teachers and fear mongering against the community combined with a lack of leadership throughout our county was able to force an unneeded tax increase onto our already overburdened taxpayers.

We lacked any real leadership on several levels.  We had a mayor who did not take on the fight against the tax increase.  We even had commissioners who had more important things to tend to than protect us against a tax increase.

When you think of our TAX PROBLEM in Greene County, I want you to think of the TRUST that you can place in me to FIGHT AGAINST ALL TAX INCREASES.

I will OPPOSE ALL TAX INCREASES and SUPPORT DECREASES in TAXES.

I will actively campaign against any commissioners who want to raise YOUR taxes.  I will make sure you know their names.

In order for YOU to get that type of representation, I must have YOUR vote.  Place YOUR confidence in ME.

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Announcement

ANNOUNCEMENT:  I have been asked several times throughout the past few days about what I am considering.  I am strongly considering a bid for County Mayor.

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Anyone Interested in Volunteering on a Political Campaign in Greene County?

Anyone who might be interested in volunteering on a political campaign in Greene County should contact me.

You can comment here, email me at joshaarrowood@hotmail.com, message me on facebook, or text/call my cell phone.

I have decided that I will be seeking political office very soon and am in need of volunteers.  I have decided on the office I will be seeking (99%), but I am not ready to announce as of yet.

Posted in Local News, Local Politics, News, Politics | Leave a comment

Arrowood Dispatch 2013 MLB Season Predictions

American League
AL East
1) Toronto Blue Jays  2) Tampa Bay Rays  3) Baltimore Orioles  4) Boston Red Sox  5) New York Yankees

AL Central
1) Detroit Tigers  2) Cleveland Indians  3) Kansas City Royals  4) Chicago White Sox  5) Minnesota Twins

AL West
1) Los Angeles Angels  2) Texas Rangers  3) Oakland Athletics  4) Seattle Mariners  5) Houston Astros

AL Wild Card Teams
Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers

AL Champs
Detroit Tigers

AL MVP
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels

AL Cy Young
Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers

AL Rookie
Aaron Hicks – Minnesota Twins

 

National League
NL East
1) Atlanta Braves  2) Washington Nationals  3) Philadelphia Phillies  4) New York Mets  5) Miami Marlins

NL Central 1) Cincinnati Reds  2) St. Louis Cardinals  3) Milwaukee Brewers  4) Pittsburgh Pirates  5) Chicago Cubs

NL West 1) Los Angeles Dodgers  2) San Francisco Giants  3) Arizona Diamondbacks  4) San Diego Padres  5) Colorado Rockies

NL Wild Card Teams Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals

NL Champs Atlanta Braves

NL MVP Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants

NL Cy Young Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals

NL Rookie Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves

 

World Series Atlanta Braves over Detroit Tigers in 6.

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What Should be the GOP Response for Immigration?

The United States is the greatest nation on the planet.  In 2010, over 1 million people obtained permanent resident status in the United States.  Some estimates also say that 1.5 million come into the US illegally each year.  If America were not a great nation, people would not be flocking to the United States in such numbers.

Most of immigration seems to be from Latin America.  The American Hispanic population is quickly growing and is estimated to be the majority by the year 2050.  In the 2010 elections, the percentages of Hispanics voting Democratic compared to Republican was down from a 70% to 30% split to a 60% to 40% split.  As the percentage of Hispanics in the US increases, the GOP must find a way to win over a larger segment of that group to remain relevant.

While I hate political pandering, we need to use common sense in dealing with the immigration problem.  These are some facts:  1) Movement is a natural right  2) Government has a right to decide who enters a country  3) All humans want to be respected  4) Every person living in the United States has immigrant status.

As a human, the government has no right to force you to remain within certain boundaries unless you are a criminal.  You have the right to move within your nation’s political boundaries as you wish, while respecting private property rights.  You have a right to leave a nation who does not respect your rights (or for whatever reason you want to leave your government).  Our whole government was founded on the idea that we have the right to abolish our government or separate ourselves from our government.

A government has to have control over who is able to enter a country.  Not just anyone should be allowed to enter a country.  If someone has committed a heinous crime or several petty crimes, allowing them in would be opening yourself to a criminal problem.

A problem the GOP has had in the immigration debate is a difficulty in delivering a message.  You have your segments that are against immigration on the left and the right, but it seems that is the broad brush much of the GOP is painted with.  We, as a party, need to treat all humans — citizens, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants — with respect.  It is a hope that all three groups are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their family.  We cannot afford to minimize their humanity.

Every single person in the United States would be able to find a point in history when our families emigrated from another place and immigrated to the United States.  Looking back historically, the human race began in Mesopotamia region.  From there people moved outward throughout the world.  People over time found their way to the region we now call the United States whether it be by boat, airplane, swimming, walking, or by land-bridge.  We are all immigrants in our own right.

Understanding this, we must also understand that a country without borders opens itself to destruction.  We must be able to control our borders for safety reasons.  This does not just include our southern border, but it includes our northern border and the two oceans.  People enter from all sides daily, and we need to have an idea as to whom is entering our nation.  There are people who wish to do us harm, and we need to be able to protect ourselves from them.

With all this in mind, the GOP needs to redefine our message.  We should be welcome to creating an immigration policy that opens our arms to all people who want to come to the United States to work to achieve the American Dream as long as they do not have a criminal record that would disqualify them.  That process should be as quick as possible, not slowed down with red-tape but is diligent in discovering who is entering.  To do that, we need a better border security that be able to keep up with the high demand of people wanting to enter in a timely manner, while being able to stop all those who attempt to go around that system as there would be no excuse for attempting to circumvent it.  If your record is clean, you are free to enter in a very timely manner.  If you are not cleared for criminal reasons, you shouldn’t be allowed in at all.

(This does not mean amnesty.  We should be open to legal immigration at all times and it should not have tons of red tape.  This should stop a lot of the illegal immigration while allowing more to seek the American Dream.)

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The Problems with the American Education System (Part 1 of 10)

Working in education has its benefits and problems.  If the benefits do not outweigh the problems, one probably should not involve themselves in the field of education.  For many of us, the benefits far outweigh those negatives.  We teach students for the successes that education might bring.

In this series, we will look at the problems of education as it pertains to federal, state, and local governments; administration, teachers, parents, and students; unions; and the problems of the argument itself.

(DISCLAIMER – The opinions stated in this article and all articles found on The Arrowood Dispatch are my own.  They do not relate to my own experience or employment unless I specifically state that it does)

 

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Not Yours to Give — David Crockett

One of my favorite stories was one that was sent to me by the Constitution Party several years ago.  The story has to do with Congressman David Crockett voting for a welfare bill that would give money from the US government to a person in need.  A chance meeting with a voter really gets Crockett’s attention.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Sometimes we let the person rather than the message become the important focus.  Humans are falliable.  We have a rather innate ability to really louse things up.  Too often we think of Americans who had a vision, but we diminish the ideas those Americans had due to flaws in their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one such person.  He had a vision for America that we should heed to in government and in person.  Forget and flaws in the man.  Forget any flaws in how his ideas have been instituted.  Focus on the message that is best summed up in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

America had been violent in actions against certain groups from our beginning.  For a nation rooted in that idea that “all men are created equal,” we failed.  We failed as slavery was a protected institution.  We failed as we allowed the government to hold minorities as second-tier citizens.  Our government failed by holding people down.  Government should be blind in dealing with all humans.  Unfortunately, ours has not.

In that same way, our government should not hold others above another group.  Government should view all individuals as equal.  No one group should receive special rights, nor should any one group receive less rights.  We cannot make right what was done to any group in the past, nor should we try.  We can only make sure that our government is made colorblind.

When it comes to individuals, we cannot force someone to not hold to racial feelings.  You can’t legislate people to hold to a certain view.  People are free to hold to controversial ideas within their First Amendment rights.  Only time and experience can change hearts and minds.

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Updated Website and Upcoming Announcement

I have made an update to my website layout.  Check it out at www.joshuaarrowood.com.  I am also likely to make an announcement there in the upcoming weeks.

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What is the Purpose of the 2nd Amendment?

Following the Sandy Hook shooting, the idea of the right to bear arms headlines news stories in print, on the web, and on the television.  Arguments abound over what is common sense gun control.  The argument is based on the idea that there has to be some gun control measures.  Now the question is just how much gun control there should be.

In order to understand the amount of gun control we should have, we need to first ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment?”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The main reason for the 2nd Amendment is located within the amendment itself.  The reason is “the security of a free state.”  The Framers did not believe that a free state could exist without “the people” having the ability “to keep and bear arms…”

The 2nd Amendment does not say “Well armed hunters, being necessary to a hungry people, the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  It also does not say, “A well armed person, bringing security to their home, the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  It has to do simply with the idea of people being free.

The colonists and Founders did not worry about foreign invaders coming in to take away their rights.  The British were not foreign invaders to the colonists.  The colonists were very much British themselves.  They accused their own king of being a tyrant (see Declaration of Independence).  It was at that moment that the Declaration of Independence was signed, sealed, and delivered that the colonists knew they would have to use those arms to deliver themselves from tyranny.

This does not mean that people should just take up arms against their government.  Obviously it is our fault as Americans that our political bodies are in the state that they are in because we don’t demand and vote that they be any different.

Many liberals get hung up on the beginning of the 2nd Amendment.  Liberals may say that the 2nd Amendment only applies to militias.  Who are the militias?  Let’s check with the co-author of the 2nd Amendment, George Mason.

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason

Another Founder who responsible for bringing a resolution calling for the Declaration of Independence also had a distinct idea of what the militia was.

“A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves …” – Richard Henry Lee

The truth is, the Founders wanted all Americans to be armed.  We the people are the militia.  We the people have a right to bear arms.  The government has no right to infringe on this right.

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” – Thomas Jefferson

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An End Brings Forth a New Beginning

Some recent events have given me some perspective.  I have been at the highest high.  I have been at the lowest low.  All of this has taken place in just a matter of weeks.

Sometimes we get farther from God than we would like due to circumstances.  Sometimes circumstances bring us closer.  Sometimes, it seems, a circumstance can do both.

I tend not to get personal on my blog.  I don’t wear my feelings on my sleeve.  I have been told that my expressions do not change.  I have even had students tell me over the past several days that I am the same person I have been all school year.

When I think of the happiest days of my life, five particular days come to mind.  I can’t tell you the exact dates of all five days, but I remember each fairly well.

The first of those five days had to have happened in the Fall of 2006.  My wife and I had been married just over a year.  She gave me the most exciting news that I could have ever imagined.  We were going to be parents.  The result was the second of those five days.  On June 3, 2007, which just happened to be our second wedding anniversary, my son Will was born.

What seemed to be just a few weeks later, and in reality wasn’t much more than a few weeks later, my wife gave me the news again.  We would be expecting our second child.  Again, this led to the fourth of those five most exciting days in my life.  On May 2, 2008, my daughter Reagan entered this world.

Years have passed since those days.  I have had the opportunity to watch those little babies grow into a handsome, smart, athletic boy with all the potential in the world and a little, beautiful, bright girl who I am sure will live out her dreams.  And finally, that fifth most exciting day in my life came.  My wife once again gave me the news again.  I was to be a dad for the third time.

January 10, 2013, we were excited to go to the ultrasound to see our new baby.  I had memories of the first ultrasound I went to when my wife was carrying Will.  I remember looking at his head.  I could see certain features.  I was looking at my own reflection.  It looked as if my wife was carrying me.  Memories were going through my head of the ultrasound in which I was first introduced to Reagan.  I can remember looking thinking this one doesn’t look like me.  She looks like her mom.

All those memories were in my mind as well as potential names for my new child.  The image came up.  Immediately I began looking, trying to decide is this child going to look like me, or will the kid look liker her?  As I looked intent on figuring out the answer to my question, the doctor broke the silence.  He said, “I can’t find a heartbeat.”  He asked another person in the room to go get another doctor to come help.  She came in, but the answer was the same.  No heartbeat.

I can’t describe what I felt at the time.  I had millions of questions but no answers.  There were no answers for the questions I had.

Instead of my wife’s news turning into yet another greatest day of my life, a Thursday in January turned out to be the worst.

I definitely don’t feel like the same person I was before I walked into that doctor’s office.  I can’t complain much since I have the two best kids in the world who enjoy nothing more than snuggling right up to me during the middle of the night, but knowing I lost a child I never got the chance to say hello or goodbye to hurts nevertheless.

I want to thank everyone who has texted, called, shared experiences, kept us in your thoughts and prayers, or shared kind words with me.  While I must say this is the most difficult thing I have ever experienced, in some way it has made it easier.

Thank you.

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Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

Tomorrow Greene County residents get to vote whether or not we want to pay twenty more dollars a year in wheel taxes for each vehicle we own.  My prediction is that the wheel tax increase fails with 70 percent of voters voting against the wheel tax.  I have never seen a tax that I would vote for and neither have many other people.

The Greeneville Sun recently printed that there is a possibility that the Greene County Commission may vote to increase the property tax.  I know politicians don’t tend to be the smartest people in a room, even when the only person in the room, but I would think that if a wheel tax is heavily defeated (or even barely defeated) it would make sense that people probably don’t want to pay more in taxes.  A commissioner who votes for a tax if the wheel tax is defeated might as well hold up a sign come next election that says “Don’t vote for me!”

I lived in Washington County a few short years ago.  Washington County has a higher property tax than I would like, but the commissioners there also wanted a wheel tax.  A problem with taxes is this.  If a new tax is instituted, you have multiple taxes that will be increased at a future time.

I have been told by some that when the wheel tax was instituted in Greene County, it was to improve the roads and was only to be a temporary tax.  I have not researched this, but Greene County roads are in need of improvement and we are now looking at an increase in the wheel tax.  There are just some things that government does not do well.  The main thing government is poor at is fixing a problem so that the government can shrink itself back from being involved so much in one area.

I would love for a candidate for the county commission to run on a platform of making Greeneville/Greene County a place that businesses are welcome to move to in order to tap into the wealth that we have.  It should be easier, not more difficult for developers to build subdivisions and business developments for more citizens and economic opportunities to come in.

That platform should also include the ELIMINATION of the wheel tax.  Some may ask, “What should replace the wheel tax?”  The answer is nothing.  Nothing should replace a wheel tax.  Greene County has a low tax rate.  That alone is a good economic development strategy but we need to be more inviting to business and to housing development.  We don’t need to raise taxes.  We need to increase wealth of our citizens.  We don’t need restrictive laws that inhibit growth.  We need to get more people moving to Greene County.  We need to increase businesses coming to Greene County.  Doing these things will insure that the money spent by Greene Countians will be spent and kept in Greene County.

Some may argue that this platform would lead to an increase in the property tax.  It won’t if we grow as stated in the previous paragraph.

No doubt, the talk of a possible increase in the property tax will scare people to voting for the wheel tax.  One reason that I have heard is that a wheel tax at least insures that everyone pays.  In reality, any tax is not simply just paid by the person the tax is levied against.  If a tax is raised on a corporation, the corporation doesn’t pay the tax.  The consumer ultimately does as the corporation increases the price of the good or service.  A property tax works much the same way.  If a property owner rents out property, the owner is not going to take a loss.  If the tax goes up, the property owner would (or probably should) pass that tax onto the person who rents the home.  In any instance, if Greene County votes down the wheel tax, Greene County is saying no to any tax increase.

 

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