Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A New Generation

My parents are from the “Baby Boomer” generation, I am a Gen X-er, but what should we call today’s generation? The “Apple Generation?” The reason I say Apple is because of the “I” products…I-phones, I-pads, and I-pods. In reality they should be Generation “I.”
The Apple products theory is an interesting take, but the real reason is due to this generation’s thinking. They only think about them and never do anything wrong. It is always someone else who is wrong and accountability is thrown out the window.
“I couldn’t do well on the test because Suzie had a hair out of place” or “Johnnie looked at me wrong and I lost all motivation” are some of the standard answers that you hear from today’s generation. The inner drive isn’t there to push one’s self to do better.  Instead they are given a free pass for many different reasons, leading to mediocrity being the norm.
The breakdown of home life is one contributing factor. Family structure is being lost because of divorce or both parents having to work to make ends meet. The parent or parents are tired from working all day and just give in to “Little Johnnie” so that they don’t have to deal with the problem. There are other factors in there, but that reason is a major contributor to the attitude of tomorrow’s leaders.
Government has also played a major role in today’s generation by mandating even participation and that there are no longer to be winners or losers. Heaven forbid if “Little Johnnie” should learn one of life’s lessons early on…LIFE IS NOT FAIR! The winners in life take responsibility and accountability by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.
Added to the government’s negative role is the role that teachers and administrators play in the development of these young adults. Today’s kids do not have good manners. I shouldn’t generalize, but the sad reality is only about 10% of the kids show respect to teachers, school administrators, coaches, and adults in general.
These kids do not say “Mister Smith” or “Coach Smith”; they just blurt out the person’s first name or just their last name. Why aren’t teachers holding these kids accountable? Have they given up the fight as well or do they just don’t care anymore? Again, this is a generalization because there are teachers that demand accountability and respect from their students, but they are becoming an endangered species.
Even commercials play on the “I” generation theme. The money shark, J.G. Wentworth does a great job by having everyday people shout out “It’s MY money and I need it now!” Sure it’s your money, but what happened to planning for the future? It has been thrown out the proverbial window as well.
If today’s generation of young adults are not learning some of life’s greatest and simplest lessons, what type of foundation will they be laying for their own kids in the future? “Oh, go ahead and take the car, just don’t spill any alcohol on the school gym today!” Is this where we are headed?
Last week was my oldest son’s birthday and we had an away basketball game. I am an assistant coach and thought that it would be nice to have pizza and soft drinks after the game for all of the players. Now food for 20+ hungry boys is not cheap, but I felt the memories would be worth more. I couldn’t have been more right.
Out of those 20+ kids, only two (excluding my son) said thank you. Yes that is right, TWO! That is less than 10 percent. I did have one player come up to me the next day and say thank you and I greatly appreciated that. I don’t get paid for my time and I am trying to make sure that every player grows not only as a player, but more importantly as a person. But how do address this?
I am 99 percent of the time a very optimistic, a glass ¾ full type of person. However, I am very concerned with the direction this generation is taking. Not only that, but the lack of accountability the adults in the lives of these kids are taking makes me shudder in disgust, especially when majority of the adult time these kids get is in the school system.
On the news today is a story about a suburban Philadelphia teacher that is in trouble for writing a blog. On USA Today Deadline they write “In one post, she called her students "rude, lazy, disengaged whiners." She drew up a list of canned comments she thought teachers should be able to pick from when writing report cards, such as "rat-like," "dresses like a streetwalker," "frightfully dim" and "whiny, simpering grade-grubber with an unrealistically high perception of own ability level."
Now I don’t know anything about this teacher other than the stories breaking out on all major networks and on the internet. I don’t know if she is crazy, a good teacher, or what, but I am respecting the heck out her because of her own accountability and her ability to call spades, spades!
In her blog she wrote While I never in a million years would have guessed that this many people would ever see my words, and I didn't even intend them to, I stand by what I wrote and think it's good that people are aware now. There are serious problems with our education system today--with the way that schools and school districts and students and parents take teachers who enter the education field full of life and hope and a desire to change the world and positively impact kids, and beat the life out of them and villainize them and blame them for everything--and those need to be brought to light. If this 'scandal' opens the door for that conversation, so be it.”
I agree that there are problems in education, but I believe the problem isn’t how teachers are taken it is what they deliver and expect from the students. Teachers, parents, and community members are being taken hostage by this generation and are settling for any little sign of respect, accountability, or responsibility. They now praise mediocrity instead of sticking to their guns and challenging each student to be successful.
Well, I do believe that this is the “I” generation. There are good kids, but I am afraid of what the future will be like for the next generation. If we are going to praise and except mediocrity as the new level of excellence, then what will that level be 10 to 20 years from now? “I” just wish “I” could do something more, but “I” will have to be satisfied with my own family and writing this article.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mega Loads

How important is commerce to the Lewiston area? Or for that matter, any area in the world? I believe that commerce is as important as agriculture. The two go hand in hand. Without agriculture we could not have commerce and without commerce how would society grow to prosperity?
A battle has been raging since last year about sending oversized loads of refining equipment from the Port of Lewiston, Idaho (the farthest inland seaport west of the Rockies) to Billings, Montana up Highway 12.
Highway 12 was put into place for east/west commerce to happen. That route has also been valuable for tourism and for fighting fires. It is important for all of those things and it is a beautiful drive along the Clearwater River system.
The battle has not been about the loads traveling along the highway, but about an anti business (oil companies) sentiment. It is the same type of argument that has been used against dams. Save Our Salmon (SOS) doesn’t care about salmon, they don’t like agriculture, business, or dams.
Heading into this new cropping year I am forced to look at higher prices for fuel and fertilizer, the two largest costs for any farming operation. If there is a chance that these loads could help to relieve that cost I am all for it.
But that is not the reason I am for the “Mega Loads” traveling a tax payer paid road, I am looking at the potential future or our area. What kinds of businesses could be brought here due to these loads? Will the Lewiston/Clarkston area become a new manufacture hub in the U.S.? I hope so.
It is still more than that. It means the survival of dams on the Snake and Columbia River system. My crops and crops from other farmers use that route as the most efficient way to transport bulk commodities to destinations all over the world.
These dams also provide inexpensive power for me, agriculture, businesses of all types, and just plain ‘ol folks. What I find funny is hydroelectric power is not considered renewable. Environmental activists believe that wind and solar will solve all of our problems. Just like stopping these loads.
The activist community usually doesn’t care about the cause they list on their website or are quoted about in the paper, they don’t like business. The activists against the “Mega Loads” have many reasons for not letting these loads travel and one is the loads were made outside of the U.S.
Why has this happened? Why are these steel drums and large metal loads made in other countries? Is it due to the friendly business environment? I don’t think so. The United States has moved to the 9th slot in the world as being friendly to business according to Forbes.
Lawsuits, regulations, anti business climate, and a government that is doing all it can at times to halt business in the U.S. is to blame. Just like the “Mega Loads” folks, certain groups of people do not want business to continue.
I am glad that the loads are going through. There has been hard work by different business sectors in Idaho and Montana to ensure the growth of business for years to come. Drive Our Economy has been vital in the fight for these loads going through.
And what about having a bad precedence set? A precedence that could hurt almost anyone needing to haul an oversized load. The Idaho Transportation Department issues over 60,000 oversized permits a year, not to mention farmers moving their equipment from field to field.
Have the activists thought about the consequences of not having these loads go through for their own selfish means? What would happen if a retired couple wanted to put in a mobile home to live out their days instead of building one? When is enough, enough?
I believe that most activists are good people at heart. They believe in a cause and try to do something. That is the beauty of America. However, I believe their thinking stops too soon and isn’t carried further to the end. I don’t believe they have looked far enough to see what could be for future generations.
The issue of the “Mega Loads” isn’t a new battle; it just has a new name. Agriculture and business have been fighting this battle for over three decades. It is time for all American’s to understand that business isn’t bad or is an enemy. Successful business is the great example of a vision started over 200 years ago by 56 men. Men who literally put their lives on the line so activists could speak out, businesses could grow, and society would prosper.