MOTIVATING THE UNMOTIVATED

Motivating the Unmotivated

Having spent many years teaching all levels of students, the most important task is to discover what a person values and then build upon it. For example, suppose you have a student who shows no apparent interest in what you think is important. What do you do? You need to take your time and observe what he or she does when there is no assigned task. This may take time even as long as three to six weeks, but the time and patience you bring to the task is well worth it to the unmotivated student. Motivation comes in basically two forms, intrinsic or internal and extrinsic or external. Many parents focus their efforts on extrinsic motivation such as rewards for doing a task, by paying money for getting good grades. In real life this rarely works when there is no one around to reward you.

My primary technique in working with young students, say at the fifth grade level was to choose an unmotivated student to run an errand for me. I never believed in keeping students in at recess just because they were struggling at reading or math. Another technique that worked wonders was to have every student convene the class for a week. They talked about whatever subject that concerned them. This did more for the so called unmotivated student than anything I ever tried. So many times the only student who gets a chance to run and errand or lead a class discussion are the kids who are already stars. On one occasion one of the members of a class was upset because the class never agreed on anything. I rarely intervened, but on this occasion I told them that I could decide everything for them and tell them what to do. They agreed as a class that they preferred to discuss their problems themselves.

Intrinsic motivation is what makes the difference between success and failure in life. It does not have to lead to wealth, but it can. It does not have to lead to an executive position. A person in whatever occupation has to have a sense of pride in their work and to value what they do in life. Intrinsic motivation comes from what a person values. Extrinsic motivation is a device to get a person to do something whether they value it or not. To discover what a person values, that is their intrinsic motivation, spend time observing what a person, either a child or adult does with their own free time. Rewards for improving intrinsic motivation should be subtle, and not closely related to the desired outcome. After all, what you desire in a person is for that person to become what we call self actualized, that is able to function without depending upon external motivation.

Many corporations follow a line and staff style of leadership which is modeled after a military style of organization. A basketball player made a suggestion to the coach George Raveling at USC. George responded, “Son, I will tell you what my mother told me. When I want your opinion, I’ll tell you what to say!” Unfortunately, the line and staff form of organization does not work in all corporations or in many kinds of institutions where cooperation and personal responsibility are needed or valued.

I had a question from a viewer about how to acquire the motivation to exercise on a regular basis. This question involves intrinsic motivation. Setting a schedule on paper and checking off the times one exercises is one way of developing the required motivation. Also, varying the routine helps. For example, I have several exercise machines I can use to vary the routine. Whatever you do, do not stress your body and injure yourself. Gradually increase the time of your routine, but if you are sore, take a break. Both women and men need to do strength and aerobic exercise. Some people jog to condition their bodies, but jogging over a long period of time leads to worn out hip and knee joints.

MAKE GOVERNMENTAL HEALTH INSURANCE AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE–THIS IS THE ULTIMATE PUBLIC OPTION

Make Governmental Health Insurance Available for Everyone

As it now stands, we have the Medical Associations, Senators, Representatives, and Pharmaceutical firms all claiming we are headed for bankruptcy, socialism, and probably a satellite of China, if we provide health care for the rest of our citizens. Those 50 million citizens amount to the combined population of Canada and Australia. Of course we could easily finance the cost of Medical Insurance for all of our citizens if we would make it a mandatory five year sentence for any Representative, Senator, or any other governmental employee who receives money from outside sources to pay for a vote either for or against medical care. To raise the ante, we could make it a mandatory seven year sentence for any company or member of a Medical Company who contributes money pay for a vote.

I am certain that we could easily provide medical insurance for everyone without going bankrupt, becoming a satellite of China, by adopting the same medical insurance that Representatives and Senators now enjoy. We need to remove bribery as a way of life from the our elected and appointed officials, because bribery may in fact be a form of Socialism for the privileged members of our nation. It is hard to believe that one life is more important than another.

We as citizens must make our voices heard and tell our members of Congress that we expect them to forgo accepting bribes for votes. The health of our citizens should be as important as their own health.

THE FEUDAL SYSTEM IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE UNITED STATES

The Feudal System Is Alive and Well in the United States

The recent turmoil in the financial markets stem from changes brought about during the Reagan Administration and culminating with the Clinton Administration. If the word derivative has any meaning to you, you are in the minority because much of the present and past Congress and Senate do not seem to have a clue. This financial instrument came about as the result of the deregulation efforts brought about by the Republican Party under Reagan and under the advice of people like Arthur Laffer and Allan Greenspan. During his Presidency, the national debt went from $700 billion to $3 trillion. A recent news report, that I cannot substantiate, stated that Reagan borrowed $1 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund telling Greenspan that no one would ever find out about the transaction. His notable activity leading to a renewal of the Feudal System started with the firing of 11,345 air traffic controllers when they went on strike for better wages and especially better working conditions. It is ironic, that Reagan, who was once President of the Screen Actors Guild which was in reality a union, turned against unions. Doing away with unions has been the mantra of the Republican Party ever since. In the last primary contest every Republican candidate repeated Reagan’s name as if this was the high point of all the the Party had achieved throughout its existence.

The unions whose origins began in Europe in the 1830’s were brought about to improve the conditions of laboring men, women, and children in the textile industries and mines, primarily in Great Britain. As the United States grew into an industrial power, the robber baron era of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s gave little thought to the plight of the workers. The desire by the workers gave rise to the formation of unions in the 1920’s and 1930’s with the owners of the corporations doing everything they could to intimidate the workers who wanted to join a union and have some say in their working conditions, pay and retirement. Much of the benefits won by the unions including safety features in the work environment, pay, retirement, and health care have slowly eroded for several reasons. People became complacent and forgot or never knew how the job benefits were achieved. Areas such as state and municipal workers including teachers from K-14 grew to become the dominant unions at the present time, while industrial workers under union contracts have declined. The days when John L. Lewis could call a coal miners strike and paralyze the nation have passed. Also, the illegal behavior of the union bosses, particularly, the longshoreman’s union have not helped. With the rise of the high tech industries , the unions either did not try or were unable to get enough interested people willing to form a union. As seen in the latest scandals involving the giant insurance companies such as AIG the robber barons have arisen once more. We once again have a feudal system in the United States.

Under a feudal system the workers have little or no rights under the system run by the corporations or the individuals they work for, and they can be fired, laid off, or transferred without cause if they have no one to represent them, and in order to have representation, you either have to have the money to hire an attorney or a union to hire the attorney for you. With no union representation, particularly in an economy such as the one we are currently experiencing, the workers in high tech, in banking, in the insurance industry, and in the auto industry have no one to look out for their interests. It is interesting that the Senators and Representatives in the Southern States, particularly in the Republican Party, have fought to prevent federal funds from being distributed to the auto industry. Only Ford, GM, and Chrysler have alliances with labor unions. The Southern States auto companies, Honda, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and others I may have forgotten, do not have labor unions. Labor unions change the social and political equation from one of feudalism to one where the laboring class and low paid professionals can climb the economic ladder, receive pensions, and health care for life, as well as invest in IRA’s and other financial instruments to supplement their income in retirement. If labor unions are strong and viable, there is no longer a special class of wealthy people who can hold the rest of humanity hostage while they enjoy both economic and political privileges. In the South, the reason for this attitude is that, from the time of slavery to the present, the South has supported a kind of feudal system whereby the working class has been without labor rights and representation. This same lack of labor and legal support for workers has crept to the Northern States, as well , and led to the decline of textile mills, furniture companies, steel mills, and industrial plants of all kinds. The crowning blow to this situation, was the rise of NAFTA and other free trade agreements whereby all the countries involved were going to open up free trade and the world was going to be a rosy place for all. What has happened is the the American worker has been forgotten in all of this. We have outsourced our industrial base to any place in the world where there are no labor laws and where labor is cheap. We have given companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Ford, Chrysler, GM, GE, to name a few, tax incentives to set up plants all over the world. We are no longer the great industrial power we once were, and if we ever have to fight a World War again we will not have the industrial base to support such a war nor the workers trained to work in these industries.

I want to include a disclaimer here in that I do not place all the blame on the Republican Party, because much of the outsourcing started in the Clinton Presidency, and the joint action of both Political Parties, North and South, worked against the US workers in NAFTA and in 1999 abolished the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prevented Insurance Companies and Banks from selling securities. Not only were banks and insurance companies allowed to sell securities, but a brilliant woman, Brooksley Born, was removed from the Commodities Trading Commission because she insisted that there needed to be margin requirements for a newly named commodity called derivatives. On the advice and urging of Allen Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers(currently one of Barack Obama’s economic advisors), Arther Levitt fired Brooksley Born because she insisted that derivatives were commodity instruments and should be under the commodities laws which would have required margin requirements just as you have to post when you buy a future on a commodity such as feeder cattle. Rubin stated that money was not a commodity which is very interesting because one can buy both gold and silver through a commodity account, but you do have to stipulate a margin for such an account.

In a book by Saul K. Padover, Jefferson, published in 1942, he tells about Jefferson’s time spent in Europe as a roving ambassador prior to the French Revolution. Jefferson stated that while he had made friends with many of the leading families in Europe, he was glad to return to his home in Virginia where he could interact freely with people of all economic levels. In Europe, he found that about 1% of the citizens had 99 % of the wealth while the rest of the population was barely above the starvation level. In Jefferson’s fight against the Federalist Party, to which Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito belongs, it was the same haves and have more group that President George Bush referred to in his speech about four years ago. The only people deserving of the rights and freedoms of this great nation were the wealthy. Anyone belonging to a labor union was responsible for our present inability to compete with the rest of the nations of the world, so that it was necessary to ship all of our manufacturing overseas and allow the other 99% of the population to sink to the level of the population of Europe during the feudal system.

We even approached the same level of censorship under Bush with his misuse of the FISA Act as we did under the Federalist Party when President John Adams and his cohorts in the Federalist Party tried to reinstate the privileges of the Royalty through the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1978, to prevent any criticism of the second president. This act allowed the President to expel all those whom he should “judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” or should have “reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government.” The Sedition Act provided for a fine of no more than $2000.00 and a term of prison of no more than two years. When President Adams and the Federalists introduced the pomp and circumstance of Royalty, Thomas Jefferson, his Secretary of State, quietly, via letters and other writings, set about the task of rallying the Republican cause of strengthening the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence(note, my reference to the Republican cause does not mean the same as the current Republican Party of today which was created by the demise of the Whig Party.) Various newspapers published articles stating that they had no respect for Adams and could not support the Federalist attempt to reintroduce a monarchy. The result was the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, which allowed the President to expel all those whom he should “judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” or should have “reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government.” This sounds very much like the reasons set forth by President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney in their misuse of the FISA act in spying on both U.S. citizens and aliens.

The choice of who to try under the Alien and Sedition Act was interesting, and even more interesting were the Supreme Court Justices chosen to try the cases. The first person to be convicted, in October 1798, was Matthew Lyon, a Congressman from Vermont, born in Ireland, with a record as a patriot and soldier in Washington’s army. His crime was to criticize the pomp of Adam’s administration and its continual grasp for power. William Patterson, Justice of the Supreme Court, tried this case and one other related to it. The second case, with the same judge and jury, was Anthony Haswell, Editor of the “Vermont Gazette”, who had written that Lyon was brutally treated by the Marshal who had arrested him. Haswell was born in England and the father of thirteen children. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase tried two of the cases under this law. The third man to be convicted was Thomas Cooper, and English born educator and scientist, who did little more than make general remarks about President Adams. In the fourth case, Justice Chase was arrogant, rude, and dictatorial. In one instance he made jokes about the counsels involved with the defense, and told others to shut up and sit down. This case involved the indictment and the conviction of a Virginian, James Thomas Callender, a Scottish born political writer, for the grave crime of criticizing President Adams. The case was sensational because Callender was defended by three of the best lawyers in Virgina–William Wirt, Thomas Nicolas and George Hay who quit in disgust because of the behavior of the Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.

As a sequel to this sad saga, Thomas Jefferson, who was Vice President under President Adams, succeeded Adams as President and took steps to have Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase impeached and removed from office. Jefferson described the impeachment process a farce when Chase was found not guilty. In my lifetime, I have listened in detail to the McCarthy hearings on the radio, to the President Nixon hearings on TV, to the attempted impeachment and indictment of President William Jefferson Clinton, and read about the misuse of power through signing statements by President George W. Bush, which allowed him to ignore the FISA Court, and any other laws he did not like. President Bush used the signing statements more than all of the other Presidents combined–I have heard of numbers of 480 to over 1000 signing statements. He frequently cited Supreme Court Justice Samuel Allito’s paper on the Unitary Executive Theory, in which Allito wrote, “Congress, to be sure, has a substantial and essential role in both foreign affairs and national security. But it is crucial to recognize that judicial interference in these domains destroys the purposes of vesting primary responsibility in a unitary Executive.” As a sitting judge on the federal bench, Judge Alito advocated his personal legal view supporting executive theory before the Federalist Society in the year 2000. He also wrote a memo while in the Reagan Administration recommending the expansion of presidential power through an increased use of presidential signing statements which allows a president to effectively ignore or alter laws passed by Congress and increase Presidential Powers and diminish those of the Congress.

As a nation, we have a problem in trying to preserve the democratic principles to which we all tacitly adhere and at the same time keep a proper balance between the coequal branches of our government. We cannot allow any branch of the government to assume powers without the consent of the citizens of this nation. The Supreme Court should never have assumed the power to appoint a President just because the State of Florida or Ohio choose to ignore the right of our citizens to vote in the 2000 election and the 2004 election respectively. We need to change our election laws so that one does not have to be wealthy in order to hold public office, or allow corporations the hold any branch of our government hostage by bribing members of Congress, the Executive, or the Supreme Court. We need to allow the working class to form unions without intimidation by Corporate executives, because without labor unions representing the workers we will continue to allow the wealthy to treat their workers as slaves or serfs as has been common in many countries throughout history. Each generation must work to preserve the benefits attained in previous generations and not assume that those benefits have always been present. If our so called multinational corporations allow China to dictate that their citizens working for such corporations must be allowed to form unions, then any multinational corporations who does so must be required to allow their stateside workers to form unions. Lastly, if we are to remain a democratic and sovereign nation we must be willing to pass and enforce laws which benefit the working class and not just the wealthy. A case in point is the solvency of the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. We should not allow those persons who earn more than $100,000 dollars to be exempt from paying Social Security benefits on amounts greater than $100,000. To change this one benefit enjoyed by the wealthy, the Social Security System would be financially solvent. Even the wealthy can draw Social Security benefits, so they should have to pay according to their income.

CHICKPEAS, MULES, AND WATER–THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG

Chickpeas, Mules, and Water–The Siege of Vicksburg

If you have ever gone through a Memorial which is dedicated to the fallen soldiers and civilians who have died or survived a horrific battle between two armies, you cannot come away from the memorial without a feeling of sadness and despair. This was the experience my wife and I had when we spent about three hours driving through and viewing the memorial of the seige at Vicksburg, Mississippi about fifteen years ago. If you read the account of the battle in Wickipedia, you do not get the same feeling nor do you get much more than a recitation of the Generals who commanded the armies who fought in this terrible battle. The scene of the battle was a grassy knoll where the Union Armies with supperior manpower and weapons laid seige to Vicksburg which lasted about six weeks. The feeling we got was eire. It was almost as if we had come upon the battle as it was being waged. The loss on the Union side was approximately 4 to 1, although the Wickipedia version does not tell the true story because it counts the men of the Confederate side as casualties even though they surrendered. I have never seen an account of a battle which counted those who surrendered or were captured as casualties. It reminds me of a professor I talked to who told me if you want to make history you have to write it.

The Siege of Vicksburg was a turning point in the Civil War, or as the Southerns call it “The War Between The States.” The reason the siege of Vicksburg was so important, had to do with its geographical location on the Mississippi River. Vicksburg is located on a high bluff overlooking the river where the Confederate forces mounted their big cannons and could blow any Union ships out of the water coming from the north or the south. The Union forces were determined to drive out the Southern forces in order to split the South into two regions. The siege of Vicksburg began about May 19, 1863 and ended about July 19, 1863. To get to Vicksburg, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army of Tennessee had to bring his army down the west side of the Mississippi River and in some places had to build a canal to get his supplies and munitions so he could cross the river south of Vicksburg through some very. swampy land, with his army besieged by mosiquitos, knats(called by the Indians as”no-see-um’s”, snakes, probably alligators, and heat, because by the end of February, Mississippi gets very hot and miserable. An aside, having lived in Mississippi, I can personally attest to the misery the “no-see-um’s” caused me when raking leaves or working outside, so Grant’s Army had to be miserable while marching through this terrain.

Once General Grant arrived near Vicksburg, he approached it from the east with about 35,000 troops which later grew to about 77,000 troops, which compared to the Confederate Army forces of about 18,500, commanded by Lt.Gen. John C. Pemberton, was a very lopsided conflict. However, as my wife and I read about the conflict as we drove through the memorial, the Southern forces were very good at defense. Their forces were able to look down upon the Union forces and they were well defended with gun emplacements, tunnels, etc. When the Southern forces surrendered, according to the Wikepedia account , the Union forces had 77,000 men with 4835 dead and the Confederate forces had 32,697 with about 3,202 dead. I am not certain whether the Confederate forces who surrendered included civilians as well as soldiers or not.

I found out in talking to people currently living in Vicksburg an interesting detail that I had never seen mentioned in any of the history books written about the Siege of Vicksburg. According to the locals, the main sources of food as the siege continued were chickpeas and mule meat. Much of the population were living in caves to escape the artillery shells fired by the Union Army, so the casualty rate was very low, and the primary reason for the surrender of the Confederate forces was not because they were being overwhelmed by the Union forces but for a different reason entirely. The South was experiencing a very severe drought, and Vicksburg did not have wells but cisterns, which could only be filled by local streams or rainwater. So, while a diet of chickpeas and mule meat might have gotten very tiresome to eat, the population could not survive without water. So the Confederate Army at Vicksburg was forced to surrender. The Union Soldiers were so in awe of the bravery and the defense put up by the Confederate Soldiers that they lined up and shook hands with them as they surrendered. The Confederate soldiers were allowed to return to their homes because the Union Army could not provide food for so many men and did not want to divert their forces from bringing an end to the war.

In one Southern home we visited, there was a bulge in the wall in the entry hall to the home which was plastered over and left because am artillery shell was logged in the wall. It was too dangerous to try to remove it, because there was no way of knowing whether is was live or not. Two unmarried sisters had lived in the house during the Civil War and as well as after the war. It was obvious that at one time they had been well off, but the war changes the fortunes of many. This included the two women living in this home. The wisteria vines had not been trimmed so they came in one window of a very large room and went across the room and out the other side through another window.

Our next stop on our tour of Vicksburg was to go to the bluff and look down upon the Mississippi River. It is an awesome sight because it is a very long way down to the river bank. If the Union forces had tried to scale the cliffs the casualties would have been very great. I think one reason for our reaction to Vicksburg, was that I am certain that both my wife and I had family members fighting on both sides of the Civil war. We probably had more on the Confederate side since our ancestors were primarily Southerns. The soldiers on both sides of this conflict usually went to join a unit as friends. My Grandfather was 18 years old during the Civil War but did not serve because he broke his leg. By the time it healed, all of his friends had already gone of his had already gone to war. Serving in the Civil War with friends was a common practice as depicted in a book I just finished reading. This book, by Harold Coyle, “Until The End,” is about the conclusion of the Civil War, and follows two other books he has written about the Civil War. “Until The End” takes place in the Eastern states and is well worth reading.

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