by Joe Kirkpatrick
Fifteen years ago, I was given an opportunity by Pete Edwards, publisher of The People News, to write a monthly column. To be honest, at that time, I wondered if anyone would even read it. My doubts were quickly resolved when one of the first issues featured a column by Gene Norfleet criticizing, then sheriff, Dan Gilley. Over that article, the proverbial "S--t hit the fan," and The People News was off and running! For the record, I would like to state I did not agree with Mr. Norfleet's article, however, I was thankful for the circulation boost he created.
For my last article, I wanted to go back and give you the highlights of what I consider to be my best columns.
"Prayer and Woop Ass" is by far my favorite serious column. I wrote it just after the Columbine school massacre. My theme in that article was that when prayer and corporal punishment was taken out of our schools, the problems began, and unfortunately, are still escalating today. Since even the Sandy Hook school massacre, there have been 10 more school shootings where an assassin targeted random victims.
"Graduation Rate" is a relatively new, but fraudulent term used to mask the failure of "No Child Left Behind" and various other new innovative educational programs that do not work. Several years ago, even the U.S. Dept of Education website stated that "the term Graduation Rate is often a vague and hard to define term, but the most commonly used definition is it is based on the number of students who have never before repeated a grade who enter the first day of their senior year and then graduate on time." That definition has since been removed from their website. Whatever happened to the term "Dropout Rate?" Educators never want to use it because the definition is very clear and cannot be manipulated: The percentage of children who start the first grade, and then graduate from high school. Nationally, the dropout rate nationwide is in reality about 30% or more like it has always been for the past 50 years. The only time you will ever hear the term "Dropout" now is past tense. "The dropout rate used to be 30%, but the graduation rate is now 90%." Smoke and mirrors, folks, just like any good magician wanting to create an illusion of something that is not.
"Check Cashing" I was one of the first in the nation to write a positive article about the payday lending business. Banks were actually the biggest opponents of the payday advance industry. It was not because they wanted to loan those people money, because they did not. What they did not want to loose was the outrageous fees they charged when a customer bounced a check. I knew a woman who made a $100 mistake in her check book, bounced five checks, all together totaling less than $150, and ended up paying over $200 in "insufficient funds" fees to the bank and the merchants to whom she had written the checks.
Sure, people get "hooked" on payday lending just like they can do with alcohol or drugs. Bottom line is, most payday lending customers have already borrowed from every bank, finance company, friend and relative they can, and all of those know there is a good chance they will not pay the money back.
"Birth Control for Kids." Maine passed a law several years ago authorizing children as young as 10 could obtain birth control pills without their parents knowledge. People around here thought that was terrible - everyone except me, that is. For those against it, enter reality and go over to your local health department one day and look around the waiting room. What you will see is a bunch of teenage girls, half of them pregnant and the other half holding their babies. You know what you won't see? Fathers, or "Baby Daddy's," as they are now called. "Oh, but I raise my daughter right." Dream on! I don't like the idea of giving kids birth control, but I don't have my head stuck in the sand. 41% of all pregnancies this year in the U.S. will be teenage or younger unmarried girls.
When you buy a house, you do not plan on it burning down, but you buy insurance. When you buy a car, you do not plan on being in a wreck, but you buy insurance. When you have a daughter, you don't plan on her getting pregnant, but you ________________.
I'll end my final column for The People News on a lighter note with my personal favorite, "Halloween." I got more comments and emails over this column than any other, but the comments were polarized: Most men loved it, most women hated it!
My article "Halloween" was based on a group of women at a local church who decided to try to ban Halloween because it was "pagan." I stated I thought they were a bunch of hypocrites! What Halloween represents to 99.9% of people I know is that it is a day where you dress up to look like you normally don't look, and then go around and beg for things. Any of us men who have lived with a woman for any length of time know that is what they do everyday. They wake up beside you looking like Freddy Kruger, get up and put on all that make up that makes them look totally different, and then they constantly beg you for things!
And with that, my friends, I end my fifteen years with "The People News" and ride off into the sunset. I would like to thank Pete Edwards for providing me this opportunity, you for being a reader!