Sunday, August 14, 2011


Conservatives will tell you that the advent of reliable birth control redefined sexual morality. They are entirely correct, although I would not agree with the implications of their statement. Sexual morality prior to reliable birth control was built around creating a social structure in which children would be raised in a stable family situation because it has been understood since time immemorial that children are best raised in a family of some kind, thus the premium placed on virginity traditionally.

With the advent of reliable birth control, it became possible to have sex with a minimal chance of unintended pregnancy. Suddenly, the groundwork was laid for a sexual revolution in the 1960's, when a new generation discovered that the traditional reasons to avoid premarital sex no longer existed. The concept of withholding sex until marriage was no longer as vital as it had been.

As feminism increased equality, allowing women to enter lucrative careers where they could support themselves, the need to marry for economic stability almost completely left the picture. No longer would a woman need to preserve her "virtue" to trade for economic support, as she could now support herself.

This progression opened up a vast variety of lifestyle options. With sex no longer leading to parenthood, people could have satisfying sexual relationships without them needing to provide economic support necessary to take care of children. The stability of a monogamous relationship, traditionally needed to support the family unit, is no longer necessary for many people who do not want children.

Interestingly, this same social progression has led many people to believe that marriage is no longer even necessary for raising children. In my work, meeting with parents, I find that less than 20% of the parents I meet are married to the parent of their child. Single parenting is no longer shameful, as it was in previous generations. In fact, it is not even seen as irregular.

As marriage ceases to be the norm, some people feel less social obligation to take care of spouses and remain committed their relationships. As many act less trust-worthy, many choose not to trust. Expecting that they will eventually be abandoned, many people chose to develop their own independence, financial and others.

The traditional American family is no longer. The future which conservatives fear is here, and it happened long before gay marriage was legalized. Yet, even with all these fundamental social changes, society goes on, the farmers still farm, the sun still rises and sets, and chaos does not reign. We live in uncharted territory, and most of us have lived in for our entire lives.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Protecting Your Children From Success

When I was 7 years old, I would wander about on my own or with friends. Walking down the street or in the woods. No one told me I was in great danger or that I was about to be abducted. No one told me to be careful not to hurt myself. My basic animal instincts were sufficient to keep me safe.

This freedom to explore served me well twenty years later when I found myself in a difficult financial position. The only solution involved a tremendous leap of faith, going to work a commission job with no guarantee of success beyond my own confidence. Fortunately, that confidence, built over years of independence, served me well and I am now quite successful.

Unfortunately, most American children are robbed of that opportunity by a culture of fear. Before I go further, I should make clear that most of the parents I meet are good parents and good people doing their best to raise their children well. It is not their fault. They are caught up in a culture of helicopter parenting and paranoia.

As I said, when I was growing up, I might leave for the afternoon and come home safely, a little tired, possibly bruised, but more confident. This was before cell phones. My parents simply had faith enough in me to believe I would make it home safely as I always did. Many of the parents I meet with won't even let their children out of their site in their own home. Most of them will not allow the children to play outside without the parent being outside to watch. What message does it send to a child that they must be supervised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first 11 to 14 years of their life? Even patients in a psych ward have more freedom than some of the children I see.

As I say, the parents who do this mean well. They want to keep their children safe. Fed a constant diet of fear from both the media and their peers, they believe in a world where child molesters and predators lurk behind every bush and tree. Every road contains windowless white vans waiting to abduct an unsuspecting child.

While protecting their children from the extremely rare phenomenon of abduction, they fail to protect their children from the very real and very common phenomenon of underperformance. The parent shares their fear with their child, teaching them in adulthood to keep to the safe path, never take risks, and guarantee themselves a life of mediocrity.

You see, as Eric Giglione says in his Daily Locker Room every great thing that you ever see was created because someone took a risk and had a goal, but how can a child ever learn to have goals and take risks if they are supervised for every moment of their early lives.

I'll leave you with an interesting fact from the Department of Justice NISMART report, a comprehensive report on missing and abducted children:
In 1999, 12,100 children were reported abducted by strangers, 357,600 were reported to have run away or been kicked out of their homes. You can draw you own conclusions about what the greatest danger to our children is.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Put Down The Donut

One thing that I love about my job is that I get to see a very real cross section of middle America. Perhaps not the most flattering examples, but I get to see many of the kinds of people that you might hear about through the media who cause you to ask "do people really do that?" Yes, they do.

As you know, I sell life insurance, which means that people give me a listing of their medications. You can tell a great deal about someone's state of health by finding out what drugs they take. I was meeting with a woman the other day who had diabetes. She told me that it ran in her family, implying that it was just something that she suffered from due to bad luck and bad genes. A common medication for diabetes is Metformin, and most people take about 500 to 1000 mg. 2000 mg is a level at which it is difficult to get life insurance.

She was on two other medications in addition to 2500 mg of Metformin. This is an impressive drug load, but the best part of this story is what she was doing at the exact moment that she described the contents of her home pharmacy. In her hand she held a glazed donut which she was absently putting into her mouth.

Thanks to my regular reading of Craig Fear's blog, I am well aware of the dangers of sugar. In fact, when I first noticed the donuts on the table, I thought to myself that I used to enjoy donuts, but that now I think of them as a one way ticket to Diabetes land, which is not a land which I wish to visit.

This woman apparently does not read Craig's blog.

In a nation where people tell you about the 2500 mg of Metformin they take every day while eating a sugar glazed donut, one does not have to wonder why countries from Japan to China to France are surpassing us on the world stage. How can we hope to have out kids compete in math and science when we can't even teach them to put down the donut before it kills them?

Note: At the time of this posting, I was an agent and manager with American Income Life, a fantastic company which is one of the best places to learn the ropes of sales while helping to educate and protect families who really need the insurance protection AIL has to offer.