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Will You Marry Me? A Look Inside The Recent Pew Poll On Marriage

If recent news stories about a Pew Research Center poll are correct, that is a question that few people are going to be asking in the coming years. According to reports, nearly four in 10 Americans say, "marriage is becoming obsolete." But as usual, there is more to the story. Even The Washington Post says so.

In fact, when you look at the entire study, Americans still absolutely believe in marriage and want to be married. In fact, only 13 percent indicated no interest in getting married; even cohabiters expressed a desire to marry, with 84 percent saying they still wished to be married. Nearly 70 percent of 18-29 year-olds also stated in the survey that they wanted to be married, and a significant number of Americans are more optimistic about the future of marriage than they are about the moral standards of the nation.

Unfortunately, in a culture where the media rarely portrays marriage in a positive light — when was the last time you saw a movie or television show with a happily married couple? — people's perception of marriage is that the culture sees it as outdated even if individually most still respect and desire marriage. Not that the Pew study is all good news; there are negative indicators as well.

A large number of Americans, around 40 percent, believe "it doesn’t make much difference" if unmarried couples raise children together or live together outside of marriage. Not surprising considering that cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed since 1960 — a retreat from marriage that has had a devastating impact on America's children.

Yet social science clearly states that men, women and children are more likely to succeed emotionally, financially and educationally within a two-parent, married family. In an excellent article, Focus on the Family marriage and family expert Glenn Stanton provides a detailed overview of the research that tells us what a majority of us understand — marriage matters.

So, what's the story here? The truth is that Americans still believe in marriage and want to get married while at the same time they are concerned that marriage is becoming outdated. More Americans are waiting longer to get married and living together prior getting married, resulting in a generation of children being raised in the uncertainty of a life with uncommitted parents.

The question remains whether these trends will reverse. Will Americans begin to live out what they claim to believe — that marriage is a good thing? For our children's sake, we have to work toward making sure the answer to that question is an unequivocal "I DO!"

American Idiots

Explaining away the performance gap between American public school students and the rest of the world is almost its own industry. Regardless of the measure, the taxpayer propped up education establishment has more excuses than your average high school kid coming in after curfew. Unfortunately for the defenders of the status quo, the data continues to expose the truth. Most American children are being left behind.

In a fascinating article in December's The Atlantic, several economists compared American students by state with students from other countries, side by side. The results make one want to send the teachers unions to the principal's office (except they're in on it, too).

According to the study, when it comes to comparing student proficiency in math, the only colony to even be able to sniff the Top 10 is Massachusetts, coming in at number 17. Virginia is farther down the list, sandwiched between those academic powerhouses Norway and Ireland.

But that's ok, because according to polling done last year at this time, a majority of Virginians "feel" that Virginia's public schools are doing a good or excellent job. Which they are. Compared to say, Lithuania. Or Iowa.

It is likely that this study, too, will be dismissed by the nation's education class. After all, one of the authors of the study, using science, has concluded that "more money does not tend to lead to better results; small class sizes do not tend to improve learning."

Next thing you know he'll start telling us that parents know better about how and where their kids should be educated.

In the meantime, there will no doubt be continued demands for more money to be poured into education system so we can "keep up with the rest of the world" and "compete in the global economy."

And get reelected.

Incredible, Yet Predictable: Prop 8 Decision Dissected By Ed Meese

Here's a peek inside U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that declared unconstitutional California's Prop 8 (Marriage Amendment) by former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese (now at The Heritage Foundation). Unfortunately, as incredible (in the literal sense of the word) as Judge Walker's decision was, it was predictable given that it was agenda driven and not based on the law, precedent, legal standards of evidence or any hint of sound reasoning.  So egregious, in fact, that the most liberal appeals court in the land, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, earlier this week issued a stay of his ruling to at least January. On Tuesday, Mr. Meese wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that concisely dissects the many incorrect paths Judge Walker took to his conclusion (read here). More precisely, he shreds them. Here is an example:  

Regardless of whether one agrees with the result, structurally sound opinions always confront binding legal precedent. Walker's is a clear exception because the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on whether a state's refusal to authorize same-sex marriage violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. In 1972, Baker v. Nelson, a case over whether Minnesota violated the Constitution by issuing marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples, was unanimously thrown out on the merits, for lack of a substantial federal question. 

That is, to say, the feds have no say in states role in regulating marriage. In addition, the judge ignored factual evidence submitted by Prop 8 attorneys, while — again, incredibly — making up his own evidence. Writes Mr. Meese:

Despite voluminous evidence and common sense pointing to the contrary, the judge also declared that opposite sexes were never part of the "historical core of the institution of marriage"; "evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different than opposite-sex couples"; traditional marriage is an "artifact"; and, also without reference to the monumental evidence to the contrary, that it is beyond "any doubt that parents' genders are irrelevant to children's developmental outcomes."

These assertions appear in the opinion's "findings of fact" section, yet they are not facts. These "findings" derive from arbitrary and capricious non-analysis and are forcefully contradicted by evidence in the court record. No appellate court should allow the ruling to stand.

Judge Walker than implies that opponents of same-sex marriage are bigots — a big, bold, italics, underlined highlight to what is an agenda-policy statement, rather than a legal ruling. As Mr. Meese points out, that means:

President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the majority of members of Congress and the 7 million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 are all bigots who have "no rational reason" to oppose gay marriage.

Mr. Meese's op-ed is a good read on the law that lay people can understand and which we commend to you. It also sounds like a firm outline on which the decision's appeal should be made.

Successful Enough Is Enough Internet Safety Class A Step Toward Improving The Culture

The Family Foundation partnered with Enough is Enough, the Office of Attorney General and  Immanuel Baptist Church in Richmond last Thursday as nearly 80 people attended an Internet safety program. Attendees received Enough is Enough's Internet Safety 101 kits to teach others in their churches, schools and small groups. Donna Rice Hughes, president of Enough is Enough and Gene Fishel from the Attorney General's Internet Safety office led this hard-hitting training — equipping pastors, school administrators and parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect children who access the Web to download music and videos, and connect with friends. With the scourge of online pornography, the dangers of predators, and the abuse of interactive features, it is more important than ever to arm those who influence our children with the tools they need to keep young people safe.

It's only a start, and we are considering more training sessions around the state. But we are committed to doing our part to changing the culture within the culture as well through policy change. If your church or civic group would be interested in hosting a similar Internet safety training class, e-mail Roger Pogge at roger@familyfoundation.org. To find out more about Enough is Enough and Internet Safety 101, click here.

Enough Is Enough

Pastors For Family Values, our pastor outreach arm, works year round to provide an array of resources and opportunities that will have a direct affect on churches and ministries. One such resource we are proud to offer is the newly released Enough Is Enough: Internet Safety 101, designed to instruct pastors, educators and, most importantly, parents, on how to make the Internet safe for their children. To help best utilize this valuable resource, we are conducting Internet safety training in conjunction with Enough Is Enough and the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday, April 29, from 1:00-4:00 p.m., at Immanuel Baptist Church in Richmond. This training is designed for pastors, church lay leaders, school administrators or other ministry leaders. Each ministry represented will receive a complimentary four-lesson DVD and 200-page workbook (a $40 value).

This is program is relevant to everyone with a computer, cell phones, Playstations, etc., especially those with children in their home. Pornography is one of the most destructive forces in the decline of the American family. Recent studies published in the Journal of Adolescent Research indicate that 87 percent of young men and nearly 31 percent of young women report using pornography. The number is probably higher because many will not admit doing so, even anonymously.

Children also are prone to become targets for sexual predators if they don’t know how to protect themselves while navigating through social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Too often, parents just don’t know the dangers.

If you are a pastor or private school administrator, we urge you to attend this important training. If you can’t attend, please consider sending a youth pastor, an associate pastor or administrator or another leader from your ministry. We know attendees will find the session informative and helpful in tackling this difficult and crucial issue. With your participation and that of other church leadership from across the Commonwealth, Virginia will lead the way in protecting our children from the dangers of internet pornography and sexual predators. Children deserve a life of healthy family relationships, not one scarred by stolen innocence.

This free training will equip you with the resources you need to educate the members of your congregation to make their homes safe from the dangers of online pornography. Our young people are very adept at getting around the Web, so parents and Christian leaders need to stay informed and knowledgeable in order to provide proper guidance and instruction to them in this area.

If you would like more information concerning the Enough Is Enough training or curriculum, or to reserve a spot at the April 29 training, please contact Roger Pogge at roger@familyfoundation.org or call 804-343-0010.

Policy Issue 1, Parental Rights: Resolution Against U.N. Treaty To Be Introduced In General Assembly

This is the first in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. Each one covers one of The Family Foundation's five areas of principle. The others will follow over the rest of the week.

There are days when I wonder if half the things we hear about in Washington, D.C., are real or if it’s all just a very bad nightmare. Some reports just seem so outrageous.

So when I saw a Fox News headline a few months ago that screamed "U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5 year-olds," I had that, Oh, this is going to be another exaggeration moment. Certainly, even the U.N., as wacky as it is, wouldn’t publicly endorse such a foolish concept.

Then I read the report for myself. Believe me, the whole teaching-5-year-olds-about- masturbation-thing is just the tip of the iceberg. There is stuff in here that should make every parent who cares at all about their children shudder, starting with the line "teachers remain the best qualified and the most trusted providers of information and support for most children and young people."

Teachers? Really? So much for parents.

Until the November 2008 elections, things like the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (see our comment, here), something far scarier than the aforementioned U.N. report, were out there, but had little chance of being accepted by our Congress. The convention is such an assault on your right to parent I can’t really describe it. Essentially, the convention gives children "evolving" rights to choose religion, education, etc., regardless of what their parents say. Now, however, there is a serious effort in the United States Senate to force us to join the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, seriously threatening parental rights in our country, not to mention our sovereignty.

To combat this, parents across the nation are urging Congress to pass a parental rights amendment to the United States constitution. You can learn more about this cause at parentalrights.org.

To assist this effort, The Family Foundation is supporting a memorializing resolution in the 2010 General Assembly that would urge Congress to pass the parental rights amendment. Similar to legislation we supported in 2004 that urged Congress to pass a marriage amendment, a memorializing resolution sends a message to our federal representatives that we want them to protect the rights of parents to raise their children without government interference.

Although the resolution has yet to receive a bill number, it's patron in the House is Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown). We look forward to updating you on the progress of this legislation throughout the General Assembly and what you can do to help see it pass.

Help Coming For Internet Safety While Waiting For General Assembly Action

On Tuesday, the Virginia Crime Commission decided to recommend no legislative remedies regarding "sexting," an obscene and predatory version of text messaging. The same day, The Family Foundation participated in a Capitol press conference (see coverage at  Richmond Times-Dispatch) with Attorney General Bill Mims, Enough is Enough and the Interfaith Center for Public Policy to announce a joint venture to educate churches on Internet safety.

The Internet is an expanse of exploration and offers a joy of discovery and learning, but it also has a dark side populated by hardcore pornography and sexual predators. Keeping children safe while they explore the Web is a full time job. To help parents, Enough is Enough produced "Internet Safety 101," a DVD program that helps parents understand the dangers of the Internet and how to protect their children.

As technology advances, the threats to children have moved far beyond chat rooms and My Space, to cel phones and even game systems like PS2 and Xbox. Unfortunately, too few parents are equipped to monitor everything that their children see online, or on their cel phone. "Internet Safety 101" provides the tools necessary for child protection.

At the news conference (see WHSV.com), we announced a joint effort between ourselves, the Attorney General's officePastors For Family Values (our pastors outreach ministry), and the Interfaith Center for Public Policy, where we will distribute 1,000 Internet Safety kits, upon request, to churches across Virginia. Churches can then use the material to train their congregations to better understand the threats that exist and how to combat them. We also will conduct a joint training for pastors and other church leaders on Thursday, March 4, 2010, in Richmond.

Here's a quote from Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb from the news conference (see WTVR.com/CBS6):

Over the years, The Family Foundation has urged the General Assembly to pass stronger penalties for child pornography and to do as much as possible to protect our children and our families on the Internet, but with the freedom that exists on the World Wide Web, we know that this goes far beyond anything government can really do. We as parents must take the necessary steps to protect our families. With the assistance of churches, we can educate and inform thousands more families, protect thousands more children, and hopefully, even save some lives. The materials produced by Enough is Enough are timely, they are effective, they are powerful, and they will absolutely help families in Virginia deal with the dangers that lurk on the Internet.

Clearly, these issues go beyond simply passing new laws (see WWBT/NBC12.com). We as parents, families and churches must do more to ensure that the experiences our children have on the Internet are safe. Our hope is that churches in our network will take advantage of these free resources and help their congregations learn the ins and outs of Internet safety.

If you’d like more information about this material for your church please call John Smith in our office at 804-343-0010 or e-mail him at john@familyfoundation.org.

InternetSafety2(Photo courtesy of the Office of Attorney General.)

Back To School Day

Summer isn't over by nature's calendar. But for all practical purposes today marks the start of a new season, because today, for a majority of Virginians, is back-to-school day. Unfortunately, it’s a day that is not without controversy: From President Obama’s speech to students to the “mandatory” HPV vaccine for sixth grade girls, to a confrontation today at the U.S. Department of Education, sending our kids out the door in the morning isn’t quite the exciting and momentous time it used to be for too many families. In an interview last week with a reporter at the Wall Street Journal concerning President Obama’s speech, Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb said that parents should be able to decide what their children participate in and learn, but in many cases, they are the last to know.

So what is really at the heart of the controversy surrounding back-to-school day? It is the feeling that many parents have that they are powerless and have little control over what their children are taught in government run schools. While the uproar over the president’s speech has been mostly about the potential content of his remarks, the underlying problem is the serious lack of trust many parents have not just with this president (ironic that he’s addressing students in public schools that he never attended), but with the “public” education system as a whole.

No longer can we count on teachers and schools reinforcing the values that we teach our kids at home. In fact, we are pretty much guaranteed that our values will be attacked, ridiculed and undermined nearly every day.

It is partly this mistrust in the government education system that is leading to the ever-increasing support we see for education freedom. Late last year, The Family Foundation and the Virginia Catholic Conference underwrote a Mason-Dixon poll that found a majority of Virginians support a tax credit to parents who choose to send their children to a private school. Similar polling done in predominately African-American communities found that nearly 70 percent of those polled support private education choice. The momentum is growing.

Families want to know that their children are receiving the best possible education for their children, and that their values are going to be reinforced. Today, many children are in a classroom where the opposite is true in both cases. Why should these children be forced to receive an inferior education?

Today, two education freedom leaders, Virginia Walden Ford and Kevin Chavous, stood in front of the U.S. Department of Education building in Washington, D.C., blocking its entrance, to illustrate how President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have blocked low-income D.C. students from going to the schools of their parents’ choice by gutting funding to the D.C. scholarship program. Clearly, the battle for the minds of the future generation is in full swing.

The Family Foundation is a proud member of School Choice Virginia, an organization started by Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton) that is working to bring education freedom to parents and kids in our Commonwealth. Together with other pro-family groups and individuals that support choice, we will continue to work toward the day when parents and children can once again look forward to, and celebrate, back-to-school day because they know they are in the right school for them — the school of their choice.

VEA/NEA Endorse Policy Contrary To Virginia Law At The Expense Of Education

Yesterday,we reported on the VEA's proud go-along at the NEA national convention endorsing same-sex marriage (see here). Instead of concetrating on issues that matter to teachers and improving education, the VEA has endorsed advocating a radical left-wing policy in contradiction of the Virginia Constitution and statutory law. The president of the VEA, Dr. Kitty J. Boitnott, responded to our post with a long comment on the thread stating that our take on the VEA/NEA position wasn't exactly what the convention meant with its lock-step adoption of the radical homosexual agenda. She goes on about "social justice." What any of this has to do with teaching clearly is beyond most parents' concerns for their children's education. 

Not only is the  homosexual marriage resolution contrary to the views of a majority of Virginians, she did not answer our concern about whether the VEA, with this policy position, now will encourage its member teachers to ignore the new traditional marriage guidelines to the Family Life Education curriculum. A true conflict of interest now is on the record.

Adopting a radical agenda contrary to Virginia law. Wasting time on matters completely non-germane to education. A significant conflict of interest.

We report. You decide. Below is the resolution:

NEA Representative Assembly New Business Items (NBIs) NEW BUSINESS ITEM E ADOPTED

"Resolutions B-13 (Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identification Discrimination) and I-13 (Civil Rights) set forth NEA's opposition to the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples and its belief that such couples should have the same legal rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples. The Legislative Program is in accord: NEA supports "obtaining, preserving, and strengthening basic civil and human rights under law," and specifically calls for "passage of a federal statute prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression." Section IV(b). In implementation of the foregoing policies, the Representative Assembly adopts the following action plan with regard to same-sex couples:

1. NEA will support its affiliates seeking to enact state legislation that guarantees to same-sex couples the right to enter into a legally recognized relationship pursuant to which they have the same rights and benefits as similarly-situated heterosexual couples, including, without limitation, rights and benefits with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, and immigration.

2. NEA does not believe that a single term must be used to designate this legally recognized "equal treatment" relationship, and recommends that each state decide for itself whether "marriage," "civil union," "domestic partnership," or some other term is most appropriate based upon the cultural, social, and religious values of its citizenry.

3. NEA will support its affiliates in opposing state constitutional and/or statutory provisions that could have the effect of prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions from providing the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples as are provided to similarly-situated heterosexual couples.

4. NEA will take such actions as may be appropriate to support efforts to (a) repeal any federal legislation and/or regulations that discriminate against same-sex couples, and (b) enact federal legislation and/or regulations that treat same-sex couples and similarly-situated heterosexual couples equally with regard to social security, health care, taxation, and other federal rights and benefits.

5. NEA recognizes that the term "marriage" has religious connotations and that same-sex marriages may not be compatible with the beliefs, values, and/or practices of certain religions. Because of its support for the separation of church and state and the right to religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, NEA supports the right of religious institutions to refuse to perform or recognize same-sex marriages.

The Executive Committee will monitor the implementation of this New Business Item, and keep NEA affiliates informed of actions taken to achieve its objectives."

Talk About Timing

Yesterday we commented on the Family Life Education reforms passed by the General Assembly last winter and signed into law by Governor Tim Kaine. Of course, there are some out there who, undoubtedly, don't think these new laws are necessary. To those, I provide this: The National Education Association, at its national convention in San Diego this week, is considering a resolution offering its full support of homosexual "marriage."

Educator and conservative activist Jeralee Smith, co-founder of the National Education Association Conservative Educators Caucus,  told OneNewsNow.com today:

. . . that the executive council has approved language that will throw the full support of the NEA behind same-gender marriage, homosexual adoption, and other issues surrounding the homosexual agenda.

Not exactly what most parents expect from teachers. Most expect them to educate their children. Not indoctrinate them. If, in fact, the NEA goes on record supporting this nonsense, we will watch with a very interested eye as to how its Virginia members treat the new FLE marriage curriculum and whether the  administration enforces its implementation as the law now says.

The NEA and its Virginia affiliate, the VEA, are among the biggest roadblocks to public education reform. They and their educrat allies would rather public education completely fail than change; indoctrinate rather than teach. Remember what we wrote yesterday — these FLE improvements are more reforms than laws. Now you know why they were needed.

Diversity Where It Matters

People who claim that it is diversity that makes American society great may have a point, but probably not in the way they think. Many who talk about diversity, as in the hyphenated culture (rather than the melting pot, see Adnan Barqawi here), are liberals who espouse same-sex marriage. But let's take them at their  assertion: If it's diversity of culture that makes society great, that gives our culture such richness, and provides for instinctively different perspectives, shouldn't the most basic, elemental, microcosmic version of society — the family — be reflective of that diversity with a man and woman as parents? How can a family be diverse if not for a mom and dad/male and female?

Virginia News Stand: May 11, 2009

The News Stand isn't the only one returning today: Looks like the missing Musketeer, Senator Creigh Deeds of Bath has finally poked his nose out in the Democrat gubernatorial primary campaign. He garners two headlines around the state today and prominent mentions elsewhere. Perhaps he's been there all along and we just didn't know it, as the Washington Post and Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star attest to the lackluster campaign thus far. But maybe Terry McAuliffe's comment on a Richmond radio station will perk things up. Dems also tell The Post they think dreariness and fatigue are what led to some Republican wins in their NoVa bastion as of late. In national news, the current governor's boss, the president, appears poised to take a page from Tim Kaine's policy book and eliminate abstinence education funding. Then there are the tales of two states and approaches to education: A California Senate committee passed what's being called "Gay Day" legislation for schools' curriculum where parents, according to one report, can't opt out their children. By contrast, Texas officials chose a prominent historian to restore basic and traditional lessons, that have slowly evaporated over the years, to its public school curriculum.  

News:

After GOP Wins, Democrats Are Worried About Fatigue (Washington Post)

Delegates urged to attend meeting (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

In the Race for Governor, a Drizzle of Ads Portends a Deluge (Washington Post)

Dems' primary appears lackluster (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Ousted GOP chairman takes aim at 'insiders' (The Daily Press

Deeds: Education, technology key (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Facing uphill battle in governor's race, Deeds still presses ahead (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McAuliffe touts green energy (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Democrat to challenge incumbent in 6th District (Roanoke Times)

National News:

Obama would ax abstinence-only funding (OneNewsNow.com)

History scholar hopes to revamp Texas curriculum (OneNewsNow.com)

'Gay Day' Bill Passes California Senate Committee (CNSNews.com)

Will Government Replace God?

Friday's Wall Street Journal contained an excellent article written by none other than Dr. Brad Wilcox, The Family Foundation's very own Marriage Commission member. OK, he's more than a Marriage Commission member.  When we are not utilizing his expertise, he also serves as a sociology professor at the University of Virginia. Seriously, we've been so honored to have Brad be apart of our organization that we have soaked him for all the time we can get. We had him speak at our 2007 Lobby Day, our 2008 Board of Directors Retreat and to the General Assembly House Education Committee in 2009. Imagine what 2010 holds for you Brad! Dr. Wilcox' WSJ article outlines the inverse relationship between size and scope of government and the religious observation. Basically, the more folks turn to the government to provide all of their needs (Scandanavia, etc.), the less they need to turn to the church. Anyone who has fallen on hard times knows that the blow is softer when cushioned by a loving and supportive church community. While it might have been good enough for Paul and his cohorts to "sell their possessions and goods and give to anyone as he had need," today this wonderful human experience requiring self-sacrifice and a sense of community is less desirable if the government can provide "cradle to the grave" health care, education and housing. 

Combine these findings with a study we co-released with the Family Research Council in December 2008 that showed children have fewer problems at school and home when they frequently attend religious services. Coauthored by Drs. Nicholas Zill[1] and Philip Fletcher [2], this research found that religious attendance had an effect on the likelihood of repeating a grade level, having their parents contacted by school for behavioral issues, diminished social development and much more. These differences held up even after controlling for family income and poverty, low parent education levels, and race and ethnicity.

So, bigger government means less religious participation and less religious attendance means behavioral and educational challenges for children. As we continue on the road to the great welfare state, let's be sure we know the end game.

[1] Dr. Nicholas Zill is the founding president of Child Trends and the former vice president of Westat, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

[2] Dr. Philip Fletcher is a research psychologist at Westat.

The Unreported Cause Of Inflation

Everyone is concerned about inflation and well they should. It's a debilitating monetary disease that cripples the value of money: One can earn more money in a given period but still have less purchasing power when inflation infects the economy. It hurts working families and endangers what parents can provide for their children. Inflation comes in many forms, such as commodity-based inflation (such as what we are experiencing now with oil prices affecting almost everything type of product). Economists are good at tracking the causes of inflation and how much those causes tack on to the prices we eventually pay at the cash register. Then there are the demagogue politicians who scream for windfall profit taxes to punish companies that charge to keep up with demand for their products while ignorantly using the phrase "windfall profits." (Hint: it doesn't mean "large profits.")

However, in all the media circus, what never gets reported is the biggest cause of price increases: Taxes. That's correct. The largest percentage cost of most items is the added cost created by excessive taxes. Unfortunately, economists never factor taxes into inflation rates.

Into that breech steps Americans for Tax Reform. Here are some shocking examples, courtesy of ATR and FiscalAccountability.org, of how much taxes increase some very basic products and services:

Cable Television Service: 46.3%

Cell Phones: 46.4%

Hotel Rooms: 50%

Car Rentals: 60.6%

Soft Drinks: 37.6%

Restaurant Meals: 44.8%

Gasoline: 51.2%

Landline Phones: 51.8%

Domestic Air Fare: 55%

The figures include the cost of sales taxes, corporate income taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, workmen's compensation taxes and other payments to federal, state and local governments. Not that taxes aren't necessary to pay for necessary and proper functions of government, but is there any excuse for government to punish its citizens by limiting their ability to save, invest and spend their hard-earned money for what they want and for how they want to provide for their families with such excessive ad-ons to the actual production and service costs of a product?

So with all the speechifying about making "corporations pay their fair share" be aware of how much that fair share is inflation in the form of high taxes. Let's call that government-inflicted tax inflation.

A Pleasant Re-Development: A Values Museum

We all hear stories from parents, grandparents and seniors about how tough things were in their day. We know we're getting old when we hear ourselves telling our younger colleagues what they missed in our youth. There's always a degree of hyperbole associated with recollection. Still, there's more to it than the charm of a good yarn. So when we read in the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday that Shady Grove School in Louisa County has been saved — it's always a good day when a historic building is spared — we were happy (click here for entire article). It was a one-room school house with one teacher for grades one through seven. It was for black children. All had obstacles to overcome, but all did, and the school taught and instilled in them the values that gave them the tools to conquer life's troubles. Some who attended are those working the restoration and speak of the importance of what they learned there.

It is being saved by the combined efforts of a black Baptist church — Shady Grove Baptist — and Gum Spring United Methodist Church, a predominantly white congregation, two churches doing their share to end Sunday segregation. Shady Grove is the property owner. Its pastor, the Rev. Reginald Cleveland, gets right to the point about why the building is being saved and what it will be used for:

It will be a museum of values. When you point to this building, you are going to talk about the values of the past . . . so we can instill them in the present and future. Times change, but values and principles don't. (Click here to see a narrarated slide show of the restoration.)

Too many historic buildings are demolished for "redevelopment" projects; those saved but adapted for other purposes often lose their soul because their context is lost in the remodeling. The Shady Grove School museum will preserve its historic value because it will perpetuate its values, those universal truths it imparted to those who attended that school, the same values that made Virginia and America great; not the unfortunately transient themes so widely disseminated today in schools and in the broader culture. This is one development we are happy to hear about and one re-development we look forward to seeing and visiting. We encourage others to as well.