• Sign Thieves are Anti-American

    • Posted on Oct 30, 2016
    Here's today's (Sunday, 10-30) Courier column; below, my pre-stolen Clinton-Kaine sign.  I expect it to disappear any time soon, and have already lost one to local anti-free speech thieves.   This time, I'll be watching.  

    We love the idea of free speech.  The exercise of it?  Not so much.   

     A timely case in point: political yard signs.   Every four years, citizens exercise their right to proclaim their candidate of choice with colorful signage.  

    Major roads become red-white-blue splashes of color, the larger the better.  

    Smaller yards the same, often with rows of same-party signs.    

     It’s our election year ritual, this placing of party loyalty signs.   Some people put them up.   A few misguided people steal them.  

    Stealing signs is a petty crime, though it can turn ugly and major.  Waterloo friends lost their sign, then thieves became potential felons by spray-painting their door and front porch, and the next night throwing used motor oil on it.  That’s serious vandalism, and police are investigating.   

     Most often, though, it’s just the annoyance of disappearing signs. I was sorely tempted to retaliate after my Clinton/Kaine sign was stolen.   

    Stealing and destroying a few Trump signs would be downright satisfying now that I have a grievance.  But that would make me a thief too.  

     Going low with my opponents only makes me low too.     

     So other than retaliatory revenge, how to deal with sign thieves?  

    Here’s one idea: Tie signs top and bottom to a nearby tree or post with invisible wires or fishing line. When thieves grab the sign and run, they find themselves pulled down and must leave the sign behind. 

    A Trump supporter actually did this and posted a video on YouTube.  It’s hilarious.

    A young woman grabs his Trump sign and tries to dash away—and fails to get away with either the sign or her dignity. 

     Even though I abhor Trump as a candidate, his supporters have a right to publically proclaim their support, just as I do with Clinton/Kaine.   

    The most obvious solution:  Security cameras with night vision.  Here’s a chance to actually catch thieves and make them pay for their crime, or at least post a video to show the world their moral bankruptcy.  

     It’s expensive and a technological challenge, but a satisfactory solution for those with time and money. 
    The best solution, and thanks to a creative friend for this: For every verifiable sign that disappears and gets reported to me, I’ve donated to my candidate’s cause. 

    I asked friends on Facebook to tell me about their lost signs, and within a day, I had contributed a substantial sum to my candidate.  This may give stealers pause to know that their theft benefits opposing candidates.  Besides, it makes me feel better.   

     Thus I’m giving thieves another chance by replacing my stolen sign with three more.  Knock yourselves out, you thieving petty criminals.     

     You’re not just thieves, you’re anti-American, since free speech remains a core American value. 

     And by the way, the camera is on.   

    Go comment!
  • Tale of Three Billionaires

    • Posted on Oct 16, 2016
    Sunday, October 16th Courier column--showing how being really rich reveals your real character.  

    Much of what we think and do depends on how much money we have.   

     Imagine you control billions.  

     A whole new world opens up, and stays open.  Everyone around you is on your staff, and you only hire the best.  You don’t really need friends, since everyone’s your friend when you have unlimited resources.  In fact, you can never be sure who really likes you, since all that money attracts toadies and opportunists by the hundred.   

    Having thousands of millions becomes a major reveal for one’s truest self.  Are you generous and connected to mankind’s ongoing needs?   Or are you a piker, only concerning about amassing more millions?  

     Consider three billionaires and how they handle their money mountains: Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and Donald Trump.   

    Gates made his massive fortune, now estimated at 81.8 billion, as CEO of Microsoft. We’re now digital thanks partly to Gates and his software. Truth be told, he probably used a few monopolistic business practices that remain questionable.  

     But his philanthropic role model is not questionable.  When Gates resigned as Chair of Microsoft in 2000, he and his wife formed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world.  It funds dozens of humanitarian causes from disease control to K-12 education.  

    Gates became a “venture philanthropist,” funding fledgling humanitarian causes to
    help them grow.  Along with Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg, Gates has signed a pledge to donate half of his billions to charitable causes. 

     Without question, philanthropist Bill Gates and his multiple million-dollar contributions has made the world a better place.  

    Steven Spielberg’s worth has been estimated at around 3.7 billion, most of it made from directing/writing/producing memorable films, from Jaws to Amistad to Empire of the Sun to Schindler’s List to Saving Private Ryan to Lincoln.  All made by a billionaire director/writer/producer whose first love remains films and filmmaking.

     Spielberg’s model:  Keep working, keep learning, keep contributing, keep making a positive difference in the culture, billions or no billions.   All profits from Schindler’s List went to promote understanding of the Holocaust, and he generously funds dozens of charities worldwide.   

    Last and least, there’s Donald Trump. Born into wealth, he created the Trump brand, which helped turned his inheritance into billions.  Until we see his tax returns we can’t know how many billions, nor can we know about his charitable contributions, though he certainly brags about his generosity.  

     However, we do know that he has not made a personal contribution to his own charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, since 2008, and his other contributions amount to “crumbs from his well-filled plate,” as one article puts it. 

    In fact, he’s the “least charitable billionaire in the world,” and Google that phrase for evidence.  Trump really doesn’t have a philanthropic bone is his body, and does no work that contributes to the betterment of anyone except Donald Trump. 

    Billionaires have no real obligation to contribute to anything. What they do with their money shows who they are.  

    Gates and Spielberg: generous and positive givers.   Trump:  miserly taker.    
    Go comment!
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“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
Read Shapiro's entire introduction.


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