Trust The Progress… er, I Mean “Process”

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals, Politics

I have often stated that I am a Progressive. I see a problem, I solve it in a simple way. I repeat. #Progress!

You have often stated that I was an insanely successful juggernaut on the pre-American landscape (I am, of course, paraphrasing…). So, how did I become so successful a Progressive? It came down to two fundamental principles.

Firstly, walk into every room and ask yourself, “how can I make it better?”. This is the staple mentality for any successful Progressive. It implies a concern for the standards of quality in regards to all elements within your vicinity that affect the livelihood of society; both people and environment alike. It also implies a motivation to ensure that those standards are met. It’s not just concern. It’s action.

The other fundamental principle to success is to move with a confidence that borderlines on arrogance. This is the fuel which energizes you. It’s not a comparative, “I’m better than you” mentality. Rather, it’s an understanding that “I am great because I’m trying to improve the lives of all of those around me”. Walk tall because, regardless of how successful your attempt is, you are on the RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.

“Right Side” of History

That concept, “the right side of history” is not addressed often enough in discourse. It is a nifty mindset that can help you dictate your long-term legacy in the court of public opinion. Any student of history has the ability to predict which side of a conflict will be memorialized because it follows simple guidelines:

  • It tears down an oppressive barrier to a group of people
  • It ensures positive long-term economic effects that benefit the masses, not just a certain group of people
  • It promotes equality amongst the population

Figures throughout history are revered because of their Progressive challenges to oppressive, conservative status-quos:

  • Thomas Jefferson for stating “all men are created equal” and establishing the foundation arguments for separation of church and state
  • George Washington for surrendering his office of Presidency
  • Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery
  • Franklin Roosevelt for supporting the working-class
  • Ghandi for fighting British imperialism
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. for challenging segregation

These men are remembered for their moves that would be considered “Progressive” in their time period. They challenged policies and institutions that had been based off of previous rationale and argument. They altered the course of history for humanity. They opened up opportunities for groups that had once been denied those “inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. They are the ones who are taught about in schools. They are regarded as heroes and are quoted and emulated from people on both sides of political ideology. They are remembered because of their PROGRESSIVISM.

Now, I hope reading this list has raised an eye-brow. That is good, because that means that you can identify the irony…

  • The first two men owned hundreds of slaves
  • The middle two men were racist
  • The last two men were misogynistic

These men were not Gods. Not even Demi-Gods. They were flawed. They had prejudices and biases that prevented them from doing more to ensure equality for all. Often, they were at the forefront of one cause, but disappeared into the mob of contemporary public opinion for other issues. As fair as we think it might be to hope for someone who could push the oppressive boundaries in all directions, this concept is, unfortunately, just not realistic. But all it took was to be on the forefront of one cause, to challenge one indoctrinated evil (and then to prevail) for them to move forward the advancement of society. Did they do something exceptional? Yes. Did they do enough? Probably not. But that’s how change in society occurs…

Societal Evolution

Society is always evolving for the better. The progress sometimes can be rapid. Sometimes it can feel like it is crawling at a snail’s pace. But it’s still progressing. It is a valuable reminder for Progressives. Because progress implies change, it is going to run into resistance each step of the way. Reactionaries, out of fear or anger, will fight back to sabotage progress, either through hindrance or outright reversal. This is the nature of humans! Depending on the conflict, the level of resistance will fluctuate, but it is always guaranteed. That is why any type of progress is still good.

Progress is not easy. It will never provide a clear path. I heard a great story from Daniel Day Lewis, as he played Abraham Lincoln, and it has always resonated with me:

A compass I learnt when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you true north from where your standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp, what’s the use of knowing true north?

(Lincoln, 2012)

Compromise

I am a big supporter of COMPROMISE. Throughout negotiations, you will often have to reach compromise. It makes everyone angry. But it also provides a substantial foundation to build upon. You may not be able to fully open the door that shuts you out. However, if you have compromised to get a foot in the door, then it will become less difficult for the next person to come along and provide the effort to open it further.

For example, the Affordable Care Act. It enforces the Progressive belief that all Americans should be protected in affordable healthcare. It did a lot of good in providing accessible healthcare for approximately 20 million people who couldn’t afford it before. However, there are issues with the bill. Because of the process for a bill to become a law, the ACA was altered and changed to cater to hundreds of members of Congress. Some wanted the ACA to go farther to ensure free healthcare. Most wanted it to do waaaaaay less. The end result was a compromised bill that was complicated and inefficient in many ways. Does it need to be revised? Absolutely. However, it finally ensured that Federal government was going to ensure that poor people had access to healthcare… THAT’S PROGRESS! Down the line, it will hopefully become more efficient. But in the meantime, it is a huge accomplishment for Progressives.

This is not to say that you should settle for minimal progress. It is a constant struggle that will always leave you desiring for more to be done. Humanity will provide you with the most stubborn of opponents in your crusade… always. So you must understand that it is a process. As Progressives, you need to TRUST THE PROCESS, and keep fighting for your desired goals.

America’s Team Part 3 – Not Boston

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals

There are plenty of arguments that can be made as to why America’s team is really the Patriots. Rebels fighting the British. Tea Party. Sons of Liberty. Hometown of John Adams and me, Ben Franklin. Successful Founders and rich history, indeed!

Nope. Philly prevails. Here’s why:

Boston is important for starting the American rebellion, yes. But the American Revolution starts and finishes in Philadelphia. If we want our image to be a rabble-rousing mob of gun-toting, blue collar workers, then maybe we could consider them… though I guess a lot of America might consider that image very ‘Merican. Not very Enlightened though. Not very Revolutionary… Not like, say, crafting foundational documents which reshape American sociopolitical theory.

Boston’s stock value of American demi-gods is also not as high as one might think… Sorry Patriots of New England. Neither Sam Adams nor John Hancock is significant after they signed the Declaration of Independence. They were NOT helpful in creating the new Republic after the war. Hell, they didn’t really help after starting the war. They were men built for tearing down, and terrible for building up. The just gradually faded away in to local political oblivion.

So the Sons of Liberty don’t help Boston. What else can they claim?

Boston doesn’t get to claim me – Ben Franklin – either. Yes, I was born in Boston. My parents are buried in Boston. I went to school and learned my printing trade in Boston. Boston Enlightened me. But I could not stand the Puritans. If I had stayed in New England, I would have been run out of town, or jailed, for my dismissal of religious fanaticism. I left Boston and I never looked back.

I came to Philadelphia and I made that town. I conceived most of the Progressive and Enlightened institutions established in that city. Philly is my child. Ask any parent: if they had to choose between their own parent or their own child, they would always claim loyalty first, and foremost, to their child. The city, in return, made my success, my fame, my legacy. So my loyalties shifted to Philadelphia. I am connected to that Philadelphia more than I am to Boston.

So, of the Boston characters, there is only John Adams left…

Cool? Forgive me if I don’t roll out the red carpet for that one. Sorry, Boston. Your historical credentials are top-tier…

But Philly is America’s hometown.

America’s Team: The 76ers

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals

I understand the natural inclination to have one professional sports franchise transcend all others, and represent the ideas of our country.

Sooo why are the Dallas Cowboys the ones who earn the title “America’s Team”? How!?

Well, with excellent marketing and sustained success on the field, they have become the most recognizable franchise in the sport, with the infamous “ Silver Star” serving as their beacon. Yes, they played for Dallas, but they represented the entire state of Texas. Sure, that makes sense. One could also argue that they became the top team that attracted disgruntled and casual fans from around the country. (I have no factual statistics to back this statement up… its just a hunch)

But does that earn them the label, “America’s Team”? HELLLLLLLLL NO. You see, America, your loyalties already lie somewhere else.

The real “America’s Team” is the PHILADELPHIA 76ERS… and here’s why:

America’s Hometown

Note: For this exercise, we’re going to pretend that America as an entity thinks like a person (after all, corporations can be…)

When I consider the mantle “America’s Team”, I define it as “the team America supports”. LOGIC tells me that there are two ways to determine your loyalties:

  1. Your hometown/family tradition
  2. The successful/attractive team you see on television while you are growing up.

Considering America was born before any of these sports were created, it didn’t watch any sports growing up. So the second option is off the table. Besides, it is petty, superficial, shallow, and treacherous to abandon your own hometown team because another team is more successful. America wouldn’t do that.

So therefore, America would support Philadelphia in all of its sports because, God Dammit, America is loyal! Hell, the city knows what it truly represents! It doesn’t shy away from the connections. Three out of the five major sport teams have names relating to the United States. Look at the naming of its teams:

  • The most popular sport in America, football, has a Philadelphia team named “The Eagles”. While it’s naming stems from the logo of Franklin Roosevelt’s American Recovery Act, the name still strongly connects to the American symbol, the eagle.
  • The most popular sport in the world, soccer, has a Philadelphia team named “The Union”. This stems from the creation of one country from multiple states… you know, America…

Considering football is the most popular sport in the country, the Eagles would seem to be the Philly team to argue in favor of as the American symbol. However, the NFL is going through a really big image problem right now. Ratings are low. Also, America’s image is struggling at home and abroad. We are going through some growing pains (that happens when you take progressive steps forward).

With a duel image crisis happening, maybe it’s time to rethink who “America’s Team should really be. America, I’d like to introduce you to the 76ers.

Think about the marketing!

Basketball is the fastest growing sport in the world. If we are trying to reassert our popularity image, basketball should be the sport. Think about the popularity of the U.S. Men’s Basketball team at the Olympics in any city… Every other athlete wants to get pictures with them. We win fans of America through this.

Now consider the Sixers: a young and exciting team with rich – but not too rich – history. There is lots of room for growth in our popularity. But what we lack in fans, we also lack in haters. No one hates the 76ers. For most of the team’s existence, it has remained irrelevant. So we can always evolve our image to take on new responsibilities.

Is it that much of a stretch to remake the American Team with the Sixers?

Obviously, the Philadelphia 76ers get their name from the year 1776… the birth year of our country. That number will always connect us with the Founding Fathers – the men who we love to credit with creating the values and philosophies that shaped our country’s identity. We, the Founders, are more representative of the “American image” than a stupid fluffing “Cowboy”…

Use Common Sense. If I’m going to pick one team to truly be America’s team, I’m going to follow a logical formula:

  1. America’s hometown is Philadelphia
  2. Basketball is the fastest growing sport in popularity in the world
  3. Philadelphia’s basketball team is the Philadelphia 76ers
  4. The 76ers = the Founding Fathers
  5. The Founding Fathers established the values and principles of “America”

Therefore…

  1. America’s Team is the Philadelphia 76ers

It’s just Common Sense.

Chapter 2 – Riddlin’

Life and Times of the Philly O.G., Rap

First song = HUGE SUCCESS

My kids didn’t realize I could keep a rhythm or write rhymes… but then again, the bar was set pretty low. I could have written half as much and rapped reeeeeeally slow and they STILL would have enjoyed it. Not much is expected of us, TEACHERS, when it comes to creativity. So, I could have gone full blown “Dr. Seuss” and they would have gone nuts.

Did they understand everything I said? Nope. In fact I had to follow-up with them afterwards that I had, in fact, called them out. I had some difficulty with a few of the vocabulary words so I forcefully (and unpoetic as all Hell…) inserted them into latter bars of the rap.

Did they learn all of the words? Wellllll…. sort of. In hindsight, you should not perform a study guide Vocab Rap on THE DAY OF THE TEST… allowing the students no chance to actually study… oops!

Oh yea, they also didn’t believe that I was really Ben Franklin. In fact, they didn’t even notice the name drop in the first place. When I repeated the line (an equivalent to explaining a joke…) they figured it was my rap name. They definitely do not believe that I am actually Ben Franklin. Oh well! I guess that makes sense since YOU don’t either…

On the plus side, they really liked that line: “So sophisticated I made Rick Ross say, ‘Huh!?’”… so that’s a win!!!!

I got all of my students’ attention. Some of them accepted my challenge. For Vocabulary Unit 2, they were ready to throw down. “Quiz Day” would be renamed “The Thunderdome”.

Now, I would LOVE to say that they spent every hour working on their own vocabulary raps. That would’ve been LOVELY. Instead, I got them to work on it twice in their study-hall… over the course of 4 weeks. And that was only after I extorted them about EXTRA CREDIT. (It got them to write, so don’t judge me.) The IRONY was that they would walk over to me in study-hall to ask if they were using vocabulary words correctly in otherwise slang-filled rhymes:

“You ugly f— punk, your face a abomination…”

OR

“It’s so adventitious that your booty so circuitous…”

AND

“Yo, Nonymous, your synonymous with a hippopotamus…”

(No vocab in this one, it’s just my favorite…)

I knew then what I was getting myself into. I needed to reset the expectations about the INOFFENSIVE lyric clause. There could be none. So that I didn’t lose control of my classes. They needed to be respectful to each other as well as to me. Otherwise, we would not continue with it. In reality, I just didn’t want to get into trouble…

… but I also knew I needed to still come at their necks pretty badly. (Translation: I was going to figuratively demolish them through ridicule). The second OG RULE is: “You attack them once, shame on you. You attack them twice, period.” I came right back at them. I was swinging away with each bar, casting aside all takers.

There was benefit of using all of the vocabulary words in the rap. All of my insults took on a heightened sense of sophistication… making it even more condescending, yet sounding less so.

Plus I kept it fast paced with lots of complex-sounding, multiple-syllable words… it’s a doozy to spit in one take…

The night before the quiz, I created my Power Point. I went to bed early and woke up early. I read an excellent section from a biography of Henry Clay and fried up two eggs with pork roll on the side. I put on another sophisticated “teacher” outfit and I headed to school.

Summer had rolled into fall. The emerald leaves had faded into a rusted auburn that was only a few shades from my hair color. I popped on my head phones and marched.

My Pandora station this time? Birdman…

“Riddlin” Lyrics

(VOCABULARY words in bold*)

My skill so ill, it’ll kill all ages,

You best be courageous, ‘cause my spits is contagious

It’s so advantageous, not ADVENTITIOUS

That I made an assignment where I get to murder you (Biscuits!)

You’re sitting there simmering, miserably COMMISERATING,

You’re anger’s FERMENTATING into straight ABOMINATING

You’ll sit here PECULATING all the rhymes that I’m creating,

I ain’t speculating by sayin’ that your cheaply imitating,

Never duplicating, though unknowingly EXPIATING

Yo, you’re rapping my vocab, that’s INADVERTENT ACCULTURATIN’

You’ve done what I wanted, so congrats! I win!

I got you studyin’, and I win the crown again

Your VITRIOLIC PROCLIVITY’S not giving me remorse,

I told you, “Stop being mean.” I ENJOINED you from this course

But you kids got that attitude, can’t handle your stress,

Your rhymes is TENUOUS, moving your pencil’s strenuous

So trust me, I ain’t afraid that your song gon’ drop,

I got that SANGFROID ‘cause your song gon’ flop

I’m algebraic the way I’m so formulaic, you can’t hold me, though

No equating. Your skill’s NOMINAL, I’m polynomial

My function’s coefficient multiplying to new editions,

I make laws, so watch that CIRCUITOUS SEDITION,

You never should chose to come at me, but you’ll never listen

Next time I say “Wanna go!?” Stick with NONCOMMITTAL indecision

Try to WHEEDLE like a needle, move quick with precision

This’ll EXPEDITE the process, and make for better conditions,

Cause in this game, it’s all about allegiances you makin’

You know how I know that? ‘cause I’m B. Franklin.

Chapter 1 – Moment of Clarity Pt. 2

Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

The Challenge

My kids like to trash talk. So do I. Many of my dialogues with my students in the hallways go like this:

Student: Yo, you’re trash at ball…

Me: Yo, I’m smarter than you…

You know, stuff like that. The only way that I’m going get them interested is if I can get them to feel the need to respond to me. Plus, I AM smarter than them; that’s why I am teaching them.

So if I’m going to write a rap that’s worthy for my students to respond, I needed to follow the Rap Commandments that I had developed:

10 Rap Commandments

  1. No one is better than you. #Fact.
  2. When starting out, sample popular beats. If it’s good enough for Drake, it’s good enough for you.
  3. Address everyone as haters and rivals unless they are on your TEAM. Then they’re Fam.
  4. You came from the bottom. This industry is only for those who struggled and hustled (working hard/doing anything) against the established system and authority in order to get where they are. The more illegal, the better.
  5. Hype yourself up by using metaphors, similes, and hyperboles. It’s quantity OVER quality on this one…
  6. Act and speak like you don’t give a “feck”. In fact, say that you don’t “Give. A. FECK.” just so there’s no confusion.
  7. Briefly allude to at least one physical altercation to establish your toughness.
  8. You are so attractive to the opposite sex that you don’t understand rejection… which, actually, is not good.
  9. Money, Money, Money. No money = No credit. Specifically reference BEN FRANKLIN in any and all songs… in order to directly correlate yourself with economic success. (#BOSS)
  10. When in doubt, drop another F-bomb for MOTHERFECUND emphasis.

With my trusty format, I went about crafting my masterpiece. I chose to use Jay-Z’s “Moment of Clarity”. Immediately in the verse, I identified the conflict as being the cliché “Old School vs. New School” debate. As antagonist, I argued that “new rap” is lazy and shitty. In order to establish my credentials, I addressed a conversation that I had partaken in with Jay-Z. He gave me his blessing to educate the youth with his raps. (#truth) Oh yea! And I incorporated the 20 vocabulary words as well…

Oh, I didn’t reference money in my rap (Commandment #9…). Instead, I finally revealed myself to be Ben Franklin…

I was ready to break the world. The morning of the presentation, I woke up at 4:45 AM; I completed my 30 minutes of reading; And I dressed in my best “Teacher” outfit. As I began the 30 minute walk to school, I popped on my headphones and zoned out to the bass of “Rick Ross” Pandora…

Yea, Rick Ross… Get over it.

With my masterpiece written, I quickly rushed to school. I totally forgot to have a visual presentation for them to read as I rapped! I powered through 30 minutes to create a Power Point slide show. The formula was simple:

  1. Place 2-4 lines of lyrics on a slide
  2. Take a “selfie”
  3. Email the “selfie” to myself
  4. Attach the “selfie” to the slide.
  5. Repeat

Now I was completely prepared. I was ready to deliver my firing shots… and reveal myself to the world.

So here’s the first rap in my autobiographical mixtape…

“Moment of Clarity” Lyrics

Rap is LAME, that’s what people have been saying

DECADENT rappers only wanna make it rain and

Talking bout the bling and LURID things, it’s JADED

SIMULATING lifestyles of the rich and famous

But their words are weak, they better get strong

Every other word I hear is just another F-bomb

It’s so lazy! So I prayed to Jay-Z

Like: Dear Hov I wonder can you save me,

He said, “nah just INTERCEDE, for me

ASSUAGE this situation with a dictionary,

Scare em with your stock of vocabulary

This structured struggle needs moments of clarity,”

So that’s my PREROGATIVE, to EXPOSTULATE

Y’all to save the genre before its too late

So no more INNUENDOS, its time for some straight talk

Dop all the UMBRAGE, don’t be a PROVINCIAL

I taught 50 how to stunt, Meek to be a boss

So sophisticated, I made Rick Ross say “HUH”?

I taught Miley how to twerk!

Such a teacher, I taught Harry Potter how to curse!

Pick the location, I’ll break you down to basics

MERITORIOUS for being so gloriously creative

And I’m back now after my HIATUS

I’m Ben Franklin TRANSCENDING generations

I’m amazing, nothing more to say kid

Switching criticisms into APPROBATIONS

I’m a pro, yo, and now your on probation

Prove that you’re a rapper! Quick! Time’s a-wasting!

Please, nothing lyrically HACKNEYED

Put a COALITION of them words to this beat

I’ll ELICIT all your creativity

With an UNCTUOUS look, I’ll pretend to be beat…

…sike

Franklin For President – Introduction and FAQs Pt. 2

Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

How is it possible that you are back?

You know… science…

Alright, fine…

“Science”*

I’m sorry. I wish that there was a better answer here… but I really I don’t know how they did it. The scientists – my creators –  explained it to me… and I really tried to focus and learn, I really did… but they lost me at the phrase DNA… (“Seriously, what!?! Deoxy-what?? Oh, it’s my blood? Just say that next time!”)

In other words,  you gotta ask them. I just have no idea.

But here are the basics:

Apparently they took some of my blood from my grave (and cracked the stone in process!) and then they created more of the blood with a “machine” that can replicate blood… annnnnnnd that’s all I can remember.

Seriously, my head hurts just trying to reiterate that… I’m not accustomed to the complexities of your science.

I died a loooooooooooooooooooooong time ago. At least I’m doing a good job going with the flow, though. I mean, can you imagine if it was John Adams that came back to life?? I sure as Hell can. And in my imagination, it’s fucking unbearable!

But I do trust science. You should too! In the end, all that matters is that I, Ben Franklin, have returned to the present-time.

Why didn’t you immediately tell the world that you were “Ben Franklin”?

Let’s be honest. You would NOT have believed me, in the first place. You still don’t!

Secondly, if you think that I’m going to just come back to the present time period and immediately expose myself to the world, then you are NOT thinking.

Do you know how much of a culture shock it is to come back to life 220 years in the future? (You don’t do you? So back off…)

I’m a primitive scientist. Practical genius. A man of logic. Basically I’m in the algebraic category of science. Formulas of arithmetic and x- y- variables. The formulas of simple machines.

Unfortunately, this has no bearing in the present day since we’re in a calculus world. A realm of abstract and advanced equations. The internet and quantum mechanics. That’s above my level.

I died 20 years before the bicycle was invented… so what THE FUCK is a train?!?!

I play checkers. This is chess…

So I took a couple years to get accustomed to the new society. In hind sight, it was a REEEEEEEEEEALLY good call.

So, why did you choose to unveil your true identity right now?

Well, for starters, I felt that 5 years prepared me with a sufficient understanding of society, business, politics, etc…

More importantly, I was really pissed off at the Alexander Hamilton Musical. Was it good? Yes. But on principle, HELL NOPE!

I am already annoyed that I will forever be remembered as being a fat, old, bald guy… and now they aren’t including me in MY OWN DAMN ERA!?!

It was time to respond.

Why did you choose to create a Mixtape as your format?

Shout out to my students. I’ve connected with them through rap. Turns out that is the best format for me. I always liked rhyming and poetic verse when I was young. It was an easy way of adding rhythm, to a music-less life. Rap has been such a nice surprise for me! They like it too. We connected. All I had to do was adjust to the new cultural elements around slang, subject matter, literary devices, and then I was able to kick it with my kids.

Since I had already had the rap background, a mixtape seemed like the appropriate way to respond to a RAP musical. I figured we’d settle this the way that the Founding Fathers had always intended… through an underground mixtape heard by dozens of people.

Okay, but… I’m still not getting it. How is it possible that you are back??

JESUS CHRIIIIIIST! It took less time to convince you of the science behind Jurassic Park…

Just enjoy the damn story!

Franklin For President – Introduction and FAQs Pt. 1

Ben's Journal, Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

Introduction and F.A.Q.s

Hello!

This might feel like a very odd and abstract concept for you to understand… but you are currently having a VERY one-sided conversation with Ben Franklin…

Congratulations!

I understand that you have questions. I’ll answer them shortly. But first let me say:

HEY! I’m back! Not newly back, though. I’ve actually been back for about 5 years now… soooo surprise!

I’m not old. I am 29 years old with a full head of reddish brown hair and a RAGING deficit of attention… wait that was disordered. BUT, I’m feeling crazy healthy and energetic. I got plans. I got goals. And I’m feeling ready to conquer the 21st century the way I dismantled the 18th century… like a total and complete BO$$.

But let’s start with some FAQs:

Where have you been for the past five years???

It was 2012 when I was brought back, thanks to “science”. Science was not being adequately supported and funded so the scientists couldn’t afford to contain me. I had no time to acclimate to my new world. I was responsible for going out to make a living to support myself. They figured that, since every other 24 year old in the country was poor and in debt, I was on relatively equal footing. Their only condition was that, if I became successful and wealthy, I would turn around and use my wealth to fund and support Philadelphia education. I nodded and said, “Deal.” And then I left…

After leaving the science laboratory, I wandered into my old stomping grounds, Olde City, or, as I called it, “Philadelphia”. With no job, no identity, no passport, I needed money fast. Fortunately, I was able to quickly find a job, playing myself.

I stood at my grave, contemplating my future life. The printing trade was out of the question thanks to “computers”. I had no applicable skills or experience to any business in this age. At that somber moment, a big rotund man in a brown colonial suit walk up with bifocals and a mullet… he was portraying Ben Franklin… me. He spoke with a muddled accent which was a pretty shitty impression, honestly… but as I listened to him regurgitate every aphorism and Poor Richards quote, it occurred to me: I could do the same thing he was doing, and make instant cash.

So I began giving tours. I did all types of tours in the city. Bus tours, walking costumed tours, neighborhood walking tours. Ghost tours. Beer tours. I played both “Ben Franklin” and an alias, mild-mannered “Anthony Nonymous” (NAWN-uh-MUSS). I was young, energetic, and… well I loved to learn. I remembered every question that I was unable to answer and would find the answer in my library. I was able to catch up on a lot of history and politics and culture this way… and my notebooks are extensive… like I could make money from my Franklin Notebooks. But I was excellent at tours. Every tour review for me was basically the same: “A. Nonymous is the best tour guide I’ve ever had. Seriously, the best tours come from A. Nonymous!

After a couple years of giving tours, I had made connections with several schools whom I enjoyed working with. One school offered me a position as a substitute teacher. I said, “Of course!” Having mastered the tour industry, I was ready for a new challenge. Teaching students in Philadelphia seemed like a noble cause…

It wasn’t. At least, not substitute teaching. Substitute teaching is not noble. Substitute teaching is battle. It’s no-holds-barred. You walk in and show an ounce of fear, they know it… and they attack. I was NOT ready. I was a building substitute for a whole high school… this meant I didn’t see students enough for them to respect me. Buttttt I still saw them enough for them to remember me and every mistake I made. And I made A LOT of mistakes. To be fair, if I were their age, I would’ve messed with me, too.

I felt like I finally had a noble challenge! I would educate these monsters until they respected and learned from me. It would be foolish to stay in the role of substitute; I needed my own classroom. I applied to schools around the city and was offered a position of senior English teacher at Franklin University Charter High School in Old City Philadelphia. It was FATE. I gladly took the position and spent the last 3 years learning how to teach. Nothing has been better for me to understand the current culture of my city than teaching.

(FAQ Continued Thursday…)

Moderate Policy Proposal – Discounts for Teachers, Police, and Firefighters

Moderate Proposals, Politics

I’m Ben Franklin and I’m running for President in 2020. Below is a moderate policy proposal to retain high quality teachers, police, and firefighters in poor urban centers like Philadelphia…cropped-cropped-ffp.png.

Introduction

Here’s some COMMON SENSE: the great scourge of Philadelphia is poverty. Most other civic problems – crime, education, drugs, etc. – are a direct result of the fundamental need for food and shelter. The cause of this horrible catalyst is a lack of support from the “government for the people” via job opportunities, adequate education, and other services. The government can only operate effectively through the money that it receives from taxes. COMMON SENSE tells us that someone who is unable to put food on the table is also unable to pay taxes. Therefore, the less tax revenue coming in means that the government provides weaker services to assist the poverty-stricken… and the cycle continues.

This proposal is not dedicated to improving the decrepit infrastructure. That will be in several other proposals. Instead, this proposal is dedicated to improving the morale of those service men and women who are on the front-lines battling the negative effects of poverty: firefighters, police, and teachers. These civic heroes spend each and every day focusing their energies into improving the quality of life for the local population despite the lack of resources.

THE PROBLEM

Firefighters and police risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe. They battle the fires, both figurative and literal, that threaten to wholly destroy the neighborhoods. They are our noble service men and women and they do not get recognized for it enough.

Priority one is protecting the community, immediately followed by educating the community. Therefore the city needs to ensure that teachers feel equal support. Firefighters and policeman fight to prevent the expansion of the desolation of the landscape, while teachers fight to prevent the desolation of the soul.

A (brief) NOTE ON TEACHERS

Teachers are the creative geniuses that walk into crumbling buildings in poor, violent neighborhoods and become the impetus for positive change. They fight against the negative mind-set that threatens to pollute our children’s views of community, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

TEACHERS ARE SCIENTISTS. They take into account psychological developments of adolescents and making the appropriate modifications to proven teaching techniques implementing data-driven statistical analysis to ensure student success.

TEACHERS ARE ARTISTS. They apply a creative and an engaging presence, style, and improvisational techniques to ensure that students learn in a thoughtful, entertaining way.

However, the nobility of the work done by these wonderful service people does little to negate the psychological hardships that impact them. Day-in and day-out they receive verbal and sometimes physical abuse within the very realms they attempt to improve. While they are appreciated by many people, they are undervalued and trivialized by many more. Expectations for immediate results weigh down the ever-increasing workloads while classrooms get filled beyond capacity. The financial compensation does little to provide relief to the psychological hardships.

As a result, these front-line fighters burn out and move to the suburbs in droves. Why wouldn’t they? There are fewer behavioral concerns, more resources, healthier senses of “school community”, and improved payment due to the taxes of these lucrative areas… but there may be a heightened risk for grizzly bears. How is a poor urban city to compete?

OK, BACK TO THE PROBLEM….

So teachers are moving to greener pastures in the suburbs. Police and firefighters stick to the job until they retire. The appeal of these positions dwindle meaning less and less people are willing to join the services. This leads to a potential decrease in standards of future teachers, police, and firefighters. Less talented candidates or inexperienced rookies are going to take over. By the time they grow into veterans, they are ready to leave the plight of the city. Therefore, the most important job is to maintain these service men and women. But how?

THE SOLUTION

The answer is simple: incentivize and support. If a city such as Philadelphia is going to be able to maintain the skilled teachers, then the city must encircle itself and truly show these teachers that they are appreciated by the entire population. Standard increases in pay will not be sufficient. The funds are dried up and the state and federal governments have their own agendas for ensuring Philadelphia does not receive the money which is desperately needed. So what can Philadelphia do? What valuable variables does the city have as leverage? Why, we have our entertainments and our commodities!

Imagine for a moment, that a teacher is working 60-70 hours a week and is making approximately $50,000 a year. While the salary is satisfactory, the workload and the realities of exponentially increasing debt hinder the ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Since an increase in payment is unlikely, A DECREASE IN THE COST-OF-LIVING IS THE ANSWER.

The city of Philadelphia should pass a law that requires businesses in the city to discount prices for all commodities and necessities for teachers, police, and firefighters by 25%. This would include grocery stores, real estate, and entertainments such as bars, restaurants, sporting events, cultural events, etc. While businesses might chafe at the idea of losing extra income flow, the city would be able to incentivize the miracle workers of the city to continue with their miracles.

The philosophy behind the law is fundamentally rooted in the idea that we, as a population, must make it our moral obligation to ensure that our children and our neighbors’ children are safe and receive the best education possible. By allowing service men and women to pay reduced prices for all of their daily needs and enjoyments, they will be motivated to continue working within the city when their sense of moral righteousness fades.

The smart business-owner would be able to capitalize on such a law. While decreasing the cost for every drink every teacher consumes might sound like a financial waste to some bartenders, it will actually cause the opposite effect: an increase in sales. Lower drink prices will ensure a steady influx of grizzled, battered, and abused “miracle-workers” polishing the bar stools at 4 PM every day, a whole hour before most Happy Hours begin. Many other businesses would thrive as well since the usually poor and tired educator would feel more inclined to explore and let loose now that they know that their City-Wide Specials cost $1.50… imagine what $10 would do.

CONCLUSION

As we developed the Constitution in 1787, I remember a constant debate revolving around the idea of salary for political officials. In emphasizing the need for candidates to be motivated to serve from a sense of moral dignity, we kept the salaries minimal. It risked losing highly qualified candidates to more lucrative positions in the private sector, but we represented virtue and righteousness. However, with the positions came a sense of gravitas, which appealed to talented and ambitious wannabe leaders. If we provide discounts to these service men and women, we can let them live above their income, and might be able to create some gravitas for them to stay.

At least we’re not raising taxes…

On Doctors and Healthcare

Ways to Success

BenStudying

“You can’t spell ‘medicine’ without ‘sin’…. At least phonetically” –   Young Ben Franklin

I admire the times that we currently live in. Everyone aspires to higher education, with the opportunity for well-respected professions in the legal and medical field open to more candidates! Well, maybe that is not such an ideal thing. You see, a learned blockhead is more dangerous than an ignorant blockhead. Many men and women can call themselves “Doctors” and spread more disease than prevent them. I, myself, earned the honorary title for my electrical experiments with only two years of formal education and little experience in the medical field. That should serve as a warning for patients! There are two things in this life to beware of: the young doctor and the old barber. They are prone to make mistakes and can find themselves small fortunes by supporting certain pharmaceutical companies. Oh yea, and so can Doctors. However, he’s the best physician that knows the worthlessness of most medicines because God heals, and the Doctor takes the fees. Regardless, everyone needs proper medical services and therefore should be given the health insurance they need. After all, there are two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. Since health-care extends the former, it only makes sense the to increase the latter!

Laziness vs. Leisure

Ways to Success

LadiesMan

“Those who are idle will never be idols,”

-Young Ben Franklin

It is with pride in my heart that I observe the industrious “live to work” creed manifest in so many Americans. One works to achieve the greatest versions of themselves and is rewarded for their efforts. They know that they must plough deep while sluggards sleep, so they have corn to sell and keep. Sloth is a sin because diligence overcomes difficulties, while sloth makes them. We all know that no man was ever glorious who was not laborious and the sleeping fox catches no poultry. However, once the effort and labor is exerted for the day, one may enjoy the leisure of their choice. God helps them that help themselves, but even God rested on the seventh day.