2019 College Student Budgets

We all know the cost of a college education. Having government funding has taken the sting out for some people, but most of us have had to carry the burden of student loans for decades after we graduated.

A little research shows where we are and what the 2018-19 freshman can expect.

The College Board: Trends in Higher Education shows that the average student in the 2017-2018 school year paid:





Four Year Public Residential (annual)

Tuition – $9,970 (in state) /$25,620 (out of state)

Board and Room – $10,800

Total – $20,770 to $36,420

Four Year Private Nonprofit Residential (annual)

Tuition – $34,740

Board and Room – $12,210

Total – $46,950

In contrast, Monticello College at $5,950 per year, comes in at 85% less expensive than the average four year college in America.

Click here to apply to Monticello College

The Reality Of Islam

Monotheism. Submission of women. Violence justified by God. Holy war.

Most would conclude that I am referring to Islam, but I am actually describing the first almost 2,000 years of Christianity. It is common knowledge to Christians that what took place in the Old Testament ( the first part to the bible) 3,000 years ago is not necessarily a spiritual mandate for our lives in 2018.  All honest people must admit that in human religious observance there almost always exists gaps between religious history, doctrine, and religion (actual daily observance).

In the case of Christianity, the doctrine is firstly the words of Christ and secondly the Old and New Testaments. While the vast majority who profess to follow the christian faith are usually poorly educated on points of doctrine, a small minority (mostly clergy and scholars) are well trained in the finer points of history and tenets of the religion, regardless whether they follow them or not and are well aware of the gaps between them.

I just finished Infidel written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This book chronicles her life until 2006, her first 23 years as she characterizes it were under the iron fist of Islam.

This account is disturbing. It generates lots of questions about culture and religion and government. Ali has experienced a lot of push back from her explanation of life as a Muslim. I am not an expert on the Quran but apparently similar to Christianity, Islam has adherents both purely doctrinal and culturally religious.

Just like Christianity, most who claim to be Muslim have read little or nothing of the Quran, in fact many Muslims are illiterate or can not read Arabic (it is believed that the true version of the Quran can only be read in Arabic). Because the vast majority of Muslims like Christians and even Jews for that matter are unfamiliar with the details of their doctrine, fallacies and incorrect practices have crept in over the centuries.

For example, while the “christian” nations practice of male circumcision can be loosely linked to the Old Testament in a weak Judeo-Christian sort of way, according to experts, FGM (female genital mutilation) is not a doctrinal islamic practice; it is not in the Quran or the Hadith. Yet more than 200 million Islamic women have suffered and continue to suffer the results of this barbarism.

There seems to be a violent discussion among Muslims themselves regarding a number of tenets of Islamic doctrine. The maltreatment of women, the practice of forced marriage and  child marriage, the forbidding of education for women and even the use of the Burka (which appears to be an exaggerated application of Hijab – a modesty code for both genders).

On June 14th of last year, a panel of wittnesses was assembled by the Homeland Security Senate Committee to testify regarding the threats of terroristic Islam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was on that panel and she said:

Muslims are not synonymous with terrorism or repression or misogyny or any of that. So I’d like to start by making the distinction between Islam as a set of beliefs, as a doctrine, as a tradition, as a civilization on the one hand, and human beings as Muslims.

What it boils down to is Islam is part religious and it is spiritual and it has a very rich history of spirituality, but it also has a military/political component.

Ali goes on to say that there are some Muslims who accentuate the spiritual and the religious, the peaceful and goodwill promoted by Islam and others who accentuate the militaristic and political aspects of Islam. She says that the dilemma is that both sides claim that they are following the dictates of the Prophet Mohammed.

She goes into detail in this 2017 US Senate hearing. We are at this dilemma that she discusses because of a lack of education in the West regarding Islam a major world religion. This can only be rectified by educating ourselves and I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to this hearing.

In my experience there are spiritual Muslims who seek peace and goodwill and there are fanatical religious Muslims who have combined the teachings of the Quran with non-Islamic cultural practices such as misogyny, FGM (female genital mutilation), and oppression. There are the new Muslims  (emerging as early as the 1970’s) also known as “Islamists” who may or may not incorporate the non-Islamic practices but who most definitely promote the militaristic and political teachings of the Prophet’s 7th century military and political campaigns.

I believe that like Christianity, the doctrine of Islam has much beauty and truth in it. In  fact, Islam has much more more in common with Christianity that it contradicts. But like Christianity, without deep study on the part of the follower, false practices creep in and over time perverting and transforming the original intent until what is being practiced has little resemblance to the original doctrine.

If you are offended by my treatment of either Christianity or Islam or both, I would submit that you are suffering from a lack of information. I would love to be proven wrong and will gladly offer a public apology if I am. However, while you are waiting for an apology, blow the dust off your doctrine and study your religion as if for the first time. Ask hard questions, study your doctrine long and hard  and don’t stop until your have found answers.

Question, question, question the “culture” of your religion, that is the part that is must susceptible to change.


“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”


First You Don’t See It, Now You Do

These two images have not been photo-shopped, but are side-by-side shots of the same landscape.

This change is the result of 15 years of careful and consistent vegetation restoration.

For centuries, the Loess Plateau in northern China has been denuded of vegetation by over farming and grazing and was known as one of the most eroded and poverty stricken areas of the world.

In 1995, John Liu began documenting a massive natural vegetation restoration program on 2.23 million acres of the Loess Plateau.

After the first 15 years, 2.5 million chinese have risen above the poverty level and farmer incomes have tripled.

Liu then documented this same kind of
transformation in Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Our intent at Monticello College is to affect a similar transformation on our 82-acre campus. We are currently in the planning stages and will begin implementation in 2019. For more information contact Mr. Joshua Choate – Director of Living Campus Operations at: joshua.choate@gmail.com.

Click here to watch John Liu’s fascinating 29-minute video.


Read These Comments

If you follow my posts at all or are interested in the “Gun Freedom” debate, you have to go back to this post Gun Control Revisited, and read the comments.

There are some really well thought out comments on both sides of the debate.

People are scared of guns because they “believe”  firearms have only two outcomes: death or freedom. And freedom (responsibility) scares them more than death.

Feel free to weigh in and add comments on this topic, it impacts all of us.

Gun Control Revisited


Gun Control Revisited

A friend of mine commented on my recent blog post entitled Surprising Results From Obama Mandated Gun Violence Study By CDC.

Though we disagree on a number of topics, I very much appreciate her candor and willingness to discuss hard issues. I have included her comments and my reply.

Hi Shanon,
Long time! Thanks for posting this. I have something to add as regards the mass shooting issue.

The statistics don’t take into account the real cost of having assault style weapons easily available to the civilian population, which is psychological and emotional. Children today have never experienced what it is to leave the safety of their home each morning and not feel the specter of being systematically hunted down in their school.

That nightmare is always there, in the background, for our children and for their parents. This is a kind of domestic terrorism, in its effects if not its intent. The argument that these types of weapons are a bulwark against governmental tyranny is specious at best, considering the types of technologies the U.S. government has at its disposal.

The best way to ensure freedom from tyranny is to see to the health of our democratic institutions. And to privilege the rights of those who wish to possess these weapons of large scale destruction over the citizens who are held hostage to the reality of mass shootings is to abuse the notion of second amendment rights, which are ostensibly to secure freedom from tyranny.

That these types of weapons are still flooding our country is a financial victory for vested interests, and a source of national shame for Americans of all political stripes.



I honestly feel for our school children and the fear they feel. It should not be this way.

However let the facts stand – The report cited in the above blog, ordered by President Obama in 2013 and carried out under the direction of the CDC simple does not support your conclusions:

Fact – there are 300 million guns in America 200 million rifles and 100 million hand guns

Fact – from 1983 to 2018, a period of 35 years – 78 mass shooting events occurred -defined by the CDC as 4 or more deaths caused by one shooter in one day – as a result of these 78 events, 547 were killed and 476 injured – 1,023 in total. 1,023 too many deaths I agree, but hardly enough to change our constitution.

Fact – From 2000-2010 there were 335,000 deaths by gunshot, 61% were from suicide. During this same time 87% of all violent crime involved a hand gun not a rifle. Why are we focusing on rifles when in a 35 year period less than 700 have died in a mass shooting from the abuse of firearms, often a rifle. That is 16 deaths a year on average. To put this in perspective, 5,000 people die each year from food poisoning.

Fact – a semi automatic weapon is not an assault firearm. One trigger pull, one round fired.

Fact – 2008 – 300,000 violent crimes involving a firearm. During the same time, there were 1 million occurrences where a civilian thwarted a crime by possessing a firearm, that’s 3 crimes averted for every crime committed.

Other research shows that annually 88,000 people die in America from alcohol, 480,000 die from tobacco, 40,000 die in auto accidents and 33,500 die from gunshot.

In my opinion, all of these numbers are horrific. So why are we spending so much national attention on the lesser of these statistics?

I believe it is mostly because of media induced fear, lack of exposure to firearms, and a historic agenda to disarm the public. History is replete with accounts of an unarmed populace–regardless how they arrived at being disarmed–being tyrannized by an armed government.

It is not necessary for the public to have the sophisticated weaponry of the military to pose a significant deterrent to government abuse. Anyone who has spent anytime around firearms knows that even a single shot .22 poses the threat of serious bodily harm. An untrained civilian with a firearm scares me as much as you. So let’s remedy this by getting America trained and respecting firearms.

No act of Congress could ever stop people from owning firearms. We tried that “prohibition” approach with the 18th amendment and it failed miserably. And that was just over an intoxicant.

The better approach would be much more firearm education and training, better security in schools, much more Run-Hide-Fight training in the schools etc. We need to become more Anti-fragile.



Social media is not addictive for me, thank goodness because I think social media has become the scourge of the earth.

What little redeeming value it has (a means of free enterprise) is completely overshadowed and swallowed up by all the damage people cause by using it.

I have come loath Facebook, I don’t understand Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat and for me the jury’s still out on “live” broadcasts.

For every serious and valuable “serial Youtuber,” there are 100 ridiculous ones that are filling our time with absolute nonsense. Least you say that it is all “harmless,” I see the damage it has done to students as they first come to our institution.

And the statistics are overwhelming:

Today there are 207 million active Facebook users in America[i] (that’s 60% of our entire population and that number is projected to rise to 220 million by 2022) spending more than an hour a day on Facebook[ii].

But if you factor in all online activities (Instagram – 106 million[iii], Snapchat – 77 million,[iv] all gaming, all Youtube and Netflix viewing and other online videos, etc) the percentage sky rockets to almost 25% of our awake time.

This does not include texting, and playing games on our smart phones. For the average American over the age of 16, that can be as much as five hours a day, every day–for some people that is essentially as much as 35 hours of entertainment every single week.

Are we really spending 5 hours of a 16-hour conscious period every 24 hours being entertained? This is all time wherein we are distracted from our loved ones, our community, and our social and civic responsibilities.

Time that could be spend improving ourselves or improving our financial situation by starting a business or increasing our skill sets to qualify for more responsibility and a higher income.

How do we not see that this is a monumental waste of our national resource of labor, not to mention a decline of our national character?

We are so far removed from reality that we even believe that we can get a sense of the plight of the third world farmer through playing a video game!

No–I don’t suffer from the very common addiction of social media, I am controlled by the cell phone as a mere communication device.

I have been carrying that damned little box around 24/7 for 15 years and I am sick of it controlling my life.

I don’t play video games or use apps for anything, but I am constantly expecting or hoping for a text, call, email, or messenger message and I am declaring here and now that my life of communication slavery is over.

I spent the first 40 years of my life surviving just fine without a communication device strapped to my belt, affixed to my ear, or ear buds dangling from my head.

Aside from all of the new research surfacing about cell phone radiation, I just want to feel in charge of my life again. I think my wife is a little troubled that she won’t be able to reach me.

But she couldn’t reached by cell phone during the 18 months we were dating–true 1/2 of that time I was submerged in the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine– but that just makes my point, our relationship survived.

We did not have cell phones for the first 20 years of our marriage and some how we have stayed together. Growing up, telephonic communication was a privilege, especially long distance, and as it happened so infrequently, we weren’t even sure what to say when we had the chance.

In the old days you more than half expected to leave a message and then get the response by a left message in return. Now if you don’t answer a call or a text immediately, you are the epitome of rudeness . . . or have been in an accident, or some terrible calamity has overtaken you . . . all because you have not respond in the 5 seconds since the message or call was sent.

I am beginning to wonder if all this instant communication isn’t causing our cerebral decision making centers to atrophy. Before cell phones, we had to rely a lot more on our own powers of discernment to get things done, now we call or even facetime someone non-stop because we are not confident enough to make a decision.

At one time I had some 20 or 30 phone numbers in my head, now I don’t even know my own wife’s number. And don’t get me started about using maps; I pull out a paper road map and everyone under 40 reacts like it is written in Hebrew.

So I have decided to leave the phone at home. If I do take it as a security measure, I turn it off. I have been unplugged from the phone for about 2 weeks and for the first week, I really felt naked.

Now I am beginning to feel free and at peace. I still check for calls, texts, and emails twice a day (down from 100 times a day) so if you call, message or send an email, I will get it, but it might be 12 to 24 hours before I get back to you.

I am not being rude, I am just living.


[i] https://www.statista.com/statistics/408971/number-of-us-facebook-users/

[ii] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/business/facebook-bends-the-rules-of-audience-engagement-to-its-advantage.html

[iii] https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Instagram-Will-Top-100-Million-US-Users-by-2018/1012148

[iv] https://www.statista.com/statistics/558227/number-of-snapchat-users-usa/