The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘ethics’

AMERICA THE BABEL(ING)

Genesis 11:1-9 describes the familiar story of the Tower of Babel:

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

It has often been said that what differentiates people from other animals is our ability to communicate through speech.  Of course, it is not important that we can make speech but that that speech has meaning to our fellow human beings.  A Finn only fluent in Finnish can not communicate any more effectively with a Bantu who speaks only Bantu than an elephant can communicate with a wombat.

The new secular humanism that we find throughout American society today, in its efforts to establish itself as the new state religion, recognizes the importance that language plays in their efforts to divide and conquer.  It is my belief, for that reason, that in their role as pseudo-lord, they are making every effort to confuse Americans by attempting to make this nation into a polyglot country.

If we have any question that a common language serves to unify a people, we have to look no further than the example which China has set.  One of the key programs which the government of China imposed was that it recognized Mandarin as the official language of the country (guo yu).  While people could continue to speak the over one thousand different dialects that existed, they were forced to learn the official language.

In fact, the government went about the work of simplifying the characters in which Chinese had universally been written (although the spoken word was quite different from province to province) in order that more people would be able to learn to read it.

The United States has moved in exactly the opposite direction.  While we have no officially “ordained” language established by the Constitution, for over two hundred years, English was the “de facto” official language.  Immigrants who came to the country realized that they (or at least their children) had to learn it in order to have a chance of success in their new homeland.

In part, that was because signs, legal documents, election ballots, bank statements and virtually everything else that was of legal or financial importance were written in English and only in English.  There was no government pronouncement on English as our “official language”.  But neither was there any intervention on government’s part to alter the customs of the country which were well established.

That, of course, has changed dramatically.  The “progressive” agenda of the government has begun to play a serious role in how we Americans communicate with one another – or fail to do so.  The Justice Department believes that it has the right to dictate to local election districts in what language(s) they must print election materials including ballots to accommodate minority populations for whom English is not their primary language.

And businesses have, as a matter of self-interest rather than merely through government pressure (although there has been much of that as well), adopted that same technique.  We have all experienced calling a bank or utility and been told by the robotic menu to press “1” for English or “2” for Spanish.  This morning, my ATM offered me those two choices in which to continue my transaction.  (Why not Swahili)?

The man who invented Esperanto in the late 19th century, Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof realized that a common language was essential to establishing a common understanding between people who were diverse:

“The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Bialystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential, basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist; I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment to my infant mind.  Although many people may smile at such an ‘anguish for the world’ in a child, at that time I thought that ‘grown-ups’ were omnipotent.  So I often said to myself that when I grew up I would certainly destroy this evil.”

We really have to do little but sit down with a few days’ worth of news stories to understand the vision that Dr. Zamenhof had, even as a child.  The Zimmerman verdict is an obvious example.  Although in this case, those who are outraged at the outcome and those who support it mostly speak a version of English – but they are two separate and completely different languages.

Were I to sit down with those who are the most vocal and try to engage in a meaningful conversation, I know that I would have to select my words carefully.  That is not for fear of offense but in order to communicate with them.  I would have to try not to employ words that I learned past my grammar school education.

I suspect that if I had written and printed up this post in time for last week’s rallies and distributed it to those marching for “justice,” only a very small percentage would have been able to comprehend much of the vocabulary and an even smaller percentage would have understood the thrust of it.

That paragraph was not written with the intent to demean those who have been under-served by our “educational” system.  It was written to point out a harsh reality that unfortunately exists.  We have managed to “educate” several generations of an underclass that can only communicate with one another; that no intelligent business owner would hire; and that is lost in the mire of limited and garbled verbiage, unable to express their frustration other than through bursts of outrage.

“With all thy getting, get understanding.”  – Proverbs 4:7

There will never be understanding between people if we cannot comprehend what each of us is saying.  And our present policies, unfortunately, are designed to insure that we communicate by using sticks and stones rather than through a dispassionate conversation and a warm handshake.

BANNED IN BOSTON

Several generations of Americans have grown up with the idea that the city of Boston, Massachusetts is one of the anchors of “liberalism” in America.  That statement may well be true today, but it was not always so.

During the early part of the 20th century, there was probably no place as conservative as Boston.  And Bostonians, by virtue of their close identification with the early Puritan settlers who had founded the colony, held themselves to be the arbiters of morality for our young country.

If a play or a book, a movie, a painting or a song carried with it the designation, “Banned In Boston,” it meant that it had failed the standards of decency which the Bostonian morality mavens had established and could neither be sold or performed or in the case of art be displayed within the city nor could it be included in the Boston Public Library’s collection.  The practice was commonplace until 1965 when William S. Burroughs challenged and won his case to allow his book, “The Naked Lunch” to be distributed in the city.

Over the years many works which we now consider to be classics fell under the “Ban.”  Among these were Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”; “Desire Under the Elms” by Eugene O’Neill; “The Sun Also Rises” and “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway; “God’s Little Acre” by Erskine Caldwell; “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers and one of Sinclair Lewis’ books, “Elmer Gantry.”

The basis for banning most of these works centered around one of two issues – either the vulgarity of the language employed  in creating the work or that the censors felt there was either too much implied or explicit mention of sex in it.  By far, the second was the greatest reason on which the “morality committees” made their decision.

But Lewis’ work was unique in that he hardly ever employed an expletive stronger than “Damn” in his writing – and then only infrequently.  And while it was true that he described sexual behavior and liaisons in his work, he did not do so in an evocative or lurid way.  It was the subject matter of the book, “Elmer Gantry” itself which riled the censors into taking action.

You see, the protagonist of “Elmer Gantry” was a degenerate, womanizing, alcoholic preacher man of the lowest moral standing – and it was Lewis’ characterization of a “man of the cloth” in such a way that offended the Boston censors.

In the America of 1927 when “Elmer Gantry” was published, most Americans identified themselves with some religious group or other.  Going to shul for our Jewish citizens or church for those of us who were Christians was a regular and normal part of our lives.

The clergy, priests, rabbis and ministers were looked up to as standard bearers of righteousness and morality.  Many Americans felt they could confidentially receive the same kind of loving advice from their spiritual pastor as they could from their best friend or their closest relative.  And the clerics in our society generally held themselves to the highest possible standards not only by preaching their virtue in their sermons but by living it as an example for all of us.

There should be no wonder that movies with religious themes such as “Going My Way” were extraordinarily popular.  The moviegoer could leave the theater and relate to Barry Fitzgerald’s and Bing Crosby’s portrayal of the pastor and the parish priest and say, “Why they seemed just like Pastor McGowan and Fr. Timothy.”

There are many of the clergy who have abrogated the high standards to which they have been called.  Our tabloids are filled with their names and their misdeeds.  But there are some who have received their message and lived it out – giving those of us who still remain in the flock a guiding light to lead us.

The next post will offer a brief summary of  the lives of members of both groups.

QUOTE OF THE DAY–11/29/12

In an interview with Rep. Charles B. (“Charlie”) Rangel  (D NY 15th District), CNBC co-hosts Bill Griffeth and Maria Bartiromo got very little new information regarding the discussions on the “fiscal cliff” from the 82 year old congressman.  Ms. Bartiromo suggested, in much the way the Roman Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals deals with electing a new Pope that, “they should lock them all in a room until they work out a deal.”

The two anchors went on to observe that the parties involved seemed to be talking past rather than with each other.  It was obvious that the amount of non-information which Rep. Rangel and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had provided earlier was frustrating – which led Ms. Bartiromo to utter the quote of the day:

“Why are we paying these people?”

Now that’s a question for the ages.

Rep. Rangel has been a long term representative of the district seat that was formerly held by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. who spent more time at his place on the island of Bimini than in the House of Representatives where he might have done some good for his Harlem constituents.

Rep. Rangel has had his own problems.  Beginning in 2008 he came under investigation by the House Ethics Committee which focused on his improperly renting rent-stabilized apartment units he owned and for failing to report income he received in renting out his villa in the Dominican Republic.

Because of the investigation, in 2010 he was forced to resign his Chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.  (That’s the one that determines who and how much taxes we are all going to pay).  He was convicted on 11 of these charges and the full House approved a “sanction of censure” against the Congressman.  (N.B.  The Congressman never vacated his seat owing to these convictions and was again re-elected to another term in the November 6th election).

With people of this moral caliber integrally involved in the question of taxation and reducing spending, is it any wonder that we are at the precipice of a financial disaster?  Is there anyone out there who does not now understand why our official debt now stands at $16 Trillion?  Is there any rational person who would dispute Ms. Bartiromo’s question:

“Why are we paying these people?”

AMERICAN FIRSTS

If you’re anticipating a laundry list of things that Americans were first to achieve, like land on the moon, I am afraid you’re going to be disappointed.  See, I just wanted to suck you in with the title – and hope you’d keep reading.  (I might have a career in politics after all).

The American firsts to which I refer are actually things in which my now adopted state, Nevada are head and shoulders above all other forty-nine states.  (Or is that fifty-six, President Obama)?

Nevada is first in having the highest rate of unemployment of any state in the nation.  Nevada is also first in the percentage of our land area which is owned by the Federal government.  I am not suggesting that the amount of land ownership by the Feds correlates to the amount of unemployment – but now that I said that, I will have to think about it a little bit more.

With the Presidential election only days away and with the worst storm in decades hitting the Eastern seaboard, I don’t know if this story has made it into the national media but it is big news here in Nevada.

WE STRUCK OIL IN THEM THAR HILLS !!!

Or more correctly, an Irish oil exploration company which goes by the curious name of U. S. Oil & Gas has discovered oil.  A lot of oil.

The find is about 230 miles north northwest of Las Vegas in an area known as Hot Creek Valley.  Although U. S. Oil and Gas is being closemouthed about the extent of the discovery pending the drilling of more wells to confirm their geology reports, the claims which are coming out of the valley are mind-boggling.

Several independent geologists have asserted that the reservoir of oil would be bigger than the finds in Texas and bigger than all the proven reserves that are in Saudi Arabia – the world’s mot plentiful source of light sweet crude oil.

If that should be the case, this will mean that Nevada can move away from its near total dependence on casino gaming for revenue and will have a new source of income.  That will also mean that we should be able to lose our ranking as number one in the nation’s unemployed and be able to create good paying jobs for those who need them as happened in South Dakota with the Bakken discovery.

U. S. Oil and Gas leased 25,000 acres of land from the Bureau of Land Management.  That is the agency that is a part of the Department of the Interior and is responsible for overseeing 260 Million acres of land, primarily in twelve western states.  The agency also sells land to individuals and corporations from time to time.

Now what is most interesting, as I hear from a confidential but very reliable source, is that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Majority Leader, recently acquired 2,500 acres of land from the BLM for himself – land which is a part of the oil field that U. S. Oil and Gas is currently working and evaluating.

It’s curious to me that  the good senator would have an interest in this particular acreage.  The landscape is barren, it is remote and other than being a great place to breed rattlesnakes, it’s only other potential is for oil and mineral discoveries.  Eureka!  Perhaps that’s what the senator had in mind with his acquisition.

That may not be totally fair.  With his predisposition toward green energy, having voted for the taxpayers to fund the failed Solyndra, perhaps he had a vision of creating a vast array of solar panels or windmills on the site of his newly acquired property.  Time alone will tell.

However, should the discovery prove to be as substantial as rumored, and should it later come to light that the Senate Majority Leader had “inside information” of which he took advantage and profited, it will be a scandal that will eclipse both Watergate and the Tea Pot Dome scandal of the Harding administration.

For the sake of those Nevadans who are actively seeking employment and are unable to find work and for the sake of all of us Americans so that we might obtain a new source of energy and reduce our dependence on foreign governments, I truly hope that this discovery pans out.

And to Sen. Harry Reid, all I can say at this point is, Mazel Tov.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS

What really is in Mitt Romney’s years of tax returns that he has not released for public gawking?  Apparently only he, his wife, their accountants, the IRS and Sen. Harry Reid really know.

You may recall that about a month ago the good Majority Leader of the Senate made the declamation that “he had proof” that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid any taxes for ten years.  Having laid that unsubstantiated bombshell on the public, there has been nothing further forthcoming from Sen. Reid on the subject.

Frankly, neither I nor the intelligent segment of the American public really cares whether that is true – other than to point to the incredible stupidity of our massive tax code which no one can understand – including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who failed to pay his own taxes correctly.  The Tax Code should be overhauled so that it is not only equitable but understandable to the average Jane Citizen.

A few days ago Sen. Reid was “involved” in a six car collision here in Las Vegas.  Not only was his vehicle damaged but two that were being driven by Capitol Police and two Metro Police cars, all four of which were “escorting” him were involved.  Now I do not know if the Senator was at fault in causing this accident since the media coverage conspicuously avoided describing the circumstances surrounding it.  But if the Senator’s driving skills are as compelling as his ability to bringing a budget to the floor of the Senate, I think that is a good possibility.

I’m not sure who the occupant of the last car was, but you can be pretty certain he was a Republican who had not yet participated in early voting.

Throughout this campaign, President Obama’s ads have leveled charges that Mr. Romney isn’t “paying his fair share” – or more accurately – “his fair percentage.”  This makes for good sound bytes and gets people riled up and angry – which has been a hallmark of the achievements of the Obama campaign.

People who couldn’t, with or without the use of a calculator, tell you what percentage 87/299 is,are totally stoked by this inequity.  The fact that Mr. Romney and his wife paid $3 Million or so compared to their $10,000 doesn’t seem to impress those who buy into this rhetoric as being “fair”.  Again, you can hardly lay the blame at Mr. Romney’s feet when it deserves to be leveled against those who wrote the code under which he made his contribution to the welfare of the nation.

Frankly, if I had been an advisor to Mr. Romney, I would have simply said, “Show them the returns and let them have fun with them.”  I would also have used that as an opportunity to address the fact that we need, not to revise, but to re-do the tax code.

Just think about all the jobs we could eliminate at the IRS, and H & R Block and public accounting firms if we had a flat tax.  We would no longer need those handy dandy tax software preparation programs nor would the firms that provide them need software developers.  And the amount of paper that we would save!  We could cut back on the number of loggers and employees at paper manufacturers as well, even as we were saving some of our remaining trees and forests.  And let us not forget that with the reduction in advertising all these tax preparation services, we could slash quite a few jobs in the media as well.

Earlier today I put up a post, “What’s Sauce For The Goose Is Sauce For The Gander”.  And given all the criticism which has been leveled at Mitt Romney and his tax returns, I thought it was only fair to turn the tables and look at some “dirty little secrets” that President Obama is keeping from us.  Specifically, I refer to his college transcripts.

Let me begin by saying that when it comes to the subject of Donald Trump, the most complimentary thing I can say is that he must be suffering from a perennial “bad hair day”.  I watched one episode of “The Apprentice” and was mildly horrified at the glee with which he pronounced the fatal words, “You’re Fired”.  I don’t care for the gentleman – but his offer to contribute $5 Million to a charity of President Obama’s choosing if he reveals his college record does underscore a point.

If the President has nothing to hide, why is this such a deep, dark secret?  For exactly the same reason that I believe Romney should have just given us his tax returns to diffuse the subject, the President could put to rest all the innuendos regarding himself by revealing the contents of his academic background.

It troubles me when unsubstantiated statements are made about anyone – including President Obama.  If those statements are intentionally fabricated with the intent to do harm to another, they are called liable and slander.  No one should be subject to that sort of calumny – and when those assertions lie about the shoulders of the person who is the leader of the free world, it does him and all Americans a tremendous injustice.

I have read several pieces which claim that when the President was at Occidental College, he attended as a “foreign student” from Indonesia under the name he used at the time, Barry Sotero.  Further, these reports indicate that he received grants to attend as a foreigner.  I do not know, nor does anyone other than the President and the Registrar at Occidental College whether this is true.  But if it is then it is certainly disturbing.  And I believe that the American people have the right, and the President has the responsibility, to put these matters to rest.

I try to keep my own counsel and share those things about myself with friends whom I trust when there is a reason for them to know.  I think that is good advice for most of us to follow.

But if you’re a public figure, there is a slightly different set of rules.  We should have the confidence that those in public office are telling us the truth about their personal life experience and conduct so that we can fully get behind them and support their efforts on behalf of the country.  Anything less is both unproductive and unpatriotic.

I find being on the same side of an issue with Mr. Trump to be a little disquieting.  But I must admit that he does throw down an interesting gauntlet.  I hope that President Obama takes it up, collects the $5 Million for his favorite charity, and puts to rest the suspicion and ends the talk about his “Dirty Little Secrets”.

“WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE?”

With the Vice Presidential debate on Thursday evening now a part of history I found it interesting that the President’s latest ad asks the question, “Who you gonna believe?”

The thrust of the ad is that Mitt Romney, that insidious successful millionaire, is planning on slashing the taxes of his fellow successful millionaires.   He will pass on the cost of the money this saves them to the remaining middle class who have survived four years of Obamanomics, by increasing their taxes $2500 per household.

This is fear in advertising at its absolute worst.

Let’s think about the scenario that the President paints in his ad.  You are already a multi-millionaire and this year you have another decent year.  You earn $10 million for your efforts and on your investments.   Depending on the sources of your income, that should leave you with about $7 million or so in pocket change.  Does any one of my readers know how they would possibly spend $7 million if they were given the opportunity?  And, of course, our multi-millionaire has already accumulated a great deal of wealth that goes beyond this year’s income.

So ask yourself the question.  If you would be hard pressed to spend $7 million on things that you really want, how would you spend the $7.2 million that the ad suggests you would have under the “Romney tax plan?”

Well, that’s all theoretical.  But let’s look at some numbers which are suggested by the ad and which Vice President Biden offered in the debate.

The Veep says that this scheme is designed to benefit 110,000 wealthy tax payers at the expense of all middle class tax payers.  Each of the wealthy would get a $200,000 tax cut – and every middle class family will get a $2500 tax increase.

If you do the math which underlies this statement, here’s what you will find.  According to Vice President Biden, the United States of America, out of our population of 310,000,000, has a mere 8.8 million families who are “middle class”.

I realize that things have been tough for everyone under President Obama but is the Vice President suggesting that is the totality of the middle class that is left in this country?  If that is true, that is sufficient enough indictment to throw the two of them out of office.

Let’ return to the debate for a minute.  Frankly, I was uninspired by both participants for different reasons.

I have heard Rep. Ryan speak on many occasions and have been impressed with the sincere manner in which he delivers his information.  By contrast, I thought he seemed very “mechanical” in the debate.  Perhaps that is because it was his first experience or perhaps because the main focus was on foreign policy.  I am not making excuses for him because “it is what it is”.  I have heard him do far better and was a little disappointed.

I felt insulted by the demeanor which the Vice President projected.  I thought he was rude, condescending and generally obnoxious.  He obviously has a wealth of experience, (he told us that several times) and I felt he would have better served his cause by simply delivering his message in a forthright and factual manner.  I half expected him at some point to turn to Ryan and say, “Listen, Sonny …”

He also had the annoying habit of starting to answer a question and then, without finishing his statement, change the subject.  This is the typical tactic of the veteran politician who either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t want to offer an answer to a question.   If you taped the debate, I suggest you watch it again to see what I mean.  I counted six separate instances of it in the 45 minutes that the Vice President held the floor.

Well, according to those who are politically smarter than I, Ryan slightly edged out the Vice President – but it was, in essence, a draw.  But there was one part of the debate that I thought was most interesting and that was the discussion about abortion.

For the first time in U. S. history we have Vice Presidential candidates on both tickets who are Roman Catholic.  It’s common knowledge that the official view of the Roman Catholic Church is that abortion constitutes murder of the unborn.  Both the Vice President and Rep. Ryan are aware of that.

Ryan offered his explanation of why he is opposed to abortion from a personal standpoint.  He referred to his unborn first child’s ultrasound when she was only the size of a bean – but he could see her heart beat.  He went on to explain that because of this experience, he and his wife had nicknamed her, “Bean”.

The Vice President approached his support for abortion in what could easily have been misinterpreted as an almost statesmanlike way.  While he would never personally have a child aborted, he explained that other people did not accept his Catholic theology of life beginning at conception.  Therefore, it would be wrong for him to impose his personal beliefs on them.

There is a problem inherent with that statement.

Some people believe that murdering another adult – if it suits their purpose and is the way for them to attain their personal ends – is perfectly acceptable behavior.  You have only to read a newspaper on any given day to know that is true.  Thumb to the section covering the ongoing violence among members of the Mexican drug cartels.

Civilized societies dating back thousands of years have generally frowned on that behavior.  The Roman Catholic church considers murder to be so serious that it is classified as a “mortal sin”.

But if we take the Vice President at his word, I can only presume that he similarly is opposed to all the laws on the books, in every state and every jurisdiction, which punish adults who commit murder.  Even though  his Catholic upbringing informs him that it is wrong for him to murder someone, he shouldn’t impose that belief on others who hold a different view on the subject, just  as he refuses to do in the case of abortion.  Or is imposing his Catholic beliefs something which he only selectively declines to do?

Of course, the Vice President’s quasi-libertarian view on the subject of abortion introduces an obvious corollary issue.  If it is wrong for those who oppose abortion to impose their will on others, is it not equally wrong for those who favor abortion to require those who find it immoral to pay for it with their tax dollars in contravention to their conscience and right to Freedom of Religion?

Politicians promise a lot of things.  If you’re in your thirties or older and are the least observant, you will have noticed that those promises are very often empty.  While they sound good and encourage us to vote for them, hoping that they are sincere in their statements, the sad truth is that seldom is the case.

We have seen how “Hope and Change” have played out for four years of this administration.  In their ad, Obama/Biden asks the question, “Who you gonna believe?”

And we should all be asking, “Who do you think has the ability, understanding and committment to deliver?”

 

HOW TO FIX THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

Every once in a while, the Chicago Tribune published a story about someone who worked for the City of Chicago but was living in a suburb.  This resulted in the termination of the individual from his city job as it was a requirement that in order to hold a position with the city, an employee had to live in the city.  If you think about it, this makes some sense.  The theory is that if a person’s work quality affected the quality of services he received, he was more likely to put more effort into his job and turn out a better product.

Now that Chicago has gotten back to normal – that is the teachers in public schools have returned to work after their strike – I thought about the principle that the City of Chicago employed regarding the residential status requirement for its employees and wondered why the Chicago Board of Education doesn’t employ the same for its teachers.

By this I am not referring to a residency requirement – which when I lived in the City was a requirement for assignment as a teacher.  Rather, I was wondering why it is that there is no requirement that teachers send their children to Chicago’s public schools.  The fact is that in Chicago, nearly four out of ten teachers choose to send their own children to private schools – and apparently their current salary of $71,000 to $76,000 a year is sufficient to enable them to do so, despite their not being able to negotiate the 16% raise for which they struck.

Think about it for a moment.  Four out of ten Chicago public school teachers apparently do not think highly enough of the school system in which they teach to entrust their own children’s education to it.  And those numbers are not dissimilar to the numbers of public school systems in other large cities.  Who is better able to understand the quality of education our children are receiving than those who are providing it?

For years we have talked about offering a voucher system for elementary education which would allow parents to make schooling choices that are in the best interests of their children.  Those efforts, strongly opposed by a variety of self-interest groups, including teachers’ unions, have gone nowhere.  Part of the argument in opposition to the idea is that, “parents, particularly poor and uneducated parents, are not in a position to make a good choice.”  While I dislike that paternalistic and demeaning view of the uneducated as unable to make an intelligent choice because of their own ignorance, think about the fallacy inherent in that argument against vouchers.

Let’s take an uneducated inner city person who receives a voucher.  What is the worst thing that can happen in her decision making process?  She doesn’t have the knowledge to do anything with it other than to pack up her child and send her to a Chicago public school – the same as now.  But what if only 10% of those parents decided, instead to use that voucher at a Charter or Parochial or some other Private School instead?  Given the fact that test scores which children educated in that environment achieve are significantly higher than those children who have a public education, that would give at least those 10% a better opportunity to have a better life and to be more productive people.

It would be unfair to measure education simply as a product of sitting in a classroom.  We know that a positive and nurturing home environment where there is an emphasis on the importance of learning is also an important factor.  That is something over which we have no control.

But the fact that some number of those who received an education voucher would choose to use it for their children by rejecting the public school alternative in favor or something else, suggests that in that very decision, those parents are likely to provide just such an environment.  Why deny them, and more importantly, their children, the opportunity?

Romney has taken a lot of heat for saying that “class size” doesn’t matter.  I’ve only heard that attribution on Obama ads so I don’t know if it is accurate.

I was fortunate to have been born to parents who thought a good education was extremely important.  Mom got a job so that they could afford the private school education they provided me.  My graduating class from Junior High had a whopping 26 students in it.  Logic suggests that I received more attention from my teachers than if my class were three times that size.  So if that is an accurate statement that Governor Romney has made, I would disagree with him and ask him to reconsider his thinking on the subject.

On the other hand, the teachers of the Chicago Teachers Union have demonstrated that small class sizes do not necessarily result in a better education for their students.  During their strike, they reduced their class size to zero.

Fortunately, that didn’t affect the children of the forty percent of them who send their kids to private schools.

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