Until recently America was a meritocracy, but no more. At one time in America and the rest of the Anglo-world, there was a hunger for knowledge that was manifested in the reading taste of the average man (and woman) who, although they may not have had the opportunity to attend college, wanted to obtain the knowledge attending college would have provided them. I remember in high school not being allowed to join the “Great Books Club,” (due to poor grades) so every day I would casually (but deliberately) stop in front of a notice board and read/memorize the name of one book. I could still read the book I just didn’t have the opportunity to join this select club. Such behavior was probably not that unusual at the time and afforded me an opportunity to read the same things, just not to join the book club that was limited to academic elites (who have yet to equal my academic achievements, but that’s another story). I seem to recall that Contra Apion was on that list for the Great Books Club.
In the event you have not read it, in the 1st century A.D. a Jew named Josephus wrote a book titled Contra Apion (i.e. against Apion’s ideas). A contemporary of the author, Apion was an Egyptian priest and the author saw right through him, and recognized that Apion was ignorant of the very topic he had written about. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Josephus figuratively tears Apion into little shreds, drops them on the floor and sets fire to the shreds. Of course one does need at least a passing acquaince with both history and theology to appreciate what he wrote, but this is not brain surgery (rocket science is extremely easy and it is a bit more than that).
Contra Apion has given me much pleasure over the years and conveniently when writing a piece of fiction recently I was able to mention it in passing. This is first time in years that I have been able to acknowledge Josephus’ splendid work at all. But I dare not tell anyone because I would be labeled and possibly sneered at, let them think I stumbled across it or was searching for something now obscure. What (knowing, reading Contra Apion) would have once garnered admiration or respect now only brings out the worst in my fellow citizens who know all about the latest gadget but do not always know the names of their senators or their state capitals, let alone ancient history or any history for that matter.
Contra Apion is just one book, but there are so, so many classics that are no longer taught, that so many so-called ‘educators’ may never even have heard of, but there is more. The ignorance of Western culture, of Western civilization, of music, art, literature, science, and so much more is astonishing. People refer to colleges and universities as places of learning. They are not. They are glorified trade schools for the most part (plus they are places to get drunk, do drugs, and hook up, but I digress). There are very few colleges or universities in America that are in anyway devoted to learning today. They are devoted to getting the maximum number of people to register as students in order to pay for their top heavy administrations and the bizarro-world courses they offer. The word ‘learning’ is just a red-herring used to deceive the gullible.
Try saying, even implying, that you might read something a little more serious, something a little more traditional or historical than the latest sleazy novel and you are immediately branded as an arrogant elitist. Actually that is pretty mild, in today’s world you are branded a Nazi and/or a racist, or even worst, and sense you are lucky not to have your head removed.
It has come to my attention, in various and diverse ways, that it is not unusual today for adults, people well over 21, to have poor spelling, grammar, math and writing skills – often despite having graduate degrees. In fact it is fairly common. Today one can be holding a fairly innocuous conversation only to discover that the other party doesn’t have a sufficiently large vocabulary to understand what one is saying even though one sticks to fairly common words. This is hardly surprising.
A C average in high school is usually sufficient to be accepted into any state university, where after one year one must choose a major. Those who cannot get into any other college on a campus are always welcome in the College of Education where courses are often limited to the History of Education, the Future of Education, Policies in Education, Procedures in Education, ad nauseam. Rarely do these ‘Education Colleges” require courses in content or any sort of subject beyond some theory* but the theories often state that something would, or must, work because of the theory.
When I was in graduate school twenty years ago the “College of Education,” for good reason, was known as the intellectual sewer to the rest of the university. This description or the ready explanation that other places are not different is something I have heard from other individuals from other states. Education degrees are not respected by those in the know, yet so many in our society continue to act as if an education degree still means something. It doesn’t.
Most schools are staffed and led by individuals who have degrees in education. These are the people who are teaching and leading the schools, they are rarely educated, let alone learned. They are at best sheeple, herded by their unions and required to deal with behavioral problems, follow curriculums devised by the educational establishment and/or their unions, and never, ever permitted to think for them self. They seem to be there primarily to collect their paychecks, and if forced (not all do), basically serve as babysitters. The teacher’s unions seem to believe they exist solely to collect union dues and the politicians rely on the unions to support their campaigns with money and volunteers.
I blame the situation on both the public school system and the teacher’s unions. As someone who didn’t attend public schools until graduate level I have always been mystified. Why do people think that a ‘free’ public school is a good idea? (it is not education, has not been for decades). Doesn’t anyone else know that old saying that “nothing in life is free?” Doesn’t anyone else (I’m talking to you on the right, those on the left are known as ‘low information voters’ for a reason) know that the 10th Amendment (passed in 1791) to the Constitution actually says that education is the responsibility of the states or the individual?
So, if state A wants free education through graduate school fine, but if state B opts out of providing any publically funded education, that’s fine too. This is what works for them, and people in that state are free to change the law or alternatively vote with their feet and move to a state that has policies to suit their beliefs/needs. Hence each state can craft an educational policy that is right for it.
Nearly every state is so different from the others, that education like so much else needs to reflect its needs and differences. It makes a lot of sense for some states to mandate that every child learn to swim. In other states mandating ability to swim makes no sense at all.
It is more than just the problem of national vs. state control. In Amerca state control of education makes sense, national control does not, and in fact is prohibited by the Constitution (note: many states are larger geographically, larger in population, etc. than many countries). Every state and every individual is unique, yet somehow it is thought virtuous by some to make things alike for all children in all locations. (And three cheers to you homeschoolers out there.) Nationalizing the educational system doesn’t really make a lot of sense if you think about it.
When America was a meritocracy it flourished. I’m not advocating a return to the past, that can’t happen, but we can return to some things that were cherished in the past and that is what is needed for the sake of America and Americans. Things such as merit, knowledge, and education, real education, as opposed to degrees and certificates or years spent incarcerated in an ‘educational institution,’ are things of lasting value and are still worth pursuing.
I must go, time for this autodidact to get back to studying the Constitution. Some things never grow old. Some things really are worth studying. The Constitution is one of them.
*It works because of the theory is an old Marxist approach to things. Laura Bush once said, “before we were married my husband and I had a few theories about raising children and no children. Now we have two children and no theories.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (aka, little Debbie), the Democrat candidate for the 23rd Congressional district (it includes Miami Beach) in Florida has done it again, and again. What has she done you may ask? Well, once again she has proved how utterly dishonest and spectacularly ignorant she is, and once again she has provided cover for the disgraceful Obama Administration.
If one goes to her website and looks under ‘Media Center’ there two sections I would like to point out, one is titled ‘Latest News’ and the other ‘Press Releases.' Now I for one cannot even begin to understand why she has the “Latest News’ section at all – I mean isn’t the internet, radio, and TV full of ‘the latest news’ and surely they are more recent than August 8, 2014 – the most recent article listed there.
Actually it isn’t even news – it is an editorial from the Sun Sentinel. So it is quite clear that she (and/or her staff) don’t know the difference between actual news and an editorial, even though the word ‘editorial' is right there. And is that editorial piece a doozy. Straight from the Sun Sentinel it discusses the case of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi (from Weston, Florida) who claims to have brought firearms illegally (although owned legally in the USA) into Mexico accidentally, which has resulted in his being incarcerated in Mexico for several the last months. I don’t know if he was careless and/or really did get lost and accidentally went to Mexico (and cannot even imagine why he would do it deliberately). However, the article, while admitting that the case has become an embarrassment for the Obama Administration, proceeds to justify the Mexican position.
The article then heads directly into the issue of the illegal flow of firearms from America to Mexico, but claims that Congress has done little to stop the deadly smuggling and blames this on the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA). It conveniently ignores the fact that it was the Obama Administration behind the flow of American firearms into Mexico, not Congress, not the NRA. It refers to the Fast &Furious sting as a ‘botched law enforcement operation’ – well you could say that, but it would be more accurate to call it a botched attempt by the Obama Administration to attempt to thwart the 2nd Amendment and to arm Mexican drug cartels.
Wasserman Schultz is lauded in the article for endorsing diplomatic pressure. So somehow it implies that as the issue involves a foreign government, diplomatic pressure would be put on the Mexican government by the State Department, now headed by the only American gigolo to become Secretary of State. Is this really a good idea? Is it likely to happen? Somehow I think not. Still fresh in this writer’s mind is the imprisonment of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian whose release from the bonds of Sudanese Sharia law was obtained by the Italian government so that she could leave that vile country with her naturalized American citizen husband and her two American children. The White House was silent on this story. Might we expect more silence on the subject of Sgt. Tahmooressi?
By posting this story on her website Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems to endorse it and to say, like the Sun Sentinel, that his case ‘should not be used be used to justify baseless accusations that the Obama administration does not care about Tahmooressi.’ But what conclusion are we to draw? America, once the beacon of hope in this world, was silent on the subject of Meriam Ibrahim, an innocent woman with every right to live in the USA. The suspicion that the Obama Administration will not care about Sgt. Tahmooressi is hard to ignore in the light of her story, and it is hardly baseless. Thus we see that Debbie Wasserman Schultz once again seeks to criticize her opponents and defend the indefensible Obama Administration.
The Press Releases are equally amazing – the one for September is a boilerplate condemnation of the killing of Steven Sotloff and her ‘profound’ expressions of horror, etc. But then take this one from July 2014 titled: Wasserman Schultz Statement on Recent Sanctions Against Venezuela, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) issued the following statement on the Obama Administrations recent sanctions against Venezuela. "I strongly commend the Obama Administration for taking action against the Venezuelan officials who have perpetrated egregious human rights violations against the citizens of Venezuela.”
Yet in May, the Huffington Post carried a story from Reuters (neither exactly right wing) that made it clear that Venezuelan security had taken about 250 people into custody for protesting the Maduro government. In the Reuters article (see here) a state department official said that the US does not want to be viewed as interfering in internal affairs of the country. If this is true, then what action was DWS referring to?
There are some things in life that you know for certain are worth rejoicing; unfortunately, the line is not so clear cut in most others. Take the new healthcare bill recently passed by Congress – is it a boon or a bane for Americans? If it is so good, why did all the Republicans in Congress and even a few Democrats vote against it? Is it because they resist change per se or because they feel the bill is not going to be advantageous to the people of this country?
Let’s take the positives first – from popular opinion, there seems to be only one, the fact
that all Americans must have health insurance. Coverage is compulsory, so much so that if you’re not insured by the year 2014, you could end up paying a penalty that starts at 1 percent of your income or $95, whichever is lower, and increases for every year you go without insurance. Also, if your income is low, you’re eligible for various subsidies.
But on the negative side, it’s more about the government playing Big Brother and putting its fingers in all the pies of its citizens rather than addressing their healthcare needs. To give you a few downers in a nutshell, the bill, which is too long and verbose for most people to understand or even read fully, ensures that everyone is on a government plan and imposes restrictions on care. Also, the reforms proposed by the bill are expected to cost around $940 billion over a period of 10 years, money that will have to come out of the taxpayers’ pockets.
The biggest grouse that people have against the bill is that it gives the government control over many aspects of healthcare that are right now decided by patients or their family and friends. Most people are even questioning the right of the government to impose a penalty on those who choose not to have health insurance. Under the new law, all Americans must buy health insurance or be prepared to pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of their gross income. A lawsuit filed in Virginia by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli asserts that this condition violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
According to the Commerce Clause, the US Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among several States and with Indian tribes. District Court Judge Henry Hudson has ruled that the lawsuit can proceed because the court has to decide if “the issue of requiring an American to purchase a product or be penalized” is constitutional or not. In addition to this, the Virginia General Assembly has also passed its own legislation which exempts state residents from the federal coverage mandate.
Only time will tell if the new healthcare bill will serve its purpose – that of ensuring that all Americans have health insurance. But how much money will be spent in the process and how many lives will be adversely affected, there’s no way to put a figure to these issues.
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This article is contributed by Susan White, who regularly writes on the subject of surgical technician schools. She invites your questions, comments at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note from Debbie: This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts here at Right Truth by Susan White. Please leave her a comment and let her know what you think.
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