## August 12, 2005

### surgical strike: roe v. wade overturns self

By using past progressive tense, perhaps I am getting a bit ahead of the state of the art in artificial wombs. But then, if you doubt man-made wombs will be a reality in the not so distant future, you really need to read this story out of Popular Science.

There is a lot of grist for discussion in there.

If you have read Roe v. Wade, the implications of an artificial womb should be obvious. Science appears poised to send this jurisprudential non-sense the way of Plessy v. Ferguson.

The Curmudgeon’s Digest version is that Roe linked the government’s constitutional limits to the “viability” of the baby whose life a mother seeks to terminate. When the inevitable day comes that artificial wombs are a reality, Roe itself will no longer be viable on its own reasoning. Or at least not viable in the sense of “protecting” a women’s access to abortion.

So whether you want to limit abortion or make it freely accessible, it will all come back to the definition of life. Unfortunately, the abortion rights advocates do not embrace this essential discussion. Heck, based on my sampling here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon, nobody really likes to talk about it but me.

Since talking to myself is an ordinary thing in my world, I shall not be dissuaded.

That failure is not an option will certainly not impede America’s avarice for ignoring difficult questions. Why should this issue be any different than education, budget deficits or illegal immigration? Why should I expect that Americans give it the same attention that we give steroids in baseball or Brad Pitt’s latest conquest?

If it is important, we simply do not deal with it.

But then I like to think that the readership here is well above average and willing to tackle hard questions. So there it is again: what is life? Or even a better question: what is a definition of life that will be a working solution for our pluralistic society. We don’t have to answer this. But if we don’t, we’ll have to take what the politicians give us.

And that possibility is frightens me more than even the Patriot Act.

#### 194 Comments:

Tony Plank said...

Yoshi,

So how are the bagels in Prague?

4:46 PM
Thomas said...

Tony, The first question this nation really needs to decide is "Just when does life begin?" not "What is life?" As you (I feel)know I stand up for what I say and believe in. This is why I am demanding a "Special National Vote" under the US Constitutions Checks and Balance system and now the forth admendment of The Bill of Rights, since The Eminent Domain decision goes against every citizens right to Liberty and their pursuit of Happiness, as well in violation of the seizure laws in The Bill of Rights. This is of the nine questions to be answered by this nation as a whole. This nation first before saying whether abortion is right or wrong we must decide as a nation and set the standard as to when life begins is it at conception or at birth. But you know as I do, no one will ever get that vote, since this government thinks they know what is right for us, but they don't this is my belief, tough. They will only do what they want to do or what they get "campaign contrabutions" or legal brides as I see these to be. But we the people of this nation needs to use our right to this Special National Vote to tell the government we are no longer accepting what they do without questions as they have in the past. Most citizens do not know about their right to call for this vote, since it has never been enacted or even tried to be enacted in the history of this nation until now.
But we both know, without help of the other citizens this government will not do what they are required to do, even though this request has been made public and them given a date to have this vote by, as well. I would like to have Roe v. Wade settled once and for all by no later than the Presidential election in November 2008 would be the deciding date if it is needed. You see as I told the government that if conception is choosen as the standard for when life begins, then abortion would be illegal, since they can then be charged with murder in the frist degree because it was planned to abort the child. That is why it may take one vote, but no more than two, which is the presidential election date. I don't know about you or any of your readers, but I am personally sick of hearing about this issue, Thanks Tony and keep it up.

8:55 PM
Tony Plank said...

I’m not saying necessarily that I think our national consensus must settle on life beginning at conception-I think it should, but that was another post. What I am saying is that we are all just blowing smoke until we come to an agreement on a reasonable definition.

The attractive thing about the life begins at conception rule, as a legal matter, is that it is a bright line test. But as you say, any act that prevents implantation could be considered murder or homicide and I would not have that be the case.

I suppose this whole post is pretty lame: I am beating an old horse for sure. But it amazes me for all of people’s frothing on the subject of abortion, nobody seems to be willing to posit a legal test for life. The pro-life crowd, including myself, gets really worked up about the tragic loss of life, but notice that there is nobody tackling the question. The pro-choice crowd gets all worked up about women’s rights over her own body, but the only question that needs an answer, nobody touches.

And the reason is that people are clouded by politics. Politics often eviscerates the mind’s ability to deal honestly with questions of national policy. We get so wrapped up in the agendas, we have trouble stepping outside the boxes the politicians have built for us to think inside.

I get sick and tired of all the lame and stupid rhetoric about the issue being unsolvable. There is obvious middle ground and it is only politics that prevents us from achieving it. It is time to take the blinders off and see how we are being duped in this power game.

The people we keep electing for are the beneficiaries of our artificial adversarial condition. Real progress on the most important issues before us is impossible as long as we are so constrained. Nothing illustrates this better than this particular issue because of all things you can think of, it should be a very apolitical discussion. But you can see even here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon how corrupted we have become.

Of course all of you Democrats and Republicans can feel free to attempt to prove me wrong.

8:19 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi: “The problem wïth the whole life begins at conception stuff is you could in theory put people on trial for manslaughter when a fertilized egg doesn't attach to a uterus.

No, because that is an act outside of anyone’s control. However, actively going inside the uterus and cutting, vacuuming, piercing and evacuating the cell WITH THE PURPOSE of killing it is different. If your grandmother dies through no action of others at age 90, there is no manslaughter. Enter someone wielding a weapon and that changes.

Twenty years ago I researched abortion in depth. I was pro-abortion, after all I received my instruction from government school and the media like 60 Minutes , and I knew they were not biased. My pastor had the gall to preach on abortion. Being a liberal Methodist church he received major flak for taking a stand. When I heard the sermon, I thought “how dare he make some of the statements he did.” Since I did not have an answer to when life began, when should the fetus be protected, I went on an all out search for answers to satisfy myself and put my pastor in his place.

I consumed vast quantities of information and propaganda from both sides. I had no idea there were 9 different ways to kill a fetus. Probably more today. D&C, D&X, saline abortion, there is even a C-section abortion which doesn’t make sense. The baby is extracted alive, just like a normal C-section, only instead the baby is placed in a pale on the floor rather than the table for the nurses to tend to. I had pictures of all the abortion techniques. I’ve gutted deer, antelope, and elk, skinned squirrels, eviscerated (dressed) chickens, pheasant, dove, geese - non of this prepared me for the graphic photos of abortion. I went to retrieve them so that I could referrence the material for this note to you. Couldn’t find them. Just remember that I hid them when my children came along so that they wouldn’t stumble across them by accident. Too graphic. Unbelievable. And there are doctors that do it everyday.

The greatest proponents in the pro-life community today were once nurses and doctors in the abortion industry. The atmosphere of hiding the fetus’ baby-ness from the abortion seeker, the daily confrontation of being exposed to dead human bodies, little arms, legs, entrails, heads - it builds on them. The self-denial or self-deception can only span so far. The incredible profits of abortion can only justify so much. Then that God created conscious that we all have either goes completely and you could murder a person in cold blood and have no feeling, or it over comes them and they jump ship.

My research altered my position on abortion dramatically. I took no prisoners on letting others influence me. I made every point prove itself. When is viability, says who, and why does it matter? When does life begin, says who, and why does it matter? I’ll never be the same. I’m rabid pro-life at this point because I have seen both sides. One side is a side that is immersed in deception. They want to hide the ultrasound image of the baby from the abortion seeking patient. Once the baby is extracted, they want to hide the evacuated contents so that you wont see any human like parts. They want to hide the emotional results you should expect after having abortions (like you start wondering what day IT would have been born, would IT have been a boy or girl, what would you have named IT, anniversary issues of IT’s birthday, did IT go to heaven, Mother’s day and Christmas/holiday issues, am I a murderer...) They want to hide your actions from you parents if you are a minor under your parents care. An industry of deception.

The other side is for openness. Let the young women know that it is not a “pink blob,” but a developing fetus. Show illustrations of development or sonograms of the baby. Get parental notification. Don’t react on a whim or be forced by a boy friend, but wait and think about it a mere 24 hours before you do it. All about openness, being informed, not reacting on an emotional level. Yet the pro-aborts battle EVERY attempt to guarantee a minimal level of information being provided to the abortion seeking woman. Deception is their game. And boy is it profitable.

Do not fear the fertilized egg. Given that you can suck the brains out of an infant that looks exactly like any premie baby you’ve ever seen because it still has the last joint of its little toe still in the birth canal, there is no current danger of fertilized egg manslaughter. The pendulum of baby slaughter has swung so far to the left, that it has almost reached outside of the womb, and I have read of persons that think that it should. God help this generation.

Prof. Ricardo

8:20 AM
Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Well said my friend.

8:26 AM
Common Good said...

Where's my post?

11:51 AM
yoshitownsend said...

Well, if you want a legal definition, I think it's obvious life begins at conception.... I think that's a biological definition.

if it is growing, it's alive.

11:57 AM
Tom Grey said...

Sorry Tony, the right question is this:
At what point in life should human rights be protected by the government?

Few seriously deny that "life" begins at conception, but is the zygote, blastocyst, embryo deserving of gov't protection?

Even more lacking -- what, exactly, should that protection consist of?

Great professor points; alludes to the above.

Requiring pictures to be taken, and saved in the clinic: and the woman to sign for the disposal of the remnants might be one way to reduce abortions.

More support for adoption, especially for mothers giving their children up, might be another.

"Child support" taxes on the father of aborted fetuses might be yet another -- one pro-choice women might even accept.

7:17 PM
Tony Plank said...

Tom,

Well, we will have to disagree. I do not agree that “[f]ew seriously deny that ‘life’ begins at conception.”

Now I think we could agree that most people are pretty confused about the question. Or if not confused, they just do not have an answer.

And while I understand your couching the question in terms of trying to define a legal question, I think that misses the mark. The legal question you describe has been settled by Roe, Quinlin and a few other cases. Obviously this legal answer has not worked for society as a whole: the possibility of overturning it is a big element in the political corruption of our judiciary.

My premise is then that if we as a society cannot come up with an answer that leaves everyone at least quasi-satisfied with the compromise, the legal solution will never work.

I think Yoshi is on the track I’m on…if its growing, its alive. But if you read that story I linked you can see what an important biological event that implantation in the womb is. I would tie protection to that event. That leaves wiggle room that I’m not entirely happy with in a moral and ethical sense, but I think it makes a lot of sense legally.

Whew. The silence of the abortion rights crowd is deafening. Though it is dangerous to make deductions based on the absence of something, I there is much to be learned from the silence. I’ve been broaching this on message boards for about ten years and it is always the same. Then if you prod them too hard, their answer is something like they just don’t want to discuss it with us zealot types.

At first, I was reluctant to draw conclusions from the silence. But ten years hence, there it is. I’m willing to share my speculation on conclusions, but I’d rather not color other opinions.

And BTW, while you would not know it from the amount of comments, this blog thread is one of the best read here in quite a while. People are checking in to see what others are saying…they just aren’t venturing out with their own statements.

9:07 AM
Common Good said...

Tony,

I think Tom has it exactly right. Probably 99% agree that life begins at conception. We don't all agree that life equates to human rights in our society. I'm not sure why you think the other side would be influenced by the definition of viability or the beginning of life?

It really all comes down to religion. If you believe life is a gift from god, then you logically could come to the conclusion that a human should have no say in defining when "rights begin" in our society. You also logically come to the conclusion that life is sacred... i.e. the sanctity of life claim. Take religion out of it, and you are left with humans making their society laws based on human decisions and compromise. Take religion out of it, and it's totally logical to come to the conclusion that a mom should have control of her pregnancy... rather than other's religious beliefs having control of her pregnancy. Take religion out of it, and it's totally logical to come to the conclusion that a N. Korean or African mom having an abortion is MUCH more humane than the baby starving it's entire life and dying in short order shriveled up in pain. Take religion out of it... and human rights at birth is a logical human decision.

Bill Mahre... paraphrasing: "You can't even roll over and reach for a cigarette before several holler rollers show up in your bedroom and provide their rules for your conception".

Everyone under our current laws has the right to decide pregnancy issues for themselves. If some believe this condemns others to hell... that's thier right. Of course, that's not good enough for many. They feel compelled to define laws based on their religious beliefs. The issue of viability has no impact on me... a female should control her own conception/pregnancy. If we are lucky, technology will improve where these can be totally private decisions without anyone's else's nose stuck in.

We either codify religion into our laws, or we do not. I vote ... NOT.

11:27 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,

The picture at the Popular Science web site is interesting. A clear womb. I don’t know if that is wishful thinking, but this could be the window to the womb Pro-Lifers wished existed to prove to the Pro-Deathers that the baby doesn’t remain amoeba-like for 8 months and 29 days, then transform into a human like creature as it descends the birth canal. Not only legal arguments because of an artificial womb, but, with a clear womb, an open door into development.

Abortion discussion aside, this would introduce multitudes of questions that your previous post Chimerical Reactions alluded to. Who owns the womb? Who is responsible for operating the womb? Not being human, which needs nutrition itself, this womb would have to be baby sat either by machine or man, making sure a constant source of nutrition and oxygen were present. Would it be available for individual use? Let your Sci-Fi nightmares run wild. You could practically raise a crop of humans, which, given current examples, would be a royal waste of time.

Prof. Ricardo

PS Been reading that economic series. I’m halfway through with the one on law, Whatever Happened to Justice? Great book. I wish you could read it. It has given me insight into law and history and the desire to abandon all current political parties. A veritable Curmudgeon disciple. :-)

1:18 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good,

I think that is your most accurate and insightful comment to date.

It really all comes down to religion. If you believe life is a gift from god, then you logically could come to the conclusion that a human should have no say in defining when "rights begin" in our society. You also logically come to the conclusion that life is sacred... i.e. the sanctity of life claim. Take religion out of it, and you are left with humans making their society laws based on human decisions and compromise.

EXACTLY! With Common or natural law, a higher law, your “rights” are guaranteed regardless of how despotic or idiotic the current government or consensus of society. With civil or political law (made up law) you don’t have liberty, you have permission. Your permission to do anything continues until a law is passed that withdraws that permission. Thus the Bill of Rights becomes the Bill of Permissions, that remain until enlightened society alters, redefines, or changes the list of permissions.

We either codify religion into our laws, or we do not. I vote ... NOT.

Actually, laws descended from common religious morals. It is the current trend to divorce laws from any religious morals or natural law so that the current laws are arbitrary and not inherently just. That is why a ridiculous number of laws, law suits, and injustices are happening at all levels of government. If the Bureaucrats in Washington pass a law forbidding abortion, what is that to you? According to your professed respect for political law, a majority of elected officials passing laws for the betterment of society, such a law could only be respected by someone such as yourself. After all, their goal is your betterment. How could you argue with that?

Prof. Ricardo

P.S. Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason agreed with the Greek philosopher Plutarch who said, “To follow God and obey reason is the same thing.”

2:11 PM
Tony Plank said...

CG,

First let me observe that you added zero to the discussion of what is life. I suppose that not having an opinion on one of the most pressing issues of our day comes with the territory of not having a worldview.

I do think the number of people who think that life begins at conception is anywhere close to 99% But rather than just speculate on my opinion, I decided to go find some data. Here are a couple of things I found and which support the notion of something around half of all people agree with the conception demarcation.

from a pro-life organization

from the usual polling suspects

You said, ”We don't all agree that life equates to human rights in our society.” With this statement, I totally agree. It is clear that we have very little respect for life in this country. It shows up in every aspect of our lives not the least of which is how we treat each other on the streets of our cities.

You continue, ”I'm not sure why you think the other side would be influenced by the definition of viability or the beginning of life?” Well, I don’t think people such as yourself that do not believe that human rights are intrinsic as a result of our humanness would be influenced by a nice clear definition of life. I actually think yours is a more reasonable position than most, however misguided and wrong headed I consider the moral foundation. It is totally consistent to say that rights are purely a product of our laws and we can fix the rules as we see fit for the exigencies of the moment.

In my view, with no data to support it, is that most people in America would in fact tie the notion of permissible abortion and what is life. But it is noteworthy that in one poll, 24% said that abortion should be allowed at any time and for any reason. I just do not think that most people would say, “this is a living human being, and it is OK for a parent to kill it on whatever their own reasoning might be”.

I find it most amusing that you continue to misapprehend my views on things and suggest, “It really all comes down to religion.”. Hey, if that is your view of my opinion, you are entitled to it. I for one am fully in command of my senses and quite capable of discerning my articles of faith and articles of material understanding. I sure it is of great comfort to many in the abortion rights camp to simply waive their hand and say, oh, that’s just the God Squad. Never mind them.

It probably is very disturbing to think that there is a legitimate rational argument that asserts that abortion is wrong.

Now after that, you made some very sweeping conclusions about what is logical to believe if you “take religion out of it”. I think that everything you said is a logical conclusion of that worldview. But I have also known a few atheists who came down every bit as strong on human rights as I do. I will not do it justice in a sentence, but it goes something like: if this world and life is all we have, then we have to make the most of it. I have from birth to death to be, and so I must make the most of it. Since this is all there is, life is precious in their view and deserving of protection above all else.

So your assertion that this is all about religion clearly doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Next you say, “Everyone under our current laws has the right to decide pregnancy issues for themselves. If some believe this condemns others to hell... that's their right.” Just to be clear, I do not believe abortion condemns people in any way. If an individual understands the nature and quality of the act, then at most this would be murder. Murders have full access to heaven through redemption in Jesus Christ. The abortionist is no more under condemnation for their actions than am I.

And while viability may have no impact on you, the interesting thing is that it is the law. So we know that at some uncertain date in the future, with no change in the law, abortion will again be fully within the government’s power to regulate.

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

2:38 PM
Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Indeed, I think the artificial womb opens up a ton of interesting bioethics questions. I purposely avoided comment on those earlier. The easy one to spot is the destruction of fetuses in the process of developing the artificial womb.

How about this one, you contract to have your baby grown in the artificial womb and you don’t have the money to make all the payments. Or what if the womb operator experiences an electrical outage and all the babies dies. What if the electrical outage was caused by poor workmanship or human error…how fall would manslaughter prosecution follow down the chain of error?

On doing away with parties.

I think that I’m really not so far off the mark with my view there. People love to beat me up over the point, and if that makes them feel better, then I’m happy to provide that service to humanity. But I think serious study reveals that there is no viewpoint that is truly served by what we have going on. Wherever you are on the spectrum of ideas, this process should offend you.

I can see pulling the party lever if you are an extremist on either side because at least you are voting for a good approximation of you stated policy ideas. But even the extremists are not served and end up getting mad when the party does nothing constructive for their causes.

I really enjoyed hearing James Dobson’s outrage on the radio a few weeks ago over being abandoned by Frist on the embryonic stem cell stuff. I enjoyed it only because I do like seeing people who jump on political bandwagons get shafted by their heroes. It is very comic in a society-is-doomed sense of the word comic.

The same people getting all lathered up about this stuff are the same ones who would tell you how unpatriotic and un-American I am for not participating in the mess. Ah well.

2:52 PM
Randy P said...

I believe that even before I was a Christian I knew that abortion was wrong, it has always been a life, and always will. No where in the constitution does it give a woman the right to choose life or death of a fetus, baby, infant. The decision made in Roe v. Wade was an absolute stretch made by people that were already under a political agenda. The RR, pah. Activism started with the liberal sect that wanted to abolish any kind of moral fiber that was holding this country together, and it continues to chip away at not only our freedoms to live moral lives, but our obligation to do the same in view of our neighbors. With the loss of moral character, and keeping things in the closet we slowly erode the respect that we should have for our fellow human beings. Driving and rode rage are becoming epidemic, not because the RR and their out spoken “theocracy” as CG would put it, but because of the liberal socialist that want a solution that benefits the masses over the one tiny baby that is fighting, with no means to protect itself, for life. Talk about “mass stupids” and the “talking heads” of the world swaying people with their selfish feelings and no regard for those less fortunate than them. Anyone that would say “we need to help the poor to be a civilized nation and not see the need to protect innocent babies is, well, off their rocker. Also the equation that pro-life can not be with a death penalty is also way off and part of a “mass stupids” hysteria that is perpetuated by the liberal media. Democrats have to continue to make this an issue, because they are losing the faith of their other major support group, as they start to swing to some type of morality and realize that the Democrats are “not” where it is at.

3:47 PM
someone else said...

I think this issue should be resolved by a separate ad-hoc legal structure involving only women--of all political stripes. Who's with me?

4:39 PM
Tony Plank said...

Saurav,

Hey, half of all fetuses are male.

That would be evacuation without representation.

4:46 PM
Common Good said...

Saurav,

I think this issue should be resolved by a separate ad-hoc legal structure involving only women--of all political stripes. Who's with me?

LOL. What are you thinking? It's so obvious this should be decided by Christian males. They will get together and define the beginning of life and the meaning of life all in one meeting.... and then share that with the rest of us.

btw... changing from this toxic topic to another. Anyone think the emerging Iraq Shite theocracy was worth 2000 American lives?

5:19 PM
Randy P said...

Quotation:
With our heads, we believe that the church ought to be one
truly “classless society” with all men standing on a plane of
perfect equality at the foot of the Cross. But if in our
hearts we do not genuinely want it, the unwanted know it well
enough, count us as their enemies, and turn to other faiths.
... Lewis J. Sherrill (1892-1957), Lift Up Your Eyes
[1949]

10:26 AM
Randy P said...

I hate to say this Tony, but the ratio of males born to that of females is not a 50% split. They out number us.

Suarav,

Probably a bad idea, there are issues here that go beyond the minor 9 month discomfort of women that men need to be involved in also

10:28 AM
Tony Plank said...

Randy,

Awesome quote.

10:29 AM
Randy P said...

"btw... changing from this toxic topic to another. Anyone think the emerging Iraq Shite theocracy was worth 2000 American lives? "

We will know the true answer to that in about 20 or 30 years, until then the only thing we have to go on are Democratic lies

10:29 AM
Randy P said...

Tony,

I do have a lot of issues to work out on my own, but this is one that I try to concentrate on daily

10:30 AM
Randy P said...

How about this one,

Quotation:
Paul does not forbid you to use rites and ceremonies, but
it is not his wish that he who is free in Christ should be
bound by them. He does not condemn the law of works if only
one uses it lawfully. Without these things perhaps you will
not be pious; but they do not make you pious.
... Desiderius Erasmus (1466?-1536)

10:34 AM
Randy P said...

CG,

Just to clarify my earlier comment to you,

I did mean "democratic" and not democrat's lies. Not sure if that makes a difference to you or not, but I felt it was worth mentioning

10:36 AM
Common Good said...

Randy,

We will know the true answer to that in about 20 or 30 years, until then the only thing we have to go on are Democratic lies

Sorry... we already know Iraq is a failure and was a bad idea. We are going to end up with a Shite theocracy. Duh... they outnumber everyone else. What irony... a Christian faith based administration and neocon faith based "change the world to our likeing" cabal actually created an Islam theocracy in Iraq. If it wasn't so sad and scary, it would be funny as hell. Maybe you need 20 or 30 years to see failure... but I would recommend corrective lenses.

Tony,

It is clear that we have very little respect for life in this country.

Again, the only possible way you can sell the sanctity of life notion is based on religious belief (i.e. reality pretty much kills that marketing effort). I believe in the sanctity of adults making the best of a tough reality... but that is different then believing that tough existence represents any form of sanctity. In our so-called life sanctuary... we have kids dying of cancer, entire countries starving to death, thousands drowned off of coasts who were just living their humble meager lives, people flying airplanes into high-rise buildings, people jumping from those same high-rise building to their death... yada yada yada. Exactly where in there does this strike you as sanctity? Even using religion as the basis for some sanctity belief is ironic, because this planet has killed off each other in the millions/billions in the name of religion... I guess one version of sanctity at war with another. I think calling all of this sanctity is a neurological disorder. I think facing this reality by heaping a large dose of "guilt at birth" and passing that on from generation to generation is a neurological disorder. Sorry... I see a very cruel world, and I come to the conclusion man has the right to make the best of it in his society through "agreed to human laws". Trying to interject an invisible deity into the meeting deciding our laws is... being redundant... a neurological disorder.

Now I know some of you will be inclined to call the statements above rude, and lacking in accepting others. My response would be to remind you that the pro-life position is primarily (Randy may be an exception) fueled by justifying imposing one's religious beliefs on other's in this society as laws. Now ask yoursef... how exactly is that accepting others, and other's beliefs. It would seem the theocracy crowd doesn't accept me, and I don't accept them. I call that even.

It's all about religion... more specifially about a percentage of the Christian community that feels they should own and run our government. They invent terms like "secularist" to battle the idea others have decided we don't want the RR setting our laws for everyone... i.e. we reject theocracy and theocracy-lite. Go through the culture wars and pick one that's not about religion 1) abortion 2) gay rights 3) god in school 4) god in the courthouse 5) god on our money 6) god in the science class 7) even in some cases, god as the basis of small government and lower tax rates (still don't get that one).

Look... we get it. God comes first in your lives. Great... I hope you have an outstanding PRIVATE experience. Just don't bring it to our pluralistic democracy and force it on everyone. Abortion is immoral for you... great, don't have one. Want a Christian god in OUR courthouses... too bad.. we have Muslims and atheists sharing the same laws, judges and courthouses. Want little Johnny to say "god in the pledge of allegiance"... sorry, that's stupid peer pressure introduced on kids and families that have different beliefs. Try and tell me with a straight face why any parent should have to tell their kid "hey, when you get to that part of the pledge, just don't say anything and ignore those kids who make comments about you". Sure... sell that as logical... the judges seemed to buy it. If one is arguing for setting laws based on religious beliefs, it won't help to try and come at it from different angles.

You guys need to recruit a new liberal to bitch-slap on this board. I can't take you guys anymore. :)

11:59 AM
Randy P said...

"Sorry... we already know Iraq is a failure and was a bad idea. We are going to end up with a Shite theocracy. Duh... they outnumber everyone else. What irony... a Christian faith based administration and neocon faith based "change the world to our likeing" cabal actually created an Islam theocracy in Iraq. If it wasn't so sad and scary, it would be funny as hell. Maybe you need 20 or 30 years to see failure... but I would recommend corrective lenses."

Well CG, as I mentioned earlier, that is part of the lie system that everyone buys into, as well as the Neo-cons believing that we could make a true democracy similarly based as the US. Neither of these are actual options. The best that we can hope for is to die in our sleep. That really is a great song, with a lot of life's metaphors in it. You aught to listen to it one more time there CG. You know it took over a hundred years for us to realize that women deserved the right to vote, duh. A little under a hundred years to "legally" free the slaves, duh. And almost another hundred to get the "equallity" that we have today, duh, duh and counter duh.

You can banter, piss and whine all you want about it, but it is to late. My corrective lenses are actually showing me that it was a better idea going in now and getting things moving there. The only way we are going to curb the flow of terror in that region is to show them that "they" can all live with each other first, then we will work on how that plays with the rest of the world. You, Dean, and all the outher nay-sayers can not possibly put the word "failure" on this situation as it stands today. You may try to fight the case that we have taken a step backward in our war on terror, but even that would illustrate the you and the others are clairvoyant, and that just is not the case.

"Again, the only possible way you can sell the sanctity of life notion is based on religious belief (i.e. reality pretty much kills that marketing effort). "

What pretty much kills the idea is all the nut jobs out there that do not see the need to protect our most innocent segment of society. That is all, you might need corrective lenses to see it, but it is out there. It is a heck of a lot clearer than pre-judging the action that we have taken in Iraq.

"Sorry... I see a very cruel world, and I come to the conclusion man has the right to make the best of it in his society through "agreed to human laws".

You do see a very cruel world out there, and the reason is the liberal slant that your party places out there and the loss of morals. With morals comes the "free" giving to charities and foundations, but you insist that any skew towards morality is a theocracy, and that Sir is a bogus look that surely need corrective lenses

12:31 PM
Common Good said...

Randy,

but you insist that any skew towards morality is a theocracy

Nah... now you are pulling a Plank and making stuff up. You are confused, because you equate morality with Christianity. Theocracy is a government ruled by religious authority. Never confuse religious authority with morals.

2:39 PM
Randy P said...

CG,

I am not, but everytime some type of moral debate goes on here you jump to theocracy, just because those talking about morals are christians, that is all I am saying. I think that we are swinging away from morals that would help right this nation, and I am not considering having a theocracy run them. Just some good old fashion morals that will get the majority's heads back on straight. We have let so much go in the last few decades that corruption runs rampade in our systems.

I am not looking for theocracy, and just because the bible has the best moral footing, and those morals should be taken into consideration does not mean that I am endorsing a theocracy. It is just that what you are thinking of as morals really does not qualify

2:54 PM
Tony Plank said...

CG,

You fairly (and correctly in my view) admonish us to not confuse religion with morals. But I would ask you were morals come from? What is the standard that society should use to judge moral behavior?

3:00 PM
Randy P said...

ANybody else hear about the new addition to domains on the internet ".xxx", there seems to be big uproar about it, but it seems to me that we could control it better and make a good filter process.

Any comments

3:12 PM
Tony Plank said...

Randy,

I was thinking about saying something about that. I think .xxx is a very good idea. Better to have a virtual red light district than to have the whole virtual city overran with crap.

Of course it would only be a limited help…from a marketing standpoint, they will still want to Spam and otherwise invade the rest of the net. But I do think it would be a positive step.

3:15 PM
Randy P said...

I was wondering, hoping that the control would be better if it had it's own domain to serf on.

4:34 PM
Randy P said...

"Go through the culture wars and pick one that's not about religion 1) abortion 2) gay rights 3) god in school 4) god in the courthouse 5) god on our money 6) god in the science class "

Non of these are based on religion, it is just that the majority of the religeous our speaking out the loudest. God does not have to be in the science class, we can have a quaint discussion on the theory of intelligent design v. the debunked idea of evolution.

Abortion is not about God, it is about morality, and looking out for the most innocent of our society. It is not my fault if you do not recognize the life that is growing and consider it a parasite instead of a baby.

4:40 PM
Common Good said...

Randy,

I know you aren't for theocracy... and I also know there is very little risk that would ever happen. I use the loaded phrase to make a simple point... what's the dividing line between "just enough religion based morals" and "codifying the bible into law". For example, I am totally convinced that the concept of constitutional "equal rights" doesn't allow for one faction (primarily Christians) to decide by majority that someone should be excluded from rights based on sexual habits. Equal means either nobody has the rights, or everybody has the rights. Is it fair to start calling it theocracy-lite when Christians ban rights from homosexuals... I say yes. I also don't buy the idea that we are having a collapse of morality. I don't think we were ever that good to begin with, and I think economic issues (wealth gap, gutting of manufacturing jobs and rural america, off the chart greed) are the issue... not who's sleeping with who or women ending pregnancies. Just agree to disagree.

Tony,

But I would ask you were morals come from?

You have asked me this many times, and I think I have answered it many times. First, the end result that matters is law that we agree to as a society. We don't all share the same definition of morality, but we do share law. So to me, everyone brings their idea of morality to the table, and compromise is reached (i.e. shared law). To answer your question... I think my morals come from various inputs (parents, society, friends, media, etc), my ability to reason and from my conscience. For example, I find murder (of adults :) to be immoral, but I don't (didn't) find premarital sex immoral. I think others primarily define morality from their religious rule book (i.e. bible, koran, etc.)

What is the standard that society should use to judge moral behavior?

I don't think there is such a standard, or any need for one. We have need for laws, but not a standard of morality. Our laws become the legal standard to measure individual actions against... and therefore represent a collective statement of morality when necessary. We compromise and make laws out of necessity. Stealing and murder (of adults) can't be legal, or anyone could have their stuff stolen, or life ended. Note, we only agree to compromise and make laws about the urgent matters... we don't attempt to define the entire society's morality. So again, I don't think a standard of morality exists, or is needed. We make collective agreement on laws... and that addressed the area of morality that we have to address through government. The rest is just personal opinion and blog topics. :)

5:15 PM
Common Good said...

Randy,

and looking out for the most innocent of our society

Well... just get them here, and we can do a number on that innocense.

5:26 PM
Tony Plank said...

CG,

You might think I’m baiting you here, but I am not. Simply exploring your outlook.

You say we do not need a standard for morality and that all society needs is shared agreement which will be implemented as law. I think you and I would agree on how law should be developed in a free society.

But it strikes me that there are many things in this world that I think you (and I am speaking to you as an individual) would consider immoral that are not illegal. For instance, not providing for the faultless poor in our society. Clearly, it is legal for you and I to let a widow starve. I think it is equally clear that you and I would agree that this is immoral of us both as individuals and collectively as a society.

My question to you is what is the basis on which you would declare this immoral. Now I understand you would seek to impose a legal obligation to provide for the starving widow, but that isn’t what we as a society have agreed to.

You say you that your moral sense comes from various inputs, but do you never question those moral inputs? Of course you question them…I know you to be a thoughtful person no matter how you might appear here. So the question remains, what standard do you use to judge those inputs. If I knew your parents, I might be able to give an example. Hypothetically, lets say your parents were bigots and you reject that view as immoral. What is the basis on which you reject that? How do you pick and choose? Is it a utilitarian standard? You certainly seem to use utilitarian analysis a lot. And this isn’t baiting, but if you answer in utilitarian ways, I’ll probably try to hold you accountable for that…but then, I believe we have trod that path together before.

Let me say it a different way. You are very willing to call various viewpoints as immoral. I’m trying to understand how you tell the difference.

12:22 AM
Common Good said...

Tony,

So the question remains, what standard do you use to judge those inputs.

I just answered this. I don't think there is a standard or a need for one. I make judgements with my mind and my conscience... i.e. my ability to reason and my personal definition of right and wrong. Law is just a compromise and agreement between us in society on issues/morals that we deem important enough to include in law. Moral issues beyond the law are individual... i.e. no need for any standard... live and let live. Bascially, morals are opinions. You might just as well ask "what's the standard you use to form your opinions?". Same answer... the mind and the ability to reason about societal matters and personal life choices.

9:40 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,

C.G.: “I don't think there is a standard or a need for one. I make judgements with my mind and my conscience... i.e. my ability to reason and my personal definition of right and wrong.

This, sadly, is the state we are in in this country. There is not the recognition of a systematic way of determining right or wrong.

Law is just a compromise and agreement between us in society on issues/morals that we deem important enough to include in law.

Law becomes arbitrary, random, unreliable because it can change at a whim or emotional response. A lynching is “right” because a majority of white hooded individuals voted to hang the black man. Majority rules. Majority decides rules, laws. The laws of the whim are not reasonable, just, or stable enough to build an economy, guarantee liberty, or plan your future around. People live for the present. People lash out in anger because of injustice, Laws based upon “personal definition of right and wrong” and not a standard of right and wrong all of us can agree on. People file lawsuits, not to seek justice, but to exact punishment on another. A general sense of injustice builds in a society built on this random political law. We end up building laws upon laws, upon laws, often contradicting themselves because they are not based on logic or reason but personal feelings and compromise, political goals and meddling, all enforceable with the strong arm of government.

There is one way to stop this massive stampede of imbecilic lobotomized lemmings storming toward the cliffs...and it’s with education. But those who wish to continue the statist, random law relativism, that leads to injustice and idiotic laws of every sort on the books, they have a firm grip on the education of the vast majority of our children. And we willingly hand over the young impressionable minds to the state to “educate.” And then we make the institution so sacred that the mention of stepping outside the “government must educate children” box is tantamount to patriotic heresy & apostasy or worse.

“The most important political question: Who teaches the children?” - Plato

Prof. Ricardo

10:48 AM
Common Good said...

Oh Prof... you poor libertarian soul :),

Law becomes arbitrary, random, unreliable because it can change at a whim or emotional response. A lynching is “right” because a majority of white hooded individuals voted to hang the black man. Majority rules. Majority decides rules, laws.

Tony's questions was about morality. I had to put that in context of law for my answer. If the question was specifically about law, then of course I would have started with the Constitution. Even there, we have the ability to ammend the Constitution, so I guess the ammendment process could match the dictionary definition of relative. You seem to bridge law and moral relativism into the same thing. I think law is by definition "not relative"... i.e. we make definite societal law. Many may whine about "activism and relativism in the law"... but law is not relative... it's definite (of course, allow for the grey). We can change the law, but then it becomes a new "definite". Morals on the other hand are by definition... relative and individual. Even folks like yourself and Tony who are implying through this discussion that you guys have a better grasp of morals because you have a religious rulebook (bible) to hold up as a standard.. don't all agree with each other. Even Christians vary among themselves on what they consider moral and immoral. I think one could say Christians have an easier time coming up with their personal morals list because they start from a written rulebook. That is not the same thing as proving it is a better method/standard for morality.

Morals are most definitely relative, laws are most definitely not (unless you want to count the grey area as relative). Said another way... morals are individual opinions, laws are collective compromised opinions. We are a nation of laws, not a nation of morals. We share law... we will never all share the same definition of morality.

Speaking of Plato. In The Republic Plato takes us on a journey in quest of the just society. Would you equate justice with morality? I do not. Justice is a product of collective compromise... morality is not.

11:36 AM
Common Good said...

Looks like we are in for a fight over Supreme Court nominee Roberts after all. Note the reference to him being against "comparative worth". I had heard that in 1985 he argued against women in similar jobs being worth what the men were. I would need to know more details, but that sure sounds of puritan male dominance to me. Oh yeah.. I forgot... we should let the market decide these things. Just like we should have allowed the market to decide child labor laws.

Roberts... a stealth right winger

11:49 AM
Common Good said...

Since Plank and Prof are always slinging out the moral relativism charge like it was satanic worship... I googled it. The first place I visited was this.

I read the first section at the top and cracked up. I used almost the exact phrases. I did learn that moral absolutism has a couple of other flavors rather than religious absolutism (e.g. bible). Some believe in a "human nature" absolutism, for example. Not exactly sure how you turn human nature into a standard you can measure against.

So here is a quiz assignment for our moral relativism haters (Plank and Prof). Our newly liberated (wink, wink) Iraq friends are trying to create their constitution, and define laws for thier society. Let's say the Kurds, the Shites and the Sunni's come to the table with three versions of Iraqi absolutism. Question #1: How could these three major factions conduct this process without the Prof and the Plank slapping them with the moral relativism charge? Question #2: If a nation had 3 moral absolutism beliefs systems... which one/s should be the basis of government? Question #3: If one of those three factions compromised to make law, would that be an act of moral relativism?

2:44 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good,

If you were to poll all religions, non religious, all societies, and all times, you would find an agreement to the following two laws.

Do all you have agreed to do.
Do not encroach on other persons or their property.

Ans#1: Their constitution ought to create a weak government that cannot encroach upon their citizens. Their laws ought to extend from and respect these two main laws above. Liberty to pursue their own enjoyment not encroaching on others out to be a goal that will limit multitudes of unnecessary laws and guarantee the felicity of all three factions.

Ans#2: None. See Ans#1.

Ans#3: W/o specifics I can’t answer.

As a side note, a “compromise to make law” need not be relativism. The anti-gun crowd has accepted many incremental restrictions upon firearms even though they seek to ban all guns. That is not relativism. It is a strategy of incrementalism.

Relativism is not a compromise to achieve an end result. Relativism compromises the end result based upon (relative to) other factors. For instance: we say that human life is valuable and thou shalt not murder. Cool. Relativism says: What if its not quality life? Of if its inconvenient life? If so, trump value of life with “other factors.”

Prof. Ricardo

4:45 PM
Randy P said...

"I think law is by definition "not relative"... i.e. we make definite societal law."

CG I am not sure how you can say this, when laws are changing as we speak. Laws are relative to the views opinions and morals of society at the time these laws are made, and also when they come into question at places like the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade was relative for the times, and at some point we will figure that is was the wrong decision and reverse. Go Roberts, Go Roberts.

6:25 AM
Common Good said...

Randy,

CG I am not sure how you can say this, when laws are changing as we speak.

Read my post again. I was clearly stating that a written law is not relative... other than allowing for the grey area (interpretation). What laws we write... yes, most definitely relative (as it should be and has to be in a pluralistic society), but after we make relative changes to law, the newly written law becomes a new definite. My statement stands... laws are not relative.

Prof,

thall shalt not kill.... just war. It would seem the standard has a bit of relativism in it. Question: are Christians who do not take scripture as literal "moral relativist"?

btw... maybe I should nail this down for sure. When Tony and Prof refers to an existing moral standard to measure against... I assumed you guys meant the bible. Correct or confirm please.

9:56 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good,

thall shalt not kill.... just war. It would seem the standard has a bit of relativism in it.

Tricky, but not too tricky for the astute. :-) I said “murder,” not “kill.” Murder has a definition, so does kill. They are not the same. But you knew that. Be that as it may, the unjust killing of others in war is tantamount to murder. Thus, there may be inconsistencies of logic or relativism in allowing that. Thus Mr. Good is astute as well. What a pair we make! :-)

Question: are Christians who do not take scripture as literal "moral relativist"?

Interesting question. They could be immature Christians. They could be so immersed in the worlds worldview of things that they haven’t, or won’t, take the Scriptures for the breathed words of God. Often there is a sin in ones life, delicious or addictive and entrenched though it may be, that one flattly refused to deal with or even denies. It is much easier to “alagorize” or in some way say God didn’t mean what he said. I don’t think this is per se “moral relativism.” With regard to scripture, moral relativism might be seen where one knows stealing is wrong, but since I lost my job, the kids are hungry, my employer was a @#%, then that justifies a retaliation of taking the office laptop or some such deed. Its stealing. The circumstances didn’t change the definition. btw... maybe I should nail this down for sure. When Tony and Prof refers to an existing moral standard to measure against... I assumed you guys meant the bible. Correct or confirm please. Not necessarily, although that is my preference. If I walk up and slap you, unless you’re really strange, you won’t like that and will feel wronged? Why? So you think anyone in any time would think that permissible? Of course not. There is a common thread across time, geography, and religions, of what all persons recognize as just and acceptable activity. We recognize that life itself is not the gift of kings and governments. It is the gift of our Creator. Sometimes in society we forfeit it by murdering others, but it is sacred and reaches beyond Government. A system of laws respecting life, property, and rights to the betterment of man, securing his happiness and health, is a law based on these natural rights of man. The world is evidence to the fact that place where Natural Law is respected and guides men, people are happier, freer, healthier, and mor prosperous. People under political or civil law are much less free, prosperous, or healthy. It just so happens that my Christianity (TaDa!) Is very compatible with Natural Law. Question: If people are so untrustworthy to be responsible for themselves, why then is it reasonable to put them into positions of responsibility over other’s lives given that power corrupts and government is nothing but a self serving entity that exercises power over others? Prof. Ricardo 11:01 AM Common Good said... Prof, I think you dodged the one question. I think if you 1) throw around the charge of moral relativism .. and 2) your moral standard is the bible ... THEN you have to call Christians who don't take the scripture as literal as moral relativists. Maybe you would like to introduce some levels of relativism in your charges. :) Also... I wasn't using the shalt not kill ... just war in regards to your words. I was making a point that your moral standard document contains relativism itself. Again, maybe you would like to introduce some levels of relativism. Let's make a list of natural laws. I bet common sense and Plato would have come up with them with or without religion. It's pretty easy that we will all agree on not killing each other. Only having sex in marriage and for kids... a bit of a harder sell. Seems liie a natural law standard would be nothing more than a common sense standard. You asked: Question: If people are so untrustworthy to be responsible for themselves, why then is it reasonable to put them into positions of responsibility over other’s lives given that power corrupts and government is nothing but a self serving entity that exercises power over others? Well, you know I don't accept your defintion of government as a seperate entity from us... the citizens.. I hear your question as why would we ever do anything collectively together in society which requires government and those elected to government in our representative democracy"? You know you don't need me to answer that again. :) btw... no such thing as a society/government that doesn't infringe on the individual. That's the definition of government... collective compromise of acting totally in self-interest. Read Plato again... it's in there. :) 11:43 AM Tony Plank said... Well, I was trying to sit back and just listen to the discussion, but CG sucked me back in when he said, ”I think if you 1) throw around the charge of moral relativism .. and 2) your moral standard is the bible ... THEN you have to call Christians who don't take the scripture as literal as moral relativists.” That statement doesn’t pass the smell test. First, I don’t know if I am a literalist or not because I think that the idea of it is based on a faulty premise. Its just like the concept of “strict construction”: it doesn’t really exist except in small minds that are comforted by simple platitudes. Not that I’m calling people who claim the Bible as “literally true” to be small minded, but rather they don’t understand what they are saying. My point is that there are many parts of the Bible that clearly are not meant to be literal. The easy ones are the parables of Jesus. Also pretty easy is to understand is God’s anthropomorphism in his self-description. Just because I do not believe that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree does not mean I do not believe the truth that the story carries. But back to relativism. Relativism just means you have a standard that doesn’t change. CG seems to be suggesting that it means something more. The sixth commandment seems pretty clear to me. Hard to see any relativism in there. 2:54 PM Common Good said... Tony, Relativism just means you have a standard that doesn’t change. Now I'm really confused with what your moral STANDARD is. If it's not the bible, then you are just referencing things... that IN YOUR OPINION don't or should not change. What kind of nonsense is that? I guess you have to start labeling stuff that is ok to be relative about and stuff that YOU have on your non-relative list. Maybe you use a utilitarian approach to developing your NOT-relative sensitive list. :) For example, you say Ammendment 6 is a clear example of something that does not change. Of course we can change via ammendment... but let's just go with Ammendment 6 is an obvious standard to be measured against. What if our society changes it's mind and decides to legalize pot smoking... not just for medical reasons but because we decide it's no worse than Bourbon or Rush Limbaugh's pain pills. Would that be an example of making law through relativism? If we did change ammendment 6, would that be relativism? All of these years of moral relativism charges, and it turns out I still don't know how you define it. Could we say we can't be relative with anything in the Bill of Rights, but we can with everything else? 3:14 PM Tony Plank said... CG, Um, dude…there is a big difference between the 6th Amendment and the 6th Commandment. 3:20 PM Common Good said... Doh! 6th Commandment. LOL. I had to look it up... I see it's the do not murder thing. Yes... but then there is the just war thing I posted to Prof about. It would seem this commandment is relative to the definition of murder... depends on what the definition of murder IS. You so dodged the question... if your moral standard isn't the bible, what is it? 5:08 PM Randy P said... Depends on what your definition of "is" is. Sound familiar. Quotation: Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell. ... C. T. Studd (1860-1931) 6:19 AM Randy P said... Ya know Tony, literal can be taken a couple of ways. I think the point of saying I take the bible is literal, to me, is that although the parables may not be actual stories, although they could be, and if anyone were to know that it would be the parable teller himself, but the fact that Jesus did tell these parable to make points of fact about faith, morals, and attitude about life as a Christian. IMPO 6:23 AM Tony Plank said... CG, My only absolute standard of morality is the Bible. When have I ever waffled on that? A just war is what it is: just. It is self defense. Fundamentally different acts. Randy, I think that people who are literalists often have a problem with those who don’t care for the word literal because they are trying to avoid tough topics. There is this erroneous mindset that thinks that if you do not believe that God “spoke” creation into existence, then somehow you do not really believe the Bible and its Truth. Or that if you aren’t attached to Bishop Usser’s timeline, somehow you faith is deficient. I totally believe that God created the universe, I’m just not certain that I understand how an omnipotent God does that. So let me ask you, when God spoke the world into existence, does that mean his vocal cords vibrated and moved air? If so, does that mean you believe that prior to creation there must have been at least an atmosphere of some kind in which God produced this physical phenomenon? Or perhaps you believe Heaven itself has an atmosphere…but then, does not the Bible also say that God created the Heavens? 8:01 AM yoshitownsend said... I like how God made the night and day, and THEN he made the sun. Someone should've told the people who wrote that part in Genesis that the sun actually makes the "day" when the earth spins... 8:29 AM Prof. Ricardo said... Yoshi: “I like how God made the night and day, and THEN he made the sun.” Revelation 22:5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. John 8:12 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world;...” God didn’t NEED a light. His Word is quite consistent and rational. You just have to be familiar with it. Welcome back. Prof. Ricardo 9:01 AM Common Good said... Randy, Depends on what your definition of "is" is. Sound familiar. That's why I said it that way. I was implying it sounded like Clinton. Tony, My only absolute standard of morality is the Bible. When have I ever waffled on that? When you said the following in response to my question about your standard for morals: But back to relativism. Relativism just means you have a standard that doesn’t change. CG seems to be suggesting that it means something more. So the bible is your standard for morals. I could see you making the point that this is what you use in the battle of ideas in our pluralistic society, but not as something for our entire society to use as IT's standard. 9:07 AM Tony Plank said... CG, Ah, I clearly mistyped. I meant to say Absolutism means you have a standard that does not change. 9:11 AM Common Good said... Correction: I do not see how one is justified in lobbying for one's religious document be be the basis of a pluralistic society's moral template, or the basis of mutual laws. I heard there is a case now where Muslim's are asking for the ability to swear on the Koran in court, rather than make the generic secularist pledge not to lie. We are going through a painful transition where the Christian faction will no longer be allowed to dictate to others... and that's how it always should have been. BTW... that is not anti-Christian in my book... that is anti-special faction rights in a pluralistic society. If you guys think this is an anti-Christian view... like I hear from all of this judicial activism bs... please explain. 9:14 AM Common Good said... Tony, Ah, I clearly mistyped. I meant to say Absolutism means you have a standard that does not change. It wasn't the typo that through me off... in fact I didn't notice... I thought you were defining absolutism. Your answer is what through me off. You were saying absolutism doesn't have to mean the bible... so I thought we were saying your absolutism stance came from "more" than just the bible. Got it... the bible is your absolutism standard.... although not an absolute interpretation of it. :) 9:17 AM Prof. Ricardo said... Tony, I’ve just finished reading my fifth book in the course study I have set aside for my son’s economics class. What an education I am getting. This happens to homeschool parents a lot. To educate you must learn. We now learn readily because we want to know the material. Learning is actually enjoyable when it is not forced upon you. Wouldn’t it be great if we learned like this the first time around? That’s the way it was prior to forced governmental controlled schooling. Based upon the last two economics books I’ve read, I am now no longer a conservative. I abandon that position and label without reservation. Prof. Ricardo 12:34 PM Tony Plank said... Prof, Yes, education in America is amazingly messed up. I have learned a few things lately that just amaze even this jaded old Curmudgeon. At the root of all my constant griping about education is the fact that we have managed to squeeze all the fun out of it. And not just for the students, for the teachers as well. Teaching should be fun and satisfying for pupil and teacher. This is one of the significant reasons that public education as it is conceived today is doomed to fail. A perfect example is history. How many people do you meet who think History is fun? It is because we have allowed it to be taught so poorly that we drain out all the good stuff in a poor exchange for a few names and dates. Put things in context and the subject is vibrant. My six year old loves history because the professionals have not corrupted the subject for him. It takes an eclectic approach, but it is amazing to behold. No longer a conservative eh? Does this mean you are dumping Monetarism? 2:35 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Tony: “No longer a conservative eh? Does this mean you are dumping Monetarism? Not at all. I’m still clinging to the Austrian economic models. What I am dumping is statism. Which coincidentally aligns me dangerously close to you on a few areas where we have differed. Quite disturbing actually. :-D Congratulate me on 23 years of matrimony as of tomorrow. Prof. Ricardo 2:50 PM Common Good said... Questions: #1 If we created the private school system you guys imagine... could you use any of the existing public school teachers, or are they all lousy? #2 If we do away with the public school system, how do we provide schools to poor areas of the community? It can't be as simple as the "free market", because profit motive will not equal for all parts of the community. #3 Would you collect federal or state taxes to pay for the private only school system? #4 This is my 20+ years as a IT software developer question. Do you invision any form of best education ideas bubbling to the top and becoming a standard or is the goal adhoc all the time and everywhere. Asked another way... does iterative improvements and techniques that we constantly find in software development not apply to educating our kids. Playing devils advocate, the best possible global US school system would be federal, federally funded rather than locally funded, school teaches paid high salaries to match how we supposedly value their service (and trash them when they come up short), use every state and every classroom as input to those iterative improving teaching techniques and standards, AND become that creative experience Prof and Tony wants. I'm not trying to pick a fight this time... I really don't see how the best local-private-only product could match the best federal-standardized-constantly improving product. Note: I'm not saying we have that now... for one thing, we don't have a federally funded school system. Prof... 23 years... good run. :) You have me my 10. Plank has you beat... he got married a 14. 3:26 PM Common Good said... Tony, Don't answer that if your neck swells up when you read that. 3:26 PM Tony Plank said... Prof, My hearty congratulations to you. I must also send condolences to Mrs. Professor. A stalwart women she must be! My wife and I celebrated our 21st year of matrimonial bliss last week. Geeze, I don’t think either of us look that old in print. :-D I would definitely concur that finding yourself aligning with an old Curmudgeon like me should be disturbing. But I have to ask, in what way did you consider yourself a Statist? I just don’t see that in your makeup at all…I must be missing something. Now the Austrian school seems very Prof-ish to me. I have a good deal of Hayek coursing through me. 3:30 PM Tony Plank said... CG, Yeah, my neck is swelling up a bit. That is OK. It is still my favorite subject. First, Prof is the all-private all-the-time guy…not me. I am for Federal Funding for privately run schools. #1: There are lots of great teachers in the public schools. Those teachers would be in very high demand as you shifted to a more competitive environment. In my view, poor teachers is only a part of the problem. Teachers that are unmotivated and beaten down by the system is a bigger problem than poor quality up front. #2: You keep trying to spin my position as somehow favoring the rich areas over the poor. Why you do that, I have no idea. I think you listen to too much Democratic spin. The truth is that Federally funded vouchers would be far more egalitarian than any other funding model I’ve ever heard described. The poor parts of town would be virtually flush with educational dollars like they never have been before. As I have repeatedly described, and as you have repeatedly ignored, this is one of the two primary reasons I support vouchers: giving poor kids a shot. #3: I would make education federally funded and subject to federal standards. #4: This is the other primary reason I support vouchers: enabling bold creativity in the area of learning. Actually creating an environment where the good ideas gain preference to the bad. Creating the possibility that certain niches can be served in creative ways that have never been tried or perhaps even envisioned in the crappy world we have today. Programs such as charter schools have been enormously successful in spite of the fact that typically they have to operate on a shoe-string compared to traditional state funded schools. Listen not to me, but to what parents in poor areas are saying. They are craving change. The kids deserve change. Here is where we desperately need to put the genius of the free market to work. Every kid deserves a chance to achieve their full potential. Every kid deserves a shot even if they came out bad in the parent draw. Every kid deserves the chance even if their Dad was injured in an industrial accident and Mom can’t afford the tuition payments for a quality special needs program. Or more typically, Mom and Dad can’t afford to live in the rich districts where decent special needs programs are available at the public schools. The free market is unequaled at the process of iterative improvement because it unleashes creativity more thoroughly than central control ever will. 3:50 PM yoshitownsend said... I just finished reading "Capitalism and Freedom," and am now reading "Commanding Heights," kind of a history of globalism and free markets. I just read about Thatcherism, Keith Joseph, and Hayek. I think this makes me a conservative, right? Or a "liberal," in the Milton Friedman sense. I have to say I'm quite interested in these ideas, I think I'm inspired to be an entrepranuer now.... 4:19 PM Tony Plank said... Yoshi, Just do not lose track of the fact that we do not live in a purely capitalistic society. There are limits here on the entrepreneurial spirit. For instance, becoming a wholesaler of mushroom confections might run afoul of certain laws that you might not wish to run afoul of. :-D 4:24 PM yoshitownsend said... Yea, as for "statism", I wouldn't see that as something the Prof. would have ANY time for.... and frankly, despite my rants about Africa, neither do I. I'm a free-market guy.... 4:27 PM yoshitownsend said... Tony, have you heard of the black market? And the money is put (will be) offshore.... I also have another idea however. It's a sure thing..... I can't say it on the web though, because I can't believe no one has done it yet. I have seen one in Prague grow like crazy, and I believe I can steal the idea, import it to Texas, improve it, and make a small fortune.... which will of course be invested in other areas.... 4:30 PM Tony Plank said... Yoshi, Yes, I have heard of the Black Market. Fortunately, that was outlawed at the end of our civil war. And if you are going to make a fortune, please cut me in. You need my help I can tell because you are thinking about *small* fortunes…I’m a big thinker you see. 4:34 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Common Good Ans#1: Of course. Whatever the market decides. The teachers are not the problem. The are the #2 victim. Kids being #1. Ans#2: It is that simple. As you know, we homeschool. We usually spend about500/year max. For BOTH of our children. Many people do it cheaper. You can spend to your hearts content. With private schools the range is already wide. Pre-huge Federal government and even to this day private individuals, businesses, and organizations organized Free libraries, free schools, free food to the poor, free clothing and household goods. Many organizations are willing to subsidize, give scholarships - the sky is the limit. YOU could sponsor a childs education by requiring that his books and supplies backpack had your Common Good Inc. Logo on the back. Utterly limitless. Throw in reduced real estate and sales taxes and the average person could have his child educated privately, for less, and receive more.

Ans#3: Neither? Why empower government to corrupt the private sector and destroy its effectiveness? You have believed the predominant misunderstanding that the world will fall apart if bureaucrats were not holding it together. That if someone, as misguided as the rest of us in his privately life, were given the power that corrupts (a government position), he all of a sudden develops this compassion and wisdom and benevolence to care for the other misguided helpless human population not privileged enough to be a politician.

Ans#4:
Privately, yes. But you must understand, the goal of governmental school is not to educate the children. That was the original excuse for the government getting involved. It is the facade to stifle parental disappointment. It is not the real goal. Any government, governmental program or division implemented grants power and privilege to the governmental entity. Its number one goal once the door is open is survival of the entity. Its second goal is like it - expansion. Its third is to give the appearance of meeting its initial “stated” objectives so as not to endanger goals #1 & #2.

(T)he best possible global US school system would be federal,... AND become that creative experience Prof and Tony wants.

Nope. The physical world has characteristics that cannot be ignored. Gravity. Mass. Energy. Laws of nature we have to deal with. A law of nature is that power corrupts, government corrupts. I know you don’t want to hear that, but can any government in history stand as an example otherwise? Do not the politicians expose each others failings? Did not even conservative heros such as Reagon disappoint conservatives by having larger government, spending, and deficits at the end of their tenure? It corrupts. Some more than others, but necessarily all - EVEN if you have the best intentions for the common good when you go in there. The Fed. schools can have the best of intentions, but they will force a given number of children into one room. They are forced to teach at a given speed even though the bell shaped curve of learning abilities exists in that room. They are forced to teach from a perspective - somebodies perspective, and maybe not your perspective - your child history, literature, other language arts, biology, etc. They are forced to label your child “gifted,” average, or “learning disabled.” A label that may follow them and affect teachers views of them throughout their schooling experience. They are happy to tax the snot out of us whether we have children, whether they do a good job, even if I incur education expenses on my own homeschooling my children, I must foot the bill for others. What is your recourse if they teach from a perspective that to you is tantamount to brainwashing and an utter waste of time? Private schooling potentially solves everyone of those issues.

I really don't see how the best local-private-only product could match the best federal-standardized-constantly improving product.

#1 Its not currently improving, its going the other way. Every president is the “Education President” for a reason. Each one implements another waste like “no child left behind.”
#2 Universities & employers seek out privately educated individuals because they do not have to be taught remedial Math and English before beginning their normal college curriculum or job.

The Private only has financial incentive to get it right, do its best. The government has a captive audience, a pay-us-or-go-to-jail income stream, which is nearly no incentive to do better. AND its not the teachers fault. 99% of them consider this a ministry of helping children (and a great retirement plan). The administrators, hierarchy, school board, and other bureaucratic involvement restrict teachers from using any curriculum, methods, etc. other than what is “approved.” So wholeword/looksay reading and other abominations are the tools the teachers must endure. The product is not improving.

Show me a way that government will not corrupt. Show me a way that incentive to produce well educated children, responding to individual needs, where incremental improvements are implemented when monitored, discovered, and proven, can exists. Show me how it has incentive to economize, stretch a dollar, cut a cost. Any business out there will lower its cost given an opportunity. Government wont. Once it gets approval for a given tax hike, why go backwards? ZERO incentive not to waste YOUR education tax dollars. Private all the way.

Prof... 23 years... good run. :)
Thanks!

Prof. Ricardo

5:25 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony, But I have to ask, in what way did you consider yourself a Statist? I just don’t see that in your makeup at all…I must be missing something.

Liberalism believes in using the state to tax and control businesses, redistribution, restrict firearm usage, etc., but they demand freedom for social issues like abortion, sexual conduct, drugs. Conservative believe in the opposite - economic freedom, but for using the state for immorality or social concerns. Because we live in today, I am using today’s definition of each term. The people see a problem today and they immediately say: “there ought to be a law against that.” I have caught myself saying that on occasion. Each side, liberals and conservatives, want to use the force of government to rectify situations.

I have had the conservative ideology of using government in the “war on drugs,” prostitution, and possibly some others. I am moving to a position away from that and to juris naturalists. It’s the social issues I am abandoning the position of using government force on, because of my mistrust of government. I am not abandoning the morals behind those social issues, only the governments role in them. Therein lies my deviation from prior positisons.

Prof. Ricardo

5:29 PM
Common Good said...

Prof,

Good for you. Now not for government defining morals. That's a start. :)

Prof, education isn't the same as selling widgets. It will never fit a pure capitalism model... NEVER. We have too many parents who are not capable of educating their own kids, and relying on the profit motive will leave the poor kids/parents behind. You talk about proven track record. What more do you need to know about people and families with cash and the market?

Tony,

You are not talking about the free market. At best, you are talking about a federal command and control use of the market. You know I think that is possible for some common good needs... i.e. universal healthcare. You earn further discussion with me on the topic by starting with federal funding and federal standards. I didn't hear you explain how Charter school local creativity bubbles up into better federal standards. I think my software framework analogy holds up. Like we just agreed on the other day... we need our software developers to be creative in developing the framework and standards, but then the complexity of software development and maintenance requires the team to follow the standards once set. How is it any different for the complexity of educating an entire population. I think you would agree a 100% adhoc do your own local thing without national accumulation of best standards and techniques would guarantee two things... 1) you would have some outstanding better than 90+% of public schools teaching techniques 2) AND you would have zillions (that's a lot) of schools that where much worse than our public schools with a national standard. You first agenda item with me regarding your federal command and control free market school system is 1) convince me how we can take on this complex task beyond adhoc do your own thing. The second item would be convincing me poor folks arent' left behind since the market is involved at all. Prof seems a little more honest/correct on this front. I think we would accept a certain percentage of poor folk education loss to install is ideological vision. btw... you keep saying that I keep saying your position is to sacrifice the poor. Never... no matter how many times you say that. I know your motives better than that... we wouldn't be friends if they were otherwise. I was simply asking the question how to the poor not get left behind? I'm still convinced they would be in your proposed scheme, but quit saying I'm challenging your motives... I'm challenging your proposed solution. I hear market AND poor families... AND I hear you poor people are now REALLY hosed... even worse than before. Your let's get started with a shitty voucher system is a non-starter. A complete federal command and control replacement of the public schools system... on the other hand... at least warrants some further white papers. :)

6:49 PM
Common Good said...

btw... we have never tried a federal public school system. That federal school system that Prof keeps claiming is a failure is a state school system. Prof is the big state right's guy.. but it's the state (rich neighborhood property tax funded) school system that has failed (if it has failed).

6:55 PM
Tony Plank said...

Prof,

Thanks for the explanation. Yes, in that sense I was once a Statist as well. It sounds like you are coming along the Curmudgeon path nicely :-D

The truth is that most people do not believe in Freedom. Oh, they want to be free to do what they personally want to do, but they don’t want that same freedom for anyone whose ideas are substantially different to be free. The funny thing about it is that everybody says they believe in freedom but they don’t think it through. The best example I can think of is my buddy CG and his intransigence in seeing the intrusion on civil liberties which is our public education system. This blindness knows no ideological bounds. Its almost funny to watch when you get it figured out.

But like you, mistrust of government is what got me there. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the Clinton era budget battles. The GOP totally abandoned their fiscal conservatism for pure partisan advantage. It was if the scales fell off my eyes. Of course I had already moved to a point where I was at odds with the GOP on civil liberties. I had collected information from the Republican Liberty Caucus and such. But then I saw what a crock it all was with clarity and may break was complete.

8:58 AM
Tony Plank said...

CG,

OK. I will never question your questioning of my motives again. :-D

I started to elaborate on what I meant by Federal standards before but since I had discussed that in the past, I opted to keep the post shorter. But what I mean is definitely not Federal command and control. I would be with Prof on that. It would be a mess.

What I do think we should have is standards that are enforced through testing. Conceptually, this is one of the few things Shrub has right. It would be enforced through funding: you couldn’t redeem the Federal vouchers unless you schools were meeting testing standards. This is the only control I would have whatsoever other than perhaps an open admissions policy for schools imposing academic standards for admission.

You asked, ” convince me how we can take on this complex task beyond adhoc do your own thing.” Frankly, I do not wish to do it. For whatever reason, you can not seem to think outside that centralization box.

For the record, I think centralization can work adequately for middle class kids who fit the traditional social model. But the reality is that our biggest problems are kids that are poor and in one parent families. Kids that do not value education. Kids that are lost for one reason or another. The problems of these kinds of kids are often very local in nature. The problems of the inner city black youth in Philadelphia are much different than the Hispanic child in South Dallas. It is in serving these diverse needs that adhoc creativity is essential.

But laying that aside and just looking at it philosophically, you have to realize that centralization inherently stifles creativity. The best ideas seldom survive the winnowing process. This is the genius of the market. Often the best idea doesn’t survive, but a good one does. And certainly ideas that would never see the light of day get a shot. I’m thinking eBay here: who would’ve thunk it? A central body making decisions would’ve never picked that one to try. It took a visionary with a new idea.

This is exactly what I’m saying we need in education.

If you want proof that the poor kids would not be left behind in a voucher system, you need to look no further than the Texas Charter schools. These schools are funded at levels well below the regular public schools on a dollars per pupil basis…probably even lower than a voucher program would fund them. With only one exception that I know of in the Dallas area, all of the charters are in the poor parts of town and cater to the economically disadvantaged. They are going gang-busters and the academic results are excellent thus far.

The cool thing about charters is that they are all different. They take radically different approaches to education and they are accountable through testing. They are having success with kids that would’ve fallen through the cracks otherwise. The tragedy is that well meaning people insist that expanding these opportunities for our neediest kids isn’t fair in their view. That is exactly what vouchers would do: make the diverse set of possibilities open to every child, not just those lucky enough to be pulled out of the hat in a lottery. And yes, that is how you get into charter schools today: you apply and are selected by lottery.

Regardless, the Texas charter schools prove that the poorest kids would not be left behind. The charter schools can locate where they want and yet they have chose to go into areas where the demand would be highest: poor neighborhoods. Similar creativity and hope would be unleashed in copious quantities if we would just collectively quit buying the crap that the politicians are peddling.

9:22 AM
Common Good said...

Tony,

I was going to respond to several of your comments, but after the following there is no point.

This is the genius of the market.

Once you through out federal command and control you through out any chance for standards. Your solution... standardized testing (from the very person who despises stanardized testing for our profession). We need standarized teaching, which is not even close to the same thing as saying we don't need creativity. If someone hits a home run in a Texas classrooom providing specialized needs... then in a federal system we can change our standard... our education framework if you will. Everyone across the country benifits, rather than 20 lucky folks in Texas. How a person of your aptitude sitting at the 20+ year mark in software development doesn't recognize education as a similar complex enterprise requiring standards is a mystery. The market is about profits and selling different widgets to different economic classes. A private-only market-driven education system will guarantee Lexus school choices and {insert shitty car of your choice here} school choices. That's how the market works. There is no charity motive in capitalism. We will be no better off than we are now... i.e. the same immoral system where the eduction of the poor is dependent on the charity whims of the "haves". As I have said before, I think economic systems are not matters of faith, and are capable (hopefully) of evolving. I think the federal command and control of market driven components is a hybrid we need to figure out. My friend, who is much smarter than me, is way, way wrong on this topic. I'm convinced it's a combination of a true passion for educating our youth and a slightly zealot position regarding government intrusion that clouds his usual genius. :)

btw... nice try again... claiming that the reason I don't think public school is a violation of anyone's civil liberties is because I haven't thought it through. You know better... I have heard the arguments and found them wanting.

10:28 AM
Common Good said...

Economic systems, including any command and control hybrid I suggest is way, way above my paygrade. However, this it the kind of things I'm suggesting:

1) Federal funding of the entire tots school system... i.e. all economic classes and locations get the same product (striving for Lexus for everyone).

2) A never-ending search for better creativity and managing costs. A federal command and control system would plug in free market activities below it on both counts. Better teaching techniques get incorporated into the national standard... either replacing the previous technique, or being added as a an ala carte choice. Mechanisms to pilot test new ideas would be built into the system. It could be whatever we want... even as extreme as a charter school doing "everything different"... would have to work out federal budges for trying things vs private funded trying things.

3) The teaching standards would be as loose as possible... i.e. the goal isn't to be restrictive on how teacher's teach, but rather 1) carriculum 2) like you said... make this fun again for the kids. If someone figured out in Texas how to make History fun... by all means figure out how to roll that up to a global standard.

Any solution that makes kid education senstitive to parent economic class, or believes we can educate the nation's kids in an adhoc fashion will never get my vote.

10:45 AM
Tony Plank said...

CG,

Well, I never said you have not given civil liberties and education thought. I said that your own though patterns kept you from seeing the imposition on civil rights. I know you don’t agree with my assessment, but I also know that other people reading here see my point clearly.

You said, ”How a person of your aptitude sitting at the 20+ year mark in software development doesn't recognize education as a similar complex enterprise requiring standards is a mystery.”

Perhaps it might be that after years of private tutoring and now a few years of being a parent, I can see more clearly than you what education is and is not? I don’t really know why I have such a different view. You seem bright enough most of the time.

The truth is that you can not standardize education at early grade levels. The equation is too complex to solve with a handful of answers. Every kid learns differently, albeit not entirely differently-there are distinct groups where generalization of possible. But there are emotional differences and social development differences that prevent one size fits all approaches. Particularly in elementary education, personality differences between students and teachers can have extraordinary impacts on the way kids learn and how well they learn.

But what I fail to understand of your position is how you are so insistent that introducing market forces into education will automatically lead to horribly left behind kids. Please spell that out because it borders on irrational in my view. From where I sit, it looks like the kid in South Dallas with a $6,000 voucher will be just as appealing a market as the one in Plano. You are actually positing that greedy capitalists aren’t going to want anything to do with the vouchers in the hands of poor kids. And this in spite of the evidence that the charter schools have chosen to go into exactly those kinds of areas. Frankly, the concrete evidence points to the exact opposite. The rich kids already have pretty good schools. There are some very good public schools such as Plano. I think the demand for alternative education is far higher in the poorer communities and that interest will draw the greedy capitalists like communists are drawn to Birkenstocks. You stand common sense on its head and suggest that greedy capitalists are going fly away from a new market for reasons you don’t explain. And of course there is the important side point that government vouchers are wealth redistribution…not exactly a pure market I’m advocating here to put it mildly. 11:01 AM Common Good said... Tony, There is no need for us to have any further discussion on education. You don't view it as a complex system requiring standardization. We are so far off, there is no middle ground worth discussing. You and Jurasic Park's Dr. Ian Malcolm... Chaos theory... life and education will just find a way. I heard these lyrics again on a TV show I was just watching. It made me think of you. :) Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right! Here I am stuck in the middle with you. 12:24 PM Common Good said... Tony, Forgot one of my comments to your previous post. You stand common sense on its head and suggest that greedy capitalists are going fly away from a new market for reasons you don’t explain. Hint: think Haliburton of education. There is no middle ground with complex issues like education... either Government or monopolies getting government favor. I figure I have some voice with government command and control. I have no choice when the Haliburton of education becomes entrenched. 12:29 PM Tony Plank said... CG, It occurs to me that perhaps we are having semantics problems again. Exactly what do you mean by standardization? But your post about Halliburton is the most troubling. Why would vouchers automatically lead to a monopoly? I certainly would be opposed to that. And I am certainly concerned in general about monopolistic and oligopolistic practices being on the increase in America. But truly education seems to be a very hard market to imagine consolidation as being inevitable. Unless of course you give the government a monopoly. Honestly, I think you have given up on the market completely. And if you have zero confidence in the market on this subject, how can you have confidence in the market ever? But let me go a step farther your direction for the purpose of discussion. I would not be fundamentally opposed to regulatory limits on private schools that except public vouchers along the lines of a single company only being allowed to operate a certain number of schools. Would that help you out any? 8:05 AM yoshitownsend said... I don't have the energy to read all the back posts, but I will say that as a substitute teacher (nice way of saying "baby-sitter"), something HAS TO CHANGE. I wouldn't send anyone I cared about to public school. It's purpose: Give parents and 8-hour break so that they can work. As for as education? I don't know how much of that goes on... 8:29 AM Tony Plank said... Yoshi, Well the ongoing discussion is over how to fix things. Prof supports totally ending all public involvement. I’m for public funding with a full-blown Federal voucher program and testing performance standards. CG wants to Federalize things and develop teaching standards. Oh, and CG is also on the record saying he doesn’t think that the public schools are really that bad. So where would the substitute teacher fall out on this? 8:34 AM Common Good said... Tony, I trust the market for efficiently selling widgets. I think it is rather stupid to view the market as a fair arbiter for common good needs like education and healthcare. Common good needs are more complex than the simple profit motive... i.e. the poor person should be entitled to the same education and healthcare as the wealthy. Even with common good, I believe some day we will figure out how to have a federal command and control over things like education, but plug in capitalism below to our advantage... i.e. rather than looking at the market as faith based, we use the market to our benefit... overruling bare bones market forces when we desire. If I trusted the market for education like you appear to, I don't see why I wouldn't just jump in head first to Prof's version... i.e. 100% free market with no interference. You asked: why would we end up with a Haliburton of education?. I would ask: why did we end up with Haliburton for the military complex?. 10:03 AM yoshitownsend said... Well, I think ending ALL public involvement is a bad idea. No one would get educated. Unfortunately, most parents have to work. If we take Prof's idea, well, we ought to just give up and start learning Chinese and Hindi right now (Prof, is these languages in your home-school program?). What would happen is not only would the poorer classes have to find a baby-sitter while they work (translation, worker hours would be lost), but the poorer kids would really learn nothing at all except how to be dumb. You CAN and DO learn in public school if you are motivated and free of distractions. They do learn rudimentary things, at the very least. The problem is really just discipline on the students part, I think. Give anyone a book, they can learn, BUT they have to read it. With MTV and Sony Playstation dumbing the kids down, they aren't interested in learning, just in being social. And in emulating the dumb-asses they see on TV. I think if I were in a public school, I'd have a difficult time distilling myself from the social distrations, bullies, etc, to really concentrate on my own self-improvement. The disruptive kids ruin the class environment for the serious kids. Our problem may just be a cultural one, not necessarily something money can fix. We have to change the students priorities. I can tell you, those little Asian kids are out for our blood, and they'll put in 15 hour days studying, while our kids are running around to the tanning beds, using dad's credit card at the mall, and watching teen soap operas on the W.B. network. It's the classic tortoise and hair storty. Complacency and the illusion of life-long financial security is going to come back to haunt the younger generation here. On the other hand, I know kids who didn't go to school at all, and I must admit, there is a contrast. So even a public school is light years better than none at all. Kids who just sat at home and skipped school are like animals in a sense, it's hard to communicate with them. The state would eventually have a real burden on it's hands when loads of kids were uneducated. Jails will be full. There will be no use for such unskilled people, there can only be so many Taco Bells, you know. But I expect the Prof. has some idea that private schools would start popping up to meet the demand, at reasonable rates. In that case, I'd be open to the idea of it. If a parent is "paying," they might be much more involved and demanding of their kids to "get their money's worth." Plus it could get some competition going to improve schools, which I guess the voucher system would provide as well. I certainly think until a sure-fire privatisation plan could be worked out, the government should play a role and have performance standards. Didn't President W. Bush have some sort of initiative like this, "standards"? From what little I know on the subject, I am under the impression W. Bush has had some good ideas on education. 10:29 AM Tony Plank said... CG, Well, we have a lot of questions for each other don’t we? You said, I think it is rather stupid to view the market as a fair arbiter for common good needs like education and healthcare. We ya know, I’ve never disagreed with you on this for education. What I’m suggesting is definitely not a pure market solution. There is a huge difference between putting vouchers into the hands of ALL kids, and just cutting everyone loose to fend for themselves. I also happen to understand that with any major overhaul there is going to be transition time. You speak of “plugging in capitalism” but at the same time said that we are so far apart that it isn’t worth discussing. I want to put the power to choose schools into the hands of parents. Use competitive pressure to improve existing schools and more importantly, create new solutions quickly. It is also well documented that this is exactly what working poor parents want. Clearly I do not want Prof’s vision because I understand that needy kids would not get an education in that world. I want the poor kids to have the same shot as my own. The reason we have ended up with Haliburton is obvious: paid political favor. Could that happen in education? Of course it could. But there are other vested interests that can get in the way if the government runs it. You still have teachers and contractors that are committed to the status quo. You don’t think patronage is possible because it is public? And as I said, we can wrap other limits around it so that no one player gets too large of a piece. I think we already have a monopoly which is the root of the problem: the public has government mandated protected market. They have no incentive to get better and guess what? They won’t. And back to my point…barring government corruption leading to monopoly, education is inherently decentralized and not amenable to the economies of scale that lend to monopoly in commercial situations. I take it you must be assuming that government corruption will make monopoly inevitable? And if so, why should I trust the government with kids to begin with? 11:18 AM Tony Plank said... Yoshi, As much as it pains me to say it, Shrub’s education ideas are not all bad. That said, it is all an illusion. Like every other issue, we are prisoners to politics. There have been some small improvements as a result of Shrub’s education initiative but it all seems like way too little, way too late. If we are to succeed as a society, we need radical fixes right now. I agree that the problem is social and not schools. That said, it is hard to fix bad parents. The best we can do is to fix bad schools and try to offset. These rampant social problems are exactly what make the creativity so important. 11:24 AM Prof. Ricardo said... The Professor received inconsistent signals from YOSHI when he said: I wouldn't send anyone I cared about to public school. It's purpose: Give parents and 8-hour break so that they can work....As for as education? I don't know how much of that goes on... AND... Well, I think ending ALL public involvement is a bad idea. No one would get educated. People can learn anywhere. At home, private school, government schools, even prisons and concentration camps. Learning does not happen when you connect a bottom to a desk, it happens when you engage your brain. I can open a book about car maintenance and show you theory, charts, graphs, and pretty pictures. OR we can go outside in the driveway and get dirty doing hands-on learning. Much of classroom is removed from reality, and many abstract ideas are necessarily taught in a classroom setting. Learning happens best when the learner (student) wants to know the information. The near concentration camp style government encampments around neighborhoods apparently did not impress you with their learning environment. Ask yourself why. Another question to ask yourself is: What do you really need to know in this artificial environment known as school? Do you think kindergartners won’t learn from home what a fireman and fire truck are? Do you really think they wont want to learn to count when they want to purchase something with their own money that they earned? Learning is a beautiful thing and I hope each of you are still reading and learning every day. But the most perverted way to learn is to, under threat of punishment, be herded into a room with age segregated persons, who must learn, not what is appealing, useful, and relevant, but what some educrate created as a scope & sequence allocation for your age. Then, if per chance the subject actually were interesting, rather than saturating yourself in the subject like you would in the voluntary real world, your interest is cut off by a bell. Each movement, each subject, each attention span, ruled by the bell. How natural. There is a compromise in education when you gather many people into one room. But if you invited anyone to voluntarily participate, even pay for the privilege, each room would be full of eager learners. (Ex, college.) Make it mandatory and segregate on age alone and the compromises become great indeed. I know you are trying to reconcile the desire to have public education work when you stated that w/o public education “No one would get educated.” However, much was learned in the world and particularly this country outside of the public school system. And even the first 50 years of that resembled any private school because the classroom was full of various age individuals and the teachers reported directly to the parents. Now the teachers report to the bureaucracy. In fact, given the quality (Ex. “mass stupids”) of public school education, one could argue that public education is the single most powerful force in this country restricting education. However, to my amazement, the near worship of this cancerous institution defies all bounds of reason. I can only surmise a laziness of desire to truly investigate the institution and its destruction on education. And then those, for instance you and Tony, are willing to feed the cancerous growth rather than eradicate it. On such a cutting edge blog as this that tackles many intellectual topics, If I am the only one that sees the common component in all government school failures IS government, then I have little hope that any real change is forth coming in the next 20 years. BTW, I do not stand alone in my feeling that government is at fault. Whenever there is a failure, the NEA and Teachers blame lack of participation of parents. Unfortunately, most parents have to work. Oh great. Now I feel better. They didn’t learn anything because it really is K-12 daycare. Besides parents are way too busy to have to be bothered with children. Maybe they should have thought about that before having them. Fact is, with both parents working, one parent is supporting the family and one is supporting the government. Government is the proverbial “another mouth to feed at the table.” But hey, we like being entitled by our government with so many programs. Why not daycare up until we are willing to hand them an M16 to go fight a war? If we take Prof's idea, well, we ought to just give up and start learning Chinese and Hindi right now (Prof, is these languages in your home-school program?). Yoshi, Yoshi, Yoshi. It is “are these,” not “is these.” :-) Prof. Ricardo 2:20 PM Common Good said... IMO, it's not really a federal program if it isn't federally funded 2:21 PM Tony Plank said... Prof, I really don’t think your characterization of my view as my being “willing to feed the cancerous growth rather than eradicate it” to be entirely accurate. First, if I have left the impression that eradication of public schools in their present form is not something I desire, then please forgive my poor communication skills. Of course I have a good excuse: I was educated in public schools myself. But I’m persevering and God willing I will overcome these linguistic deficiencies yet. You and CG seem to make a similar error here, albeit in mirror images. CG thinks that if I don’t want the government running the schools, then somehow I want to abandon kids to naked market forces and let the chips fall where they may. You seem to feel like if there is any government funding involved, I am happy to let the kids languish in the public educational squalor that they are forced into today. Listen, I do not want to feed the cancer at all. And if the argument is that the best thing that could happen to kids in the short run is to eliminate public schools entirely, I’ll entertain that thought. Public education is such a mess that I think it is a reasonable thing to discuss. But what I *want* education to be is a different matter. What I want is for there to be quality education available for all kids whether they did well on the parent lotto or not. What this means is an inevitable wealth transfer. Indeed, it has always been so since public schools were created. Stories abound from earlier generations about the kind who was raised in a dysfunctional home, but through school and often church was able to turn the corner and crawl out of the bad circumstances of life. So what I envision is public funding of private education. Not the CG Communist Utopia. Not the Prof Libertarian natural state. In my view, once the parents have a genuine voice in their kids education, things would begin to change in a hurry. I do not think the public schools would last very long and it is for this reason I would phase vouchers in, but it would be a fast phase-in over a couple of years. Time is of the essence but I think an adjustment phase would be unavoidable. And lest I be accused of not addressing it, I also would support public funding of programs that support homeschool kids. I do not see a distinction if that is the course that a parent chooses to take. 2:44 PM Tony Plank said... A personal note that is somewhat relevant. Since my Son’s education has been a topic of private correspondence between those of us here, I thought I would update you all on what is happening with him. I think it is relevant and it has reinforced my thinking about public education. A quick background about Joshua for anyone unfamiliar with him. We have been blessed with a very bright boy who also had some early developmental issues. We have been through a lot with him trying to get him the very best help we can and he has done very well. But, he is still somewhat over active yet he is improving steadily and today is within the bounds of normal on the behavior front, though still socially very awkward. The complication is that he is a very bright boy. He was reading at age 2, and at age six, he has started doing some basic algebra and has a science aptitude that is simply amazing. This weekend he was analyzing the relative strength of gravity and electromagnetism and doing so all on his own initiative while his Mom and I just sit there and listen in amazement. I say this not so much out of bragging-though like any good parent I love to brag-but because it is important for where we are with his schooling. The bottom line is that anyone who has been around him considers him very exceptional. So finding a good classroom for him has been tough. We have been wrestling with home schooling as an option because it is the one way we can be sure he is academically challenged. The issue is that children with the type of social interaction skills that Joshua has really need the social setting to help them acquire social skills. Some great professionals who are very pro-homeschooling have advised us that it is a mistake for Joshua to not be in a classroom. The problem is that even most private schools try to cram kids into behavior boxes that not all kids will fit in to. The few programs that we have found that would work for Joshua in the short run are way too expensive for us to afford. The programs that we can afford and provide the environment that Joshua needs are not sufficiently academically challenging. And while it sounds good that you can just supplement with work at home, the reality is that kids are like adults and only have so much energy to expend. We had resigned ourselves to a private school which we could afford where he went to Kindergarten. Truthfully, we love the school except that we knew it would not challenge him. And with his issues, if he is not challenged, “good” behavior may difficult for him over time. Good is in quotes because there is an aspect to these kids that I just can’t get across in a short description, but the bottom line is that he really is trying to comply, it just gets very difficult. And Joshua isn’t alone-this is a pretty typical behavior profile seen in gifted children. So, we had him tested for the gifted program at the public school. Now, the criteria they use is such that it is pretty obvious that Joshua is at the level they require. But public schools being what they are, they have to have “objective” data to support a gifted program admission. Well, he tested low and the tester said he had trouble attending to the test. They retested him, and the second time they said he did well enough except that his writing skills were not as advanced as his other skills, so they could not recommend him for the gifted program. (Duh, we never have taught him to write…though he can if prodded. And by the way, we started teaching him to write the next day and he is already writing brief stories independently.) So, we send him to the private school as planned. But the very day he starts school, the gifted program gives me a call. By this time, I feel like I know the lady and she said that she felt like we were making a mistake because Joshua will get in the gifted program if we put him into the system. That she is confident that with further evaluation, they can get him into the program, but in order to have a shot at it, we have to drop him into a regular public school classroom. Otherwise, legally they can do nothing further. Now this lady I am convinced is one of those truly awesome people in the public schools. She dripped with genuine concern and compassion over the situation. But she has a job and has to follow the rules. Mom and Dad were torn, but we feel like Joshua’s best shot of having a “normal” classroom situation is to get him into the gifted program because we can not afford the private schools that might work for him. We are going to give the public school a chance and if they don’t get him into the program quickly, we will jump ship and homeschool for a while until we can develop Plan C. The frustrating part is that here is a professional that knows the right thing to do, parents that have been appropriate advocates for their kid, but everyone involved is fettered by socialist utopian notions of what kids need to be. If your kid doesn’t cram into this size box, you have issues. And if you have been reading the studies lately, there are an increasing number of kids that don’t cram into the box both on the gifted end and on the learning disability end. Anyway, this was probably boring to you. None of it has really changed my view on things-only reinforced what was already painfully obvious to me. Vouchers or not, my Son will do very well. His parents will see to that. But how much better world would it be if it were only about the best interests of the kids and not about political agendas and social engineering? Oh, and if you are curious, what lessons my Son in learning during his foray into the public classroom? Well, they are working on “B” words. God help us that we aren’t stunting him forever… 3:43 PM Common Good said... Tony, The frustrating part is that here is a professional that knows the right thing to do, parents that have been appropriate advocates for their kid, but everyone involved is fettered by socialist utopian notions of what kids need to be. If your kid doesn’t cram into this size box, you have issues. And if you have been reading the studies lately, there are an increasing number of kids that don’t cram into the box both on the gifted end and on the learning disability end. Irony: this so-called Communist would never have left covering special needs kids to chance. I would never have said all kids fit in a box. I would have said MOST kids would fit into a well constructed flexible box, and that's the way it has to be. It's not reasonable to think we could afford private tutors for every kid (or even if we could, it would be much smarter to build quality standarized education then try and custom fit every kid after the fact). Educating our nations kids is much more complex than than the country schoolroom Prof wants to go back to, and we absolutely must get economies of scale from the masses. It's also not reasonable for a society to tell any parent who has an equal chance of having a special needs kid... tough break that the odds struck you... good luck. Keep in my that everytime you throw out the Communism or socialist barbs in my direction... I'm one who would never leave a parent's special needs kid fate to chance. We may differ on handing out federally collected education dollars to individual discression (and we do)... but we are totally on the same page that this is a collective need of society (you call it a civil liberty but we both believe a parent needs remedy with special needs). It's exactly the same argument for universal healthcare. Nobody knows what fate has in store for us at birth (IQ, disease, parents, contacts, talents, etc.). People throw the term "freedom" around all of the time. You can either say US freedom means no collectively obligation or pooling for common needs and potential extra-caricular needs or you can come to the conclusion freedom does not mean zero collective obligation and pooling. I reject the idea that pooling common good education and healthcare needs in communism... I call it being human in a human society. We can have a federal school system that funds and provides for the 5% special needs through our standard schools (i.e. those 5% programs wouldn't have to be standard at all... any standard has areas that have to be adhoc... just not the overall standard). An alternative is to allow and audit the 5% opting out getting their tax rebate (voucher) check back. I wouldn't be for that, but I could see it being manageable. Anyone, anytime opting out ... get real. We may as well just skip the Chaos and shut down the public school system. I still don't think it's even close to a moral argument to shut down the public school system because I think a majority are satisfied with it. A minority railing against it is not a good enough reason to take it away from a majority. I see the very same tensions going on in this society on a variety of fronts. I see a society justifying different levels/quality of education based on economic class under the banner of freedom, private property, and minimum government banter. I agree with John Adams... we are entitled to a equal chance, not equal lives. I just happen to believe education and healthcare are fundamental to an equal chance. Special needs education to me come under the same banner of providing for an equal chance. You and I agree on that... we just differ on collective federal collection and control. It all comes down to this... 1) we have to have a federal school system or the lower economic classes have ZERO chance 2) since we have to have #1, you have to make a very good case why we would not all share school system #1... at least a financial obligation to it. That's where we are right now. We all have a financial obligation to #1 (although it's not really a federal school system). It's not a law to go to school system #1, so we are left with economic consequences... like many I disagree with in this society (like me helping to fund the Iraq war). That said, our society's failure to cover special needs students in an automatic fashion... i.e. no significant economic consequences to the parent, is about as sad as it gets. It's hard to believe we even need to have that conversation in 2005 in the US. Note, I do make a distinction between feeling society has an obligation to pool special needs education, and society's responsibility to pool for religious schooling. You can continue to hammer me on that distinction if you must. :) 4:59 PM Common Good said... Ironically, after typing in the last post, I heard Lou Dobbs announce 1/3 of all high school students in this country fail to graduate (50% of blacks graduate). That is a mind-blowing number. It makes me ask a couple of questions. 1) Do kids drop out because the schools are bad? I doubt it... probably other reasons are primary. 2) does better education lead to more (or better quality) jobs in our economy? 3) Do we lose more jobs to foreign global competition if we fail in education, or were we going to lose the bulk of them anyway because the work for 1/10th the wages. I have asked questions #2 and #3 before. 5:45 PM yoshitownsend said... Common Good wrote: "3) Do we lose more jobs to foreign global competition if we fail in education, or were we going to lose the bulk of them anyway because the work for 1/10th the wages." I think education will not help us keep the jobs going abroad, but at least give us a fighting chance at coming up with new ones, or of being managers of those people working abroad. 6:57 PM yoshitownsend said... "Learning happens best when the learner (student) wants to know the information." I want to recant some of my earlier statements. The Prof. is on to something here with that quote above. (sorry about the "is", no time to edit.. that was very thrown together.). I have to admit. I never learned jack s**t at public school. Not even in college itself did I learn much. And my peers do not either, because I feel like Merlin when I'm standing next to them. I learned so much more from books bought on Amazon.com. Okay, maybe a little bit from "formal" school, but it's hard to measure. It is like a "concentration camp" though in public schools. I think the purpose of public school is to socialize kids into being obedient and submissive to their superiors. Conspiracy theory stuff, but think about it. Somehow we have to make a kid "want to learn." That usually will come from a parent, which is a harsh reality, but nonetheless, true. Or maybe a teacher that deserves the Nobel Peace Prize (highly unlikely.) I'm willing to consider the idea of privatised school system. What's the worst that can happen? We'd just lose our superpower status, that's all. Seriously, my only concern with privatisation is I know that the Chinese and Indians are teaching their kids much better, with public money, and I'm apprehensive about letting them pass us up. Otherwise, in a vacuum, an isolated world, I'm much more interested in privatisation ideas. I realized the mixed messages when I was writing it, as the idea of private schools started going through my head. It's certainly a possibility to think about... quality over quantity. 7:15 PM Tony Plank said... Wow. Where to begin? CG, You think I’m calling you a commie again. Really, I just think many of your ideas are more consistent with that view than what you claim to believe. Clearly there are all shades of ideology along the spectrum. I don’t really think you are confused, but you sounded it when you said, ”I would never have said all kids fit in a box. I would have said MOST kids would fit into a well constructed flexible box, and that's the way it has to be.” Yes, that is the typical socialist kind of analysis. Screw everyone outside the first standard deviation. And let me be clear here, I think in academic terms, the ones above the first sd tend to do quite nicely because of their talents. They are mere screwed in a relative sense. The ones that get it in the shorts the worst are the ones in the bottom. But there is another class that gets very little attention. That is the class of kids that massively underachieve because of the notion that in order for education to work, “most kids [need to] fit into a box”. This group may not even be a minority from my observation. We are learning much more about the brain in recent years and guess what, while there are broad classes of learning style, there is far more variation than what anyone imagined in an earlier age. There are kids that need a lot of one-on-one attention and kids who do well in larger groups. There are kids who are abstract, and those who are concrete. There are kids that desperately need the confines of a desk, and others that need more liberty. Kids that need colorful vibrant classrooms, and those that need plain beige walls and quiet. The truth is that this same variation exists in adults, but adults have had 21+ years to adapt. Those that adapt tend to be doctors and lawyers, those that don’t are drug addicts and computer programmers. The thing is there is a lot of knowledge out there and most kids can be more successful than the current system allows. But I have never seen a shred of evidence that more systematic approaches are the best and I say this without even broaching the complication of poverty and the unique and arguable more complex situations that presents. But the gem of your post was when you said, ”I still don't think it's even close to a moral argument to shut down the public school system because I think a majority are satisfied with it. A minority railing against it is not a good enough reason to take it away from a majority.” An interesting comment from someone who has taken up the phrase “mass stupids” with such enthusiasm. I’m tempted to lay that out in detail, but I’ll just say you are being a bit inconsistent in not recognizing that stupid people might not realize that they are being underserved. 11:21 PM Tony Plank said... Doug, Welcome to our world. Lest I appear in sincere, let me point out that I am the one who coined the phrase “mass stupids” in earlier posts about education. I have long been in favor of term limits for Federal offices of all kinds. More critical in the legislature than the judiciary in my view, but I’ll take term limits across the board. And you can see we totally agree on the organizing principal of leaving political questions to the legislature. Having judges set social policy is like hiring a straight guy to do interior decorating. 11:39 PM Tony Plank said... Yoshi, Without radical change in our educational system we are doomed to lose our status in this world as it is. You are dangerously close to my argument in this regard, and agreeing with me should give anyone pause for reconsideration. 11:45 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Yoshi: Somehow we have to make a kid "want to learn." Kids, in fact everybody, already does want to learn. The school system bores and controls them into mediocrity. It is the control necessary for mass education that causes the damage. How many people do you know that loved to read or some other intellectual pursuit until a “teacher” or peers shamed them into hating the subject? Have you ever heard of blacks ostracizing other blacks for trying too hard in school and acting too “white?” The herd mentality, public school culture mentality, can often esteem worldly wisdom over intellectual improvement. Can you see that happening anywhere in society outside of Pub-Ed and prison? If you have not done so, please read John Gatto’s essay The 7 Lesson Schoolteacher. I'm willing to consider the idea of privatised school system. What's the worst that can happen? We'd just lose our superpower status, that's all. Actually, we would probably regain it. We have already lost what made America great. We are riding the final ripples of a system too brilliant, too unfamiliar, for public educated children to understand. We are probably past the point of no return. We are like any other nation at this point having no discernment over what makes a nation great and what does not. We don’t even know what liberty is and how to secure it. We have taken the brilliant lessons learned and intellectual achievements of our founders, spit in their face, stomped on their work, and pursed the worlds ways that have enslaved people to despotic governments for millennium. Our freedom, our desirability as a nation, so that people would strap together anything that would float and launch into oceans against all odds to come here, was not achieved by promising entitlements, but by crippling the national and state governments so that they could not encroach on the individual. Seriously, my only concern with privatisation is I know that the Chinese and Indians are teaching their kids much better, with public money, and I'm apprehensive about letting them pass us up. Otherwise, in a vacuum, an isolated world, I'm much more interested in privatisation ideas. Read ANYTHING the founders of our nation wrote themselves. Impressive, deep, and tough to comprehend because we are relatively very shallow. Read anything our last three Presidents have written and you will see a remarkable difference in depth, understanding of history, men, governments, etc. The former was privately educated, the later in the atmosphere and culture of public education. I wish you could benefit from the extensive research I have done on public education. Alas, I am too stupid to properly convey such great wisdom and works of all that I have read. Please read The 7 Lesson Schoolteacher and tell me what you think. Prof. Ricardo 9:19 AM yoshitownsend said... I think the problem with Prof's notion, though I actually am inclined to agree with it, is that people won't really learn unless it is a "concentration camp." People, initially, have to be forced (ideally, the parents would raise them listening to classical music, in a perfect world.) Tony was telling me he read "Freedom to Choose" in high school. I never hardly read anything in high school (I used various techniques on weak-minded grandmother to stay home or go to home-schooling. I learned, but I could've learned MUCH MORE if I haad interested adults around. The point is, FREEDOM is fine. But you can't give a kid FREEDOM. He (or she) will just sit there watching TV, which has billions of dollars to spend on persuading (brainwashing) our kids. That's not a level playing field to begin with. Also, we all benefit from educated kids. Even though I don't have kids yet, I benefit to live in a society where there are basic educational opportunities for all. It makes it safer for me to walk the streets at night. And you too. It's better than living in South Africa where you have to go inside at 5.30 pm and live behind a 9 foot wall with razor-wire on top. So if we should chip in for the expense of public school, since we get some value out of it. If we don't, we contribute to the "free rider" problem. I think public money should be used, I think we just need smaller classrooms, like in elementary school, where the students are more than "just a number." I remember leaving primary school and feeling like "a number." That's when my interest, and improvement, dropped considerably. 9:21 AM yoshitownsend said... Prof.- I'll read it. As long as the public sector learning is replaced with private sector learning, as opposed to nothing but watching old reruns on channel 27 all day, then I'm open to the idea. 9:46 AM Common Good said... Tony, Yes, that is the typical socialist kind of analysis. Screw everyone outside the first standard deviation. Your public school was obviously not as good as mine regarding reading skills. I said: I'm one who would never leave a parent's special needs kid fate to chance. I would never have said all kids fit in a box. I would have said MOST kids would fit into a well constructed flexible box, and that's the way it has to be. It's not reasonable to think we could afford private tutors for every kid (or even if we could, it would be much smarter to build quality standarized education then try and custom fit every kid after the fact). I just happen to believe education and healthcare are fundamental to an equal chance. Special needs education to me come under the same banner of providing for an equal chance. Hard to believe you could miss all of that. In summary.... standarization and efficiencies for most, liberal tax funded deviations from the standard for exceptions. Turn every kid into an exception, and you are back to failure and Chaos. btw... nobody really jumps on my questions. I ask one a different way. How many new lawyer jobs do we create in this country if we double, triple, xxxx the lawyer graduation\bar passing numbers? Or try this one: we double everyone's IQ in 5 years. Does that dent the growing wealth gap, or do we just have smarter poor people? It would seem the faith based argument of better educated will create more jobs is used with way too broad a brush. I don't think better educated lawyers, roofers, mechanics, plumbers, etc. will create more jobs. It would seem creating new jobs really means new industries for the most part, and new service sector services. My guess is less than a fraction of 1% is ever involved in creating new industries/services. Maybe that's wrong on the services end... hope so, because that the only shot for those on the other side of the wealth gap. When automobiles were created, new jobs were created. The invention of the automobile wasn't dependent on every citizen getting custom tutored education. Note, I'm not arguing against better education, I'm just not buying the broad brush panacea job creation claims that are always thrown around. If we are talking about other benefits of better education other than jobs (i.e. better educated citizens create a better democracy) then I would throw out this little gem: those monied elite behind Shrub on the other end of the puppet strings are smart SOBs.. Tony... one last thing. Who is Doug? I'm worried about you... looks like you are hearing voices now. Yoshi: Seriously, my only concern with privatisation is I know that the Chinese and Indians are teaching their kids much better, with public money, and I'm apprehensive about letting them pass us up. LOL... although my guess is if you measure either India or China on how the bottom economic dwellers get educated... they fail miserably as well. In fact, not knowing anything about China, my guess is they pick out the gifted kids early and then federally groom them (just a guess). Prof: Read ANYTHING the founders of our nation wrote themselves. Impressive, deep, and tough to comprehend because we are relatively very shallow. Yeah, I have a hard time comprehending that slaves count 3/5th of a person. I would probably understand that better if I was just privately schooled. I bet we could find some great writings from Jefferson about go black and you will never go back. I bet even the founders wrote some shallow stuff... can't you imagine the rants about having to go shit in the woods. I have a book on the Adams and Jefferson letters I haven't got to yet... I will look for outhouse humor. 10:20 AM yoshitownsend said... Well Common Good, nothing happens overnight. If China and India haven't reached EVERYONE, it's because there are limits to how much a country can do in a limited amount of time. I can assure you though, because they are standing on our backs, ie, they have adopted our technology without having to create it over decades like we did, they are growing like lightning, and poverty has dropped substantially. Of course, the more rural regions have to be subsidized by the rest.... it'll take time. So some kids still live in villages learning to herd cows, that doesn't invalidate my point. 10:39 AM Tony Plank said... CG, Well, you did go to a better school than I. Or at least through High School. I did clearly miss what you were saying. My only excuse was that it was late at night and I was extremely tired. I was having trouble getting to sleep because of the stuff going on with Joshua. We are having to get a bunch of stuff together quickly in order to get him considered for the gifted program…they just sprang this on us. I decided to get up and do a little posting…guess that was a mistake. OK…on to your question everyone is ignoring. I do not so much believe that better educations will lead to more jobs as I believe that continued poor educations will lead to lack of jobs. But fundamentally if you look at the history of Western civilization, it is the societies which have been the best educated that have been the ones that have applied technology most effectively. The application of technology is the cause of the rise in material wealth which we enjoy today. But there are certainly other factors in economic success. Prosperity does not automatically follow education and we should be mindful of those factors as well. Ask yourself where the United States and Europe would be in relative terms without the migration of great European minds that happened during the Second World War. I’m not saying that is the sole reason for the rise of the US to its superpower status, but it was a factor for sure. But looking at the period of time immediately after the war you can see what a role that the education of the masses played in our success. Have you ever spent serious time talking with someone educated in the 1920s and 30s? In spite of the one room schools they came out far more capable to manning the institutions of our incredible national growth than what we moderns might reasonably expect based on their circumstances. What existed was an relatively educated populace simultaneous with substantial personal freedom and a burst of intellectual enterprise like has seldom been seen. Did education cause that? No…there were many factors. But it would have never happened without the education that happened in those myriad one-room school houses. And Doug…he is a newcomer here. I am just getting to know him as are you. He is not an alter ego. If I had an alter ego that I let post here, he would be very rude and obnoxious. It does sound like Doug and I think alike on some things though. So be nice and don't run him off. :-D 10:46 AM yoshitownsend said... "How many new lawyer jobs do we create in this country if we double, triple, xxxx the lawyer graduation\bar passing numbers?" Maybe none, maybe your wages just go down because there are too many un-needed lawyers. Then you might try to find another occuptation where there is less competition. "Does that dent the growing wealth gap, or do we just have smarter poor people?" Who cares about wealth gaps, because the poor still have more themselves in absolute terms. That's what matters to me. Just because you have less than Bill Gates doesn't make you "poor." "It would seem creating new jobs really means new industries for the most part, and new service sector services." Yea, I think so. We have to be creative. That's where I am right now, trying to come up with new ideas to make money. That's how it happens. That's how it has been since the first man walked the earth (he had to find some creative way to feed himself). And his innovation eventually lead us to sitting here using the net. It's amazing if you ask me, I wouldn't underestimate it. Education may not create jobs, but it does give you life skills to help you cope, to help you understand the system you are in (which can help you manipulate it to find your niche and make your money.) 10:49 AM Tony Plank said... Yoshi said, ” That's how it has been since the first man walked the earth (he had to find some creative way to feed himself).” And after five thousand years of civilization and the accumulation of generations of human culinary creativity, behold man’s highest achievement: the Ding Dong. 10:53 AM Common Good said... Yoshi, Who cares about wealth gaps, because the poor still have more themselves in absolute terms. I do... in fact I think it is THE measure of morality for our nation and our globe. An acceptance of the trickle down morality is the acceptance that this planet should be treated as a playground for the few. The trickle down cult leader Reagan put a pretty face on the idea that everyone getting their own without collective obligation to those who aren't was moral. It wasn't then, and it isn't now. Our current economic systems require robust wealth transfer to even approach morality. There should be no such thing as guilt-free {multiple home wealth} living on a planet with extreme poverty. The idea that economic winners have no collective obligation to the losers is something we have come up with to help us sleep at night. Personal liberty and property should have never been defined as get all you can with only volunteer charity obligations. I hear all of the theories here why our culture is suffering... religion, secular ideas, values, obscenity, etc. I've always thought it was much, much simpler than that. The problem is we are greedy little f***ers, and we developed a constitution to best serve that human nature trait. I think that was a mistake. I think the best we could do is recognize the huge human flaw, and develop a constitution with guidance for fighting that flaw. A current day example would be adding constitutional ammendment stating clearly that equal education and equal healthcare will be rights in our nation from this point forward. It would clearly lead us to fight our basic greedy human natures. Can you imagine how different the human race and societies would look today if we weren't built so frickin greedy? Don't buy the you are envious bs... I certainly don't. This has always been a battle of self-interest human nature vs human's ability to reason past that shortcoming. The verdict is pretty much in... human nature won... wasn't even close. I want to fight greed in our society, which means collective obligation served with robust progressive taxation. Watch the conservatives get in line to call that Communism or Socialism... the lemmings should line up nicely for this one. Human society morality = how WE are all doing... not max GDP and what percentage of folks own second homes. That shining city on the hill always has come with the price tag of the poor folks at the bottom of the hill. btw... trickle down benefits for the middle class in the US ended in the mid-70's. 12:45 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Common Good: Yeah, I have a hard time comprehending that slaves count 3/5th of a person. In a country where slaves were imported, purchased, and used, they were obviously human “persons” but without freedom, the right to vote, etc. Some of the 13 colonies had a significant population of slaves. The question was a matter of representation in this new Federal government. Obviously, the states possessing many slaves wanted as much representation for their state as possible. In a most interesting turn of events, those having the most slaves had the greatest incentive to have the personage of slaves recognized. Those state possessing few slaves had the greatest incentive to NOT recognize the personage of slaves, with respect to their representation in the new government. I wonder what YOU would have done in their place, in their time, in their culture with this problem of recognizing a legally owned slave. Care to elaborate? I would probably understand that better if I was just privately schooled. Of that I have no doubt. You see, we don’t have to tow the politically correct government point of view. We can study, not just text books, but the original writtings and documents of the era, so as to get the information direct rather than filtered through someone else’s POV. I bet we could find some great writings from Jefferson about go black and you will never go back. If you do not have Jefferson’s June 22, 1786, Observations on the Article Etats-Unis Prepared for the Encyclopedie from Observations on Déneunier’s Manuscript, let me know. I wish to send it to you or post it here. In this time many white people were becoming “indented servants” to afford passage to this country. “They were at liberty therefore to make an agreement with any person they chose to serve him such a length of time as they agreed on...” THIS is the culture they were in, and even this voluntary servitude bothered them. I bet even the founders wrote some shallow stuff... For certain personal items, maybe even trivial items, but I have seen no evidence of shallow or vulgar topics like someone our generation would entertain. I’m not saying you can’t find any sloths from their period of time, but we manufacture them by the classroom full these days. Prof. Ricardo I have a book on the Adams and Jefferson letters I haven't got to yet... I will look for outhouse humor. If you want Jefferson’s quote on buggery, let me know. 12:59 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. –Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) ESSAYS ON POLITICAL ECONOMY, 1872 2:27 PM Tony Plank said... Prof, The seven lessons was intriguing if even somewhat cynical by my standards. Not that I really disagree with the substance as much as I do the tone. My favorite part was where it said, ”Professional teaching tends to another serious error: It makes things that are inherently easy to learn, like reading, writing, and arithmetic, seem difficult by insisting they be taught through pedagogical procedures.“ After having taught these basic skills to my Son I completely concur that basic skills are very easy to teach if you make the effort to teach it in a way the individual child is going to grasp. Flash cards and multiplication tables did not work with my Son. Probably the most difficult thing to teach has been writing, but frankly we haven’t worked as hard to make that interesting to him as other things. And once my wife started some approaches that are geared to appeal to what he loves, he has started picking it up very quickly. The key, as you pointed out, is creating the motivation and in young kids motivating factors are extremely diverse. 2:32 PM Common Good said... US RR Fatwa... top that Iran... bring on the holy world war... nah nah nah my religion is better than yours nah nah nah 5:35 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Tony: The key to learning many things is to have a reason to learn it. How many times has an Algebra student said, “Where am I ever going to use this?” Not that I and my clan have a grip on teaching writing, but if your child has a reason to write, an incentive to write, then they become receptive. A homeschool father relayed that his son was extremely bright, about age 14 or 15, was deep into programing, and had made a computer program that became quite popular. When the British government sought to purchase multiple copies, the boy went to his father and said he needed to learn how to respond (spelling, grammar, style) in a way that would not make him seem like he was ignorant or young, like he was. He had incentive. Writing thank you’s to grandparents and birthday parts hosts and the like can be a great exercise. Writers, particularly historians and those who have “journaled,” teach the following generations and shape their perspective. My wife’s great (x 3 or 4) grandfather was a Captain in the War of Norther Aggression. He wrote many letters to his wife Penelope. We have those published in a hard back book. Excerpts of these letters are displayed along a historical walking trail in Virginia. One man’s letters have reached now well over 140 years into the future of his descendants, and provides a picture of the battles and daily life of a Confederate soldier. Hundreds of thousands of men fought. Only those surviving letters of those who wrote give us the eyewitness accounts to history. Let your son see you write. He already thinks you’re Superman. In trying to be like Daddy, he will copy your love of writing. http://www.mottmedia.com/spencer.html Prof. Ricardo 6:25 PM Tony Plank said... Prof, Thanks for the link. Spencer looks promising. Now if by writing, you are suggesting that I let my child see my penmanship, I have to tell you that I hope he follows a better example. Now if you mean that I let him read Disenfranchised Curmudgeon, I think you are on target. Frankly, while it is important that he learn penmanship in the short run, I think I will choose to emphasize typing an language mastery. My wife got a Ph.D. and only prints in all capitals. That said, he has to get over the initial hump and I see no reason not to do one’s best at that while they are at it. In point of fact, Joshua and I have started initial discussion for his own website. He wants to do a website on codes and how to make and decode them. I’ve told him that when he can write it out on paper, I will help him put up a website. It appears to be an incredible motivator because they boy is total ham like his father. I’m teaching him algebra through his interest in science. He loves space stuff so I took him to fly a model rocket. That leads to ballistic trajectories and parabolas. He can now plot graphs of the form y=mx^2 + b. Amazing what they can absorb once the interest is peeked. We may not be following your homeschool example, but we certainly are the principals. But then as I’ve said, it isn’t so much that I disagree with you on homeschooling as I do genuine believe that in the short run, he has other needs that are more important than the academic ones. Thanks for being someone who is actually interested in this subject. Usually when education comes up whether it has been on message boards or in private conversation, it pretty much kills the conversation. Seems most Americans think things are just fine and that I am a whacko. 10:29 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Tony: Actually I am suggesting that your son see you handwriting and typing now. But don’t rush him on his penmanship. His coordination and precision will improve with just a couple of short years. The web site is a fantastic idea. He wants to do a website on codes and how to make and decode them. If you can present it in an acceptable manner, read Edgar Allen Poe’s The Gold Bug to him. It has some interesting decoding. I’m teaching him algebra through his interest in science. He loves space stuff so I took him to fly a model rocket. That leads to ballistic trajectories and parabolas. He can now plot graphs of the form y=mx^2 + b. Amazing what they can absorb once the interest is peeked. You have a brilliant child. Most children are capable of so much. That is my anger with public school. They stifle the geniuses of the world. We have seen a bumper sticker that says: “Every home is a school. What does yours teach?” Learning doesn’t have to stop when the child comes home. You can supplement whatever the school is doing. ...(I)t isn’t so much that I disagree with you on homeschooling as I do genuine believe that in the short run, he has other needs that are more important than the academic ones. You’re the Dad. You know and will do what is best for your child. Thanks for being someone who is actually interested in this subject. It boggles my mind that people take little interest in their children till there is a problem later on like this: 65 out of 490 girls at school pregnant Prof. Ricardo 11:57 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Common Good, Since you and I are miles apart in our perspectives on the use of the state (any level of gov’t.), may I use this arena to quiz you for my edification? I fear the encroachment of the state into my life and the lives of my family and countrymen. I know you feel this way on social issues (ie., gov’t keep out of the bedroom, abortion clinic, etc.). So that I do not put words into your mouth I will start from scratch: 1) Do you fear any encroachment from government? - a) In what areas? - b) How bad can it get? - c) Why could it happen? - d) How can you prevent it? 2) When you hear of past atrocities of government: - a) Do you immediately attribute it to the individuals in charge or the system? - b) Do you recognize different systems (Socialism, democracy, republics, etc.) as, by design, permitting encroachment and abuses? - c) Do you recognize different philosophies (higher law than man [right to life is not given by gov’t] vs. man’s law [gov’t gives all rights & can take them away])? 3) When you hear me speak of “voluntary exchange” or free enterprise, or the invisible hand of Adam Smith, Do you intuitively place that into a box labeled “economic only decisions” or do you permit that concept to extend into non-economic areas of life like: what color car you want, shall I have an abortion, what state can I live in, etc.? I don’t want to overwhelm you, but this is a good start. Thanks. Take your time and ponder. Prof. Ricardo 9:15 AM Randy P said... This should help out with Social Security Deficits in the future I think this is just what we need to offset the number of children that are being aborted everyday. We can turn our high school children into baby making machines. If we only had those 25 million or so extra people we would have a good base to keep social security running for quit a long time. 10:28 AM Tony Plank said... Prof, Not to be too negative on my Son’s penmanship, but if you say his Mom and Dad’s penmanship, you would understand why my expectations there aren’t as high as other areas. But, your point is well taken. We have been letting him “dictate” stories to us for at least two years. He truly does get the connection with expressing himself. I’ve also been showing him how fast typing is. I’d call him intrigued at this point, but not enough to ask to learn. Coolest thing happened last night. I worked late and our schedule got messed up. Usually I read to him at bed time, but his Mom and I were eating a late dinner so I suggested he watch a video till he fell asleep. I made some suggestions (he likes us to suggest things) and he said, “No Daddy. I want something that will make me smarter.” Hard to know whether to laugh or leap for joy on that one. He ended up watching a Magic School Bus video. Then when I was putting it in, he told me that he scored “expert” on the Magic School Bus website quiz on space. Which is pretty stunning because he found it on his own and Mom and I didn’t help. We have only had an internet connection for a month…kids are just amazing. While I agree that it is a shame that schools stifle the best and brightest, but I don’t think that is the greatest tragedy. The schools stifle just about everyone to some extent. They stifle people so thoroughly that they don’t even realize it. I’ve described before how my tutoring experiences in High School woke me up to this. It was just amazing how the obviously intelligent kids I worked with had never been taught the rudiments of how to think. And worse than that, they uniformly had absorbed the lesson, “I’m not good at [subject x]”. And to a student, they would all verbalize that belief. One of the girls I worked with had a learning disability, but parents who cared a lot. In spite of her challenges, I was tutoring her in Algebra. Now she did not learn in a manor that any of us would call normal. I could tell her something and within a minute, she would have no recollection of what we had discussed. But I was patient and she was persistent. She got a B in Algebra. And I was told she graduated from High School with a decent position in her class. I have no doubt that though she was never a high achiever on book stuff, she far exceeded what she would’ve done had she languished at the hands of professional educators. The point is, the system is producing underachieving at all levels of education. It is just most obvious in the cases of those that fall outside a couple of standard deviations. What we need is to push the entire bell curve higher. I am convinced that there would be a revolution that would exceed that of 1776-or any other the world has ever seen. We have the tools to do this today. That we do not, is inexcusable. 10:45 AM Common Good said... Prof, As much as I look forward to Prof tests... I'm not up for it at the moment. I'm having about a 6 hour headache... maybe this liberal is about to check out. :( I will try and address your test soon. I like your use of the word arena. Makes us sound like gladiators. In the end, we know we are all in over our heads down here on planet earth, and clinging and arguing to our theories about how things should be done, or how things would be better is just killing time. I've always enjoyed killing time with you. :) Wouldn't you say most ideological differences are covered in the following two scales? Religious rules <------> man rules Individual centric <----> Collective centric We are all so cock-sure we can pick the exact right spot on the scales. We should crack ourselves up. :) It would seem that someone who believes society should be defined by deity rules and individual 100% autonomy with only volunteer charity obligations would have very little to talk about with someone who believes society should be defined by human rules and reason and that collective obligation/need should be in writing (i.e. Constitution). (Man... that was a run on sentence. I need Plank's writing class.) btw... I would be interested in any buggery quotes. This is an adult website... bring it on. Just killing time.... 1:34 PM Prof. Ricardo said... Common, As editor I get to choose when to start quoting. :-) From the book Homosexuality And The Natural Law, by Harry V. Jaffa. Only Jefferson quotes are in bold. ------------ We find it incredible that the Student Deans Committee of the Claremont Colleges, which sees nothing repugnant in anal intercourse, nonetheless finds "disgusting" a protesting poster by dissenting students-a copy of which we attach. This poster only mirrored "Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days" by calling for "Bestiality and Incest Awareness Days." It may interest the Trustees to know that under the common law-as cited by Thomas Jefferson: Buggery is twofold. (1) With mankind, (2) with beasts. Buggery is the genus, of which sodomy and bestiality are the species. Why then, if sodomy and bestiality are but two species of the same genus, is it disgusting to increase "awareness" of the one but not of the other? That certainly was one of the points made by the poster. Jefferson, moreover, observed that of the two, bestiality is the less offensive, because "[b]estiality can never make any progress; it cannot therefore be injurious to society in any great degree. . . ." What of incest? Homosexuality and incest have ever been condemned by civilized mankind, not only as sexually perverse, but as striking directly at the dignity and the integrity of the family. As such, they strike not only at sexual morality, but at all morality, because the family is the most fundamental of all human institutions in the moral instruction of mankind.... 2:33 PM Common Good said... Prof, Well... I asked. :( btw... I've never met a consenting animal... nearest I could tell. ;) Here is a question for you and Tony. How do you guys define "freedom" in our country? Guarantee of not losing your human rights? Freedom from all collective obligation in our society other than x (x = military expense and yada yada)? 3:03 PM Tony Plank said... CG, Freedom is defined in relation to protecting one’s individual sovereignty. In other words, if you voluntarily consent to give up a portion of your human rights in exchange for social benefits, I don’t view that as being legally less free. Though in absolute terms you may be constrained in your immediate actions, this was a willing bargain and a fair deal. Now our human rights have been substantially abrogated illegally. I view this as being legally less free because when one’s rights are seized and the individual has not consented to the bargain. Just to be clear, I’ll state the obvious: when I speak of individual consent, consent is implied from the consent that is passed down through prior generations. I.e., the Constitutional ratification two hundred years ago is good consent for us today. Or to turn this discussion around, if We the People consent to wire taps, then I do not think we are less legally free. But of course, the government has seized that power on its own accord. This illegal seizure makes us less free in both legal and absolute terms. 3:45 PM Common Good said... Prof quiz: 1) Do you fear any encroachment from government? I don't fear encroachment unless we do away with our representative democracy. The government is us making collective decisions/laws. The question becomes do I fear encroachment from us, making decisions for us, and the answer is no. That said, I fear us failing this little 200+ year democracy experiment... i.e. I do fear the mass stupids. We just gave Bush a second term... it's pretty obvious to me we could fail. That wouldn't be encroachment, however. That would be a mass stupids problem. In all honesty, I find the Plank and Prof fear of our government in 2005 a bit skitzoid. I guess you would make the case that the best a nation of mass stupids could do is limited government and therefore limited collective common good evolvement. The liberal in me will not let me settle for that status quo. I guess that pretty much addresses your #2 questions, other than I would say this: I think all of our laws are human laws. I think any law we refer to as higher law than man are in the end, laws we humans agreed to in our constitution. I always crack up with the description of higher law than man, because it's the same as saying a nation of atheists wouldn't come up with the same common sense bill of rights we ended up with. Which one of these bill of rights wouldn't an atheist agree to? Also, if a right was a concept higher than that of man, how would a man know it existed? 3) When you hear me speak of “voluntary exchange” or free enterprise, or the invisible hand of Adam Smith, Do you intuitively place that into a box labeled “economic only decisions” or do you permit that concept to extend into non-economic areas of life like: what color car you want, shall I have an abortion, what state can I live in, etc.? I have no idea, my eyes glaze over, and I start surfing for porn. Just killing time... but now without a headache. 4:02 PM Common Good said... Tony, Or to turn this discussion around, if We the People consent to wire taps, then I do not think we are less legally free. Same for universal healthcare right? As long as we use Constitutional ammendments, we can redefine legal freedom. People may differ on what freedom should be in the US, but as long as the Constitution ammendment process is followed, everyone should agree on what our legal freedom is (allowing for grey interpretation). In theory, we could drop 5 out of the 10 bill of rights through the ammendment process, and still be legally free. (btw... good introduction of the word legal... I think that greaty assists this conversation). But of course, the government has seized that power on its own accord. This illegal seizure makes us less free in both legal and absolute terms. You know I agree with the general concept of needing more constitutional ammendments when society evolves it's social compact (i.e. what's added to the common good bucket). I also agree that if one violates the constitution with new law, then that new law requires a constitution ammendment. But here's the question: how do you draw the line between opinion of constitution violation and actual constitution violation? Aren't we arguing in a grey area much of the time. Give us a short list of our government's violation of our constitution again. Patriot Act, peyote smoking, abortion? You are making the claim that in your opinion, the Supreme Court or our elected types violated our constitutional rights? How do I measure your opinion against the opinion of those in power that disagreed with your opinion. I hear your clear violation of your rights and wonder if it really should be expressed as your opinion of a clear violation of your rights. I'm sidetracking a bit, because you really already addressed the point I was trying to make. We can make our government as collective as we choose as long as we do it constitutionally, and we will still be legally free. I get the idea that many like Prof define US freedom as freedom from one's government... and that seems wrong. Freedom really means "not losing rights protected in our Constitution without following the proper rules to change those rights"... i.e. nothing to do with the size of government. 4:21 PM Common Good said... OT: heads up I just watched a 4 hr special on 911 this weekend (two 2 hour episodes) on the National Geographic channel. If you have access to the channel, I highly recommend it. If National Geographic got it right, this entire 911 idea was spawned by 3 disgruntled Muslims (who had no idea how to fly an airplane) who met in a Masque, and then took the idea to Bin Laden for funding. To me, it helped futher put the Iraq decision in perspective. As long as hate is spawned by the 2's and 3's, someone will step in to fund that hate. How many new Atta's did we just create? I'm further convinced the Iraq decision was a tragic error we will pay for tenfold, but regardless of your position, I think the two specials were well done and very informative. It looks like they will rerun the episodes early next week. 4:50 PM Randy P said... It is funny how far apart people are on this topic, because I am further convinced that it was the right move WMD's or not 4:55 PM Common Good said... Randy, It is funny how far apart people are on this topic, because I am further convinced that it was the right move WMD's or not Is there any point where you would change your mind? For example, suppose we end up with an Iraq theocracy with heavy Iran influence, becoming heavily armed by the US? Still a good move? Or what about a fairly successful Iraq government, but unable to control the new terrorist nests that now thrive in Iraq that were never there before we invaded? Would that still have been worth it? Do you think it was primarily worth doing for humanitarian reasons, or primarily for American self-interest? Or even imagine a successful Iraq democracy that could, for the most part, exterminate the terrorist nests within it's borders... but we created 10,000 new Atta's in neighboring countries. Still worth it... i.e. will we get a net benefit from a quality Iraq democracy over the new 10,000 Atta's. I'm just looking for the way you are measuring the Iraq costs/benefits. It looks fairly obvious at this point that the guys who have done this for a career (CIA) were all pretty much against the Iraq war. I will go with those guys any day over the politicians. If you can't convince the majority of the CIA it's a good idea, then it's most likely a very bad idea. It's interesting how our government is constructed. One Shrub can ignore the entire CIA career types as soon as he sweeps into office. Not only that.. you can blame the CIA after the fact when your WMD lies come to light. I think one of the two are obviously true at this point: 1) The Iraq war was a tragic mistake 2) The Iraq war was the right move but we mismanaged beyond belief with a president with zero ability to communicate the need of the war to the majority of the population. One of those two has to be correct. 5:51 PM Randy P said... Yeah pretty much, there could be a down side to all of this war stuff. There always is, war is a horrible venture to get into. Especially with regime change. That is why I believe that it is going to take some time to see the results. The US, under your definition of "theocracy" and the way you throw it around was in fact a Theocracy. Laws that were used to govern the people had to do with morales that were based on theocratic theories. Bottom line, it took over one hundred years for women to get some decent rights in this country, and we are still working on it. Race differences has taken even longer, and we are still working on it. Maybe one or both of your truth satements are correct. 1. I did not agree initially with the decision. Probably still don't, but we are there and we need to focus on getting to the point and getting our people out. 2. Would require time to tell us what is going to happen. Even if there is Iranian influence initially, that does not mean that the people will not be able to bring the Govt around with voting. Give the people in Iraq a little credit until they fall short, and by US standards that would be about one hundred years by my count. It is gonna take some time for them to figure it out. enough said 10:56 AM Common Good said... Randy, amost enough said. :) Most of us are for the Iraq people when asked that generically. I certainly am. In fact, I think you can make a very moral argument for US sacrifice if the Iraq population benefit outweighed that cost (of course that's a sacrifice of a few.. most of us won't even pay more taxes). The president never gave us a chance to argue the war over those reasons, however... and we had that right. But back to being for the Iraqi people. Ask me more directly if I'm for the Iraqi Shite element that would govern their society by the Koran and give no rights to women. My answer is no... I'm not for those folks. I would certainly not sacrifice american soldier lives to free those folks from Saddam so they could create a theocracy. Not sure what that makes me... but one thing it makes me is honest. Last I heard, the proposed Iraq constitution names Islamic law as something that could not be violated with any future laws. Well... again, I would not sacrifice one american soldier life for that. You could be correct... the Iraqi's could evolve into a government I would have fought for and sacrificed for (well, sacrificed soldiers for)... but it doesn't look like very good odds. It appears that very few that really knew the makeup of the Iraqi population would have given a chance for anything other than 3 seperate federal entities OR a Shite driven theocracy. That's one of the biggest problems I have with our Yale C student president. He seems to know very little about the makeup and consequences of what we broke, and now own (remember Colin's Pottery Barn rules)... and he apparently ignores experts who really do know about that reality. It's makes me want to hurl when I hear our C student silverspoon prez lecture the experts saying stuff like I just don't accept the experts who say these guys are not ready for our kind of democracy. Based on what Shrub? Divine inspiration? Can this citizen ask for a little reality sprinkled in? Of course he pretties that statement up for the faithful following. There is nothing wrong with being ignorant on a subject (although out of 300 million folks, you should know some things)... but if you are ignorant, you need to be skilled at making decision based on input from the experts. Ignorance and arrogance makes for a very dangerous and toxic mix. You go to war with the President you have. After 2001, the which prez candidate would I rather have a beer with test is now a pretty lousy way to decide. Always has been, but after 911, the consequences of the beer swigging test has ramifications. :( I'm likely to start a campaign with Plank in 2007 called None of the Above if Hillary is the Dem choice. I'm hoping someone like Biden will be the Dem choice. We should all make a pact... no more Bushes or Clintons for prez in our lifetime. 11:54 AM Common Good said... It occurs to me I preferred the irrational exuberance. 3:03 PM Randy P said... I guess we are not so far apart as I thought. We do have a sticky situation in Iraq, and the probability of it going south definitely exists. People are a curious creature though, that is why I said it will be some time before we can really calculate the loss/benefit of what we are presently engaged. People can surprise you. 3:41 PM Randy P said... Quotation: Instead of pursuing her appointed path of separation, persecution, world-hatred, poverty, and non-resistance, [the Church] has used... Scripture to justify her in lowering her purpose to the civilization of the world, the acquisition of wealth, the use of an imposing ritual, the erection of magnificent churches, the invocation of God’s blessing upon the conflicts of armies, and the division of an equal brotherhood into “clergy” and “laity.” ... C. I. Scofield (1843-1921), Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth [1930] 6:12 AM yoshitownsend said... I've been sans internet lately.... 11:20 AM Common Good said... New rule: Any parents that are nuts, have to teach their own kids. In fact, I think any college entrance exam must be accompanied by parent profiles at the same time. Why would anyone want to teach anyone else's kids? Jeeze...... 4:12 PM Tony Plank said... CG, That is about the dumbest thing I have read in a long time. I can tell you this, if I had a kid headed to College and read that, Colgate would be off my list faster than you can say Cavity. Sounds like to me that they want to charge big bucks but not be accountable to those folks paying a rather steep price tag. I’m betting a lot of businesses would be happy to get by with telling there customers to shut up and let us do our jobs. Poor parenting and stupid consumers is just a part of the world. Sounds like some folks at Colgate need to grow up. 4:30 PM Common Good said... Tony, Poor parenting and stupid consumers is just a part of the world. Sounds like some folks at Colgate need to grow up. Nah... just some parents and kids who need to grow up. Full classes, low maintenance kids and parents, no 24 x 7 parent hotline... sounds like a pretty good business model. Besides... if you are a parent that thinks the$40,000 school is better than the state college... you deserve to be ignored. Go to a public college, save a ton of money, and drink a ton of beer. Us independent beer drinking types didn't need our mommy and daddy once we got to college.

5:18 PM
Common Good said...

Prof,

So you are our resident libertarian. Should the state of Louisiana be on the hook by themselves with New Orleans? They all knew they were living in a bathtub below sea level. I think they are finding out about the downside of burying bodies above ground. The French Quarter has always been unique... but bodies floating down the street would be a bit much.

:)

6:14 PM
Randy P said...

"America is at its best when we realize that we are one community -- that we're all in this together. That means that each one of us has the responsibility to do what we can to help the relief effort."

This is from Howard Dean, what a crock. One community....in this together.

6:11 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Common,

The residents of N’Orleans have been gambling for two hundred years. They just lost their shirt. There are consequences to actions and this was a near worse-case scenario. To live a risky life - tight rope walking w/o a net, promiscuity, living below the sea level next to the sea - one must take some personal responsibility. That being said, all individuals so compelled, and government relief organizations already created, should respond appropriately.

Prof. Ricardo

7:00 AM
Common Good said...

Randy,

I missed your point. It's a crock... because we should NOT be in this together? OR... It's a crock, because we should be in this together BUT Howard Dean said it? Not sure which angle you were taking.

Prof... I'm not sure there is any low risk behavior on planet earth these days. btw... I got a big dose of that personal responsibility mantra at Southern Hills Golf course yesterday. The speech was found just as wanting... but the view was better. :)

8:48 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Re: New Orleans

That is a town with lots of character. I have a few memories of past vacations there. About half not good. Of course on the sight seeing tour we saw lots of historic “unique” places, but we also smelled poverty and uncleanness. One particular trip we stayed in a hotel a stone’s throw from Bourbon St. Forget sleep. That place was noisy into the late morning hours. Then there was the “mugging.” Actually, it was a fee for services rendered. I paid them not to beat the crap out of me and my wife. We were dressed in our finest, her in an evening dress and me in my best suit heading to Antones. I still wonder if my wife and I could have whooped ‘em. After all, we met in a karate class in college. Although not black belts, I had competition experience and my wife was still teaching karate. I’ve played that one over in my head. Yup, have some memories. Never been during Mardi Gras. Don’t like crowds that much. Crowds have too many people in them. :-) The news video of the devastation there is unbelievable. Neighborhoods are gone. A lot of businesses will have to start from scratch. Probably a few historic places are gone too. And they are still searching for survivors. It feels too much like our own Tsunami has hit. It will be years before I go back and I am sure it will look quite different.

Prof. Ricardo

9:16 AM
Randy P said...

My point is that nobody is in this together, and if he feels this way about disaster relief why does he not bring that same community feeling to the round table and get some action in the Govt.

That is my point

10:15 AM
Common Good said...

Prof,

Then there was the “mugging.” Actually, it was a fee for services rendered. I paid them not to beat the crap out of me and my wife.

That has to be one of the funniest things said on this message board. Thanks... I needed that. You've got serious blog game. :)

Randy... got your point.

12:16 PM
yoshitownsend said...

So, the people in New Orleans, or for that matter, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Gulf coast of Texas, and let's just add in California (Earthquakes), Oklahoma, North Texas (Tornadoes.... "must take some personal responsibility." (Maybe that's what they pay Federal taxes for.... a sort of insurance that if someone Muslim sets a bomb off there, or a natural disaster hits, they have some help on the way.)

And those people in the Pentagon and in the World Trade Center should take personal responsibility as well, since there was a possibility of it getting knocked down at that particular time. They knew there were terrorist threats against that building....

C'mon... are we a country or are we a country? If we are all affected by a terrorist attack in NYC (assuming someone besides me was), we should likewise have some solidarity for the people on the Gulf Coast.

That's a threat to national security. Both I, and the Prof., and everyone else here, are affected by events on the Gulf Coast. Therefore, we gain some value from our tax money being used there to rescue, and eventually, rebuild. The Prof. just wants to take his own free rides (ironically).

And by the way... that is an example of "geographical bad luck" I'm always talking about. Scott Wilder can drop a ton of Bibles there and Prof. can drop several thousand copies of "Freedom to Choose." They probably have a toilet paper shortage there.

8:24 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

I quote thee quoting me: "must take some personal responsibility

You don’t exactly come out and say you disagree with that statement, but your whole message points in that direction. Are we to assume that you take the position that people who “live a risky life” must NOT “take some personal responsibility” in their geographic choices? If I live in the arctic and I freeze my tail off, is that not a consequence of my decision?

My position that people should take SOME responsibility for their decisions should be reflected in attitude. Although I have been burning the midnight oil lately, when I do get home I can’t keep from watching the devastation on TV. And in doing so I see people angrily demanding that the government do something and do something NOW! They aren’t asking. They aren’t seeking compassion. The are demanding a RIGHT, an entitlement, if you will, to a rescue of Biblical proportions. [No matter how many rehearsals, they weren’t prepared for this.]

This attitude of entitlement is what justifies the looting in the looters mind. Looting is just further down the scale from the “entitlement of rescue” mentality. DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME, I am not saying that they should not be rescued, helped, housed, fed, adopted into new areas, etc. I think the whole of the country should rush to their aid. But this FDR socialism entitlement and evolutionist “Ain’t my fault no how” attitude is showing its ugly head in the midst of this horrible disaster. People have acted with dignity before in the face of overwhelming destruction. The pathetic trash attitude of the looting thugs in New Orleans and their entitlement demanding brethren are making a horrible event worse. This entitlement mentality is where you fail to take some responsibility in your future.

Just heard this morning, in fact my wife called me on my drive to work to tell me, that idiots on the ground were shooting at the rescue helicopters trying to evacuate the stadium full of 20,000 people. Why? What idiocy drives that? An idiocy of entitlement that is not humble, not thankful, but asks “What took you so long?” An idiocy of a sense of injustice brought about by always looking to others for fault and responsibility, ie, not taking some responsibility for their decisions.

I am not saying that even most of the people in New Orleans are that way, but there is enough of them to severely taint their reputation in my mind, because it has been pervasive in nearly all of the interviewed individuals (and possibly infected resident bloggers? Nooooooo.). The survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack were near heros, but tainted some became when they felt “entitled” to the welfare gift of $1.7 million avg. compensation for the death of their loved one. Post 10 years Oklahoma City bombing, these folks have had nothing but compassion from the nation. We stood in “solidarity” with them. After the 9/11 victim’s families received their welfare gift of millions, some of the OKC$urvivortarted $eeing what their NYC fellow victim$ received and they felt, (What class?) E.N.T.I.T.L.E.D. Did that make you feel better about the people in OKC, or did it somewhat taint their heroic status in your mind?

So Yoshi, clarify thy self. Dost thou thinkest that ZERO, ZIP, NADA responsibility exists for a person in his decision to locate in a known vulnerable, high risk area? Or wilt thou retract thy remarks about my statement that people ought to take SOME responsibility for their decisions?

Trial lawyers who want you to have “free money” after your accident await your response.

Prof. Ricardo

9:18 AM
Common Good said...

Prof,

This entitlement mentality is where you fail to take some responsibility in your future.

Some of those looters were taking water, food and shoes... for them or for their families. You would be ok with that type of looting... wouldn't you?

Prof, I know any form of US collectivism is against your belief system, but Yoshi really has highlighted your EXTREME personal responsibility position. Almost everyone agrees that US survival requires a large dose of personal responsibilty from it's citizens. However, applying that to where you live in the US and natural and terrorists disasters is just too extreme. Barring a constitutional ammendment proclaiming certain areas of the US not covered by the federal government... the federal government has to be obligated to serve this need. Therefore, the citizens have the right, and should expect such coverage from their government. I was prepared to give everyone (FEMA, etc) a pass like you said because this disaster is beyond predictions. I don't feel that way anymore. Everyone new this was a disaster waiting to happen. I heard someone on CNN express my exact thoughts. He said he was prepared to be patient, but the fact that there is not an endless bus line coming in from the west of New Orleans at this point is not even close to acceptable. I really don't know what's the point of calling ourselves a country if we can't even agree the federal government is their for our internal natural disasters. Yoshi is right, and my buddy Prof is too extreme.

btw... FDR can't be blamed for Katrina. :)

The ideology battle for this generation: Entitlement vs Sense of Entitlement.

10:25 AM
yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:30 AM
yoshitownsend said...

I agree with this entirely that people taking risks not only bear some responsibility, but most of it.

However...
Living in New Orleans (or San Francisco, or Atlanta, or Miami), is not the same as living in the artic. Personally, I wouldn't have ever thought New Orleans was so vulnerable.

I'll read the rest of the comment soon, I'm in the middle of a class and I'm not supposed to be doing this now..

Lasly though, I don't believe this is the end of New Orleans. It can be knocked down, but it won't be knocked out.

10:36 AM
yoshitownsend said...

okay, I've read the WHOLE post now.

"My position that people should take SOME responsibility for their decisions should be reflected in attitude."
They are demanding a RIGHT, an entitlement, if you will, to a rescue of Biblical proportions."

I agree with this statement. People should at least have a little humility when someone is saving their ass.

After reading Common Good's post, I'm not sure any of us really disagree.

In summary:

Demanding entitlement immediately and aggressively:-Not Good.

Looting:- Not Good, (but if I were hungry, I'd be doing it too. Now the guns are a different story, but low-life types love their damn guns. Cops should shoot to kill.)

Was I the last one to hear New Orleans was an "accident waiting to happen?"

11:10 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Common: Some of those looters were taking water, food and shoes... for them or for their families. You would be ok with that type of looting... wouldn't you?

Actually I was wanting that to be a topic of discussion, but was not the exact topic of my reponse to Yoshi.

Yoshi really has highlighted your EXTREME personal responsibility position.

And clarified his position to be more in agreement with me on personal reponsibility.

applying that to where you live in the US and natural and terrorists disasters is just too extreme.
I am not talking Karma. Don’t read into it what I did not say.

... the federal government has to be obligated to serve this need.

America has lost the clarity to define what need can’t be satisfied by it. Don’t even consult the Constitution.

btw... FDR can't be blamed for Katrina. :)

Unlike the left on blaming Bush for everything, I do not blame FDR for Katrina. I blame that FDR mentality on the selfishness of entitlement that has lowered mankind to stepping over dead bodies to take home TV’s, ipods, and other free no-tax day specials currently going on in New orleans.

Prof . Ricardo
PS....I’ll be killing little bird the rest of the day. Y’all enjoy.

11:24 AM
yoshitownsend said...

My little brother just got his first "car." Actually a big extended cab truck (for safety, his, not ours).

I tried to talk him into a hybrid car, but the choice wasn't really his. I hope those gas prices hit 4.00 a gallon so I can watch all those "ugly Americans" driving the SUVs to the grocery store go broke.

11:25 AM
Common Good said...

Prof,

It's very interesting to watch this administration respond to disasters like New Orleans. I noticed the same thing during the Tsunami. To their core, this adminstration and the bulk of their party believe in minimum government. I don't think most make an exception for disasters like New Orleans... they really feel that minimum government means minimum government... with the exception of the military. They believe even huricanes should be covered by private charity and state control. Here's the interesting part: they are smart enough to know they can't come out and say that. They actually can't say their core belief out loud to the public because it would be ridiculed. Now Prof would tell us that is because we are now all FDR weak souled pussies. I mean how dare us come up with some of old age insurance program. I think Prof is wrong. I think Shrub can't really state his core belief system out loud and in public because his belief system is flawed... it doesn't pass the smell and common sense test. That's the problem with some ideologies. When you have to describe them out loud and in public... they may just stink.

Prof... when you finish killing little birdies (I think that's what you said)... let's discuss people stealing water and food.

12:52 PM
Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I can raise your ugly American. Think domestic oil producers at $70 a barrel, also driving the gas guzzlers, AND receiving oil business tax breaks because...$70 a barrel just isn't incentive enough. I would hardly put your brother very high up on the ugly scale.

12:56 PM
Common Good said...

Try this one out. This oil industry owned administration just proclaimed: Their shalt be no gas price gouging during this disaster.

Does anyone know where gouging starts? Was it at $30 a barrel?$50? $70. Is gouging ok, except right after a huricane? Someone here school me on gas prices at the pump. I hear supply and demand... how does that work. I understand the Saudi's consistently produce a barrel of oil at around$4. Did we all of a sudden demand/need more oil recently? If the $4 a barrel is fairly static, and selling that barrel at$20 is profitable... why does it ever go to $70? Just sell to more demand at$20, and still make more profits. Somebody school me... I feel gouged.

1:05 PM
Common Good said...

I had quit reading Brooks. I don't agree with his ideology, and he finally turned me off. But this article reminds me of why I read him at one time. I think he is all over it. I have been watching the news coverage of the New Orleans flood. It is one constant stream of black faces. People who can afford a week's hotel bill evacuate. People who have nothing ride the storm out... or not.

2:33 PM
Randy P said...

gouging occurs at the pumps, not barrels

3:53 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Common,

To their core, this adminstration and the bulk of their party believe in minimum government.

It’s a con game. Like Clinton who promissed a middle class tax cut and then gave us the first retroactive tax increase, politicians change when they get in office. They have this power and they want to use it. For ill or good, they feel compelled to do something. It corrupts. It is addictive. Why else do none of them want to quit after one or two terms. However, as a true governmental minimalist myself, G. W. Bush has been a disappointment. He’s vetoed how many spending bills? None you say. The man has never met a situation that he was not willing to spend YOUR money on. True politician.

They believe even huricanes should be covered by private charity and state control.

No, you’re confusing him with me. He wants to spend your money on it and let you know he did. Trust me on this.

Here's the interesting part: they are smart enough to know they can't come out and say that.
All politicians walk a less radical walk when campaigning. See above ref. to middle class tax cut.

That's the problem with some ideologies. When you have to describe them out loud and in public... they may just stink.

Promissing free money always works better. That’s why our founding fathers wished not to get into wealth distribution. Once somebody could be paid, they could be bought, their vote that is. Then the politician spending other peoples money could secure his political life at the expense of others. Something apparently some on this blog fail to see.

Prof... let's discuss people stealing water and food.

Lets.

Prof. Ricardo

11:36 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:58 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

As a lover of a black & white world, I hate gray. Hence I have relativism. However, changing conditions also change what responses are appropriate.

In a world where private property rights are respected and protected, people can operate their lives in a steady dependable direction with planning and forecasting as their friends. In this hurricane there are a multitude of victims. There are the obvious lives and homes lost. There is the destruction to infrastructure and, just as importantly, the destruction of businesses. Were the business still standing, these folks could live a distance away and comeback and earn a living to have money with which to rebuild their lives. But the survivors have no jobs. The businesses are defunct. Gone. Most of those people probably rented. If you are landlord and survived, you are probably bankrupt. If you had insurance, it will go to payoff the loan. You may or may not have anything to show for your hard work. If you are a lumber company, you probably have some good inventory left. Maybe. If you were a florist, you’re toast. Furniture and electronic sales, probably toast. Service industry - forget it. Nobody, no money. In merchandising, even if your inventory survived, there is no one locally to sell it to. You probably bought it on credit. Your debt didn’t get blown away even if your building did. Toast. People want to know if they have anything left. Can I salvage anything?

Looting is stealing brought about by some event where otherwise people not partnered with another, yet join together in act of wanton stealing and/or vandalism.

With water, sanitation, food, household goods etc. destroyed and no way out, I see little prohibition to permitting necessary items from being carried off by those whose lives and health are at risk if they do not take it. However, in a destroyed city where electricity and other utilities are off and evacuation is underway, the theft of electronics, atm machine and building destruction including purposefully set fires crosses the line. Necessities for survival might require desperate measures. Looting water and rescue tools (ropes, floatation devices, medical) only on day one would be tolerated. Food and diapers by day two. Few items more than that thereafter. I cant imagine the desperation, particularly if you have infant children. However, to remain on the moral high ground a decent respect of the owners property is required, and for the most part, missing in what appears to be 95% of the cases.

I’m interested in where you draw the line and why.

Prof. Ricardo

1:07 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Have you heard the great worry of getting the New Orleans children back in school? Are these people insane? Do they not know the children will not wither if they are not under the watchful tutelage of government? As you know we homeschool. When I called home about 8:45 AM on September 11, 2001 and ask my wife to turn on the TV and pop a tape in the VCR, my family watched that tragedy on TV live. My son, then twelve, said “aren’t we going to have school today?” My wife said “This is school son. You’re watching history in the making.”

These children are watching “history in the making.” They are standing waste deep in it. What better time to learn about everything than having to go through it. Yet, some, I would say most, believe that learning happens at a desk with a text book. How brainwashed we have become. We now think the artificial environment of age segregated, abstract learning is all there is. What a pitiful lesson to teach the next generation. So little faith in the incredible learning abilities of the children.

These children are learning science. The physics of water, gravity, and force. Of biology: the need for food, water, a place to dispose of waste, disease, crowding, and, a rarity in the human realm, migration. They are learning of weather, politics, and the social aspects of man under harsh circumstances: panic, looting, and self sacrificing rescue and mercy. A veritable university of learning is before them. More is caught than taught, as is evidenced by some children participating in the looting.

But no, we need to whisk them away to an artificial environment that is government controlled, disconnected, and sterile. Just another one of the “extraordinary popular delusions” of man, IMO.

Prof. Ricardo

8:32 AM
Common Good said...

Prof,

Good post-bird killing posts. :)

You asked: where would I draw the line, regarding the looting. I actually think you drew the line very well... but I would add you and I can't really make that a black and white line because we aren't there. For one, any rules we come up are made from the comfort of our keyboard. Maybe the guy who just shot at the helicopter, really just shot near it. Maybe that guy is a father who is watching his kid die before his eyes, while those people over there appear to be getting help. Maybe that father just saw the neighbor's daughter get raped by a roving gang, and he knows he is helpless to protect his daughter. My point is, many of our blanket looting condemnation theories would have to be judged on an individual basis.

... and in more shocking agreement with the Prof, I think you make excellent points about education. Real life is also an education in itself. That said, I really feel for the parents who had to teach their kids 911... but it is what it is.

9:05 AM
Common Good said...

People dying in New Orleans as we speak, and the Pres and the Republican governors still have time for such a cheezy photo-op. They actually staged a conversation where the governors tell Shrub what they need in front of the cameras. My goodness... what snakes we elect. I'm not making this up. The president just led a round of applause for the FEMA director, with the FEMA director there... in front of the cameras. Are you kidding me... the FEMA director has time for PR. You really might as well be a Prof libertarian if this is the best we can get.

10:40 AM
yoshitownsend said...

"Have you heard the great worry of getting the New Orleans children back in school? Are these people insane? Do they not know the children will not wither if they are not under the watchful tutelage of government?"

This is a hilarious point. I think if I just lost everything the last thing I'd be worried about is whether my kids could have their daily "food-fights" in the school cafeteria.

This is one hell of an education if you ask me. It teaches you that shit does indeed happen, and not just to people who live "over there." And we here are getting a little education about being a little more thrifty with gasoline. I know I'm already rationing my driving time. It also teaches us the Federal government can't wave a magic money wand to make all problems go away instantly.

There is nothing more educational than getting knocked-down once in a while.

2:07 PM
Common Good said...

Yoshi,

There is nothing more educational than getting knocked-down once in a while.

I agree... but don't you think it's generally the poor who are getting knocked down. I'm sure someone will call that class warfare... but the stream of people you are seeing on TV in New Orleans are the 30% that lived below the poverty line. No cars to leave in. No martial law declared with mass busing coming in to carry out that 30%. The real kind of knocking down is pretty rare... and that's when the upper echelon gets thumped a few times. Pretty hard to get some licks in on folks who are wealthy enough to tell you: "I will just move to another country". I heard that the other day from an independently wealthy guy who didn't appreciate his US tax rate.

It also teaches us the Federal government can't wave a magic money wand to make all problems go away instantly.

Of course not... but I sure hope you aren't giving them a pass on this fiasco. These poor people basically had to survive for around 4 or 5 days before serious help showed up. Give me a break... you can't fly a couple of helicopters in to the main population centers for aid. I am in utter shock at the performance (lack of) in this situation.

btw... you are the last one to know New Orleans was a giant bathtup below sea level. :)

3:17 PM
yoshitownsend said...

"don't you think it's generally the poor who are getting knocked down."

Well, all of us feeling it at the pumps are getting a wake-up call, realizing that little Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity don't know what the hell they are talking about when they imply there is a never-ending supply of oil out there for us.

But tragically, yea, it's the Blacks of New Orleans that are REALLY getting knocked down. I was there last Thanksgiving, and I noticed it was pretty poor there, and mostly all black. Then upside is, as insensitive as it sounds, the more poor they were, the less material stuff they had to lose, the easier it'll be to replace.

This whole thing was kind of a surprise though. I was hearing about it all week and I thought, "here's another bi-annual hurricane to tear a bunch of roofs off again, no big deal.) I think this had to be some unexpected damage from a Federal government perspective, which is an understatment from hell, I know.

I think the federal government probably was just caught off gaurd (like on 9/11). There are logistical reasons for taking too long. I can call for emergency assistance, but I still have to wait for the ambulance to get there. Especially when the highways into the city are destroyed. I don't think people were sitting on their butts necessarily.

New Orleans has been there for how long? At least since Thomas Jefferson, since it was there when he bought the place. I knew it was below sea level, but since it'd been there so long, I didn't realize it was in any danger. I think we all take our own safety for granted, especially in the USA.

3:51 PM
Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I don't think people were sitting on their butts necessarily.

Harry Connick Jr. drove himself into the middle of New Orleans yesterday. The reporters where there during the storm, and ever since. I really didn't start out wanting to slam these guys... it just became obvious after a couple of days. It gives one a chill to project this level of performance forward to a future terrorist event. I think the jobs of the politicians were more jobs of film stars before 911. IMO, we will need a different breed of elected types going forward. Now it really does matter if you have idiots and camera whores leading the asylum. I'm really not a Rudy Giuliani fan, but one did recognize a level of performance from the man. Yoshi... think we got time to transition to the new required breed of elected types? :(

4:25 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Get scientific for me here a moment. Define “gouging.” I know it means overcharging. What I am asking is how do you know if $4.21/gallon for regular gasoline is very high and$4.22 is considered gouging. What and who define it? Does it include TV & movie stars, sports stars, and other entertainers wages? Could it be for corporate officer’s salaries? Or does it not attach to the service industry and only applies to merchandise? If so why? My health insurance just went up again (double digits). Does that count? How do we differentiate a true complaint from whining? How much should an item go up in disaster situations? Do we suspend the laws of supply and demand because it just doesn’t seem fair? And if it’s not worth it, why are you trading your hard earned dollars for it if you feel you wont be better off? If you hadn’t received a drink of water in two days, and none is to be found anywhere else, how much is a gallon of good clean water worth? If somebody actually charged that amount, is that gouging?

Just some food for thought. Definitions welcome.

Prof. Ricardo

CORRECTION: previously stated “Hence I have relativism.” Have should have been hate.

7:19 PM
yoshitownsend said...

I think price-fixing is worse than price gouging.

If you've only got enough water for 10 customers and there are 15 people, either way 5 people are being turned away. It's just a lottery at that point, so customers might as well bid what it's worth to them.

However, I'd think twice before over-charging on water to a desparate New Orleans guy who just looted a gun store.

Of course in extreme circumstances, such as a hurricane, water should be provided to everyone who needs it, at least until everything gets back to order.

But we are talking about gas here, right? In this case, I think it's hilarious that people are paying so much at the pumps. And in this kind of heat, people get extra pissed about it. It's still cheaper than Europe. Welcome to the world, America.

7:31 PM
Common Good said...

Yoshi, they war-gamed New Orleans... AND this administration doesn't value FEMA... you get what you pay for.

8:08 PM
Common Good said...

jeeze... the FEMA director is a lawyer, and from my state. I figure a true-blood government minimalist who is a plant to get rid of FEMA, shrink the government and drown it in a bathtub.

8:14 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,

Why don’t you open up a new blog topic on New Orleans. It appears to be the topic of discussion. You always know how to frame the topic well. We’re just unreasonable when it comes to staying on topic. :-)

Speaking of the New Orleans, I’ve been wondering what we use that is usually imported through New Orleans. The prices are going to spike soon. Coffee and spices come to mind.

Brain storm for me boys, what do you use that’s imported and the price might go up? I’m the quintessential tightwad and want to avoid those unpleasant market forces that I speak so highly of. :-)

Prof. Ricardo

3:55 PM
yoshitownsend said...

The price of crayfish is definitely going up!

Really, what imports do we buy that don't come from Asia and the Pacific side, or across the border from those factories on the Mexican side? Or Canada..?

5:06 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

I would imagine most of Asian goods are coming in San Diego, Los Angeles, & Seattle. But South American goods, oil, Mexico?!? If I find out anything worth sharing, I’ll post it.

Prof. Ricardo

8:56 PM
Common Good said...

Prof,

I guess you need to stock up your commune. :)

9:39 PM
Common Good said...

Prof,

btw... I heard tonight that many goods come to New Orleans from Chicago before they get routed around. Dependent on any Chicago export? :)

Does this mean the price of transvestites go down or go up? Not sure how that supply and demand would work.

9:43 PM
yoshitownsend said...

I was thinking gulf oil and maybe some South American products, but I always thought Miami was the hub (anyone seen Scarface.)

So you might have to find a substitute good for cocaine if it was coming through New Orleans and not Florida. Also, maybe coffee, bananas.....

7:37 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

...and sugar & chocolate.

10:49 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Whenever I have an epiphany, it is good to have it confirmed by another source. Read the confirmation:

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State
by Robert Tracinski

Prof. Ricardo

11:20 PM
Common Good said...

Kudos to the supercilious Canadian. He gets it. We have decided to support a 30 year campaign against our government instead. It will all work out in the end. Both the rich and the poor end up as worm dirt. :)

10:09 AM
yoshitownsend said...

I have always found truth in the statement, "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

I think that fits in here well.
The government should have said, "this is the big one, get out, or don't say we didn't warn you. And the people should have got out with subsidized transportation and temporary shelters.

Hypothetically, if there were opportunities to get out of the (buses, etc), I wonder how many of the residents there would have thought this was a "wolf cry" and just stayed home anyway, thinking it would blow over (figuratively, not literally).

You know, with the Fed. government to protect us or not, if any of us had been caught in that city after the hurricane, the Profs. mugging experience there would have been the least of our problems. Drowning wouldn't kill us. Our neighbors seeing us with a 8 oz. cup of water probably would. It wouldn't be logistically possible for authorities to immediately secure physical protection from aggressive gangster types.... that's something people need to blame ther local society members for, not the Fed. government in D.C.

Really, I suppose the biggest mistake the government made is not evacuating everyone manditorily (which would also be logistically difficult and a big risk considering the odds this would be just another hurricane.)

5:48 PM
Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,
“(I)f you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

This was the basis of my previous rant about personal responsibility. It is not the governments job to evacuate us before the hurricane against our will. People must be permitted to make decisions including stupid ones. It is not a doctors job to make you take medicine. Once prescribed you have the responsibility to determine the health risks of the medicine just prescribed, and whether you will take it or not. You hired him for his opinion. Now its time to take ownership of your own decision and not blame others. There are people who know they might have a condition and if left untreated could be devastating. But since they have gotten into this “medical insurance has to pay for it attitude”, they will avoid going even if it is life and death. Ludicrous. Pay for it out of pocket. Borrow from your retirement or a bank. Heck, even Common Good will let you loot it if the need is great enough. :-) The point is people have the means to help themselves, but because they have been trained to wait on insurance, wait on government, trust in the experts, and not trust their own wisdom and knowledge, they are at the mercy of people who don’t have a vested interest in their well being.

Prof. Ricardo

7:22 PM
Common Good said...

Yoshi,

I will let you and Prof work out the State vs Federal thing. Obviously someone (Federal, State, both) need to plan for mass busing in these types of situations. It also needs to be declared WHO is in charge. The people who needed saving don't care who is in charge... they just need saving. I heard New Orleans had around 200-300 buses available. Do the math... no way they were ever going to be able to pull off a pre-evacuation on their own. I think these things are a federal need... i.e. FEMA. I think it's obvious. Regardless, we have to plan for this type of thing that comes WITHOUT WARNING... i.e. terrorist attack.

It blows my mind that anyone watching the news coverage of New Orleans last week would even think about giving FEMA a pass. Shrub refered to Michael Brown as Brownie in the press conference. I'm convinced his reality is just one continual frat party. The two main gathering points for the people were the Superdome and the Convention center. Michael Brown and Chertoff were asked on Thursday why people sat in the Superdome and the Convention center for days without water. Both admitted they had never even heard there were people in the Convention center until Thursday. Every single reporter on the scene new that on Tuesday. I mean this stuff comes under the heading... you have got to be frickin kidding me. Here another jewel someone might want to consider before they say something like the government just couldn't get in there. Really. The Convention Center backs up to the Mississippi river. If these guys aren't smart enough to figure out a river is available, they certainly aren't the one's we need for future terrorist events that come with no warning. Guys... we better lose the government can't protect us mantra, because that's our only shot on the terrorist front. Prof's neighborhood association will be dead before they even know Al Qaeda was in the neighborhood. If we allow presidents to treat government organizations like FEMA as a joke that shouldn't exist, and appoint frat brat buddies to run it... we deserve what we get.

Regarding Prof's enlightenment that FDR's safety-net society creates more rapist and helicopter shooters. I think a small percentage of humans are golden... i.e. they will be awsome human beings regardless what life throws them. This is the group where you will find the most impressive humans... those that have nothing but will give you what they have. Another small percentage will be bad people, regardless of any good fortune life throws their way. The vast majority of us, however, fit in the middle of these two extremes. What kind of people we are, and how we act, will be heavily influenced by our life experience. Take half of the people in middle class or upper class that preach morality and thier theories on ideology... and throw them into a life of poverty and crime that some live in... and don't expect angels to come out the other side. And no... Prof... not all people who end up in those types of lives ended up there because they didn't have the proper amount of Prof personal responsibility.

7:43 PM
yoshitownsend said...

So, how many days were people at the Superdome and the Convention Center BEFORE help arrived?

The Convention Center is on the river... maybe that is how they evacuated the people? So the complaint Common Good has is that they took too long, right? How long was it exactly? The hurricane happened Saturday night, didn't it? So are you saying there was no order or relief at the Convention Center until Thursday?

I was saying earlier buses should've been subsidized and available to leave town. But every year there is a hurricane or two, and people don't leave. I heard one guy a few hours before say "We don't run from hurricanes, we drink them." I think there was too much overconfidence that this was just another heavy thunderstorm. And if I were there, I'd probably have thought the same.

Really, it wasn't the hurricane that was the problem, it was the levies breaking and the subsequent flooding.

So... I will concede that there should have been a better plan set up for that inevitable day the levy breaks..... (it seems to me the plan was everyone go to the Superdome and Convention Center and wait 2-3 days until the authorities can get you out of there.)

Has anyone seen a death count yet? I keep hearing these unspecific numbers... "thousands."

12:42 AM
Tony Plank said...

Prof,

I may take your suggestion. I have some things floating around in my brain on all of this disaster chat.

8:29 AM
Common Good said...

Tony,

I may take your suggestion. I have some things floating around in my brain on all of this disaster chat.

You could start with your theory about why some people see the endless line of blacks coming out of the New Orleans flood and think lack of responsibility and welfare leeches, and others see the same pictures and see the Two Americas John Edwards talked about.

8:48 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

LOUISIANA

Our church is feeding 112 evacuees in Fort Worth twice. Our little struggling church raised \$4000+ for the relief effort. I was shocked.

The church where our children do physical education is taking on 125 that will be housed on site in the Sunday school rooms.

A Christian camp where my son volunteers once a week ( helps with chores, horses, etc.) is taking on 120 in their bunk houses.

Yesterday my wife & children met with a mother and her three children to discuss integrating into this area. They evacuated Saturday before the hurricane and the Metroplex was the closest place that had rooms available. Her husband is a police officer. She said, "when can we come back." He said there is nothing to come back to. She needed to talk so bad. They visited for 3.5 hours. A church has temporarily lent them a two bedroom home in west Fort Worth.

Although people want to find out why different levels of government didn’t perform to expectation. I must say, after being saturated with depressing news, these last several days of hearing of private efforts in my sphere of association have been quite encouraging.

Yoshi,

The time table as best I see it:
Monday, hurricane landfall.
Monday night/Tues. early AM, levees break.
Tuesday daytime, water rises dramatically, 1st indication bullet was not dodged. FEMA level of response visible, but details not worked out.
Wednesday, amassing rescue crews, national guard, military, & associated supplies and triage of evacuees.

From what I understand, the stadium was to be used for no more than 24 hours as a temporary storm refuge. Therefore, no level of food and worse-case sanitation, long-term stay was planned for.
The City and state had the responsibility and disaster plans in case this happened. They did not follow their own disaster plan book, from what I have heard so far.

Plans that include using the local police force may not include the emotional trauma they are under. How do you save and police and assist others if your own family is in peril. One of the suicide police officers returned to his own home to find his wife deceased. He ended it there. You can only plan for so much. Throwing stones at politicians at this point in the game is premature judgment. Let’s kick back with our popcorn and watch the Bush/FEMA/Gov./Mayor bashing take place and enjoy it for the redneck entertainment that it is, rather than the stimulating intellectual discourse it could be if partisan forces did not play such a significant part in it.

Prof. Ricardo

9:12 AM
Common Good said...

Check Orleans county... that's a color Rove can't stand... I'm starting a new conspiracy theory.

9:16 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

John Edwards two Americas that he hates:
One America is where you are, the other is where you can be. A land of hope.

This has been the dream of all immigrants who have come here.

John Edwards dream for America: One America, where you are is where you will stay. No hope for improvement, because that would bring about two Americas. An America without hope, an America of equals. Equal rewards for differing effort. A land where ingenuity, risk, and hard work are not rewarded. A socialist hell hole that immigrants have been escaping to America to avoid.

I’ll stick with the “two Americas”.

Prof. Ricardo

9:22 AM
Common Good said...

Prof,

enjoy it for the redneck entertainment that it is...

I hope we do get an official timeline. Of course, with all of the filters (i.e. FoxNews), it will never be that official. I don't need to wait for my redneck opinion. I know the reporters sat there and watched people live like animals for 3+ days in the Superdome and the Convention center. Somehow these idiot reporters were able to get there... but our government wasn't capable. Seriously, why would anyone need to know anything other than that simple observation to make a judgement. When Harry Connick Jr is wandering the streets of New Orleans before the military... you just don't need to wait for a timeline, IMO. I completely disagree with you that one should not expect to have to put the military in on these types of disasters. I think it should be expected, pre-positioned, and immediate. I hope this country has a robust conversation about the State vs Federal control over disasters. We now live in an age where the state can't possibly handle everything. We need to make these definitions clear, and not end up in political bickering while people die in their attics.

btw... good for the Prof family for helping out those poor folks.

9:45 AM
Common Good said...

Prof,

A land where ingenuity, risk, and hard work are not rewarded.

You realize if the reward system even came close to being just in our country, I would back your simple philosophy. Unfortunately, it turns out we can't simply rely on the dynamics of captialism to define our society. And it is unfortunate... because it means we actually have to engage with each other in a painful fashion to define a just society. We the people get to decide just... not an economic system filled with examples of undeserved reward. Equal lives is your words, not mine. I will settle for equal common good, equal education and healthcare for kids regardless of economic class. It turns out my definition of a just society is much closer to a meritocracy than the eat-your-own-kill laissez-faire types will ever be. If we the people turn the definition of just over to our ecnomic system, then the economic winners have a perpetual leg up. If that's what one is for, they just need to be honest about it.

Prof... the system is rigged and our economic winners have an unjustified sense of entitlement. I know you don't see it, and I know the GOP doesn't see it.

I have a good friend who is an independent oil baron. He has had extreme good fortune (with hard work) and has made more money than he can spend in a lifetime. He doesn't make the oil, but became very proficient at finding it, and gathering it... and taking financial risk in the process. Our society and our economic system provided him wealth beyond imagination to gather a natural resource, and sell it back to us. The other day, he told me that if the Dems raised his taxes any more, he was thinking about moving out of the country. He made similar comments that Prof makes about socialism... i.e. if we give poor people health insurance we are socialists. It occured to me that if he actually did take his blanket and move on (i.e. move out of the country) he surely would have the last laugh on us. Think about it. He made enough money from the Socialist country he now despised to be cocksure enough to tell that country to take a hike. And the best part... around 50% of those who bought his gathered oil at the pumps were Democrats. A growing number of those who bought his gas at the pumps can't afford health insurance. Like I said... truly the last laugh.

10:12 AM
Prof. Ricardo said...

“Prof... the system is rigged and our economic winners have an unjustified sense of entitlement.”

100 years ago there were 4,047 American millionaires. According to a study back then 84% were first generation millionaires, “were nouveau riche, having reached the top without benefit of inherited wealth.” Today, that figure is 80%. May I recommend that you pick up the book The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. It will give you information about the wealthy directly from a survey of them. What they buy, what they drive, how they save, budget, spend, work, give, etc. If you are seeking to better yourself, or market your product, this is a very insightful book.

“btw... good for the Prof family for helping out those poor folks.”

Thanks. My wife got a call 2 hours ago about a need at the camp that is taking on evacuees. Thank God we homeschool. All three just headed off with another family and a significant percentage of our clothing, sheets, and a few personal items + bottled water. The need is great. I know we can help them in the short term, but they have to find jobs and a permanent place to live. THAT is the next crisis we will have to deal with.

Prof. Ricardo

11:21 AM
Tony Plank said...

TexaCon,

Hey, I’m really enjoying this. Thanks for coming back.

I have to point out that my criticism of this administration on the issue of Homeland Defense is not new or simply hindsight. I’ve been carping on the woefully inadequate response since at least late 2001. I have in fact had a couple of “introductory” posts that have been very critical on this very point.

And lest you think I blame only Shrub for this mess, I have been publicly criticizing this country for its myopia since the Bush the Elder administration and privately before that. You should’ve seen the glaze-overs I got back in the early 80s for advocating a need for national disaster planning. I was treated as a total nut case. Granted, perhaps I am a nutcase, but this was not evidence of it.

I totally agree that the local governments utterly failed their obligations in disaster planning. But it was the President and his minions who placed “homeland security” at the forefront of what they claim is their essential priorities. I am simply pointing to their failure to achieve their own stated objectives. This is a separate discussion from much of what has been going on here, to wit, what is the appropriate role of government in National Disasters.

And yes, I am not apologetic for looking for opportunities to hold this administration accountable for its own acts and rhetoric. I do so at every turn because I believe, in the words of a famous GOP apologist, that words mean things. I have heard it all. You can “ditto“comments/criticisms from about eight years ago when I was holding the Clinton administration accountable for its words and acts. Just change the venomous attacks to substitute Shrub for Clinton and weapons of mass destruction for blowjobs, and pretty much, the arguments are the same. It boils down to whose political ox is getting gored.

I certainly think that your criticism of my suggestion that we can do a little better is fair. I should have never left that impression. I think we must do far better on matter of national security. This is my entire point. I wish I could dismiss things as simply a failure of local authorities. But the fact is that belatedly we have been woken up to the fact that serious threats such as terrorism are no longer small matters. In fact, that is what the I’m-more-patriotic-than-you-you-freedom-loving-weirdo crowd has been telling folks like me for some time.

The fact remains from my initial post: there is no substantive difference between Hurricane Katrina and a dirty bomb. In spite of four years and billions of dollars, we are no more prepared now than we were on September 10, 2001. Shrub rode a second election to victory claiming otherwise. Please explain to me where I am wrong. I hope I am because my families future depends on it.

11:29 PM

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