“The government is pretty much fully privatized”

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of the “Occupy” movement:

My head hurts after watching that. This is what our education system seems to have given us. No critical thinking, lots of scapegoating, no ability to process what’s being asked of them in order to form a response. And the big complaint by many of these people? They’re overeducated.

News flash: Just because you have a piece of paper printed on college stationery does not mean you have a useful skillset or a grasp on what’s going on in the world.

Here’s what we all agree on – currently, some businesses are doing bad things because they have too much power. The facts say that this got worse when the government got more involved, and has gotten progressively worse the more it did. One side says “let’s make the government back off, then” and the other says “let’s give the government another shot.”

So why are the people who want to give the government another chance so reluctant to say that this is what they actually mean? Shouldn’t they be proud of their stance?

Seeing things from the other side

If you’ve not been living under a rock the last few weeks, you’ve heard of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and probably seen some of their “we are the 99%” photos, which goes to show that liberals love to post angst-filled photos of themselves, but it’s totally not the same thing as last time, we swear.

Rather than respond directly, by pointing out how completely absurd most of these photos’ claims are, someone decided it’d be a good idea to post a “we are the 53%” blog in response, using the percentage of people in this country who actually pay income tax for their title, wherein conservatives who felt left out could also be narcissistic express themselves.

Now, I never thought I’d link to the Daily Kos with a recommendation that you go read it right now, but, I guess there’s a first time for everything. Mr. Udargo decides to respond to one particular photo posted over at the 53% with an open letter. What I thought was great about it is how nicely it explains the “other side” of the argument that you might not ever hear explained rationally if you’re a conservative. Just don’t read the comments… the crazy gets a little thick there. You’ve been warned.

Now this letter is far from perfect – Udargo is somewhat condescending with the constant use of “kid” to describe the man in the photo, and his tone turns fairly preachy after he says “I probably dream bigger than you,” but you still get the idea clearly – this is the guy’s passion, after all, and we’re all entitled to a little leeway when we get up on a soapbox. He’s also one of those guys that uses two spaces at the end of every sentence, which makes me twitch a little, but I guess no one’s perfect.

What I like about it, though, is that he starts from his premise of “is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?” and then explains what exactly he thinks the problem is and how he would address it. A couple of his key concerns even line up nicely with those most conservatives would have:

  • “The 8-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek became a standard by which we judged our economic success, and a reality check against which we could verify the American Dream.”
  • “[W]hen we defend the American Dream we’re not just defending the idea of modest prosperity for people who put in an honest day’s work, we’re also defending the idea that those who go the extra mile should be rewarded accordingly.”

Sounds good, right? He makes a valid point about the 8 hour day no longer meaning what it used to, and even acknowledges that he wants those who “go the extra mile” to be rewarded for that. Capitalism at its finest, right?

Well, not quite. He also makes very plain his opinions that set him solidly on the left when it comes to the question of government intervention, with statements like these:

  • “I want everybody to have healthcare.  I want lazy people to have healthcare.  I want stupid people to have healthcare.  I want drug addicts to have healthcare.  I want bums who refuse to work even when given the opportunity to have healthcare.  I’m willing to pay for that with my taxes, because I want to live in a society where it doesn’t matter how much of a loser you are, if you need medical care you can get it.”
  • “I think Wall Street has an important job to do, I just don’t think they’ve been doing it.  And I resent their sense of entitlement – their sense that they are special and deserve to be rewarded extravagantly even when they screw everything up.”
  • “All the ‘99%’ wants is for you to remember the role that Wall Street played in creating this mess, and for you to join us in demanding that Wall Street share the pain.  They don’t want to share the pain, and they’re spending a lot of money and twisting a lot of arms to foist their share of the pain on the rest of us instead.”

So we have a few of the typical talking points crop up. He starts with healthcare, but doesn’t bother trying to reconcile the ideas of “free healthcare for all” with “how to pay for it,” a mistake that many liberals make and that culminated recently with Obamacare, the atrocity of a bill that is still being taken apart and challenged in the courts. I won’t address that here, but I’ll just state that the ideas of “let’s give everyone free money and benefits” and “let’s make sure everyone is rewarded according to their work” don’t jive.

The rest of his letter places the blame squarely on Wall Street for “messing everything up,” though he doesn’t say exactly how, but it seems like he’s talking about the housing bubble, which was caused by too much government intervention (in the form of the CRA and other such legislation), not too little. The massive amount of debt we racked up with the stimulus? That was the government regulating some more, because it didn’t want you to feel too uncomfortable during an election year. They’re acting like we’re idiots, lying to our faces about what they’re doing – and maybe we are idiots, we keep sucking it up.

It’s typical of the liberal mindset to believe that government is the solution to every problem, even if the government IS the problem. I think my favorite photo so far over at the 99% blog features a woman saying that the government needs to step in and intervene… because she’s paying too much in taxes. The government is by far the largest source of waste and corruption in our country, and it’s been running a Ponzi-esque scheme for years that would make Bernie Madoff blush. Giving them more power and more money is not the answer, and the mere fact that the politicians who’ve been causing the problems keep asking for more of both should be evidence enough of that fact.

What makes it more problematic is that the “Occupy” people aren’t really having any impact on the “big wigs” they hate so much – the ones they’re hurting are the middle class, whose work days they’re interrupting and disrupting, and whose support they claim while simultaneous spitting in their faces and decrying them as fascist supporters of tyranny, all while cheering on speakers like this nutbag who cry for revolution and violence. And yet it never occurs to them is that the only reason they’re able to go out there and protest and communicate they way they do is because of the hard work of the people they hate so much.

So I’m sure you mean well, Max, but this isn’t the answer.

On Tonight’s Debate

Dear Julianna Goldman: “Hypothetical” – look it up in a dictionary. “A majority of people believing” that something will come to pass does not make it any less a hypothesis.

Dear Mitt Romney: Answer a damn question. Any of them. Just one. Please?

Dear Hermain Cain: Stop saying “999.” It really does sound like a pizza box. Also, trying to follow the drinking game is way too hard on my liver.

Dear Rick Santorum: Stop saying war. People don’t like war. Especially with China. Didn’t you see Red Dawn? It’s like that, but there’s a BILLION of them.

Dear Michelle Bachmann: Stop saying anything. Seriously. Just stop.

Dear Ron Paul: Ask more questions, please. I think you just killed Cain’s candidacy with those doozies.

Dear Rick Perry: Don’t forget your Xanax next time.

Dear Newt Gingrich: You’ll make a great Vice President.

And that’s everyone. Huh? Jon who? No, I’m pretty sure that was all of them.

Quote of the night goes to Herman Cain:

“The problem with that analysis is that it’s incorrect.”

The education problem

With all the political news and events lately, one of the things I keep hearing about is education – specifically, funding. I don’t know that I’ve weighed in on the issue before, but here are some of my thoughts on the matter, in no particular order.

If we assume the problem with education is that the end result of the system’s efforts – that is, whether or not people are educated – is less than ideal, then we must approach the problem from a certain direction. Not all people see it that way, but for the sake of my own sanity, that’s where I’ll be addressing it from.

If the issue is that children are not getting a proper education, then we must first seek to answer the question: what is a proper education? Most agree it includes some math, some history, some basic grammar and language skills. Many would add other knowledge subjects – geography, civics, or literature. Some would add practical skills like critical thinking or logic. Others would insist that subjects like art and music be added. Establishing a baseline expectation is, I think, nearly impossible when addressed in specifics, but becomes manageable when addressed as general goals. My proposed goals would break down into four basic groups:

  1. Knowledge – Having a basic understanding of mathematics, history, geography, civics, language, literature, science, etc.
  2. Reasoning – Critical thinking skills, deductive reasoning, logic.
  3. Character – Knowing the difference between right and wrong, the value of honor and honesty.
  4. Skills – Specific to the individual. Could encompass trade skills, art, music, writing, or general skills needed to hold a job.

This list does not seem to align very well with the results of public education, or even the stated goals – and that is not surprising, for I am no fan of public education. Education is a much bigger issue than just what is taught in the classroom, which I think gives us a fundamental problem when talking about public education as a concept – one that is deal-breaking, in my eyes, but we’ll return to that subject a bit later. Continue reading The education problem