Old Ideas Won’t Win the Day

5 04 2011

Ben, the problem you have is that JJ is smarter than you. She is miles smarter than you, me and the next six people combined. JJ develops ideas and new thinking about life and education as she experiences them. You fall back on shopworn phrases — being taxed is having your money stolen, there’s nothing wrong with vouchers going to religious schools, JJ’s tone is elitist, etc. And you hide behind religion and deny its importance as it supports your argument.

The sad part of all of this is that JJ is not the one being injured. She’s a strong woman, capable of thinking about what you write without getting upset about it.

The people being injured are those who are stuck on the treadmill with you, rehashing old ideas which were never very good and have soured with time.

And those liberals, like me, who agree with you. At least in part. I think, once I get past the tax bluster and the vehement anti-public school rhetoric, you have a few points to make. And they will never make it into anything like a productive discussion. They are weighed down to the point of sinking under the old notions, the ones that are all about taking the tack that ends up supporting your politics, right or wrong. These ideas are not about learning and changing and growth. They are about making sure the other political wing is demonized.

Me? I’m a bleeding-heart liberal born and raised to value unions and everything government does to help those in need. I vote Democratic.

And yet I have wondered why teachers weren’t protesting in the streets until their rights and income were on the line. Public school has sucked for a very long time. Teachers complain about it as much as anyone. And yet. . .

I don’t see the same fights you do. I don’t see people still not acknowledging that charter schools are public school. Just as I don’t see homeschoolers contending that virtual schools will be the end of homeschooling as we know it. Maybe I don’t move in the right circles.

What I see are very wealthy people manipulating our system of government to get their way. Over and over again. Among their preferences, like you, is that they pay as little in taxes as possible. Now, they don’t spout off about theft. They hide behind the old chestnut that tax money in their hands will trickle down and all will prosper.  And they have the lobbyists and the clout and our collective taxes decrease along with the government’s ability to function properly.

Maybe some of them hope to starve the beast. You know that line. The impression I get is that they just don’t care. It isn’t changing anything in their life if my child doesn’t have access to a quality public school. At least in the short run. And that’s as far as they seem to look. Or they feel they will be safe, no matter what. Let them eat cake!

Try really seeing that middle class people and working people and poor people are constantly set against one another and feeding into that fight is just as wrong as starting it in the first place. Urging people to vote against their own interests, to battle over scraps, to encourage anger instead of  “doing unto others” as JJ advises, this is only helping those wealthy members of our society who are happy to fund the fight and pick up all the pieces while everyone is distracted.

We can do better than this. It will be very hard work and we may even need some help from an “elitist” or two. But we can do better.

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45 responses

5 04 2011
Lynn

Nance?

5 04 2011
NanceConfer

Yes, that’s me, Lynn. 🙂 I have to remember to sign my rare posts.

5 04 2011
Lynn

I thought I recognized your brilliance.

So, here’s my math question: If JJ is miles smarter than Ben, Nance and the next 6 people combined and Nance is miles smarter than me and the next 6 people combined, how many more times less smart am I compared to JJ? 😦

5 04 2011
JJ

More times less smart is too complicated for me! 😉

5 04 2011
JJ

Our power’s been out — and out and out — so I never know these days when I can count on posting or commenting, but let’s give it a try quickly. This morning I saw a Florida example of Nance’s syndrome, old ideas that aren’t wrong exactly, just not developing along with society and knowledge and culture so that the solutions they endorse have the desired effect, if they ever did:

Is this the year for anti-saggy pants law?

Since 2008, Sen. Gary Siplin, an Orlando Democrat, has been pushing a law to keep children from showing their underwear and butt cracks in school. The Florida Senate approved the measure two years ago, and again last month.

Now the bill appears headed to the House floor, after advancing in its third committee in that chamber Tuesday morning.

“We want to make sure our students are prepared for the work force and there are no distractions in the classroom,” said Rep. Hazelle Rogers, a Lauderdale Lakes Democrat and the bill’s House sponsor.

The measure faced vehement opposition from the NAACP, which said addressing the student dress code could increase dropout high school rates and delay graduation for African-American boys.

“This is another bill that would harm our young black males,” said Barbara DeVane of the Tallahassee NAACP, who called the proposal an example of “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Siplin and Rogers, the bill’s sponsors, are both African-American.

Another example was glaring in last week’s “Blind Pigs” post:

If this seems unusually punitive, that’s because it is. The message these Republican lawmakers want to send is as straightforward as it is callous: if you go on strike, your family should have less access to food.

Once lost in that forest of moral blindness, feeding Ham creationism to the kiddies with public tax dollars while literally starving them of actual meat as a way to enslave their parents, and calling that good government in any kingdom real or imagined, is just icing on their, um, corporate-coveted truffle . . .

5 04 2011
JJ

There’s a Reverend Wallace on a hunger strike because half the world’s population is starving and America’s going in the wrong direction, and that’s not very Christian, or moral in any ethical system. I heard him on satellite radio today in the car and he was very impressive. (If I were to prefer “old” ideas of any kind I’d want to go with the most ancient truths still standing, not the recently debunked and recycled.)

I’m gonna go see what I can find online about Rev. Wallace, while the power holds out . . .

5 04 2011
JJ

Okay, pitfall of the radio instead of reading — it is WALLIS, not Wallace.

Fasting, Prayer & Budget Cuts

Circle of Protection

They challenged people of faith and conscience to join them, pledging to put pressure on Congress to form a “circle of protection” around programs benefitting poor and hungry people.

“These proposed cuts cross a moral line,” said Jim Wallis, “We are moving from neglecting the poor to targeting the poor. Theologically, this is an assault against the very people God specifically instructs us to protect, and whose well- being is the biblical test of a nation’s righteousness.”

It’s time to unleash god on hunger fast to stop budget cuts

Remember what I quoted Ben as saying in the previous post:
“I guess all I want at this point in the debate
is a little intellectual and moral honesty.”

5 04 2011
JJ

Nance: “Maybe some of them hope to starve the beast. ”

If government is the beast and it’s honest and moral to want to starve it, it should be equally honest and moral at the least, for me to hope we’ll starve the monster that is inhuman/inhumane corporatism, especially the Bush-Cheney military-industrial complex.

Here’s what I find dishonest and immoral:

The new Washington Post poll suggests a shutdown could hurt the public image of Republicans more than Democrats. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they thought Republicans were playing politics while only 31 percent said Republicans were honestly trying to solve the budget impasse. By contrast, 51 percent said they thought the Obama administration was playing politics and 43 percent said the administration was trying to resolve the issue.

But Pew survey may explain why Republicans are willing to face the threat of a shutdown despite the possibility the public will largely blame them for a government stoppage.

Although the poll found most respondents wanted to see a compromise — 36 percent said that like-minded lawmakers should “stand by their principles, even if that means the government shuts down” while 55 percent said those lawmakers should “be more willing to compromise, even if that means they pass a budget you disagree with,” Republican respondents were more likely to say they wanted lawmakers who shared their views to stand by their principles.

We need system change. For me, the party system itself is an old unproductive idea . . .

5 04 2011
Lynn

re: “more times less smart”

Just trying to add a level of difficulty for you brainiacs. 😉

5 04 2011
JJ

Then congratulations! 😀

6 04 2011
Nance Confer

Well, it’s not honest and moral to starve the government. So let’s start from there instead of making a deal with the devil. Let’s tax rich people and handle the money well to make sure people get the services they depend on. Let’s not pretend that many of these services are not things many of us paid into all our working lives and that our salaries were dependent on future benefits. Let’s not pretend that bootstraps are the answer.

And I’m sorry, Lynn, but you got the math all wrong. You may be the smartest one here. You are capable of huge change and fresh thinking. Winning! 🙂

6 04 2011
JJ

Right, not bootstraps nor saggy pants focus (there’s another name idea for a new group blog we can form: Bootstraps and Butt Cracks, who’s in?)

6 04 2011
JJ

Interesting, just heard Rep. Paul Ryan’s press conference on cable news re our government showdown-shutdown: “This is not a budget. This is a cause!”

Sounds very much about morals and values to me. He also hits value notes like “honest” and “shame” in this one seconds-long performance.

6 04 2011
JJ

Okay, I got us the wordpress blog name just in case. It was available, imagine that! 😉

6 04 2011
Lynn

OMG, JJ. You nabbed a “Bootstraps and Butt Cracks” blog? Should I start photoshopping a custom header? Creative synapses are firing, as you might imagine! 😀

6 04 2011
JJ

YES! and send me your wordpress id and/or email info so I can add you as a contributor . . .
Bootstraps and Butt Cracks

I think if you like you can just put whatever you need me to have as a comment to the autopost there, and I can use it and then we’ll clean it all up later

6 04 2011
JJ

Or an administrator, would be better

6 04 2011
Lynn

ROFLMAO. Ok, but this will still be my #1 favorite blog to visit ~~ especially since my browser’s autocomplete function lets me get here by the way of “cock” ~~ LOL 😉

6 04 2011
Lynn

I’ll give you some time now to reconsider your offer. 😀

6 04 2011
JJ

Too late. Like Edith Piaf’s new biography — No Regrets!

6 04 2011
COD

The difference between the the Republican and Democratic budgets amounts to arguing about whether we should reduce ocean levels by ladling out one cup of water, or two.

Nether side is actually addressing the budget in a meaningful way. The Republicans are trying to score points with the base by hurting people that white conservatives don’t like, and the Democrats are are afraid to really break away from the corporate teat to which they are attached.

7 04 2011
JJ

It’s pretty discouraging. I keep thinking of it like a family breakup, where the money problems do always loom large and yet the massive dysfunction isn’t just about the money.

7 04 2011
JJ

Duh — losing!

7 04 2011
Nance Confer

Exactly, Chris. Different approaches to the same things that do nothing to help.

7 04 2011
JJ

Harry Reid and John Boehner spoke for the press late last night and I was bemused this morning by Reid’s attempt to be optimistic. He clearly didn’t mean to do it or realize the Freudian slip of our top legislative politicians locked in this death match coming out to say as he did: “hope LIES eternal.”

Hope used to spring. Now it just keeps lying.

8 04 2011
Desperate for Control? Abusive Parenting, Abusive Politics « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Abusive Parenting, Abusive Politics 8 04 2011 As we talk more about morals and monsters in politics and schooling, check out comment from last year in a discussion that might speak to Ben and others […]

11 04 2011
JJ

Like all battles for public opinion, the school-reform debate is in
large part a matter of what the political consultant George Lakoff has
called ‘framing.’

The New York Times
April 9, 2011
The Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform
By JONATHAN MAHLER

. . .it was hard not to wonder whether the debate over school reform has reached a point where debate is no longer possible.

As is often the case with morally charged policy issues — remember welfare reform? — false dichotomies seem to have replaced fruitful conversation. If you support the teachers’ union, you don’t care about the students. If you are critical of the teachers’ union, you don’t care
about the teachers. If you are in favor of charter schools, you are opposed to public schools. If you believe in increased testing, you are
on board with the corruption of our liberal society’s most cherished educational values. If you are against increased testing, you are
against accountability. It goes on. Neither side seems capable of listening to the other.

The data can appear as divided as the rhetoric. . .
In such a polarized environment, spontaneous outbursts of candor can be ill-advised.

. . .Presumably, the deadlock will eventually be broken, and a “winner” will emerge. Either the education reformers will manage to take control of a critical mass of school districts, or they won’t. Before that happens, perhaps the various narratives and counter-narratives will decalcify and some actual debate will take place.

13 04 2011
NanceConfer

The President apparently made a “calm the liberals down” speech today. I’ve only heard snippets on the radio but, so far, have to agree with the Rude Pundit — http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/

13 04 2011
JJ

Well, that’s not an unreasonable response from you or the (yeah, rude) pundit. It’s been a horrible, terrible, awful couple of years and it seems to me it didn’t just have to be QUITE this bad.

I did see the whole speech in real time. I have to admit, it calmed me down — and made me hopeful. But I’m easy, for him at least. I keep imagining that his are grand and complex higher-level strategies that haven’t played out yet in all their eventual brilliance. 😉

13 04 2011
JJ

Rachel Maddow just started and she seems pretty happy with what he finally said and how he said it. She called it “a victory for math.” Lol.

p.s She also called it “unexpectedly satisfying.”

13 04 2011
Lynn

LOL at “His are grand and complex higher-level strategies that haven’t played out yet in all their eventual brilliance.”

Oh, my. Let go, let Obama? Be still and know that He is Obama? Understanding the ways of Obama is like an ant trying to understand the Internet. 😉

Yet, admittedly, I’m easy for Obama, too. Fool me twice, shame on me? Or maybe I’ll be right this time! 😀

13 04 2011
JJ

😀

The worst I will think of him is that he gets brutalized and can’t deliver, not that he is fooling us on purpose with malice aforethought.

13 04 2011
JJ

And there’s this take at HuffPo:

In the end, the President’s actions will outweigh the impact of any speech he might give. The President’s ambiguity means that his positions are still a work in progress. In one sense that’s good news. It means they can still be molded by political pressure. The public still has time to call on the President to do what’s needed: protect Social Security, preserve Medicare, assist the needy, and rescue the dying American middle class.

Here’s an overview of the speech: the good, the bad, and the holographic.

14 04 2011
Nance Confer

Yes, it’s that “fool me twice” bit — that’s where I’m at now. Or fool me three times, ten times. . . trust will have to be won. Not that is will make a hair’s difference one way or the other.

14 04 2011
JJ

Here’s a brilliant-strategy attributing response from Paul Abrams, identified as “Physician, Biotechnology consultant, professional iconoclast” posting “Perfect, Mr. President: Not Just the Speech, But the Timing and Strategy”:

President Obama’s speech hit all the right notes. . .

Most importantly, he spoke of America’s economic greatness as a mix of individual and collective (i.e., government) actions. The president’s answer to laissez-faire was not government programs alone, but a mix of the private and public sectors. That is how our economy has hummed in the past. He spoke of our embracing the twin themes of individualism and collective (i.e., government) actions as our historical social contract.

But it was not only his speech, but its timing and its underlying strategy that were also perfect. By waiting until the Republicans had committed to their ridiculous, draconian budget, he has Congressional members pinned down, with those supposedly running for president providing at least conceptual approval.

And maybe this will calm Nance down? 😉

There should be no talk about concessions to Republicans to raise the debt ceiling. None. The Republicans’ Wall Street paymasters will get the debt ceiling raised.

14 04 2011
JJ

To Nance’s original point about “old ideas” I just came across some snooking about school board member Julia Steiny:

She can’t think in new ways because the old ways are IN the way. They have become the structure not just of schooling but of her own thinking.

14 04 2011
NanceConfer

I’m not concerned about the debt ceiling. From my understanding of it, it has to be raised. The Rs, though, may try to attach some more of their garbage to that process. Which does worry me.

And this is a separate issue from political wrangling over the budget. Where Rs can truly get up to evil and Obama can meet them halfway.

I hope I am wrong in all this pessimism.

14 04 2011
JJ

. . . people love, honor and protect what they know, what they’ve learned.

People don’t want their eternalities to change. They hate that.

What they learned as children, you know, that by now are OLD ideas! 😉

People who don’t know a lot about science treasure what they do know, what they learned early as children, like:

a) Eskimos have lots of words for snow.
b) Wait 20 minutes after lunch before going swimming.
c) There are nine planets, and the ninth one is Pluto.
d) The biggest dinosaur ever was the Brontosaurus.
e) Triceratops was the one with the three horns.
f) T-rex was awesome.

See also Dwarfing Pluto, Shrinking OUrselves

15 04 2011
Lynn

:O Oh, no! Just last week, I was prefacing an explanation to Girl, “You know how Eskimos have lots of words for snow? Well,…” Next, someone’s gonna claim that crossing your eyes won’t make them get stuck that way! (Should Girl thank her lucky stars that Mommy’s not homeschooling her anymore?)

15 04 2011
JJ

😀
You have to admit, it really makes the case for School not bothering with hypercompetitive factoid force-feeding and instead focusing on story, design, symphony, inquiry, higher-order critical thinking and general love of lifelong learning as play!

15 04 2011
JJ

And Moral Musical Chairs!
(Lynn, I answered your question about that here.)

15 04 2011
NanceConfer

Well, at least there are some things that are still true — http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/why-are-no-two-snowflakes-identical-0398/

And while there may not be 400 words for snow way up north, can we doubt they have more of a clue than Floridians do?

The other day DS and I found ourselves behind a young lady in a little red car with Alaska tags. We hoped the driver was headed to Key West, another 5 hours(?) south, and could then brag about that long trip. 🙂

Nance

15 04 2011
JJ

Btw Nance, this is for you today: House Dems Playing Offense

When would Ryan’s plan balance the budget? Good question!

Democrats nearly succeeded in getting Republicans to vote for a budget that’s even more radical than the one Representative Paul Ryan is proposing. . . Cue pandemonium, and a very narrow defeat for the fringe GOP.

Not that the Ryan plan is having a day of sunshine and roses . . .

15 04 2011
JJ

Everybody’s talking about this today:
Nine Things the Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes by David Cay Johnston (see who he is, below)

JJ’s summary but go read the real thing!
1. Poor Americans do pay taxes.
2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden.
3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all.
5. And (surprise!) since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income.
6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same—less taxes.
7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs.
8. Republicans like taxes too.
9. Other countries do it better.

On April 15, traditionally tax-filing day and the day chosen to release the new Ayn Rand feature film Atlas Shrugged, one old idea we should be able to discount and discard is from Johnston’s conclusion:

How long does it take to conclude that a policy has failed to fulfill its promises? And as you think of that, keep in mind George Washington. When he fell ill his doctors followed the common wisdom of the era. They cut him and bled him to remove bad blood. As Washington’s condition grew worse, they bled him more. And like the mantra of tax cuts for the rich, they kept applying the same treatment until they killed him.

Luckily we don’t bleed the sick anymore, but we are bleeding our government to death.

David Cay Johnston is a columnist for tax.com and teaches the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management.

He has also been called the “de facto chief tax enforcement officer of the United States” because his reporting in The New York Times shut down many tax dodges and schemes, just two of them valued by Congress at $260 billion.

Johnston received a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for exposing tax loopholes and inequities. He wrote two bestsellers on taxes, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch. Later this year, Johnston will be out with a new book, The Fine Print, revealing how big business, with help from politicians, abuses plain English to rob you blind.

15 04 2011
JJ

Re: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and her John Galt:

Rebuttal to the Going Galt Arument

“The people who make it are first, not very bright. And second, they are not very wealthy. . .”

True, if you think about a Warren Buffett or a Bill Gates, for example. Smart and rich but not exactly Randian. They to the contrary seem to grasp quite well, that the economic well-being of their customer base is somewhat related to the taxes willingly paid by Big Business and also to the humanitarian outreach it explores.

Gideons for the Gifted and Greedy

Let’s apply some of Rand’s vaunted “reason” to this reality. Getting what you want and believe in is great, but can you eat your philosophy and have it too? When what you want and believe in is respect and self-determination for each individual, can you possibly achieve it by seducing conscripted masses, privileging your view over others and stacking the intellectual deck against reason?

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