Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why Universal Pre-K Will Not Happen

I'm not sure if I have ever felt more sincere sympathy for a government official as I do for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan right now.

I know he's an intelligent individual, so he is probably not so naively optimistic as the public face is wearing as he navigates from news show to news show bearing the promise that we are the cusp of passing legislation that will ensure that our most precious national resource, our children, will all have access to quality pre-K education; that from this point forward, poor children will no longer step into their first day of kindergarten a year behind their peers, a gap that studies show only widens as they progress toward their high school graduation.

I feel like Martin Bashir is a mean older cousin telling a little boy that there is no Santa Claus as he tries to bludgeon the starry-eyed Mr. Duncan with facts, such as the House's failure to pass any legislation, or even vote on any legislation that has been sent to them from the Senate. And what about the fact that the sequester has cut off access to preschool for poor children all over the country, and that many of the parents of those children have lost their jobs because they can't afford child care?

But Arne Duncan perseveres, staying on his message of hope and optimism:

Well,  folks are concerned about how government money is spent, but everyone understands that this is not an expense, this is an investment in our future as a nation.
It goes round and round like this for several minutes with Mr. Bashir pointing out that the Republicans in power care more about subsidies for big business than for poor children who can't read, and that right-wing conservatives view Obama's push for universal pre-K as tyrannical indoctrination (I mean, let's not forget that this "pre-K" business is coming from a Kenyan Socialist Atheist Muslim terrorist who is out to destroy America).

But no one is getting to the real reason why universal pre-K is going to fail.

Sure, oil companies have lobbyists and toddlers do not, but that's not the real reason.

It's the same reason why America hangs out at the bottom of lists of industrialized nations in math and science, in college graduation rates, and now even in technology education.

That's right, the explosion of job openings in silicon valley are being filled foreigners because the largest industrialized nation is turning out an anemic amount of computer engineers.

And speaking of technology education, did you know that schools in other countries are teaching computer code as a fundamental subject like math and language?

Ah, but back to the reason why the state of our nation's education is so pathetic.

Remember the "Death Tax?" That cruel government imposition that was destroying the legacy of hard-working individuals, putting family farms out of business and leaving grieving families destitute?

Yeah, that was all a lie.

The Estate Tax actually only applied to the top 0.1% of the population (that's ONE TENTH of one percent). So this tax never left anyone even close to destitute.

Furthermore, this tax was never about revenue for the government; it was about preventing the transfer of outrageous fortunes from one generation to another.

The Estate Tax was enacted in 1907 under Theodore Roosevelt to prevent the development of a ruling class, because a ruling class cannot coexist with a democracy.

Okay, hold on to that thought and stay with me...

Let's skip ahead to Franklin Roosevelt as our country is coming out of the Great Depression. He set in place series of financial regulations called the Bretton Woods system to prevent things like stock market gambling from destroying our economy ever again, and clear lines were established that separated banks and lending institutions from dealing in stock market trading (you know, so that when you place your money in a bank, it can't loan your money out to be gambled with in the stock market).

Now, at this point you should be wondering ...wait, didn't our recent economic downturn have something to do with banks and lending and stock market gambling? How did that happen if FDR enacted these regulations?

Good question!

And the answer is DE-regulation! Twenty years of deregulation that culminated with the repeal of the last remnants of the Bretton Woods system under President Clinton! (Yeah, that "economic prosperity" you remember under President Clinton was actually the dying gasp of our real economy.)

But the economy didn't die, you say? It plodded along for about another decade? Of course it did! That's what wars are for!

And the final nail in the coffin of our democracy would be the repeal of the estate tax, which at the moment is teetering on edge of extinction while the deck is being stacked in favor of the ruling class now that, on top of deciding that corporations are "people," the Supreme Court has ruled that money is "speech" and that the "speech" of corporations and insanely wealthy individuals cannot be infringed upon with limitations on campaign contributions (translation: rich people and corporations can now flat-out buy politicians).

So, what does the new American Ruling Class have to do with the sad state of our public education infrastructure and the likelihood that universal pre-K will ever see the light of day?

Because the more ignorant the population is, the easier that population is to rule.

President Obama warns with a famous Derek Bok quote, "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

I say that train may have already left the station.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Most Fabulous Olympics Ever!

There has been a lot of talk about boycotting the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia over the country's recent anti-gay laws.

While I understand the sentiment, we first need to think about the fact that the Olympics are much bigger than the country in which they are hosted. There are athletes who have trained their whole lives, and a lot of them only get one chance to perform on the world stage. Is it really fair to deprive our American athletes of competing in the Olympics?


So we have to think about how boycotting the Olympics would help the people we are boycotting for: the homosexuals in Russia who are deprived of their human rights by these anti-gay laws, and whether there might be better ways those people could be served.

Certainly the United State's absence from the Olympics would overshadow the entire event, and shine a bright spotlight on gay rights.

But what if we outfitted all our athletes with rainbow uniforms and passed out rainbow flags to anyone who will hold it up high in front of every camera televising, for all the world to see, the most fabulous Olympics ever!