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America's Cult of Ignorance
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KimchiNinja



Joined: 01 May 2012
Location: Gangnam

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: America's Cult of Ignorance Reply with quote

Here are some highlights from this rather excellent article...

America's Cult of Ignorance Is No Match for Asia's Cult of Intelligence

I have been traveling to East Asia (and many other parts of the world) for more than 25 years and over that time one of the things that has always struck me is how intelligent the general public in countries like Japan appear to be. It's not that there aren't dummies in East Asia, but it always seems that the average level of education and ability to think about the world intelligently and critically is impressively widespread. I've often thought about why this is the case and also why the same seems more difficult to say about the U.S. The answer, I think, can be found in a comment science fiction writer Isaac Asimov made about the U.S. while being interviewed in the 1980s: "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

Many Americans are aware that the U.S. does not score well on measure such as international student assessment tests when compared to other industrial countries. For example, the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TMISS) the top five countries for math were Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan--the U.S. is not in the top ten. It is better by 8th grade, where the same counties are in the top five (although the order changes) and the U.S. makes number 9. Roughly the same pattern can bee seen for science results. This doesn't seem too bad, but in a different testing organization's measure, the Programme for International Student Assessment, the U.S. does not fare quite so well, scoring 36th for math, 28th for science, and 24th for reading. With the exception of science, where Finland is ranked 5th, all of the top five countries in this measure are from East Asia.

The troubles lie in the cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism that has been a long-standing part of American society and which has become increasingly evident and powerful in recent years through the propagandizing and proselytizing of groups like the Tea Party and the religious right.

The fundamental reason that countries in places like East Asia present such a significant challenge to the U.S. politically and economically is not because they have a lot of people or big militaries, or seem to be willing to grow their economic and political might without concern for issues like damage to the environment (China). The problem is that these countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. I have never run across the type of suspicion and even disdain for the work of teachers that occurs in the U.S. Teachers in Japan typically are paid significantly more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is one that is seen as being of central value in Japanese society and those who choose that profession are well compensated in terms of salary, pension, and respect for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.

In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history--such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers, who were largely deists--which are essential to having a fundamental understanding of the world. The reason for this is because in general Japanese value education, value the work of intellectuals, and see a well-educated public with a basic common knowledge in areas of scientific fact, math, history, literature, etc. as being an essential foundation to a successful democracy.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-traphagan/america-ignorance-asia-intelligence_b_5505032.html
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catman



Joined: 18 Jul 2004

PostPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2014 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There seems to be a political demographic in the US that takes pride in their lack of knowledge about the outside world. That is why Sarah Palin became so popular. People could relate to her ignorance.
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maximmm



Joined: 01 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is why foxnews was able to relate the term 'people' to elitism during the election campaign. Now, US presidents tend to use the word 'folks'. Folks being the hardworking plumbers and labourers, while 'people' being the ones that.... went to university.
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trueblue



Joined: 15 Jun 2014
Location: In between the lines

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting....


I agree, yet, I disagree to a point.

First, it was the MEDIA that sketched Palin as charaltan.

Second...I do agree that Americans have become, quite dumbed down over the years. But, we can attest this to other factors.

1. The break down of the American family.
2. The femminization of poverty
3. Degenerating culture
4. The wonderul United States Department of Education....
5. Universities that don't actually educate...just indoctrinate. Now, the same cannot be said for ALL universities in the United States. But, some are just a very expensive name. For example, do a search on what ivy league students had to learn 200 years ago vs. what they do now...I'm talking madatory courses.

Indeed...Americans have been dumbed down.
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On the other hand



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Location: I walk along the avenue

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The writer seems to be using the legitimate issue of Amercian miseducation to ride a bunch of personal hobby horses, as well as indulge in a bit of crackpot orientalism.

Quote:
The problem is that these countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community.


Yeah, and just across the sea, in Korea, teachers are held in such high esteem that they are routinely handed envelopes stuffed with cash in exchange for extra attention to particular students. Important members of the community, indeed.

And, if he ever travels to Korea, the writer should poll the people he meets on "Have you ever cheated on a school or university test?" The answers might not match his idealized view of Asian education.

Not that bribery and cheating are the only relevant things about Korean education, but they are arguably as relevant as whatever things the writer admires about Japanese education.

Quote:
In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history


Okay, I don't like creationism either, and recognize that it has more of a following in the US than in most countries. But is it really the case that the natural sciences in the USA are in a state of crisis because too many students are graduating from high school with no knowledge of evolutionary theory? Are university zoology departments mulling closure because they can't find any prospective students who believe in evolution? I don't think I've heard of anything like that, and I would doubt it's a major factor in the decline of America's scientific pre-eminence.

Quote:
shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history--such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers


If this dude thinks that distortions of history are absent from history classes in Asia, he really needs to spend more time over here. Or even just reading a newspaper.

Basically, the guy is mad that American teachers don't get enough respect, ticked off that evolution and deism are given short shrift in Amercian schools, and he's imagining East Asia as this Shangri-La where everything he hates about the US is blissfully absent. It's the typcial sort of ranting you get from tourists who are embittered with their own country.
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atwood



Joined: 26 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trueblue wrote:
Interesting....


I agree, yet, I disagree to a point.

First, it was the MEDIA that sketched Palin as charaltan.

Second...I do agree that Americans have become, quite dumbed down over the years. But, we can attest this to other factors.

1. The break down of the American family.
2. The femminization of poverty
3. Degenerating culture
4. The wonderul United States Department of Education....
5. Universities that don't actually educate...just indoctrinate. Now, the same cannot be said for ALL universities in the United States. But, some are just a very expensive name. For example, do a search on what ivy league students had to learn 200 years ago vs. what they do now...I'm talking madatory courses.

Indeed...Americans have been dumbed down.

People in glass houses...
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atwood



Joined: 26 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the other hand wrote:
The writer seems to be using the legitimate issue of Amercian miseducation to ride a bunch of personal hobby horses, as well as indulge in a bit of crackpot orientalism.

Quote:
The problem is that these countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community.


Yeah, and just across the sea, in Korea, teachers are held in such high esteem that they are routinely handed envelopes stuffed with cash in exchange for extra attention to particular students. Important members of the community, indeed.

And, if he ever travels to Korea, the writer should poll the people he meets on "Have you ever cheated on a school or university test?" The answers might not match his idealized view of Asian education.

Not that bribery and cheating are the only relevant things about Korean education, but they are arguably as relevant as whatever things the writer admires about Japanese education.

Quote:
In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history


Okay, I don't like creationism either, and recognize that it has more of a following in the US than in most countries. But is it really the case that the natural sciences in the USA are in a state of crisis because too many students are graduating from high school with no knowledge of evolutionary theory? Are university zoology departments mulling closure because they can't find any prospective students who believe in evolution? I don't think I've heard of anything like that, and I would doubt it's a major factor in the decline of America's scientific pre-eminence.

Quote:
shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history--such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers


If this dude thinks that distortions of history are absent from history classes in Asia, he really needs to spend more time over here. Or even just reading a newspaper.

Basically, the guy is mad that American teachers don't get enough respect, ticked off that evolution and deism are given short shrift in Amercian schools, and he's imagining East Asia as this Shangri-La where everything he hates about the US is blissfully absent. It's the typcial sort of ranting you get from tourists who are embittered with their own country.

Good post.

There has always been a strain of anti-intellectualism in America, where the doer is given precedence over the learner, the concrete over the abstract, and thanks to the likes of the Mellons, the Coors and the Kochs, this had gotten distorted and amplified over the last three decades.

But, with some thanks to learning from the election of Obama, liberals and scientists have realized they have to fight fire with fire, and I believe the tide is turning somewhat.
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trueblue



Joined: 15 Jun 2014
Location: In between the lines

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
People in glass houses...


Oh, I do apologize for not double checking my spelling on an internet forum. This surely is something to ruminate over. I thank you, for point out the error of my ways.
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atwood



Joined: 26 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trueblue wrote:
Quote:
People in glass houses...


Oh, I do apologize for not double checking my spelling on an internet forum. This surely is something to ruminate over. I thank you, for point out the error of my ways.

The sarcasm would be more effective if your grammar were correct.

Strike two!
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trueblue



Joined: 15 Jun 2014
Location: In between the lines

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps this (one of two) can provide some contribution to the issue at hand...I find them both, very interesting.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/05/graduation_and_the_decline_of_america.html

May 10, 2014

Graduation and The Decline of America

Howard Sachs

Pictures of kids in caps and gowns kids are showing up on my Facebook these weeks. Family and friends are graduating. I'm delighted but also deeply saddened how the garb reflects but a veneer of learning covering a chasm of ignorance. It spans Harvard to Howard Community College. We are often spending hundreds of thousands of dollars leading to such ceremonies but the vast majority of these kids are clueless about the fundamentals of our American value system.



The great libertarian legal scholar Richard Epstein wrote a superb essay, Our Obsolete Constitution, reminding me of all this. It examined the notion of factions discussed by Madison in #10 of the Federalist Papers. Mention that to any of these kids and it would be as if one were speaking Icelandic. Yet their lives are profoundly and daily affected by how we understand such ideas. How we work and play, live productive lives, build business and acquire property rely on a solid understanding of American values and why, for instance, Madison and our founders so vehemently fought against factions and structured our federal government to quell if not destroy them.


To be honest, for years I too was a bit bewildered by the idea. At least I thought about it. (Our kids after 16 years of schooling haven't encountered the vital American issue.) Why, I asked myself, regarding the word faction, would Madison be so against what we love, a diversity of ideas. I thought the clash of competing ideas in the public space was how we best got at truth. Shouldn't America welcome factions?

I did not understand Madison. Professor Epstein clarified it. Madison was not against diversity of ideas. He was against a very different thing. He was against what has occurred throughout human history, power becoming concentrated in groups of citizens, whether they be a vocal and powerful minority or majority, making the others bend to their will. These factions he and the other founders agreed were antithetical to the new experiment in the world, America.




Such factional activity is a harsh assault on the core value of America, liberty. Liberty, American liberty, is where power and control, private property and money is seeded in the individual citizen. It’s the most moral and exceptional form of liberty, ultimately deriving from our religious roots where every man is considered equal in the eyes of God.

Factions destroy liberty. Factions are a country level form of bullying. Madison argued they must be powerfully fought against. He and the other founders did it through the laws of our great Constitution and through how it structures our government as a republic with separation of powers.

In law, this is most well seen with the General Welfare clause of the Constitution. There, it is clear and unambiguous. The politicians in Washington may only act, in limited and enumerated ways, and only if it benefits the entire citizenry. Hence, we build and maintain an American Army to protect us from foreign foes. We build an interstate road system to connect all citizens so commerce may run freely and efficiently. Our federal government is to make laws and take and spend our hard earned money, not to help one group over another, not to divide and Balkanize us, not to hand Obamaphones to one group, free healthcare to another and free contraceptive pills to yet another, but to unite us with common and vital government activity.

But Madison is now ignored by millions of Americans and unknown by millions of our graduates. Factions have now become rampant in America and our core value of liberty crumbles. Now the politician in Washington orders citizen in Barrow, Alaska to go out to work and by threat of violence hand over large amounts of his money to give it to citizens he deems more worthy. John is essentially ordered to work for Mary because Mary is an environmentalist, or teacher union member, a feminist or public employee union member, a gay activist, pro-abortion activist, black activist, a poor activist or rich activist, young or old ,Latino or Chicano activist, or on the board of a powerful drug company or finance institution activist.


And as our President clearly and frighteningly enunciated, "I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money." He left out the next vital sentences which naturally follows, "And I politician will take the rest, and the power that accompanies it and redistribute it to others I think are more deserving. Factions are my fodder to gain and retain and distribute power."

Madison would be appalled. He'd call it un-American, factionalism on steroids. Madison was delighted in the diversity of opinions and interests in America but warned us clearly about such attacks on our core liberty. He warned us about an emboldened and strong federal government redistributing power and money from one citizen to another through such factionalism. That, he argued is when America fails because liberty ends and tyranny begins.

But most of our graduates don’t know or think about any of this. Most are focused on fluff, materialism, celebrity, Hollywood, entertainment, carbon dioxide emissions- plant food, and recycling. They walk away carrying those diplomas, almost empty of meaning. American education has in general failed and failed miserably to do the basic task it is assigned, teach our children who we are and why the American value system is what it is and why it is so moral and good. It has failed to teach that morality and a good life in America is fundamentally tied to a love of liberty and hatred of factionalism. This portends dark times ahead unless we get back to the basics of educating our young people
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trueblue



Joined: 15 Jun 2014
Location: In between the lines

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part two...The reason I posted this, is that, I have been one of those Americans, unaware of such important issues, that are tied together.

The more I read and seek knowledge, the more I realize the Republic is falling and education in America, has been playing a large role.


http://www.hoover.org/research/rewriting-first-amendment


Rewriting the First Amendment

by Richard A. Epstein

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quote:
Mark Twain famously wrote that “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” His maxim applies in spades to a newly proposed amendment to the Constitution, which would transform national and state elections for the worse.

Championed by some 43 Democratic Senators, the new amendment contains four provisions that would essentially undo the central first amendment protections for political speech. The first two deal with the expanded scope of federal and state power respectively:

SECTION 1. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes, Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 2 grants a parallel authority to the state over its elections. Section 3 then announces, “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.” Section 4 provides that both “Congress and the States shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

There are two central questions raised by this amendment. Why is it needed, and can it achieve its ends?


Hoover senior fellow Richard Epstein.
Political Speech and the First Amendment

Democrats are still enraged over the 2010 decision of the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That case struck down key provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) that banned corporations and unions from using their general funds for electioneering expenditures for or against political candidates within 30 days of a primary or general election. The new amendment seeks to again impose restrictions on these and other campaign expenditures, which the Court interpreted as falling under the constitutional protection for political speech in the Citizens United case.

In dealing with all First Amendment issues, the initial question is to secure the right balance between the protection of speech and the legitimate limitations that may be placed on its use. That abstract point has been repeatedly made by one of the BCRA’s most ardent supporter’s, New York Senator Charles Schumer. He has stressed that the First Amendment is not an “absolute,” only to reveal a complete ignorance of how the resulting balance should be drawn. His illustrations of appropriate restrictions cover pornography and libel, which are justified on narrow grounds. The control on pornography often relates to the protection of children; the libel law protects individuals from false statements that hinder their opportunities for economic or social advancement. The classical liberal theories of the Founders recognize that both objectives are legitimate, after which they engage in detailed analysis of whether the means chosen are reasonably adapted to the chosen ends.


Restrictions on political speech during the run-up to an election demand a very different analysis. Right now, strong controls against bribery and extortion are in place. The new amendment goes far beyond those issues to regulate political speech, which lies at the core of the First Amendment. In that realm, the government must show some compelling interest before it can limit what is said and who says it. It is very hard to come up with a rationale that justifies a congressional ban on the release of Hilary: The Movie, which is political speech pure and simple. The correct response is for those who dislike the movie is not to ban its release but to rebut its message with publications of their own. The public is better off with more speech on all sides of any question than with restrictions on speech that typically impose greater burdens on one side than another.

So why displace that view? One familiar line of argument pushed hard by former Justice John Paul Stevens in Citizens United is that corporations are really not entitled to any kind of speech right at all. But any effort to regulate their speech is deeply inconsistent with the basic logic of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is not limited to the actions of individuals in isolation from one another. The exercise of any freedom depends on the ability of individuals to cooperate with each other to obtain the gains of specialization. The constitutional protection of speech thus contains an inescapable associational dimension, which is captured in the very notion of a coordinated political campaign. What Justice Stevens could never explain was why any group of individuals lose that associational protection by taking advantage of state laws of incorporation that allow them to act with a single voice and to obtain the benefits of limited liability. The New York Times and other members of the press don’t lose their protections because of incorporation. Why should anyone else? The protection of freedom of speech extends therefore to all cooperative activities, whether by the press, corporations, partnerships, informal groups, or isolated individuals.

The Brave New Constitutional Order

The weakness of the Stevens position is tacitly conceded in the proposed constitutional amendment, which in no way singles out corporate activities for special government regulation. Instead, it allows for the comprehensive regulation of all “raising and spending” activities done by individuals or corporations with their own cash, other resources, or with cash or in-kind contributions obtained from anyone else. In so doing, the amendment repudiates not only Citizens United, but the 1976 decision in Buckley v Valeo, which imposed limits on campaign contributions made to others, but not on the use of a candidate’s own resources in their own political campaigns.

The clear direction of the proposed amendment is to ensure “political equality for all” and “the integrity of elections” by getting money out of politics. The stated reasons for the amendment are sadly in error. The fundamental purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty, and property of all individuals. But liberty and property are never distributed in the same proportions across society—and therein lies the challenge to the proposed amendment. No corporation allocates either votes or cash distributions under the principle of one person, one vote. No one would ever contribute large sums to a business if a large group of shareholders could use their voting power to declare dividends that would expropriate the investments of the wealthy. Making voting power and economic rights proportionate to shareholding is the only way for collective enterprises to raise huge sums of wealth from a widely diverse population.

By the same token, no system of political liberty can long survive if votes and power were allocated solely proportion to wealth, when much of individual well-being is determined by other factors such as health, which cannot be easily reduced to money. On these matters, one person, one vote offers a better first approximation of the stakes for all persons. The problem is, however, that a political system based on pure majoritarian principles opens the door to massive wealth transfers through taxation and regulation that can undermine the economic welfare and political harmony of a nation.

The correct compromise uses constitutional arrangements that insulate private wealth from political expropriation. Yet all the original constitutional provisions adopted with that end in mind have largely been eviscerated by Supreme Court in three key areas, as I argue in my book, The Classical Liberal Constitution.

First, the power of taxation that was originally intended to deal with debt, common defense, and the general welfare of the United States has been read, incorrectly, under a highly deferential standard, to permit massive wealth transfers at the federal level. Second, the requirement that private property be taken for public use only upon payment of just compensation has been read to offer virtually no protection of comprehensive schemes of land use and economic regulation that likewise result in huge wealth transfers. Third, the Commerce Clause has been read expansively to satisfy Congress’s endless lust for political horse-trading on any and all issues. Yet, at the same time, the states remain free to enact their own programs of taxation and regulation, free of serious constitutional constraint, when the federal government encourages them to do so, or remains silent on an issue.

The upshot of this system is that the creation of wealth in the United States is now held hostage by politics, which is one reason that wealthy people have thrown themselves into the political arena, largely for self-defense. Their activities should, of course, be condemned when they seek special breaks that result in implicit wealth transfers to themselves. But make no mistake about it: today, progressives are on the march. Their proposed amendment is intended to neutralize their opponents in order to promote their own agenda of extensive regulation and ever-greater transfer payments.

In an ironic sense, the Democratic defenders of the proposed amendment are right to be concerned about the integrity of the legislative and political processes that they have dominated since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, if not before. Their program has been a conspicuous failure on domestic economic issues, with slow rates of economic growth and anemic levels of job formation. What is needed now is a renewed determination to stem the rising tide of regulation and redistribution that the Democrats wish to entrench with their ill-considered constitutional amendment. Fortunately, the amendment is likely to achieve the political oblivion that it so richly deserves.


Last edited by trueblue on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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trueblue



Joined: 15 Jun 2014
Location: In between the lines

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The sarcasm would be more effective if your grammar were correct.

Strike two!


And when all else fails, don't attack the issues, attack one's grammar and/or spelling (in my case, it is both! LOL!)

I'm not here to pick an internet fight. As for you, I'm not sure. Either way, just stick to the topic and things will go somewhat, more smoothly.

But...here is a life line. I don't spend much time stressing about making sure every word is spelled correctly, on an internet forum, such as this. So, you ARE welcomed to continue on, as it is your choice. Make it your maxim, perhaps.

However, as I said, I feel it would be better for both of us (mainly you), if the issues were at the tip of the spear.

Otherwise, you simply contribute to the reputation of the "Grammar Nazi's" swimming in the waters, circling for prey, on Dave's ESL Café.
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atwood



Joined: 26 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trueblue wrote:
Quote:
The sarcasm would be more effective if your grammar were correct.

Strike two!


And when all else fails, don't attack the issues, attack one's grammar and/or spelling (in my case, it is both! LOL!)

I'm not here to pick an internet fight. As for you, I'm not sure. Either way, just stick to the topic and things will go somewhat, more smoothly.

But...here is a life line. I don't spend much time stressing about making sure every word is spelled correctly, on an internet forum, such as this. So, you ARE welcomed to continue on, as it is your choice. Make it your maxim, perhaps.

However, as I said, I feel it would be better for both of us (mainly you), if the issues were at the tip of the spear.

Otherwise, you simply contribute to the reputation of the "Grammar Nazi's" swimming in the waters, circling for prey, on Dave's ESL Café.

Dude, you claimed the U.S. is, in your words, "dumbed down." Yet you can't write a post that is grammatically correct.

So you are either evidence of that "dumbing down" if you were educated in the U.S., or you shouldn't be characterizing others as dumb.

Try that spear tip on for size.
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atwood



Joined: 26 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trueblue wrote:
Perhaps this (one of two) can provide some contribution to the issue at hand...I find them both, very interesting.

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/05/graduation_and_the_decline_of_america.html

May 10, 2014

Graduation and The Decline of America

Howard Sachs

Pictures of kids in caps and gowns kids are showing up on my Facebook these weeks. Family and friends are graduating. I'm delighted but also deeply saddened how the garb reflects but a veneer of learning covering a chasm of ignorance. It spans Harvard to Howard Community College. We are often spending hundreds of thousands of dollars leading to such ceremonies but the vast majority of these kids are clueless about the fundamentals of our American value system.



The great libertarian legal scholar Richard Epstein wrote a superb essay, Our Obsolete Constitution, reminding me of all this. It examined the notion of factions discussed by Madison in #10 of the Federalist Papers. Mention that to any of these kids and it would be as if one were speaking Icelandic. Yet their lives are profoundly and daily affected by how we understand such ideas. How we work and play, live productive lives, build business and acquire property rely on a solid understanding of American values and why, for instance, Madison and our founders so vehemently fought against factions and structured our federal government to quell if not destroy them.


To be honest, for years I too was a bit bewildered by the idea. At least I thought about it. (Our kids after 16 years of schooling haven't encountered the vital American issue.) Why, I asked myself, regarding the word faction, would Madison be so against what we love, a diversity of ideas. I thought the clash of competing ideas in the public space was how we best got at truth. Shouldn't America welcome factions?

I did not understand Madison. Professor Epstein clarified it. Madison was not against diversity of ideas. He was against a very different thing. He was against what has occurred throughout human history, power becoming concentrated in groups of citizens, whether they be a vocal and powerful minority or majority, making the others bend to their will. These factions he and the other founders agreed were antithetical to the new experiment in the world, America.




Such factional activity is a harsh assault on the core value of America, liberty. Liberty, American liberty, is where power and control, private property and money is seeded in the individual citizen. It’s the most moral and exceptional form of liberty, ultimately deriving from our religious roots where every man is considered equal in the eyes of God.

Factions destroy liberty. Factions are a country level form of bullying. Madison argued they must be powerfully fought against. He and the other founders did it through the laws of our great Constitution and through how it structures our government as a republic with separation of powers.

In law, this is most well seen with the General Welfare clause of the Constitution. There, it is clear and unambiguous. The politicians in Washington may only act, in limited and enumerated ways, and only if it benefits the entire citizenry. Hence, we build and maintain an American Army to protect us from foreign foes. We build an interstate road system to connect all citizens so commerce may run freely and efficiently. Our federal government is to make laws and take and spend our hard earned money, not to help one group over another, not to divide and Balkanize us, not to hand Obamaphones to one group, free healthcare to another and free contraceptive pills to yet another, but to unite us with common and vital government activity.

But Madison is now ignored by millions of Americans and unknown by millions of our graduates. Factions have now become rampant in America and our core value of liberty crumbles. Now the politician in Washington orders citizen in Barrow, Alaska to go out to work and by threat of violence hand over large amounts of his money to give it to citizens he deems more worthy. John is essentially ordered to work for Mary because Mary is an environmentalist, or teacher union member, a feminist or public employee union member, a gay activist, pro-abortion activist, black activist, a poor activist or rich activist, young or old ,Latino or Chicano activist, or on the board of a powerful drug company or finance institution activist.


And as our President clearly and frighteningly enunciated, "I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money." He left out the next vital sentences which naturally follows, "And I politician will take the rest, and the power that accompanies it and redistribute it to others I think are more deserving. Factions are my fodder to gain and retain and distribute power."

Madison would be appalled. He'd call it un-American, factionalism on steroids. Madison was delighted in the diversity of opinions and interests in America but warned us clearly about such attacks on our core liberty. He warned us about an emboldened and strong federal government redistributing power and money from one citizen to another through such factionalism. That, he argued is when America fails because liberty ends and tyranny begins.

But most of our graduates don’t know or think about any of this. Most are focused on fluff, materialism, celebrity, Hollywood, entertainment, carbon dioxide emissions- plant food, and recycling. They walk away carrying those diplomas, almost empty of meaning. American education has in general failed and failed miserably to do the basic task it is assigned, teach our children who we are and why the American value system is what it is and why it is so moral and good. It has failed to teach that morality and a good life in America is fundamentally tied to a love of liberty and hatred of factionalism. This portends dark times ahead unless we get back to the basics of educating our young people

Yet I bet Sachs, as a Libertarian, was all for Citizens United, which has led to a greater concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy, some of whom, such as the Kochs, are directly responsible for the factionalism in today's America.

What he's proposing in that last paragraph you bolded sounds alarmingly like propaganda first and second ideas that lead to discrimination against minorities and the opposition to reforming immigration laws.
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atwood



Joined: 26 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trueblue wrote:
Part two...The reason I posted this, is that, I have been one of those Americans, unaware of such important issues, that are tied together.

The more I read and seek knowledge, the more I realize the Republic is falling and education in America, has been playing a large role.


http://www.hoover.org/research/rewriting-first-amendment


Rewriting the First Amendment

by Richard A. Epstein

Monday, June 9, 2014

Quote:
Mark Twain famously wrote that “No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” His maxim applies in spades to a newly proposed amendment to the Constitution, which would transform national and state elections for the worse.

Championed by some 43 Democratic Senators, the new amendment contains four provisions that would essentially undo the central first amendment protections for political speech. The first two deal with the expanded scope of federal and state power respectively:

SECTION 1. To advance the fundamental principle of political equality for all, and to protect the integrity of the legislative and electoral processes, Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Section 2 grants a parallel authority to the state over its elections. Section 3 then announces, “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press.” Section 4 provides that both “Congress and the States shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

There are two central questions raised by this amendment. Why is it needed, and can it achieve its ends?


Hoover senior fellow Richard Epstein.
Political Speech and the First Amendment

Democrats are still enraged over the 2010 decision of the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That case struck down key provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) that banned corporations and unions from using their general funds for electioneering expenditures for or against political candidates within 30 days of a primary or general election. The new amendment seeks to again impose restrictions on these and other campaign expenditures, which the Court interpreted as falling under the constitutional protection for political speech in the Citizens United case.

In dealing with all First Amendment issues, the initial question is to secure the right balance between the protection of speech and the legitimate limitations that may be placed on its use. That abstract point has been repeatedly made by one of the BCRA’s most ardent supporter’s, New York Senator Charles Schumer. He has stressed that the First Amendment is not an “absolute,” only to reveal a complete ignorance of how the resulting balance should be drawn. His illustrations of appropriate restrictions cover pornography and libel, which are justified on narrow grounds. The control on pornography often relates to the protection of children; the libel law protects individuals from false statements that hinder their opportunities for economic or social advancement. The classical liberal theories of the Founders recognize that both objectives are legitimate, after which they engage in detailed analysis of whether the means chosen are reasonably adapted to the chosen ends.


Restrictions on political speech during the run-up to an election demand a very different analysis. Right now, strong controls against bribery and extortion are in place. The new amendment goes far beyond those issues to regulate political speech, which lies at the core of the First Amendment. In that realm, the government must show some compelling interest before it can limit what is said and who says it. It is very hard to come up with a rationale that justifies a congressional ban on the release of Hilary: The Movie, which is political speech pure and simple. The correct response is for those who dislike the movie is not to ban its release but to rebut its message with publications of their own. The public is better off with more speech on all sides of any question than with restrictions on speech that typically impose greater burdens on one side than another.

So why displace that view? One familiar line of argument pushed hard by former Justice John Paul Stevens in Citizens United is that corporations are really not entitled to any kind of speech right at all. But any effort to regulate their speech is deeply inconsistent with the basic logic of the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is not limited to the actions of individuals in isolation from one another. The exercise of any freedom depends on the ability of individuals to cooperate with each other to obtain the gains of specialization. The constitutional protection of speech thus contains an inescapable associational dimension, which is captured in the very notion of a coordinated political campaign. What Justice Stevens could never explain was why any group of individuals lose that associational protection by taking advantage of state laws of incorporation that allow them to act with a single voice and to obtain the benefits of limited liability. The New York Times and other members of the press don’t lose their protections because of incorporation. Why should anyone else? The protection of freedom of speech extends therefore to all cooperative activities, whether by the press, corporations, partnerships, informal groups, or isolated individuals.

The Brave New Constitutional Order

The weakness of the Stevens position is tacitly conceded in the proposed constitutional amendment, which in no way singles out corporate activities for special government regulation. Instead, it allows for the comprehensive regulation of all “raising and spending” activities done by individuals or corporations with their own cash, other resources, or with cash or in-kind contributions obtained from anyone else. In so doing, the amendment repudiates not only Citizens United, but the 1976 decision in Buckley v Valeo, which imposed limits on campaign contributions made to others, but not on the use of a candidate’s own resources in their own political campaigns.

The clear direction of the proposed amendment is to ensure “political equality for all” and “the integrity of elections” by getting money out of politics. The stated reasons for the amendment are sadly in error. The fundamental purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty, and property of all individuals. But liberty and property are never distributed in the same proportions across society—and therein lies the challenge to the proposed amendment. No corporation allocates either votes or cash distributions under the principle of one person, one vote. No one would ever contribute large sums to a business if a large group of shareholders could use their voting power to declare dividends that would expropriate the investments of the wealthy. Making voting power and economic rights proportionate to shareholding is the only way for collective enterprises to raise huge sums of wealth from a widely diverse population.

By the same token, no system of political liberty can long survive if votes and power were allocated solely proportion to wealth, when much of individual well-being is determined by other factors such as health, which cannot be easily reduced to money. On these matters, one person, one vote offers a better first approximation of the stakes for all persons. The problem is, however, that a political system based on pure majoritarian principles opens the door to massive wealth transfers through taxation and regulation that can undermine the economic welfare and political harmony of a nation.

The correct compromise uses constitutional arrangements that insulate private wealth from political expropriation. Yet all the original constitutional provisions adopted with that end in mind have largely been eviscerated by Supreme Court in three key areas, as I argue in my book, The Classical Liberal Constitution.

First, the power of taxation that was originally intended to deal with debt, common defense, and the general welfare of the United States has been read, incorrectly, under a highly deferential standard, to permit massive wealth transfers at the federal level. Second, the requirement that private property be taken for public use only upon payment of just compensation has been read to offer virtually no protection of comprehensive schemes of land use and economic regulation that likewise result in huge wealth transfers. Third, the Commerce Clause has been read expansively to satisfy Congress’s endless lust for political horse-trading on any and all issues. Yet, at the same time, the states remain free to enact their own programs of taxation and regulation, free of serious constitutional constraint, when the federal government encourages them to do so, or remains silent on an issue.

The upshot of this system is that the creation of wealth in the United States is now held hostage by politics, which is one reason that wealthy people have thrown themselves into the political arena, largely for self-defense. Their activities should, of course, be condemned when they seek special breaks that result in implicit wealth transfers to themselves. But make no mistake about it: today, progressives are on the march. Their proposed amendment is intended to neutralize their opponents in order to promote their own agenda of extensive regulation and ever-greater transfer payments.

In an ironic sense, the Democratic defenders of the proposed amendment are right to be concerned about the integrity of the legislative and political processes that they have dominated since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, if not before. Their program has been a conspicuous failure on domestic economic issues, with slow rates of economic growth and anemic levels of job formation. What is needed now is a renewed determination to stem the rising tide of regulation and redistribution that the Democrats wish to entrench with their ill-considered constitutional amendment. Fortunately, the amendment is likely to achieve the political oblivion that it so richly deserves.

I don't how letting wealthy oligarchs control the U.S. is going to improve education. More than likely, it will restrict education.

Obama's economic failures were of too little, not too much. If he had not tried to break bread with republicans and more closely followed the advice he was given, the economy would have recovered sooner.

And economic recovery is happening,no matter how many loaded words the author peppers his argument with.
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