Day: February 6, 2011

The War On Teachers Nationwide: A Tremendous Mistake! :(

At a time when the teaching force of America is undergoing a great transformation with the retirement of the “Baby Boomer” generation, we are seeing a war on the teaching profession led by Republican Governors across the nation! 🙁

Because of the budget crisis that exists, we are seeing the attempt at the systematic destruction of teachers unions, which worked over many years to improve the conditions of work of the nation’s teachers. We are also seeing the organized plan to take away teacher tenure and benefits, including pension plans, the only reason many people entered the teaching profession, as anyone who wants to be honest knows that the average teacher is paid a salary much lower than any other profession! 🙁

And yet, it is the teaching force which is supposed to educate the future generations of children, many of whom will become professionals, but many others who will have great trouble ever making a living in an organized, consistent manner!

Teachers are supposed to be magicians, and make up for family shortcomings and failure of the taxpayers to be willing to pay for adequate educational standards!

If teaching were an honorable profession treated with respect and dignity, then we would not have an overwhelmingly female work force, as men would also see it as a rewarding career. There is a dire need for more male influence in education, what with the reality that a large portion of America’s families fail to have a decent male role model for the children, but to commit to education these days is to wish for poverty or for a secondary, not a primary income! 🙁

If America’s teachers are to be judged by examinations of student performance, then parents must be required to do their part to promote a healthy educational environment, as one cannot expect that in six to seven hours a day for nine months, that teachers can overcome the disadvantages of bad parenting in millions of homes!

If all we are going to do is show lack of respect for teachers, pay them low wages due to taxpayer resistance, constantly test them and give them a sense of insecurity about their jobs, deny them tenure, give them a future of a pension they cannot live on when retired, and have politicians, including Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Governor Rick Scott of Florida constantly berate and insult them, then we will have what we deserve–a constantly changing teaching force of only mediocre, low level teachers who will stay a few years and leave, rather than a dedicated, qualified work force of the “best and the brightest”, who will want to be in the field of education and will be willing to dedicate their lives to such a venture!

If we continue down the road that the Republican Governors are taking us in many states across the country, the brain drain will continue, and we will get what we deserve as a nation, a citizenry poorly educated, ignorant, and unable to compete in the 21st century world! 🙁

The Budget Crisis And “False” Solutions: Earmarks, Space, And Foreign Aid

As the debate continues over how to deal with the national deficit and the national debt, we hear simple but false solutions, which demonstrate the total ignorance, or the total demagoguery of those who profess those solutions!

We hear so much about “earmarks”, the awarding of federal money to congressional districts and states, brought about by Congressmen and Senators who are bringing home the “pork” or the “bacon”. We are told that such expenditures are a pure waste of taxpayer money, even though such spending is part of the lifeblood of American politics, the expectation that those who are elected to represent us have a responsibility to promote substantial improvements to the infrastructure, and which help to create economic growth and development. This is, in fact, one of the most important roles of a member of Congress until now, but apparently such earmarks will not be allowed over the next two years, something that will not please voters and citizens of our congressional districts, likely to lead to discontent and possible defeat of those who refuse to do what is the whole basis of the political system!

The point is one would think inordinate amounts of funds go to earmarks, when in actuality, it is only between one and two percent of the entire national budget!

Then we have those who condemn any investment in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the space program, failing to see the scientific advances promoted by such investment. But it is part of the anti-science mentality of many, who however are only too willing to give tax breaks to churches and synagogues and allow clergy to avoid paying taxes. It is part of the KNOW NOTHING mentality, that science is unimportant, next to the all powerful force of organized religion gaining subsidies. And the reality is the space investment of the US government is one half of one percent, as so emphasized by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and leader at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

Additionally, we have complaints that we are giving away taxpayer money to foreign governments, including Israel and Egypt, as well as other nations around the world that we wish to create a stable influence on, to promote American national security and defense, but one must understand there are those who would wish to put America into an isolationist foreign policy. In any case, the total foreign aid budget is no more than one percent annually, but one would get a different impression from those who decry any foreign aid investment.

So while it is fine to waste money on many defense programs, and give tax breaks to the wealthy, many corporations, and religious institutions, we should go ahead and fail to improve the physical plant and infrastructure of the nation, dismiss the importance of promoting science, and take a utopian view of the world and bring ourselves back to pre 1941 mentality!

It is the unfortunate stupidity and ignorance of many that leads to these ridiculous beliefs and promotion of a world view that will set America back to the 19th century! 🙁

The Choice Of Charlotte, North Carolina As Host Of The 2012 Democratic National Convention

The announcement this week that the Democratic National Convention of 2012 will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, may have surprised some observers, including this blogger, who really thought that St. Louis, Missouri would be chosen from among others including Columbus, Ohio, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After having been correct on the choice of Tampa, Florida by the Republican Party for its 2012 convention, the author was somewhat disappointed that his prediction failed to come to fruition!

It is clear that President Barack Obama made the final choice, and it shows that he intends to make a fight to keep the Southern states that he won in 2008–North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, none of which will be easy to accomplish.

In the mind of the author, keeping the Midwest–Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota–will be more urgent, as the “heartland” of the nation seems the even more significant battleground!

While Obama did not win Missouri in 2008, John McCain only won by a few thousand votes, and that was only the second time since 1900 (the other time being 1956) that the loser of Missouri won the White House. So it is crucial that Missouri be won by Obama if he is to win a second term, the reasoning that made the author think he would choose St. Louis.

However, Charlotte is part of the emerging modern South, and North Carolina, along with Virginia and Florida, will also be crucial in the 2012 election campaign.

Hopefully, the President’s decision to choose the South over the Midwest for the national convention will play out in a resulting win for him in 2012!

The Centennial Of Ronald Reagan: Myth And Reality

Today is the centennial of President Ronald Reagan’s birth, and it begins a year of commemorative events relating to our 40th President.

Ronald Reagan was a very charismatic leader, handsome even at an older age than any other President, and very charming and personable. It was hard not to like Reagan as a human being, and he could be very funny, and played the ceremonial role of the President as if he was the Queen of England!

But many myths have been built up around Ronald Reagan in the years since he left the Presidency, and particularly in the years since his death at age 93 in June 2004.

The myths have sustained the Tea Party Movement of the past two years, and have motivated the ignorant, poorly educated Sarah Palin, who was the absolutely wrong person to speak at commemorative events this weekend in southern California! It is a travesty to assert, as some do, that Sarah Palin is the heir to Ronald Reagan, as she has no clue as to his accomplishments, shortcomings, and motivations. Reagan would be shocked that Sarah Palin is speaking in his honor, a point well made by son Ron Reagan, Jr.!

Ronald Reagan restored our defenses which helped to lead to the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Ronald Reagan restored a sense of patriotism and honor after the difficult years following the Vietnam War’s sad ending. And Ronald Reagan was an inspirational leader in his rhetoric, stimulating the American people like no one since John F. Kennedy.

But Ronald Reagan had many shortcomings and failures, which are conveniently forgotten by his supporters in the Republican Party and Tea Party Movement, or better still, many are totally unaware of the reality of his record in office!

This is a man who tripled the national debt, beginning the long downhill trend in responsible economic policy which has led to the present massive national debt problem that is the leading economic crisis since the Great Depression!

This is a man who set back civil rights, labor rights, the environment, and worsened the plight of the poor, while promoting the rich getting richer, and the middle class becoming poorer, via giving major tax cuts to the rich, but adding to the tax burden of the middle class!

This is a man who ignored human rights in many countries, and allied with Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who both turned against the United States after we armed both of them so readily!

This is a man who reacted to a terrorist attack on our troops in Beirut, Lebanon, by withdrawing from the Middle East, something his supporters try to make believe did not happen!

This is a man who talked about the social issues of the Moral Majority led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and yet never followed through on them more than rhetoric, and hardly ever went to church or associated with his children, preferring to spend his personal time with his wife Nancy without their children!

This was a man who was tough with the Soviet Union, but negotiated significant arms agreements with Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s, and had a vision of banning nuclear weapons worldwide over the long haul!

This was a man who talked about smaller government, but actually increased the size of the government, and created a new cabinet agency of Veterans Affairs and backed off on a campaign pledge to eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy, which many Republicans today would love to destroy!

And the myth that is probably most believed is that Ronald Reagan was supremely popular throughout his time in the Presidency, which is the furthest thing from the truth, as he was more popular AFTER his Presidency, particularly after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994. Much of the time during his eight years in office, his public opinion ratings floundered. John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George H W Bush were all more generally popular in the polls than Ronald Reagan, as hard as that is to believe!

Ronald Reagan may be the patron saint of the far right today, but in many ways, it is clear that he would not approve of the inflexibility of his party in Congress, and the loony, nutty behavior of many of its top leaders, as well as the right wing talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel!

Historians will be writing about Ronald Reagan for all time, and he will continue to be one of the most fascinating and significant Presidents we have had, but the concept that he was an ideal President who mostly succeeded in making the country a better place will continue to be contested by those who wish to look at reality, rather than promote a myth!

But then, mythology around Presidents is a popular activity, and it makes the job of historians only the more important, to separate truth from propaganda. So the work of demythologizing Ronald Reagan continues in earnest!