Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Tipping Point? Or have the Electorate Awakened to Run the Other Way?

Empty history class?

A bridge to no where?

The title of this post came to mind as I perused my favorite blogs for things that would satisfy my hungry mental palate. This first disturbing piece came by way of a hat/tip to my friend Shawn of Cross Border Journal. The headline, The End of History in America's Classrooms jumped off the page for this historian.  I clicked on the link and was rewarded with evidence that was already apparent to me from the many college level American History classes I have now taught, that many of the students are less prepared and knowledgeble about American History than someone who is a recent immigrant to our shores. It seems that some states are going to ensure that those students who do manage to graduate and go on to college, do so with only a thumbnail sketch of American history. This post from the American Standard's blog isn't all from the right, within the piece is a link to the Huffington Post where Alan Singer, of Hofstra University takes  New York state to task for it's stand on NOT teaching history. 

Earlier this year, Massachusetts and New York, blaming budget troubles, pulled the plug on their state tests in U.S. history. Given the strident union rhetoric against “high-stakes” testing— America's Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten has accused reformers of turning schools into “Test Prep, Inc.”—one would have expected social studies teachers in the two states to be elated. Instead, they were outraged.
On Huffington Post, Alan Singer, an education professor at Hofstra University, voiced the general mood with the headline, “New York cancels history.” The Long Island Council for the Social Studies, which represents over 1,100 teachers and administrators in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, drafted an open letter all but accusing the state Board of Regents of undermining democracy.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies is now polling its members on the suspension of state history tests, after losing its fight to move forward with testing. One retired teacher professed shock at the group’s test-positive stance: “Here are teachers actually begging the state to shackle them so that they too can say to their students: ‘You need to know this if you want to pass MCAS.’”
Read on with disgust:
The End of History in America's Classrooms

It that story did not get ones spleen engaged, try this from David Brooks, who writes about the paralysis that seems to be spreading like a national stroke, to affect every state and the federal government.
Sometimes a local issue perfectly illuminates a larger national problem. Such is the case with the opposition of the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, to construction of a new tunnel between his state and New York.
Christie argues that a state that is currently facing multibillion-dollar annual deficits cannot afford a huge new spending project that is already looking to be $5 billion overbudget. His critics argue that this tunnel is exactly the sort of infrastructure project that New Jersey needs if it’s to prosper in the decades ahead.
Both sides are right. But what nobody seems to be asking is: Why are important projects now unaffordable? Decades ago, when the federal and state governments were much smaller, they had the means to undertake gigantic new projects, like the Interstate Highway System and the space program. But now, when governments are bigger, they don’t.
The answer is what Jonathan Rauch of the National Journal once called demosclerosis. Over the past few decades, governments have become entwined in a series of arrangements that drain money from productive uses and direct it toward unproductive ones.
New Jersey can’t afford to build its tunnel, but benefits packages for the state’s employees are 41 percent more expensive than those offered by the average Fortune 500 company. These benefits costs are rising by 16 percent a year.
Read on, if you have to courage of your convictions to understand how this is killing the future of the country.
The Paralysis of the State

And coming on the heels of that post is this about crime and the cost of crime. First the largest fraud by criminal enterprise in American History.

A vast network of Armenian gangsters and their associates used phantom health care clinics and other means to try to cheat the government medical insurance program Medicare out of $163 million, the largest fraud by one criminal enterprise in the program's history, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors in New York and elsewhere charged 73 people. Most of the defendants were captured during raids Wednesday morning in New York City and Los Angeles, but there also were arrests in New Mexico, Georgia and Ohio.
The scheme's scope and sophistication "puts the traditional Mafia to shame," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a Manhattan news conference. "They ran a veritable fraud franchise.
The operation was under the protection of an Armenian crime boss, known in the former Soviet Union as a "vor," prosecutors said. The reputed boss, Armen Kazarian, was in custody in Los Angeles.
Read more:
Medicare Fraud..Record Scam

Of course 163 million looks like chump change when you read what New Yorkers have paid out in behalf of New York's Finest.
NEW YORK – The fiancee and friends of an unarmed man killed in a 50-bullet police shooting on his wedding day said they wanted justice. The legal system gave them money — more than $7 million.
The city did what it has done time and time again: pay.
Nearly $1 billion has been paid over the past decade to resolve claims against the nation's largest police department, according to an investigation by The Associated Press. The total spending outstrips that of other U.S. cities, though some smaller cities and departments also shell out tens of millions of dollars a year in payouts.
Taxpayers foot the bill — New York officials say the payments cost less than insurance would, and officers themselves don't usually bear personal responsibility.
Read on:
AP Investigation: Nearly $1B in NYC police payouts

After reading these posts, it's a wonder that anyone can get up and got to work at a regular job where they have to scrimp and save for their retirement and medical insurance. The value lesson seems to be; get it anyway you can because the government will just print more money, and if they need more then they will just have to tax the rich business owners who have raped the nation since it's founding.

My good friend Mark Safranski of posted this timely piece that sums up what much of the preceding posts are illustrating. Read Mark's summation of the link to John Robbs post.

Moral Decay and Civilizational Rebirth

Looking at the polling data, Americans are waking up to the direction the country is headed and are poised to voice their opinion in the next twenty days.

Right Direction or Wrong Track?

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