Twelve hours and a night's sleep later, I've still got a full head of steam from a spirited discussion I had with a liberal friend -- yes, I have liberal friends -- at one of my favorite Greenville watering holes last night. The topic of our discussion was the sorry shape of the public school system in this country and what might be done to correct it.
In many ways, we were probably closer in our opinions than either of us wants to admit, particularly in identifying the problems. A couple of times we had pregnant pauses in our exchange when we looked at one another and clearly thought, what are we arguing about?
At the root of my position and the opinion that launched us into the debate is that I somewhat resent the fact that I am taxed to educate someone else's kids. Yes, I know: They are our future; it takes a village; it's an investment in tomorrow... yadda, yadda, yadda...
I have reconciled myself to stroking out a check every year to help millions of kids have a public-funded babysitter, which is what our public schools have become for far too many kids. I am not saying there aren't a lot of very good and serious educators in the system -- heck, I am friends with a few of them -- but the system itself is a wreck and where those dedicated teachers find success it's in spite of the system not because of it.
Since Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education nearly four decades ago, billions of taxpayer dollars (collected locally, laundered through the federal bureaucracy and redistributed back to the local school systems with all manner of strings attached) have been "invested" in educating our future generations without improving average test scores or reducing dropout rates one iota.
That my taxes are being squandered in such a way, is what I most object to.
And indeed, that is my main objection to most of the social engineering programs that have been foisted on us over the last 50 years or so: On the surface they make us feel good because we are doing something for someone; but in actuality we are doing something to someone, and either making the targeted problem worse or creating an entirely new set of problems.
There is no accountability because most of these programs were born of our guilt, and what's important is soothing that guilt and not actually accomplishing anything of value.
It makes me feel good, so it must be good. And whatever you do, don't assess the results.
If you have the courage to take a serious look at the unintended consequences of our social engineering policies since 1959, I recommend the book Losing Ground by Charles Murray. It's an eye opener and reveals how good intentions have runamuck.
Warning: It will make you see do-gooding for the sake of do-gooding in a totally different light.
On the topic of ineffective government...
Now for those of you anticipating a stem-winder of a speech from the prez on creating jobs Thursday night, I can save you some time that might well be better invested in popping popcorn and ordering pizza in preparation for the NFL opener.
Here's the speech in a nutshell:
"Blah, blah, blah, invest in our future, blah, blah, blah, it's congress's fault, blah, blah, blah, invest in our infrastructure, blah, blah, blah, Republicans are anti-middle-class, partisan obstructionists, blah, blah, blah, evil oil companies, tea-party terrorists, rich CEOs with untaxed corporate jets, blah, blah, blah, green jobs, blah, blah, blah, Oh, and vote for me in 2012 because I'm still not George Bush."
To expect any truly fresh thoughts from Obama will be rewarded with disappointment. He is an ideologue who can't bring himself to let go of his bigger-government-is-better-government ideas, which demand higher taxes, more stimulus spending and more regulation. He's FDR to the tenth power.
He will propose more of the same failed ideas and then challenge congressional Republicans to "do the right thing" and rubber stamp them. What did Einstein say about repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
What we can expect is for these core Obama ideas to be repackaged and relabeled in an attempt to mislead the public into thinking that something new is being proposed.
Don't take my word for it. One of his staunchest media cheerleaders has opined that Thursday's oration is just the next in what has become a long line of more-of-the-same speeches.
I never thought that I would see the day when I agreed with the far-left hysteric Maureen Dowd on anything, but here's what she wrote in the NY Times:
"Obama is still suffering from the Speech Illusion, the idea that he can come down from the mountain, read from a Teleprompter, cast a magic spell with his words and climb back up the mountain, while we scurry around and do what he proclaimed."
"The days of spinning illusions in a Greek temple in a football stadium are done. The One is dancing on the edge of one term."
You go, girl!