Jun 30, 2007

Got Milk, VDH?

Have you noticed what is happening with milk prices? If you've got kids, this is a bigger concern than gasoline prices, although, as it turns out, it is directly related. Up until just a few days ago, the cheapest milk we could get was at the local convenience store for $2.50/gallon. This was even cheaper than Walmart. Now, the convenience store price is $3/gallon and Walmart is $3.38/gallon. Organic milk prices have always been high ($5/gallon at Target a couple years ago), but now they're outrageous (Walmart's price is over $7/gallon). And you thought gas was expensive!

I have it on good authority from my nephew in the business that farmers are storing their corn waiting for the prices to go up as a result of ethanol legislation. So, now consumers are not only paying more at the pump, but apparently the corn shortage has driven up the cost of feeding dairy cows. This is what happens when environmentalists and the government diddle with the free-market.

Victor Davis Hanson explains the relationship between fuel and food with his usual brilliance in "The Impending Food Fight".

The Primary Problem with Public Education

My position on public education has evolved in a shocking direction – shocking even to me. I now advocate abolishing the Department of Education and dismantling the public education system.

I used to be a huge supporter of public education. It seems so obvious in theory. Let's educate as many children as possible to benefit them individually and to benefit society as a whole. Using taxpayer funds to provide that education makes sense since the whole society benefits.

But, the problem is, the greatest achievement of the public school system, the production of good and loyal citizens for the melting pot, is no longer happening. Public schools used to unify the country by teaching commonly held American values. Sure, reading, writing and arithmetic were taught – but there was something more that I suspect was consistent from school to school across the country. Portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln hung in every classroom. The flag was prominently displayed. The teachers and administrators imparted a love of country and pride in the ideals of America to students. The founding principles of "all men created equal", of the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", of the "American trinity" (Prager's term) - "liberty", "in God we trust" and "e pluribus Unum" - were points of pride. Blacks didn't want to be "Africanized" – they wanted full and active participation in the American dream. No one questioned whether it was good to be an American. We all knew we – our country – were something special.

The opposite is true today in the public schools. The culture and values to which I refer above are now known as "white culture" – or even worse – "white Christian culture". The schools are in the business of Balkanizing the students. "Let's see – you're black, so you belong in this group; you're Latino, so you belong over here; you're gay, so go over there; you're white and Christian, so you go way over there where you're ideas can't hurt anyone." When my older siblings were in elementary school, the day started with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. When I went to elementary school, the day started with the pledge. Today, the prayer is unthinkable and the pledge is controversial. This is the "secular humanism" taught in public schools. Don't believe that religion isn't taught. The schools are preachers of the modern liberal faith in multiculturalism, environmentalism, moral relativism, anti-imperialism (as if this is what America is about!) and what I call racialism (race consciousness). They are essentially Democrat party indoctrination camps.

Multiculturalism and moral relativism have led to labeling and categorizing by race, language, sexual orientation, etc… This is even more evident at the college level, where many universities have separate student unions, sororities, fraternities and even separate graduation ceremonies for black and white students. And this "diversity" is promoted as not just a good thing, but essential to the full learning experience.

This is why I'm for destroying the public education system. I believe it is beyond repair and that the damage it is doing to the fabric of our country is way beyond any good it might do by teaching the three "R's". I'm not sure I have a solution, but perhaps public funding should be provided to parents to let them choose a private institution. I admit I fear some of the ideologically driven schools that might crop up (like madrassas), but I believe many more kids would be taught American values through private schools than the current public school system. This is the unfortunate result of the Left's take-over of the education establishment.

I know Chesterton says if you love an idea, you work toward it; you don't change the idea when the going gets tough. I've decided I love the idea of my country too much to tolerate the public education system anymore.

Jun 4, 2007

How about a little Chesterton?

Chesterton on the press:
"So again, we have almost up to the last instant trusted the newspapers as organs of public opinion. Just recently some of us have seen (not slowly, but with a start) [published in 1908! - w.c.] that they are obviously nothing of the kind. They are, by the nature of the case the hobbies of a few rich men… There is no fear that a modern king will attempt to override the constitution; it is more likely that he will ignore the constitution and work behind its back; he will take no advantage of his kingly power; it is more likely that he will take advantage of his kingly powerlessness, of the fact that he is free from criticism and publicity."
Thankfully, we have the "New Media" to criticize and shine a light on the MSM. For example, I heard Joe Klein on Hugh Hewitt yesterday calling Victor Davis Hansen, Bernard Lewis and others "silly" and "absurd" on the Iraq War and Middle East situation. Whew! Let me just say I have never – ever – heard more arrogance and foolishness on the part of a single person. Of course, if the Democrats have their way, talk radio will be silenced through the Fairness Doctrine and we'll never have to listen to the likes of Joe Klein again. If you're for freedom of speech, you're not a Democrat. And if you're part of the MSM, you're not a Republican.

Here is Chesterton on the anti-democratic democrats (or Democrats):

"I have listened to scientific men (and there are still scientific men not opposed to democracy) saying that if we give the poor healthier conditions vice and wrong will disappear. I have listened to them with a horrible attention, with a hideous fascination… If these happy democrats could prove their case, they would strike democracy dead. If the poor are thus utterly demoralized, it may or may not be practical to raise them. But it is certainly quite practical to disfranchise them."
Doesn't this remind you of the excuses given for Islamic terrorists? They're from these poor and oppressed cultures, and therefore not held to the same moral standards as the rest of us. And doesn't it also make clear the ugly elitism that the Left has concerning the American voter? I remember my attitude (which was widely reflected on the Left) when Reagan was elected: Americans are a bunch of buffoons to vote for that idiot actor; clearly they don't know what is in their own best interest! It has been quite a humbling lesson for me to realize that the common American was much wiser than I, who voted for Carter! Liberal elites believe they have all the answers that commoners just can't comprehend. So, just leave the important stuff to the ruling elite in the government (assuming you'll elect Democrats) and we'll create Utopia. The rich will give their money
to the poor (through the tax code) and the poor will show their gratitude by re-electing Democrats!

And finally, Chesterton on why Christianity gets democracy right:

"The mere machinery of voting is not democracy, though at present it is not easy to effect any simpler democratic method. But even the machinery of voting is profoundly Christian in this practical sense – that it is an attempt to get at the opinion of those who would be too modest to offer it. It is a mystical adventure; it is specially trusting those who do not trust themselves. That enigma is strictly peculiar to Christendom… But there is something psychologically Christian about the idea of seeking for the opinion of the obscure rather than taking the obvious course of accepting the opinion of the prominent."

I'll be the first to admit that I wish fewer Americans voted every time I hear the turn-out complaints. I believe that a turn-out over 70% occurs either shortly before a civil war or immediately after a dictatorial coup. The candidate races aren't my concern so much, but the issues and unintended consequences (concerning taxes and distribution) are so complicated that I don't consider myself "educated and informed" enough to decide (even though I think I pay more attention than 90% of the population) . This is why I generally vote against any new initiatives, unless the idea is to reduce the government. But, as far as who is voting, I'd still much rather have the "common man" casting votes over university professors and students, media elites, Hollywood stars and the Ninth Circuit court of appeals. In this I agree with Chesterton: there is much more wisdom in "common sense" than elite opinion.