|We Support Our GOP Troops. Then What?||The Illusion of a "Neat-and-Tidy" World|
by Christopher Chantrill
November 05, 2006 at 4:55 pm
THIS YEAR THE liberals have done a masterful job building a narrative about the Bush folly in Iraq. Maybe it will get them control of Congress on Tuesday.
It recalls Barbara Tuchmans The March of Folly. Written in the aftermath of the Vietnam War it reminded us of the tragic importance down the ages of human folly similar in scope to the folly of the late Vietnam War.
How right she was. It took a holy fool (or amiable dunce in the modern argot) like Ronald Reagan to end the folly of the Soviet Union.
But it is liberal follies not Bush follies that really threaten us.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the failed government program of universal, compulsory, free education. Back in the nineteenth century before government schooling began literacy in the US stood at 75 to 90 percent. Now, according to the governments National Assessment of Adult Literacy, about 13 percent of Americans rate below basic and only 15 percent rate proficient.
Thats only because the current system doesnt provide true equal opportunity, they say. But if all children were equally schooled, James Tooley points out in Reclaiming Education, the advantage in life would obtain to the children of parents that enriched their childrens experience outside of school. To stop that you would have to take children away from their parents completely.
In the real world, the middle class corrupts the government education system to benefit themselves, and the poor get screwed, as reporter Elissa Gootman innocently revealed in The New York Times last week.
You see, theres this special school in the Lower East Side of Manhattan called New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math, or NEST-M for short. Its a selective public school that provides a competitive and enriched educational experience K-12. You can get more details about the school here. Pretty cool! Some kids from the Upper East Side show up to school in cabs. But theres a problem.
With its exceptional students, multitude of field trips and fund-raising parents, the New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math school is widely admired as an oasis in the New York City school system, more like an elite private school than the public school it is.
But the Department of Education says that is precisely the problem, at least when it comes to admissions.
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein said the schools practices were a stark and different example of the kind of favoritism that he has been trying to eliminate from the citys array of coveted schools and gifted programs.
It is OK, apparently, to select kids by test scores, but not by parent interviews. That is unacceptable. Education Department officials say parents qualities should not have been considered at all.
But doesnt that miss the point? How can we have a universal system of education that gives all children an equal opportunity if special schools like NEST-M let the children of the affluent escape from the valuable socialization of mainstream schools, never mind how they are selected?
In Reclaiming Education Professor Tooley argues that government systems always result in rampant inequity because, as the public choice economists show, the middle class always manages to muscle in and muscle the poor to the margins. And of course, their kids get into the special schools for the talented and the gifted like NEXT-M not just because they ace the test. Their kids get in because, as Gootman relates: Mom has a great vision, as opposed to another mom who is pregnant with number 3, [and] did not feel she could juggle her life for our vision.
There is a way to deliver good public services to the poor, according to Tooley. But it uses a paradigm rather different from the universal, compulsory model of the government school that the middle class learns to game to its advantage. Let us call it the Edu-Mart paradigm. Imagine a nationwide system of Edu-Marts offering education at Always Low Prices, Always. Liberals wouldnt be seen dead in such a place, so the poor wouldnt get muscled out.
Forget about failed Edu-Marts. Just like any of a hundred other national brands, Edu-Mart quality would be the same everywhere. Then we could get back to levels of literacy that obtained before government schooling dragged them down.
Meanwhile generation after generation of poor children gets thrown in the dumpster. Why should anyone care while liberal journalists get to build careers writing stories about educational conflict and liberal parents get to manipulate their children into good schools like NEST-M?
But some say that its part of a system that makes the west uniquely vulnerable to Islamicist aggression, for it seems that only westerners that are religious, married, and fecund are really serious about the War on Terror.
Dont liberals understand that it is their way of life that is most at risk from the advance of Islamofascism? Talk about The March of Folly.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America