Coyne on NYTimes on tax credits for creationist textbooks

| 42 Comments

I read Public money finds back door to private schools in the NYTimes last night and planned to post on it this evening, but Jerry Coyne beat me to it. I’ll quote just a bit from the story and refer you to Coyne’s post:

Mr. Arnold, the headmaster of the Covenant Christian Academy in Cumming, Ga., confirmed that his school used those texts but said they were part of a larger curriculum.

“You have to keep in mind that the curriculum goes beyond the textbook,” Mr. Arnold said. “Not only do we teach the students that creation is the way the world was created and that God is in control and he made all things, we also teach them what the false theories of the world are, such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as fallacies.”

With creationist books from Bob Jones University and A Beka bought via donations that yielded state tax credits for the donors.

42 Comments

we also teach them what the false theories of the world are, such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as fallacies.

The usual creationist idea of how to “teach the controversy.”

Glen Davidson

Is religion the problem? Yes, I think religion, religion, religion is the problem…

KP said:

Is religion the problem? Yes, I think religion, religion, religion is the problem…

So in your view, the whole discussion of this topic is a waste of time? The New York Times, Jerry Coyne, Richard B. Hoppe, you, for that matter, wasting time.

After all, if what’s needed is some kind of attempt to “shut down all religion”, all these details don’t matter.

harold said:

KP said:

Is religion the problem? Yes, I think religion, religion, religion is the problem…

So in your view, the whole discussion of this topic is a waste of time? The New York Times, Jerry Coyne, Richard B. Hoppe, you, for that matter, wasting time.

After all, if what’s needed is some kind of attempt to “shut down all religion”, all these details don’t matter.

Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean their position isn’t nuanced. If you want to invent positions for your opponent, you don’t need the internet. You could type it all in a Word document. Stuffing words in another person’s mouth is a waste of time and bandwidth.

we also teach them what the false theories of the world are, such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as fallacies.

I wonder if they ever even consider what happens to those kids when they hit reality, and find out they’ve been lied to all those years?

Paul Burnett said:

we also teach them what the false theories of the world are, such as the Big Bang theory and Darwinism. We teach those as fallacies.

I wonder if they ever even consider what happens to those kids when they hit reality, and find out they’ve been lied to all those years?

Implying that they themselves can distinguish reality from lies. The same people that just described evolution and cosmology as “fallacies.”

I wonder if they ever even consider what happens to those kids when they hit reality, and find out they’ve been lied to all those years?

Seems to depend on the person. Some realize they’be been lied to and get angry. Some are just ducky with the lies, and pass them on with enthusiasm. We should realize that Mr. Arnold is plenty old enough to know better, yet has learned nothing.

Bob Jones University and A Beka bought via donations that yielded state tax credits for the donors.

So what happened to that thing about “no free lunch”? ;)

https://me.yahoo.com/a/o4W68SoCzftG[…]_u.Ng-#a8f81 said:

harold said:

KP said:

Is religion the problem? Yes, I think religion, religion, religion is the problem…

So in your view, the whole discussion of this topic is a waste of time? The New York Times, Jerry Coyne, Richard B. Hoppe, you, for that matter, wasting time.

After all, if what’s needed is some kind of attempt to “shut down all religion”, all these details don’t matter.

Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean their position isn’t nuanced. If you want to invent positions for your opponent, you don’t need the internet. You could type it all in a Word document. Stuffing words in another person’s mouth is a waste of time and bandwidth.

Drawing a logical inference from someone’s comment is not stuffing words in their mouth.

Discussions of specific, important situations are often derailed or confused by the parroting of “all religion is always wrong” slogans.

I have no more use for religion than anyone else, but the topic here is not “religion, religion, religion”. The flaws of Zen Buddhism, liberal Quakerism, or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (led by an ordained minister) are not highly relevant here, for example. In fact Americans United probably opposes this policy. If liberal Quakers were running private schools that both used schemes to come up with tax-subsidized funding and then taught sectarian science denial to “scholarship” students with few other options, then they would be relevant here.

But you knew that already.

parroting of “all religion is always wrong” slogans.

I guess my language is a bit too harsh here. All comments, including the two I replied to, oppose taxpayer funded teaching of sectarian dogma. My intention was not to start a flame war.

It is my subjective impression that one form of denial is to focus on a weaker adversary when threatened by a stronger one, sometimes even if the weaker adversary is not an adversary at all. Ignoring the charging grizzly bear while stamping on the ants, so to speak. For example, many Americans are negatively impacted by powerful, wealthy interests, but are able to be distracted by the idea that less threatening groups such as hippies, feminists, and ethnic minorities are the source of their problems.

While I have no use for any religion, in the US (and also in many other countries), there is a strong, authoritarian “religious right” movement which has a major impact on legislation and supreme court appointments. Witness the many restrictions on contraceptives and creationist bills that were passed or attempted in 2010. This particular authoritarian movement is mainly post-modern “fundamentalist” Protestant in nature, but often has help from right wing elements of the Catholic Church. This is the movement behind or in strong support of science denial, enforced religious rituals in schools, efforts (quite successful) to eliminate sex education/contraception, and so on. This movement is also a strong and consistent ally of anti-environmentalism and far right economic platforms, for those who are concerned about those things.

I thought I’d post my comment to Jerry’s post here too.

NC is introducting one of these tax credit bills. Guess who really wants it to pass?

from http://www.wral.com/news/state/ncca[…]ry/11129467/

Victory Christian Center School principal Michael Pratt and other members of its affiliated church in Charlotte attended the rally and planned to lobby lawmakers for the proposal.

The school’s enrollment is down too, so they really, really want this to be law.

Here’s more:

Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, noted that hundreds of thousands of the state’s 1.5 million public school students fail to keep up with their peers on standardized tests, a sign that smaller classes and more attention at private schools could help.

Gee, maybe if they funded public schools properly, we’d already have that. They are out to destroy public education.

Here’s a link to the bill, HB 1104: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascrip[…]mitButton=Go

Eligibility for low-income students is that the family’s income does not exceed 225% of the federal poverty level. That’s $34K for a two person family like mine.

(4) Eligible students. – A student who has not yet received a high school diploma and who meets all of the following requirements:

1. Whose enrollment status is one of the following: a. Was a full-time student at a public school during the previous semester. b. Received a scholarship from an eligible scholarship-funding organization during the previous school year. c. Is entering kindergarten or the first grade.

And

2. Belongs to a household with an income level not in excess of two hundred twenty-five percent (225%) of the federal poverty level.

So that’s it, they don’t have to be too poor and can be at any school-age.

This is the same legislature, led by Republicans who took over last year, that put Amendment One (the one that banned civil unions and gay marriage) up for public vote two weeks ago.

harold said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/o4W68SoCzftG[…]_u.Ng-#a8f81 said:

harold said:

KP said:

Is religion the problem? Yes, I think religion, religion, religion is the problem…

So in your view, the whole discussion of this topic is a waste of time? The New York Times, Jerry Coyne, Richard B. Hoppe, you, for that matter, wasting time.

After all, if what’s needed is some kind of attempt to “shut down all religion”, all these details don’t matter.

Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean their position isn’t nuanced. If you want to invent positions for your opponent, you don’t need the internet. You could type it all in a Word document. Stuffing words in another person’s mouth is a waste of time and bandwidth.

Drawing a logical inference from someone’s comment is not stuffing words in their mouth.

Discussions of specific, important situations are often derailed or confused by the parroting of “all religion is always wrong” slogans.

I have no more use for religion than anyone else, but the topic here is not “religion, religion, religion”. The flaws of Zen Buddhism, liberal Quakerism, or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (led by an ordained minister) are not highly relevant here, for example. In fact Americans United probably opposes this policy. If liberal Quakers were running private schools that both used schemes to come up with tax-subsidized funding and then taught sectarian science denial to “scholarship” students with few other options, then they would be relevant here.

But you knew that already.

Am in full agreement with your observations, here in this thread, harold. It needs to be said that religion need not conflict much with science, especially when you have such major religious leaders as the Dalai Lama stressing the importance of science. (And he isn’t the only one, judging from Michael Zimmerman’s Clergy Letter Project.)

lynnwilhelm said:

I thought I’d post my comment to Jerry’s post here too.

NC is introducting one of these tax credit bills. Guess who really wants it to pass?

from http://www.wral.com/news/state/ncca[…]ry/11129467/

Victory Christian Center School principal Michael Pratt and other members of its affiliated church in Charlotte attended the rally and planned to lobby lawmakers for the proposal.

The school’s enrollment is down too, so they really, really want this to be law.

Here’s more:

Darrell Allison, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, noted that hundreds of thousands of the state’s 1.5 million public school students fail to keep up with their peers on standardized tests, a sign that smaller classes and more attention at private schools could help.

Gee, maybe if they funded public schools properly, we’d already have that. They are out to destroy public education.

Here’s a link to the bill, HB 1104: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascrip[…]mitButton=Go

Eligibility for low-income students is that the family’s income does not exceed 225% of the federal poverty level. That’s $34K for a two person family like mine.

(4) Eligible students. – A student who has not yet received a high school diploma and who meets all of the following requirements:

1. Whose enrollment status is one of the following: a. Was a full-time student at a public school during the previous semester. b. Received a scholarship from an eligible scholarship-funding organization during the previous school year. c. Is entering kindergarten or the first grade.

And

2. Belongs to a household with an income level not in excess of two hundred twenty-five percent (225%) of the federal poverty level.

So that’s it, they don’t have to be too poor and can be at any school-age.

This is the same legislature, led by Republicans who took over last year, that put Amendment One (the one that banned civil unions and gay marriage) up for public vote two weeks ago.

As someone with a biomedical education who has been involved in tech-related start ups, let me tell you how these actions by North Carolina make me feel. I am very sorry to say this to you, one of the millions of NC residents who doesn’t support what’s going on, but I have to.

I am a white heterosexual male, but nevertheless, these actions give me this very strong sensation - I am not wanted in NC, and I don’t want to be there.

You cannot imagine what a sharp change in attitude I have had. Since at least the 90’s, I have thought of NC, which I have visited, and where friends of mine have lived, as a legitimate example of a southern state which was, despite undeniable social and economic pathologies, successfully trying to move forward. I had great admiration for the strong research institutions, including UNC and NC State. I thought of it as a beautiful, liveable state.

I perceive recent legislation as a very strong mean-spirited “backlash” slap in the face to make it clear that the state is actually dominated by authoritarian right wing fundamentalists. This message says very strongly that those who support legal equality for all Americans are not welcome in NC. Given your states long past history, I would have thought your neighbors might be more careful with messages like that.

I will vote with my feet and my dollars on this issue.

That stupid “constitutional amendment” is going to sit there for years, as a strong reminder that your state is a bastion of bigotry and inequality, and that millions of your neighbors very much want it that way.

I support everyone’s right to be a reality-denying bigot, but I don’t have to like it. Technically, I don’t support the right of North Carolinians to deny equal rights to other North Carolinians, but all I can do about it is to avoid investing or spending in NC. And that I will do, to the best of my ability.

I fully agree with your sentiment harold. Unfortunately I cannot leave this state any time soon. However, as an NC citizen I will do all I can to combat the bigotry and backward-looking trend the state has taken. We are going to have a big fight this fall to keep a Democratic governor. This is extremely important when we have a Republican dominated General Assembly (I don’t think November’s election will be able to change that).

I’m also committed to a career in public school–I should be teaching next fall after getting my master’s next May. I expect it will be here in NC, but one day, I may feel the need to leave this state.

One more thing harold. It might not make a difference to you but the Research Triangle area in NC (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) was one of the few islands of reason in the amendment voting.

lynnwilhelm said:

One more thing harold. It might not make a difference to you but the Research Triangle area in NC (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) was one of the few islands of reason in the amendment voting.

I didn’t mean to overgeneralize.

I realize that there are plenty of sane people in the south, just as there are plenty of authoritarian religious fanatics in New York or San Francisco.

But still, the Research Triangle now stands as an isolated outpost in a state that overall jumped at the chance to legislate discrimination against gays, in the face of the obvious fact that this is not only discrimination against gays, but a strong reminder of a long history of other types of discrimination.

I guess a big part of the strong reaction - and I don’t think I’m alone here - is that I had come to expect better from NC overall.

I understand perfectly well that a lot of it is rural, impoverished, and not exactly progressive. But I spent many of my early years in a Canadian province that is like that, or was when I was growing up (I’m a dual citizen with a Canadian mother). But at the end of the day, somehow, the urge to go beyond personal bigotry and actually enshrine bigotry in the law just isn’t part of the culture.

Good luck. I hope NC comes to its senses sooner rather than later.

Richard, I vaguely recall PT having a discussion on the AZ pseudo-voucher program some time ago (maybe a year?). IIRC, Matt might have written the original post.

It might be useful to link back to that; again IIRC, there were some weird rules about how the money could be used which allowed AZ to dodge the first amendment challenge.

It’s worth noting that the Romney’s education agenda is built around federal vouchers, rerouting federal taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools. In the process, of course, he’d like to break the teachers’ unions - his main education adviser being Rod Paige, Bush’s education secretary, who has labeled the NEA a “terrorist organization.”

I vaguely recall PT having a discussion on the AZ pseudo-voucher program some time ago (maybe a year?). IIRC, Matt might have written the original post.

Well, whaddaya know – it was me – here. The Court upheld the law. See here and also the discussion on PT.

The argument there was, in part, that you and I could donate to each others’ children. The present case seems slightly different, with the Times noting, “The rest of the money will be channeled to the family that raised it.”

Sorry, that was not exactly right – the Times quoted someone as saying that the money will be channeled to the donor. The article gets worse after that.

Jay Gould (not S. J. Gould the paleontologist, Jay Gould the nineteenth century financier) once commented that he could hire half the working class to beat the other half up.

To some degree, he seems to have anticipated the 21st century.

There’s really no sane reason to want to shut down public education. It would not benefit anyone, except to the extent that some super-rich people may subjectively feel that being super-rich in a country that’s more like Haiti would be more to their liking, although that raises the question of why they don’t just move to Haiti or Bangladesh right now.

However, for one reason or another, possibly something to do with the history of ethnic group relations in the US, a very substantial proportion of the middle and working class is eager to sabotage public education in every way that they can.

And of course, this makes it impossible to improve public education. When public education “reform” is a euphemism, on “both sides of the aisle” for firing teachers, shutting down schools, and throwing tax money at private cesspools of bigotry, ignorance and reality denial labelled “schools”, everyone else is just left scrambling to save what we’ve got, let alone improve anything.

American society increasingly reminds me of a bunch of delicate tropical fish in a tank, sabotaging everything that maintains their fragile environment, and arrogantly declaring that as soon as they can completely sabotage everything they’ll personally be better off and only the “other” fish will die, when in reality they’re destroying what they need to survive.

harold said:

American society increasingly reminds me of a bunch of delicate tropical fish in a tank, sabotaging everything that maintains their fragile environment, and arrogantly declaring that as soon as they can completely sabotage everything they’ll personally be better off and only the “other” fish will die, when in reality they’re destroying what they need to survive.

Welcome to free market capitalism, without none of them socialistic regulations!

I truly enjoyed the time I lived in RDU (Raleigh and environs) in the late ’90s. I especially remember a bumper sticker on a large pickup truck that I frequently saw in the car park at the apartment complex:

NAWTH CEHLINA: FIRST IN HOGS, 46th IN TEACHERS’ SALARIES.

Has something happend to the wonderful land that all of Europe dreamed of during Ww2? Or was it always like that, we just didn’t know about it’s dark side?

Rolf said: Has something happend to the wonderful land that all of Europe dreamed of during Ww2? Or was it always like that, we just didn’t know about it’s dark side?

It really was always like that. In WW II, the US Army and Air Corps were racially segregated, Japanese Americans had been put in “internment” camps, many if not most churches were race-specific. Creationists had not yet gotten it together following the Scopes trial, but the scientific illiteracy was definitely out there.

Paul Burnett said:

Rolf said: Has something happend to the wonderful land that all of Europe dreamed of during Ww2? Or was it always like that, we just didn’t know about it’s dark side?

It really was always like that. In WW II, the US Army and Air Corps were racially segregated, Japanese Americans had been put in “internment” camps, many if not most churches were race-specific. Creationists had not yet gotten it together following the Scopes trial, but the scientific illiteracy was definitely out there.

I would argue that until circa 1975, the US was comparatively one of the most progressive nations on earth.

Yes, the US was racially segregated, sexist, and so on, but other major nations had colonies in Africa and Asia, and were equally or more sexist, and often had discrimination issues that were beyond those in the US, for example much more discrimination against Jews in many parts of Europe.

France has been a dictatorship for much of its history, as well as a colonial power, and only gave up the guillotine in the 1970’s - shortly after the US supreme court ruled against the death penalty.

Many of the issues are new. The US was never near having the world’s highest incarceration rate in the past; now we have it by a wide margin (incidentally, other than murders, incidence of serious crime is not that much higher in the US than in many other rich countries, and all crime rates are lower here than in many places - it’s because of the “war on drugs”, harsh “three strikes” laws, and so on). The US was better than most European societies on social mobility and wealth inequality for most of its history.

What happened is that the US stopped progressing and in many ways began getting worse circa the 1970’s and 1980’s.

There was always a strong regressive right wing side to the US (as every society) but until a few decades ago they were divided.

This paragraph may seem judgmental and unfair, but I defend it. For whatever reason, very wealthy people, especially those who inherit, sometimes seem to be almost obsessed with lowering middle class standard of living (not stated in those terms but in support of policies with that clear aim). With many obvious exceptions, nevertheless, as a group, they often seem to irrationally obsess over not paying taxes (many, many people pay as much or more to avoid taxes as they would by just paying the taxes) and often seem to support policies with the explicit or implicit goal of driving down wages, sabotaging public education and health care facilities, smashing all regulations for the public good, and so on. I don’t know why, but I do know that these are firmly ingrained cultural values which I have personally encountered plenty of times, and I know that they are sometimes expressed in a tone that borders on sadism. Maybe being like this helps you to get very wealthy, or maybe having a lot of wealth that came partly by luck is a risk factor for this. There are many, many exceptions, but this values system is nevertheless common at very high wealth levels. One often sees expressions of concern over the “envy” of others, but sometimes it almost seems that they are the ones who envy everyone else. Certainly it is undeniable that people like the Koch brothers are obsessively advancing, for whatever reason, policies that many mainstream economists would agree, will not make them any richer, especially not in terms of marginal utility, but will make others more poor. Perhaps there actually is a “poor little rich boy” effect, with the very wealthy perceiving that they are “different” and feeling, ironically and deeply unconsciously, excluded as a result, and reacting with anger. I don’t know, I just know that Mr. Potter stereotypes are sadly more realistic than one would hope.

However, for most of US history, the white working class, even in the south, was bitterly opposed to “robber baron” policies.

It’s often suggested that when African-Americans gained some protection against outright discrimination (with the caveat that an African-American man was probably more likely to have a decent job, and much less likely to be in prison, in 1960), and when women gained more equality (as much due to the development of dependable contraception as to anything else), the white working class was easily taken advantage of by a “southern strategy” that exploited their resentment at the gains of women and African-Americans to trick them into voting for robber baron policies. That’s partly true but oversimplifies and is too harsh. The early to mid-seventies were a time of crisis in the US, more so than in many other places. The industrial economy was producing sever pollution problems. The oil crisis, inflation, and unemployment hit. Crime had gone from being absurdly low as recently as the early sixties, to a rate much, much higher than what it is today for many major crimes. The rate of hard drug use (opiates and powerful stimulants) went up and stayed up (I’m personally puzzled over why drugs whose effects, both intoxicating and harmful effects, were already very well known for decades if not centuries, suddenly became so much more popular - supply doesn’t drive demand, by the way), creating a new source of personal tragedy for many families.

As with many other societies over the years, the perception of crisis after a long period of “liberalism” and prosperity led to the irrational belief that the “liberalism” had caused the crisis, rather than the underlying prosperity.

In my view, diagnosing some of our problems is simple - we spend insane amounts of money on the military, have a screwed up health care system, make higher education too expensive so that large cohorts of younger people are too indebted, have a public education system that doesn’t serve low income areas adequately, and spend a lot of money incarcerating people in for-profit prisons at a world record rate. Unfortunately, any reform of those things is massively resisted by powerful and corrupt interests. One method they use for shutting down reform is to market ideas that will actually reinforce and worsen the problems as “market based solutions”. So, for example, a decade or two ago, for profit HMO’s and the like were touted as the solution to rising health care costs. Currently, firing teachers, defunding public schools, and tax subsidizing for-profit “charter” schools and reality-denying religious brainwash institutions, are touted as policies of “educational reform” that will “empower parents” (as if parents will be more “empowered” by not even having the choice of a decent public school).

Whether this country will have a comeback I don’t know.

harold said:

Paul Burnett said:

Rolf said: Has something happend to the wonderful land that all of Europe dreamed of during Ww2? Or was it always like that, we just didn’t know about it’s dark side?

It really was always like that. In WW II, the US Army and Air Corps were racially segregated, Japanese Americans had been put in “internment” camps, many if not most churches were race-specific. Creationists had not yet gotten it together following the Scopes trial, but the scientific illiteracy was definitely out there.

I would argue that until circa 1975, the US was comparatively one of the most progressive nations on earth.

Yes, the US was racially segregated, sexist, and so on, but other major nations had colonies in Africa and Asia, and were equally or more sexist, and often had discrimination issues that were beyond those in the US, for example much more discrimination against Jews in many parts of Europe.

France has been a dictatorship for much of its history, as well as a colonial power, and only gave up the guillotine in the 1970’s - shortly after the US supreme court ruled against the death penalty.

Many of the issues are new. The US was never near having the world’s highest incarceration rate in the past; now we have it by a wide margin (incidentally, other than murders, incidence of serious crime is not that much higher in the US than in many other rich countries, and all crime rates are lower here than in many places - it’s because of the “war on drugs”, harsh “three strikes” laws, and so on). The US was better than most European societies on social mobility and wealth inequality for most of its history.

What happened is that the US stopped progressing and in many ways began getting worse circa the 1970’s and 1980’s.

There was always a strong regressive right wing side to the US (as every society) but until a few decades ago they were divided.

This paragraph may seem judgmental and unfair, but I defend it. For whatever reason, very wealthy people, especially those who inherit, sometimes seem to be almost obsessed with lowering middle class standard of living (not stated in those terms but in support of policies with that clear aim). With many obvious exceptions, nevertheless, as a group, they often seem to irrationally obsess over not paying taxes (many, many people pay as much or more to avoid taxes as they would by just paying the taxes) and often seem to support policies with the explicit or implicit goal of driving down wages, sabotaging public education and health care facilities, smashing all regulations for the public good, and so on. I don’t know why, but I do know that these are firmly ingrained cultural values which I have personally encountered plenty of times, and I know that they are sometimes expressed in a tone that borders on sadism. Maybe being like this helps you to get very wealthy, or maybe having a lot of wealth that came partly by luck is a risk factor for this. There are many, many exceptions, but this values system is nevertheless common at very high wealth levels. One often sees expressions of concern over the “envy” of others, but sometimes it almost seems that they are the ones who envy everyone else. Certainly it is undeniable that people like the Koch brothers are obsessively advancing, for whatever reason, policies that many mainstream economists would agree, will not make them any richer, especially not in terms of marginal utility, but will make others more poor. Perhaps there actually is a “poor little rich boy” effect, with the very wealthy perceiving that they are “different” and feeling, ironically and deeply unconsciously, excluded as a result, and reacting with anger. I don’t know, I just know that Mr. Potter stereotypes are sadly more realistic than one would hope.

However, for most of US history, the white working class, even in the south, was bitterly opposed to “robber baron” policies.

It’s often suggested that when African-Americans gained some protection against outright discrimination (with the caveat that an African-American man was probably more likely to have a decent job, and much less likely to be in prison, in 1960), and when women gained more equality (as much due to the development of dependable contraception as to anything else), the white working class was easily taken advantage of by a “southern strategy” that exploited their resentment at the gains of women and African-Americans to trick them into voting for robber baron policies. That’s partly true but oversimplifies and is too harsh. The early to mid-seventies were a time of crisis in the US, more so than in many other places. The industrial economy was producing sever pollution problems. The oil crisis, inflation, and unemployment hit. Crime had gone from being absurdly low as recently as the early sixties, to a rate much, much higher than what it is today for many major crimes. The rate of hard drug use (opiates and powerful stimulants) went up and stayed up (I’m personally puzzled over why drugs whose effects, both intoxicating and harmful effects, were already very well known for decades if not centuries, suddenly became so much more popular - supply doesn’t drive demand, by the way), creating a new source of personal tragedy for many families.

As with many other societies over the years, the perception of crisis after a long period of “liberalism” and prosperity led to the irrational belief that the “liberalism” had caused the crisis, rather than the underlying prosperity.

In my view, diagnosing some of our problems is simple - we spend insane amounts of money on the military, have a screwed up health care system, make higher education too expensive so that large cohorts of younger people are too indebted, have a public education system that doesn’t serve low income areas adequately, and spend a lot of money incarcerating people in for-profit prisons at a world record rate. Unfortunately, any reform of those things is massively resisted by powerful and corrupt interests. One method they use for shutting down reform is to market ideas that will actually reinforce and worsen the problems as “market based solutions”. So, for example, a decade or two ago, for profit HMO’s and the like were touted as the solution to rising health care costs. Currently, firing teachers, defunding public schools, and tax subsidizing for-profit “charter” schools and reality-denying religious brainwash institutions, are touted as policies of “educational reform” that will “empower parents” (as if parents will be more “empowered” by not even having the choice of a decent public school).

Whether this country will have a comeback I don’t know.

I am actually far more optimistic than you. One of my uncles was a cook in a PT boat stationed in the South Pacific in World War II. A friend of my grandmother’s participated in the D-Day invasion; I believe that he served in a mixed Caucausian/East Asian United States Army battalion. We’ve made such tremendous strides that we have now as a POTUS, an Afro-American. (And before he was elected, he was preceded by notable Afro-Americans who had served as National Security Advisor, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

You should note that for much of its history since 1789, France was not a dictatorship. (The only exceptions were the French Revolution dictatorships which included the “Reign of Terror” regime, the Directory and the Napoleonic dictatorships of the First and Second French Empire and Vichy France.)

John -

Yes, there has been a lot of progress (also, I am aware of the periods during which France was not a dictatorship, I was just reminding people that it also sometimes was).

I hope your optimism is correct.

John said: I am actually far more optimistic than you.

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

Harold said

We’ve made such tremendous strides that we have now as a POTUS, an Afro-American. (And before he was elected, he was preceded by notable Afro-Americans who had served as National Security Advisor, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Interesting comment and it looks quite relevant to me. I only wonder, how different might the then future and now present have been without the Kennedy assassinations? So much seems to have gone wrong.

We had the cold war to cope with, but many things could have been handled differently. But it is all history now, and I am rather pessimistic wrt the near future. Further along the picture may brighetn but I won’t be here then…

harold said:

John -

Yes, there has been a lot of progress (also, I am aware of the periods during which France was not a dictatorship, I was just reminding people that it also sometimes was).

I hope your optimism is correct.

I think my optimism is correct, even if, GOD FORBID, Obama is re-elected.

Anyway, you need to revise this statement of yours, harold:

“France has been a dictatorship for much of its history.…”

It would have been correct to say that it was an absolute monarchy for much of its history or to say that, since 1789, it has been primarily a republic with occasional lapses into an empire (First French and Second French Empires under Napoleons I and III) and a constitutional monarchy (especially the “July Monarchy” of King Louis Phillippe from 1830 till 1848); it was only a dictatorship during the French Revolution (approximately 1789 till 1803) and Vichy France (1940 - 1944).

tomh said:

John said: I am actually far more optimistic than you.

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

Rolf said:

Harold said

We’ve made such tremendous strides that we have now as a POTUS, an Afro-American. (And before he was elected, he was preceded by notable Afro-Americans who had served as National Security Advisor, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Interesting comment and it looks quite relevant to me. I only wonder, how different might the then future and now present have been without the Kennedy assassinations? So much seems to have gone wrong.

We had the cold war to cope with, but many things could have been handled differently. But it is all history now, and I am rather pessimistic wrt the near future. Further along the picture may brighetn but I won’t be here then…

Actually, I was the one who made that observation, Rolf, not harold. As for the Kennedys, I can’t say that they really made things better simply because it was JFK’s successor, Johnson, who persuaded Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill of 1965. I’ve read a revisionist history on the Berlin Crisis of 1961 which seems to suggest that Kennedy’s response to the Soviets was insufficiently weak and naive, Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961”.

Of course, a vote for Romney the raper is a vote for more murdering rapists like Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and tax cuts for the rich so they will have more money to open manufacturing plants in China.

However, I will say that Condoleezza Rice is pretty hot, even if she prefers girls, as is rumored.

John said:

Rolf said:

Harold said

We’ve made such tremendous strides that we have now as a POTUS, an Afro-American. (And before he was elected, he was preceded by notable Afro-Americans who had served as National Security Advisor, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Interesting comment and it looks quite relevant to me. I only wonder, how different might the then future and now present have been without the Kennedy assassinations? So much seems to have gone wrong.

We had the cold war to cope with, but many things could have been handled differently. But it is all history now, and I am rather pessimistic wrt the near future. Further along the picture may brighetn but I won’t be here then…

Actually, I was the one who made that observation, Rolf, not harold. As for the Kennedys, I can’t say that they really made things better simply because it was JFK’s successor, Johnson, who persuaded Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill of 1965. I’ve read a revisionist history on the Berlin Crisis of 1961 which seems to suggest that Kennedy’s response to the Soviets was insufficiently weak and naive, Frederick Kempe’s “Berlin 1961”.

John said:

tomh said:

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

But you ARE willing to support a candidate who says he will do those things. Ergo, you’re supporting those things. And if you actively aid his campaign and/or vote for him, you’re helping him to achieve those ends.

This creationist textbook skim is only a small part of the hyperchristian hustle of US taxpayers.

The Falwell Family Fallacy Factory, f’rinstance, sucks up over half a billion buckaroos per year from your pocket and mine, all to lower the average quality of on-line “universities” and American thinking even further.

Of course, the goal of the tea partiers and their running dog, Mitt Romney, is to destroy the public school system in the United States and replace it with a voucher system of private schools with no oversight by the government. This would include privatizing such schools as Mr. Kwok’s alma mater, Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science, Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, Va. and any other quality school.

Just Bob said:

John said:

tomh said:

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

But you ARE willing to support a candidate who says he will do those things. Ergo, you’re supporting those things. And if you actively aid his campaign and/or vote for him, you’re helping him to achieve those ends.

SLC said:

… and any other quality school.

No, no, that’s “liberal indoctrination center for socialism and atheism.”

Just Bob said:

John said:

tomh said:

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

But you ARE willing to support a candidate who says he will do those things. Ergo, you’re supporting those things. And if you actively aid his campaign and/or vote for him, you’re helping him to achieve those ends.

I do not have a litmus test in which I must have Romney agree with everything I want him to believe in. I am satisfied that he is science literate, having told the New York Times that he recognizes the scientific fact of biological evolution and accepts Darwin’s theory of evolution. Do you, Just Bob, agree with everything Obama does? If you don’t, then don’t make the same demands on me with respect to Romney.

SLC said:

Of course, the goal of the tea partiers and their running dog, Mitt Romney, is to destroy the public school system in the United States and replace it with a voucher system of private schools with no oversight by the government. This would include privatizing such schools as Mr. Kwok’s alma mater, Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science, Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, Va. and any other quality school.

Just Bob said:

John said:

tomh said:

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

But you ARE willing to support a candidate who says he will do those things. Ergo, you’re supporting those things. And if you actively aid his campaign and/or vote for him, you’re helping him to achieve those ends.

If those responsible for privatizing are followers of an eccentric Turkish Imam who supports the teaching of Western Science and Technology in Turkey and in the USA (via a network of private schools created by his most ardent fans), then I’d be thrilled. (The Imam was profiled recently on CBS “60 Minutes”.)

Unlike Mr. Kwok, I have a litmus test, namely relative to the Supreme Court. The record of the last two Rethuglican presidents in Supreme Court Appointments currently consists of Roberts, Alito, and Thomas. The record of the last two Democratic presidents consists of Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Not even debatable.

John said:

Just Bob said:

John said:

tomh said:

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

But you ARE willing to support a candidate who says he will do those things. Ergo, you’re supporting those things. And if you actively aid his campaign and/or vote for him, you’re helping him to achieve those ends.

I do not have a litmus test in which I must have Romney agree with everything I want him to believe in. I am satisfied that he is science literate, having told the New York Times that he recognizes the scientific fact of biological evolution and accepts Darwin’s theory of evolution. Do you, Just Bob, agree with everything Obama does? If you don’t, then don’t make the same demands on me with respect to Romney.

So Mr. Kwok favors privatizing Stuyvesant. What ever happened to if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

John said:

SLC said:

Of course, the goal of the tea partiers and their running dog, Mitt Romney, is to destroy the public school system in the United States and replace it with a voucher system of private schools with no oversight by the government. This would include privatizing such schools as Mr. Kwok’s alma mater, Stuyvesant, the Bronx School of Science, Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, Va. and any other quality school.

Just Bob said:

John said:

tomh said:

As a Romney supporter, does your optimism include support for Romney’s far-reaching federal voucher plan for education? Federal vouchers would shift large amounts of federal tax money from public schools to private schools, so that rather than the back door system that the NYT article details, public money would openly support the textbooks and teachings of these schools.

I would be opposed to giving vouchers to religious and private schools unwilling to teach recognizably sound, mainstream science like modern evolutionary biology.

But you ARE willing to support a candidate who says he will do those things. Ergo, you’re supporting those things. And if you actively aid his campaign and/or vote for him, you’re helping him to achieve those ends.

If those responsible for privatizing are followers of an eccentric Turkish Imam who supports the teaching of Western Science and Technology in Turkey and in the USA (via a network of private schools created by his most ardent fans), then I’d be thrilled. (The Imam was profiled recently on CBS “60 Minutes”.)

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on May 23, 2012 3:09 PM.

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