April 14, 2013
The nation has been justly horrified at the news out of Albany New York concerning a social studies assignment in which high school students were asked to write an essay justifying Nazi treatment of Jews. The teacher was suspended, which was the right thing to do, but the district announced they will hold diversity workshops to help students get over whatever trauma they suffered.
Given that one-third of the students refused to participate in the assignment, it’s good to know that not all students thought this was a useful academic enterprise. The adults, however, in suggesting the need for workshops forcusing on diversity and tolerance, are missing entirely the source of the problem.
This exercise and other similar examples that have been reported in other states reflect the fact that the teacher in question took to the extreme a core tenet of 21st century social science which says anything is permissible as long as it is done in support of politically correct positions. This is a fundamental violation of almost every ethical and religious doctrine, but unfortunately it has become a foundation of modern political behavior.
Taken to the extreme, diversity has come to mean that all viewpoints are equal. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ACLU defended the teacher’s right to conduct such an exercise.
A critical definciency in 21st century social science and its political counterpart is the lack of belief in evil. If there’s no such thing as evil––just winners and losers––then all things are permissible in the pursuit of one’s goals. That means thinking like Nazis or Islamic Jihadists can be a legitimate learning experience.
A fundamental principle of ethics and religion is there are boundaries one may not cross in one’s personal or public life. To most of us that starts with the Ten Commandments. Of course, the Ten Commandments may not be taught in public school. Instead teachers praise leaders for whom the end justify the means and teach that one shouldn’t let one’s religious or personal beliefs interfere with what’s “good” for society. Example? Those who argue you’re intolerant if you don’t support gay marriage or amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Instead of focusing on diversity, the Albany schools might ask students to puzzle out what kind of thinking allowed Adam Lanza to enter the elementary school he attended with the goal of killing children he did not know? That could have led to a discussion of whether it’s possible for either mental health professionals or government agents to determine who is likely to resort to violence, which is what much of gun control legislation purports to accomplish. That in turn could have led to a discussion of individual responsibility and whether a society where anything goes will long endure.
September 7, 2012
Political conventions live on dreams and hope, but it’s time for a little reality for those with a stake in New York State’s future. Let’s start with the fact that local governments are already overburdened trying to keep up with a declining tax base as people who can continue to flee the state, but add unfunded obligations on top of that and we are looking at trying to stop a tidal wave with a wall of sand.
Don’t believe me? Then read Jimmy Vielkind’s series on “Cities near a tipping point” that started Sunday August 19 in the Albany Times Union to see how bad it is currently and then consider “New York’s health-care time bomb” by Rus Sykes in today’s New York Post. Sykes reveals that taxpayers are on the hook for as much as $250 million in unfunded health care costs for government retirees.
Now tell me how New York is going to solve that crisis in an economy that’s growing at less than 2% a year!
July 3, 2012
Will you take a moment this 4th of July to discuss with the young people in your household the events which led up to the signing by representatives of 13 colonies of their declaration of independence?
You might ask them to interpret the praise: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I’d ask them specifically if they see any difference in one’s ability to pursue happiness today than 236 years ago in light of the Supreme Court decision that the government can impose a tax on a person who does not voluntarily purchase health insurance?
Please feel free to share the responses you get.
June 7, 2012
NYS DEC continues on a reckless course of destroying the culture of the Adirondack Mountains in the name of preservation. What needs to be preserved is the way of life that allows people to partake of the beauty of the lakes and moutains and woods of this unique region. What government doesn’t need to do is bar people from access–particularly people who have enjoyed access for generations.
Check out this video of a 100 year old family recreation area which would be taken away if DEC is allowed to purchase land that it does not need to purchase. There are nearly 2 dozen other recreation areas that would also be destroyed.
There is an alternative to purchasing the land and throwing the people out. You can learn more and sign the petition asking Gov. Cuomo to do the right thing by clicking the links below.
March 6, 2012
Rush Limbaugh made a mistake, but it was not the general point he was making — i.e., criticizing the Georgetown Law Student who wants the university to pay for her contraception. He was right — not just because Georgetown is a Catholic Institution. In my opinion neither Georgetown, nor any other college or university, should pay for a student’s contraception as part of their health insurance.
Limbaugh’s mistake was not letting his audience draw their own conclusions. All he had to do was point out the facts — that the need for contraception is not a health matter but a personal life style choice. If students are adult enough to decide whether they want to engage in heterosexual activity, then they ought to accept the responsibility for paying for that choice.
Personally I’m opposed to covering viagara as well as contraception. I’d also probably eliminate coverage for a dozen other lifestyle choices from mandated health coverage. Adding those coverages is a major reason health insurance is so expensive.
February 29, 2012
Watching the Republican primary one has to wonder if any of the candidates know what job they’re running for. Part of the problem is that they don’t have a good role model to emulate. When’s the last time we had a president who understood that running the executive branch — as opposed to being America’s cultural tsar — was what they had signed up for?
Case in point: Recent GAO (Government Accountabilty Office) reports remind us that our government is about as streamlined as the contestants on day one of The Biggest Loser. (See WSJ, 2/28/12) Their 2011 report found 81 areas of unnecessary duplication including 53 programs to help entreprenuers (how’s that working so far?), 15 unmanned air-craft programs and nine agencies protecting our food system from terrorists attacks. The 2012 report will show that progress has been made in reducing duplication in some of those areas, BUT…it also found more than 50 new areas of inefficiency.
What’s the cost to the American taxpayers for duplication and inefficiency? Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) estimates $100 to $200 billion a year.
Government reform faces two roadblocks. Congress passes laws forcing the executive branch to start programs that duplicate existing ones in order to produce headlines that fool constituents into thinking they are solving America’s problems and Presidents don’t like to cut programs because that means laying off public employees which angers the public employee unions and hurts the Washington, D.C. economy.
Some Presidents find it easier to blame corporations and rich business people for the country’s economic malaise. Why? If the public buys that sales pitch, they can start new duplicative programs and hire campaign contributors to administer those programs, which is a lot more fun than closing down 54 of the 55 overlapping Transportation Department programs or 20 of the 21 programs spread across five agencies to combat nuclear-smuggling overseas.
February 21, 2012
I feel sorry for the attorneys and other staff who work for the NYS Dept. of Law. It seems that starting with Eliot Spitzer their jobs are now defined by how often they get their leader’s name in the newspaper and whether they are helping them position themselves for a short layover in Albany on their way to the White House.
In some cases the three Musketeers — Spitzer, Cuomo and Schneiderman — have chosen targets that are appropriate given a reasonable reading of the AG’s responsibilities and duties. In other cases, however, it appears as if they are looking for wounded elephants that can be taken down without much resistance.
The latter seems to be the case with Mr. Schneiderman’s suit against the Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS). Any attack against the banking industry and the mortgage infrastructure — particularly any attack that does not further tarnish the FHA, Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae — is sure to garner headlines without regard for the merits of the case. The suit against MERS seems particularly flimsy and misguided.
And, as has been noted with regard to the recent settlement with the five large banks by many of the states’ attorneys general including Mr. Schneiderman, neither proof of harm to more than a few home owners nor remedy of the supposed harm seem to be the primary focus of the litigants. That leaves one no choice but to conclude that the motives are political.