An American Editor

March 14, 2014

Politics: Just Say No!

Filed under: Politics — americaneditor @ 4:13 am
Tags: , , ,

During the Reagan administration, the Republican answer to drugs and sex outside marriage was to “Just say no!” Abstinence was the mantra, which resulted in the pursuit of policies that simply did not work in the real world.

Little has apparently changed, as the following video report attests:

Third World Healthcare

except that this time the Republicans think the way to resolve healthcare issues is to “just say no” to poverty. This video is quite an insight into Republican thinking about people in general and about anyone but the top 1% in particular.

With all of the misinformation being spread about Obamacare, one would think that a viable alternative would be lurking in the background. Instead, we have the new “just say no” campaign. Strikingly, Republicans seem to be unwilling or unable to grasp just how important access to healthcare is for breaking the poverty cycle and making the American dream of upward mobility a reality.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

January 15, 2014

American Education and the Future of American Editors

Public education and its cost are on the agenda of nearly every state government in the United States. Americans spend a lot of money on education and the return is not as good as it should be. There are myriad reasons for this, not least of which has been the politicization of the teaching profession and the war on government by Republicans.

Every state constitution includes a public education clause. These clauses were included to ensure that America could grow and compete. It was also a recognition that an educated populace could keep America from falling into a dictatorship.

In today’s global economy, the most successful competitors are those who have emphasized educating their populations. Companies also are looking for better-educated new hires, especially as increases in profit are so strongly connected to a better-educated workforce.

In the United States, individual states compete to lure new or existing businesses to their state. This is done, among other ways, by offering tax incentives and by reducing the tax burden. The problem is that a significant portion of a state’s budget is tied up in funding education and other social welfare programs, and because state budgets must be balanced, funding of these programs has to decline to offset the tax “relief” being given to companies.

Kansas is leading the way. It has slashed public education funding to 16.5% below the level it was at in 2008 in order to pay for a $1.1 billion tax break that primarily benefited the wealthy. California slashed school aid because of budget imbalance. New York slashed aid and increased mandates.

The companies and wealthy individuals who benefit from the tax incentives and breaks fail to see beyond the short-term. What happens to these companies in 5 years when they can no longer hire new high school and college graduates who have the basic skills needed by the companies to grow and expand? For years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its members have complained about how poorly prepared high school graduates are to work. They want the education system to do better. Yet they never come forward and insist that a government increase education funding; instead, they want taxes reduced without looking at what benefits they would also be reducing.

When I went to college many decades ago, there was no such thing as a “remedial” course. To get admitted, you had to already be at a certain skill and knowledge level and have the necessary skills to succeed. Then college began to morph into a competitive business, which meant increasing the number of attendees. Consequently, the need for “remedial” courses grew. Today, remedial instruction is considered part of the “college experience.”

This all bodes ill for the future of American editors. Editing requires mastery of certain language-related and business-related skills. Most editors in the past were taught the language-related skills and were expected to be well-enough educated to learn the business-related skills on their own. But that began to change in the late 1990s and continues today.

Increasingly, I see editors who have not been taught the basic language-related skills that are fundamental to a successful editing career. And when I see the tests and resumes submitted by recent college graduates who are looking to be hired as editors, I see people without those basic skills. Neither the language-related nor the business-related skills are taught today. It is hard to focus on those skills when remedial education is the starting point.

The war on education funding creates its own never-ending circle of degradation. As people move from the education system into the editing profession without mastery of basic language-related skills, they apply their limited skills to the material that will become the teaching material of the next group of students. That next group of students will receive an education that is no better than, and likely worse than, that of the author and editor who has already come to the task with a decreased skill level.

The never-ending circle ensures that with each new class entry into the world of authors and editors, the skills that are passed on are less than the skills of the previous group.

Much of it boils down to funding. In Kansas, class sizes have increased greatly, which means that students cannot be given individual attention. To make oversized classrooms work, there comes a push toward the least rather than a pull toward the most. The slowest learners cannot be left behind so the fastest learners have to be throttled. It does not take long before the skills of the fastest learners begin to match those of the slowest learners, rather than vice versa.

Of course, there is also the problem of the teachers who have graduated from such a system and thus perpetuate the problem. A teacher who hasn’t been taught the difference between a noun and a verb cannot be expected to teach children the difference.

The education of future editors is important because of the role that editors play in the dissemination of knowledge. Editors are an integral and very important part of maintaining language standards. As an editor’s education diminishes, so does the editor’s ability to help facilitate communication — it is hard to facilitate the understanding of something you yourself do not understand.

At some point, if education funding keeps declining and with it learning continues to decline, there will be no need for editors as no one will know what contributions an editor can make to communication because editors won’t be able to make that contribution. It is difficult to edit a book at a high language level when your language skills revolve around twit feeds.

The saddest part of the education funding fiasco is that the Republicans who are pushing it see it as a way to lure businesses to their low-tax state. What they lose sight of is that at best such moves are temporary because even more important than tax savings to a business is finding workers with the education and skills to do the jobs that are required for the business to continue in existence and to grow.

When education and skills were fairly uniform across the United States, low taxes were alluring. But as those manufacturers who offshored in the 1990s and who now are onshoring learned, low wages and taxes can only carry a company just so far — the prime mover for company profitability and growth is a properly educated and trained work force.

Editing as a skilled profession and viable career path is reliant on a good education system. The demise of a good education system as a deliberate policy decision is not only a threat to the future of editing, but also to the future of the country. I’m not sure what can be done to halt the tide, but I’ve made it a point to let the politicians who claim to represent me know that defunding education is not the answer to a bright future; instead, it is the path to a very bleak future.

Richard Adin, An American Editor

October 18, 2013

Worth Noting: Republican Fears of Democracy

Filed under: Politics,Worth Noting — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: , , ,

I realize that everything in Washington, DC is done with politics in mind, but this ploy by the Republicans seems to me to strike at the very heart of democracy. Although I disapprove of the Republican tactics to defund the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), I was at least willing to say that the basis was a philosophical disagreement. But after seeing this video, from the floor of the House of Representatives, and thinking about what it means, I wonder if the problem is less about health care and more about Republicans wanting to move our country away from democracy and toward authoritarianism.

September 30, 2013

The Illogical Republican

Filed under: Miscellaneous Opinion,Politics — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I know this blog is an editorially focused one, but sometimes there is a need to stray a bit, especially into the world of politics. If there ever was a subject or profession (aside from religion) that was designed to be the slaughterhouse of language, it is politics — especially current American politics.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a difference between irrational and illogical behavior and speech. Unfortunately for America, GOP (Republican) politics smacks a lot of both when it comes to healthcare, especially Obamacare. It is clear to me that none of the pundits are having their pronouncements vetted by a professional editor; they seem to be the ultimate self-editors who are so blinded by their love for their own words that they are unable to see the problems with their word choices.

The GOP and its conservative allies are now running ads asking Americans if they really want their healthcare decisions made by “faceless Washington bureaucrats.” It’s a good question that is made a terrible question by the inclusion of “Washington”. I have asked several GOP politicians what the difference is between a faceless bureaucrat who sits in Washington and works for the U.S. government and a faceless bureaucrat who sits in an office in a large insurance company or in a state capitol? I have gotten no response other than “one cannot trust Washington bureaucrats,” which strikes me as clear avoidance.

Most Americans who have health insurance have health insurance provided by an insurance company or a state government. Very few individuals who actually pay for health care are self-insured. The insurance company tells us what it will pay for and won’t pay for and how much it will pay; no one is simply given an insurance card and told to “buy” whatever healthcare and drugs you think you need and don’t worry, someone else will pay for it.

No, the real difference between Obamacare and the current system of health insurance is that Obamacare will provide insurance to more people at a lower cost, which does not fit well with the GOP’s preferred plan of health insurance only for the well-to-do.

Yet the irrationality and illogicality of the “faceless bureaucrat” argument doesn’t halt the GOP tirade. If it can’t convince you by the bureaucrat argument, it is ready to hit below the belt and scream “socialism”. What could be more frightening to an American than socialism?

When I talk with senior citizens about healthcare, they are unanimous that they do not want the government interfering with their Medicare. Being a Medicare recipient myself, I fully understand that thinking. But when I point out to those who oppose Obamacare that the Medicare (and Medicaid) they praise and do not want touched by government is in fact run by a “faceless” government bureaucracy in Washington, they often seem stunned.

And when I point out that Medicare (and Medicaid) are socialist programs similar to Canada and Britain’s national healthcare plans, with the only difference being that in Canada and Britain the healthcare is for all, whereas Medicare is only for older Americans and disabled Americans, I see surprised expressions. But I also am told, “I don’t care. I don’t want Obamacare because it is creeping socialism.”

Some of the most strident anti-Obamacare Americans are military veterans. A local congressman is a retired veteran and an ardent opponent of Obamacare because it is socialized medicine. I have asked his office to explain how he justifies opposing Obamacare, which makes health insurance affordable and available to more Americans, while supporting expanded Veteran’s Administration healthcare, which is socialized medicine for veterans and which he enjoys at taxpayer expense. I await the answer and suspect I will celebrate my 100th birthday long before I get a rational, logical response (or perhaps any response) from him or his similar-thinking colleagues.

The problem with the message is the lack of understanding of the terms used. To Obamacare opponents, socialism is bad except when they benefit (“Don’t you dare touch my Medicare!”), and faceless bureaucrats are okay except if they can be found in Washington, DC (I wonder where congresspersons can be found?).

The GOP is winning the word battle because those who support Obamacare and national health insurance seem to be incapable of defining and framing the argument. They certainly are incapable of showing the fallacies in the arguments the GOP presents. I am almost (but not quite) convinced that the problem lies in word usage, not in meanness; that is, proponents find it difficult to distort word meanings and thus cannot fight back, whereas the opponents, like the GOP, have no problem assigning alternate meanings to common words in the expectation that people will hear the alternate meaning, not the standard meaning.

The GOP claims (falsely, but that doesn’t seem to matter) that Obamacare includes “death panels.” What the GOP doesn’t point out is that its “plan” is just death itself — no panel whose decision can be challenged and no health insurance to stave off disease, illness, and death.

The irrationality and Illogicality of GOP thinking and advertising strikes me as proof of why editors are needed — no one else seems willing to challenge the misuse of language. The sad part is that America has become a land of me rather than we.

January 9, 2013

On Words: Politics and Alice-in-Wonderland Speak

I have repeatedly written that word choice and grammar are important because words chosen and how they are used (i.e., the grammar rules applied to the words) communicate a message, and both an author and an editor want that message to be communicated without misunderstanding by the reader. No matter how many times I have written that mantra, no one has come forward to tell me I am wrong; ergo, I must be right.

For months I have been pondering what word choices put in sentence form could prove me wrong. I thought about statements that protest gays and non-Christians because they will rot in hell for not having been saved. Afterall, how many of us have experienced and survived hell so that we can know with certainty (as opposed to with belief)  that hell exists and that the unsaved will rot there forever. (I have also wondered how anyone knows that one rots in hell as opposed to having endless, wonderful 24-hour parties that fulfill every fantasy we ever had before we went to hell. Alas, it is just a matter of belief rather than knowledge. But I digress.)

The answer to my pondering came from the mouth of Congressperson Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) who said, in justification of her vote against House Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B, which would have made permanent the Bush-era tax cuts for taxpayers earning less than $1 million, “I am here to represent my constituents.” If this isn’t the biggest falsehood of the century, it certainly has to be the biggest falsehood of the year.

I don’t mean for Congressperson Blackburn to be singled out; rather, this statement, perhaps not so succinctly put by other politicians, when made by any politician to justify a vote that shoves us over the “fiscal cliff” is the biggest lie. The reason is that words, although they carry the firmness of a religious sermon demonizing sin, simply can mean neither what they are intended to mean nor the message they are intended to convey. If words could be sins, these words would rank near the top of sins and those who spoke them at the top of the sinners’ honor roll.

If nothing else, these words raise at least this matter of implausibility:

To be true, at least 50.1% of Representative Blackburn’s congressional district must be persons earning $1 million a year or more and against having their taxes raised.

Fewer than 1% of Americans have an annual income of $1 million or more. I suppose it is possible that most of America’s millionaires live in Tennessee in Representative Blackburn’s district, but if that is true, then how can any other Republican congressperson justify voting against making permanent the lower tax rates for the 99%-plus of Americans who do not earn $1 million a year? Someone (or many someones) are simply spreading the big lie!

The words “I am here to represent my constituents” raise other plausibility issues. It hasn’t been asked and answered, but I wonder who Representative Blackburn (and the other naysaying Republicans) really represents. Are the “people” who she claims to represent real or imaginary? I recognize that one of the things Americans are really great at is voting against their own interests and/or letting peripheral, minor issues sway them for or against a candidate, but the one thing no American I know has voted against is giving him-/herself a tax cut. So explain to me how the Republican naysayers’ vote against permanent tax cuts for 99% of Americans is something that “my constituents” want.

Perhaps the problem with the House of Representatives is that it has become a wealthy-person club. Many, if not most, of the “representatives of the people” would themselves — or their family — see their taxes rise and so are really representing themselves, not their constituents.

I’m one of those foolish Americans who thinks the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (starring Jimmy Stewart as an idealistic new senator) is what Congress should be about. Such idealism today on the part of a politician would simply be fodder for the lobby gristmill that is Washington politics.

Anyway, the point is that the words “I am here to represent my constituents” fail to fulfill the concept of words and grammar that I have been advocating for 30 years: they are closer to Humpty Dumpty’s view of words –

     “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

As the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse put it:

     The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”

“Come, we shall have some fun now!” thought Alice. “I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles. — I believe I can guess that,” she added aloud.

“Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?” said the March Hare.

“Exactly so,” said Alice.

“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.

“I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least — at least I mean what I say — that’s the same thing, you know.”

“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that ‘I see what I eat’ is the same thing as ‘I eat what I see’!”

“You might just as well say,” added the March Hare, “that ‘I like what I get’ is the same thing as ‘I get what I like’!”

“You might just as well say,” added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, “that ‘I breathe when I sleep’ is the same thing as ‘I sleep when I breathe’!”

Hmmm, perhaps being in Congress is like being at a Mad Hatter tea party. Certainly it is hard to differentiate a congressperson saying “I am here to represent my constituents” from an Alice-in-Wonderland conversation. I know that what I understand the words to mean clearly has no resemblance to what the speaker of the words intends the words to mean, as evidenced by the use of those words to justify voting against extending the tax cuts to 99% of Americans. It is evident that words spoken by Representative Blackburn — and mimicked by other congresspersons on a regular basis in multiple legislative areas — fail the test by which authors and editors live:

The words chosen clearly and precisely convey the author’s intended meaning so that there is no miscommunication between the author and the reader.

How refreshing it would be if that was the litmus test for political speech and failure of the test were grounds for recall.

January 2, 2013

On Guns: A Modest Proposal

Filed under: Politics — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Americans can be pretty indifferent, perhaps even callous, when tragedy strikes a small group or fewer of adults. Although we were moved by Columbine and Aurora, our concern lasted at most a few weeks and nothing was done to change America. But, perhaps, Newtown, will be different because the massacre of the very young truly does tug at the heart of most Americans, the National Rifle Association (NRA) being a notable exception.

It is the massacre at Newtown that really started me thinking. I admit I have always been opposed to guns. I think Americans are too quick to embrace the OK Corral mentality and too slow to embrace peaceful resolution of disputes. But I recognize, also, that gun ownership in America is a right, so confiscation of guns and their banning simply will never work here. The question becomes, what can and should we do? What small step can we take that can appeal to all sides of the debate?

I struggled to find the answers until I realized that I was looking for a short-term solution rather than a long-term solution. As soon as I shifted thinking gears, I began to realize the answer really lies in changing how we Americans deal with each other and the need to culturally become a society on a single level.

I consider it unnatural for a parent to outlive their child. I realize that it happens and will always happen from causes over which none of us will ever have control. But some causes we can control, guns being one of them. With that in mind, and looking for a long-term solution that will ultimately level “the playing field” for American society, I have come to my modest proposal.

The NRA’s solution to put a gunman in every school as a deterrent, simply won’t work for many reasons. First, is the question of cost. Not only the cost of salaries and benefits, but of insurance. Americans are already grumbling about their taxes, how many will voluntarily pay even more in taxes to fund this idea? And who knows — today’s sane gunman can become tomorrow’s crazed killer. Perhaps more importantly, one or two armed guards have already proven ineffective, witness Columbine.

So the NRA’s idea is no idea at all — what else would you expect from an organization that would prefer to cuddle with a gun than with another person! But equally untenable is the antigun lobby’s vision of a gun-free America. Until people like Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice, begin to think and accept that America has changed since 1783, America can never be gun-free.

Yet I want my children to be safe in school. What to do?

My modest and humble proposal is this: Before any child can be registered to attend school for the first time, require that child to learn to use a gun and earn a license to carry a gun. That’s right — arm every 5-year-old and keep them armed as they progress through school. Of course we would need exceptions for pacifists, mentally and physically disabled, and perhaps a few others, but we should view this just as we view vaccinations.

The first few years would remain uncertain, but by the time every kindergartener through sixth grader were attending school carrying a gun, American society would change. Sure we might have an angry first grader or two start shooting but we could control the damage because every other first grader could fire back. We all know that bullies succeed only when the bullied are afraid of them.

I think arming the students would also help improve our education process. Teachers would become more aware of the needs of their students, perhaps there would be fewer slouchers among them who are only trying to bide their time to collect their pension.

This could also be a way to discover the students who will become mentally unstable. When we find them preferring their pistols to their teddy bears we can focus a sharper eye on them. When we see that they prefer to play cowboys and indians with live ammunition rather than with water balloons or cap pistols, we will know that we need to reassess having giving them a license and consider starting therapy. Arming children would be our early warning system for mental deviation.

Because this would create a whole new future market for gunmakers, we could keep costs of the program low by requiring gunmakers to provide every student with their very first pistol and 250 rounds of ammunition. It would be like what was originally done with razor blades by King Gillette — give away the razor because users would then have to buy the razor blades.

This proposal would be good for everyone. The NRA would fulfill its dream of having a gun in everyone’s hand. Liberals would instill confidence in their children, eliminate bullying, cut down on rape and sexual molestation of their children (if I were a predator, I’d think twice before trying to molest a pistol packer — wouldn’t you?). Conservatives would no longer feel obligated to sit through boring church sermons because preachers would be afraid of triggering a negative response in a parishoner.

Arming incoming students will change the social dynamic in America. We may continue to be divided by money classes but otherwise we would all be part of the same social class. We could reduce unemployment because we would now have a need for many more firing ranges and instructors. Unemployed veterans could more easily find work. There simply is no end to the positive that could and would come from arming kindergarteners. (I dare that abusive father or mother to be abusive to a pistol-packing kindergartener!)

And think what this could do for the safety of our country. Within a decade, we would be nearly invasionproof and if we had to raise an army of millions, we could do so more effectively and quickly because we could avoid having to waste time trying to teach new soldiers how to shoot and kill — they’d already know from the good education they got in schools, which would assure us parents that our children at least learned something while in school.

The only negative is bars and liquor. But by starting early, maybe we could do away with drunk guntoters. If not, well, it would be no different from drunk driving — just ask the NRA.

On the other hand, perhaps it would be better to ban all guns and require peace and love courses.

(In case someone misses it, the above is intended to be in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” and not taken as the author’s view of what really should be.)

October 29, 2012

Fact or Fiction? School Textbooks

Filed under: Breaking News,Miscellaneous Opinion,Politics — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: , ,

In past articles, I have worried about the future of the editing profession. I have looked at the state of American education and worried that future editors will be unable to distinguish a noun from a verb. I have looked at the tests submitted by editorial job applicants and worried about what they think is quality editing. I have conversed with younger colleagues about various aspects of the business of editing and worried about their knowledge of and approach to that business. I have reviewed fee expectations of job applicants and worried if I share the same universe.

Then along comes an article in The Economist and I am confronted with what I never quite thought about in regards to education: separating fact from fiction in school textbooks. Usually I would just post a short Article Worth Reading note about this particular article, but I think The Economist article, “It Ain’t Necessarily So”, is must-reading for everyone.

I am aware of the textbook controversies here in the United States. Texas fundamentalists want Darwin and Jefferson purged; bigots want the Civil Rights movement’s history turned into a footnote; and the list goes on, including book banning and hiding one’s head in the sand when it comes to sex education. (I am fascinated by America’s puritanical streak when it comes to sex but not to violence. Having a nude scene in a movie — or even an allusion to sex — warrants a R rating, whereas graphically displayed mass murder gets a PG-13 rating. Blood and gore is OK, killing is OK, but not nudity or sex.) And because I am aware of the controversies in America, I just assumed that the same happens around the globe. A bad assumption as it turns out.

America has its faults, but growing up I was exposed to a multiplicity of ideas. Sometimes the exposure was in school, but more often it was a result of my weekly trips to the public library and my reading of newspapers and magazines, each coming from a different perspective. I wasn’t exposed to just one idea on a subject but to many ideas. In the Internet Age, I assumed such exposure was even greater for the young of today, but that clearly is not true.

The Economist article notes, for example, that in Egypt, 80% of the population read or have read only the Koran and school textbooks — not any other book (or so few other books in their lifetimes that it is tantamount to none). What that means is that unless school textbooks give a balanced and factual view of the world and history, students will be unable to separate fact from fiction. Belief in a bible is just that — belief. Bibles are neither fact nor fiction, as their role is (or should be) moral guidance. Yet many countries and many population subsets around the globe want to turn bibles into fact. How much more narrow and limited a perspective of the world and universe can one get than the biblical perspective? The importance of well-written, factually accurate school textbooks increases manyfold when most of a population is not exposed to other thought influencers.

Think about who writes and who edits school textbooks in Egypt. What is their background? How can they question whether something is fact or fiction when their own educational background was limited? What effect does this educational limitation have on university education in Egypt? And how do/can/will Egyptian students compete in what is increasingly a worldwide marketplace for jobs?

The article further discusses the role governments play in the creation of textbooks and how some governments view the role of education as a way of shoring up the present political system, not as a way of expanding knowledge. Whether something is fact or fiction matters not as long as it shores up the current political system.

With that perspective and with the influence that textbooks have on the education of a county’s populace, it becomes worrisome what the future will hold for authors and editors. Will, for example, holocaust denial become fact and the holocaust fiction? Will Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot suddenly become Nobel Peace Prize winners? Will authors write revisionist histories and will editors not know whether statements of “fact” are really queriable statements of “fiction”? Will “the world is flat” become “fact”?

Editors should be the barricade that prevents authorial flights of fiction being imposed on readers as fact. Editors are supposed to be educated well enough to question authorial “facts” that are contrary to the commonly held understanding of what is a fact. But if editors are taught that the world is flat and never exposed to the idea that the world is “round” and that the round view is the dominant view, how will the editor know to question the author? How will a reader know that the author’s statement of flatness is contrary to accepted knowledge? Isn’t this the underlying debate in the United States as regards the replacing of evolution with antievolution theories in school textbooks?

Imagine a world built solely on the bible as its history, a world created in six 24-hour days and that is only 8,000 years old. How would that world differ from the world we live in? Would our ability to separate fact from fiction be so impaired that our lifestyle would be more similar to that of ancient Rome than of modern New York? What types of books would we be reading, or able to read? Or would there even be books as opposed to just bibles?

It has been said that the key to economic and social growth is quality education. What is not discussed is what constitutes “quality education.” It is clear that some people believe that the education of 3,000 years ago is sufficient, whereas others believe that as broad a knowledge experience as possible is what education should be.

After reading “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” I worry that in our current world of outsourcing and offshoring, future generations will suffer a loss of knowledge because those hired to be the barricade between the author and the reader, to query fact and fiction, will be unable to fulfill that function as a result of narrowed education and limited access to those things that broaden knowledge. When someone tells me that “all I need to know is in the bible,” I shudder. Such a view, when translated to the school-education children receive, threatens world progress because it means that children will not have a sufficiently broad knowledge base to question whether something is fact or fiction.

The time has come to discuss just what the role of textbooks in education should be, as well as what constitutes quality education. Our future depends on it.

[The following was added on November 2, 2012.]

The following movie trailer for a documentary, The Revisionaries, about textbooks in America illustrates the problem discussed in the above article:

This video is a more in-depth view about the leader of the Texas movement to the back. Unfortunately, I could not find a version that didn’t have the video uploader’s sarcastic comments included. I suggest ignoring the editorial commentary and just watching the news:

October 12, 2012

Articles Worth Reading: The Economist on the 2012 Election

Filed under: Articles Worth Reading,Politics — americaneditor @ 4:00 am
Tags: ,

I am a long-time subscriber to The Economist. I consider it by far the best news magazine available to American readers. It provides a wholly different perspective and tends to be more balanced in its views. The Economist is usually conservative on fiscal matters but more centrist leaning left on social matters, but it strives very hard to make those leanings only appear in its editorial, as opposed to its news, pages.

Consequently, the October 4, 2012 issue was quite interesting as regards its perspective of the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I think the articles gave a balanced view of each candidate’s positions, both the positive and the negative. Consequently, I recommend to all American voters The Economist‘s analysis, which can be found under the head “US Election” on the table of contents page linked below. It is a series of 13 articles, which is why I am not providing links to each of the articles. You can read those that are of interest to you.

Here is the link to the issues’ table of contents:

The Economist‘s View of the U.S. Presidential Election

August 17, 2012

Politics: One Term More

The following video was created as a political parody of “One Day More” from Les Misérables, but is so well done, I thought I would share it here. As its title implies, the video is pro-Barack Obama and anti-Republican. Enjoy the video for its creativity and excellent production. I suggest watching it with subtitles, as some of the lyrics are hard to discern.

One Term More — A Political Parody

One Term More — A Political Parody (with subtitles)

August 1, 2012

On Politics: Healthcare in America

Obamacare was recently saved by the surprise opinion of arch conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. Regardless of his hidden reasons for saving Obamacare, he really did Americans a favor — not that any one would know it by listening to Republican rhetoric.

I do not disagree with the Republicans that Obamacare could be greatly improved. Personally, I would like to see Medicare made universal for all Americans. That’s my solution to the problem of healthcare for all Americans.

The Republican solution is…. That’s really the question voters should be asking of every Republican. It is not enough to say repeal and replace; there needs to be clear understanding of what the replacement will be. Experience in American politics dictates that repeal will result in no replacement because there is no consensus, even within the Republican party, on what to do. Unlike Democrats who can say “perhaps Obamacare is flawed but we at least addressed a problem and came up with a plan,” the Republicans can only say that Obamacare is flawed.

I have asked my congressperson, who is now Republican as a result of redistricting, to outline for me in detail precisely what she proposes to replace Obamacare with. “How can I evaluate,” I asked, “the merits and demerits of Obamacare versus the Republican plan without knowing the details of the Republican plan other than that once Obamacare is repealed, leaving me with nothing, Republicans might come up with a solution of their own?”

The problem with asking a question like that of a politician is that they do not know how to respond, so they don’t respond. Politicians want to talk in soundbites, in platitudes, not in substance, and voters too readily are willing to let politicians do that. Sadly, so are partisan newspapers. I keep waiting for Fox News to ask that question. They can tell me what they think is wrong with Obamacare, which largely boils down to an unwillingness to see fellow Americans receive medical care because these pundits have goldplated policies, but not one is willing to do the newsperson’s job and ask “replace with what?”

American’s are too willing to accept the Mitch McConnell approach: it doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t Obama(care). It is better to have no insurance than to have Obamacare. McConnell and fellow Republicans make it difficult to be proud to be an American because they make it clear that, to them, “real” Americans are anti-Obama and those who are pro-Obama, or at least not anti-Obama, are not “real” Americans.

There has been discussion in recent months about the benefits of Obamacare, but there are at least two benefits that are not often mentioned but which I think are key: first, the self-employed will finally be able to have medical coverage at a reasonable cost; second, that no American will be stuck in a job they hate just so they can have medical benefits for themselves and their families — medical insurance will be portable. This latter benefit will encourage and permit Americans to become entrepreneurs and fuel the next workplace revolution.

The Republican failure to offer an alternative plan to Obamacare has resulted in a “debate” that is really not a debate and that is full of misleading rhetoric. Consider the exchanges that Obamacare requires. The exchanges are central locations that individuals can visit to see what competing insurance plans are offered by private insurers and at what price. This will promote competitiveness in the private marketplace on both price and coverage. What the exchanges do is simply make information available in an easy-to-find-and-use location. The services are still private industry services, not public services, although a public option will be offered.

Doesn’t this sound like a Republican idea? It does to me. The complaint is that private insurers will have to compete with the government. Well, hasn’t the Republican argument always been that private enterprise can do any job cheaper and better than the government? So why the sudden shift? Perhaps the Republican argument is toothless and this will expose too many voters to the toothlessness of the Republican vision.

Or perhaps the problem is that if Obamacare actually works and makes people freer it will also mean that employers can no longer rely on mediocre benefits to keep employees and will have to pay higher wages; or that it will increase competition among employers for employees, which Republican business contributors will not like; or perhaps it will result in more people voting Democrat because the Democrats did something to solve a major societal problem and the Republicans were simply obstructionist.

The Republicans can combat this by coming forward with their alternative plan to provide healthcare coverage for Americans, especially for the 60+ million Americans who are currently uninsured. I, for one, am open to an alternative plan. If it is a better plan than Obamacare, then I certainly would urge my congressperson to support repeal and replace; but I assure you that I will never support repeal without a replacement in hand.

The time has come when Republicans need to have a true dialog with the American voter and disclose what their alternative vision is in detail. I understand that this is something that is contrary to the way Republicans have campaigned for decades — I think the last Republican to attempt such a dialog was Barry Goldwater and I suspect his overwhelming defeat by Lyndon Johnson led Republicans to take the vague road — but the time has come when that dialog should be resurrected.

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,268 other followers

%d bloggers like this: