Archive for December 2010

Snake Oil and Bringing Back the Age of Charles Dickens

Remember those old westerns where some charlatan was selling some elixir to bring long life, cure baldness, make you taller?  There would be some plant in the crowd who would claim some great cure, and buy more followed by the sheep who would start throwing money at the charlatan.  As long as he was out of town by the time they figured out they were had, he made a good living.  But you couldn’t help wondering how the town’s people could be so dumb.  Wonder no more as all you have to do is look around you.

Here is some of the snake oil that we have been buying and no I am not making this up:

  • We can cut taxes and it doesn’t impact the deficit ignoring the Bush years (Kyle, Boehner, McConnell (Gang of 3))
  • Government spending is the problem and we need to cut spending and demand will come back ignoring there is no demand and spending is shrinking (Gang of 3, Tea Party)
  • Bank Regulators are there to serve the banks, kind of like they did up until the Banks almost collapsed (Next Republican House Finance Chairman)
  • Government regulation is the problem, ignoring the bank crisis, the gulf oil blow out, contaminated Chinese products, etc., etc. (all Republicans and some conservative Democrats)
  • Global warming is not real (ignore the melting of the ice cape or the frigid weather we are experiencing because of the shift of the jet stream), and we just need to drill more (all Republicans and conservative Democrats)
  • The market place will solve our problems like building our roads, responding to national emergencies, protecting the environment, protecting work health and safety (all Republicans and some conservative Democrats).  Should I go on?
  • We have the best medical care system in the world (37th in the world and the most expensive) (Boehner and most Republicans)

Okay, you get the point.  Promise them miracle cures, take their money and run.  We have elected those that are either ignorant, blind to history, or tools of corporations to keep things as they are.  So expect things to get worse in 2011 since this new gang of snake oil salesman sell elixir to those who don’t want to face our problems and are looking for those to blame and never looking in the mirror.

But our trip to fantasy land is also a trip in turning back the clock and this is where it really gets scary.  Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors as he focused on evil, the mistreatment of the poor, and greed.  Well, welcome back to the times of Charles Dickens and debtor’s prisons.  The latest has been the Republican talking point that welfare should be supported by private giving.  Remember in A Christmas Carol when Scrooge is approach by two gentlemen trying to get Scrooge to donate to help the poor.  Scrooge said, “Are there no prisons?” This is just another variation of voting down the Dream Act.  This is nothing more than punishing children for the deeds of their parents.

I listened to an interview on NPR where a young man called in to describe his situation, and the situation most Americans are finding themselves in.  “I make just enough money to qualify for credit, and I spend my money managing that debt.  There is nothing to invest or start a business.”  A study just found that those out of work for more that 15 months start new careers at less pay.  That is where we are and it is getting worse.  The wealthy are getting wealthy, the market is coming back, unemployment grows, and the average American is seeing his future slipping away.   Our government is oblivious to this reality and we have put in power those that are selling us snake oil.  And you wonder why we keep buying it instead of running the charlatans out of town.  Maybe it is just that we can’t face up to the sacrifices we need to make and we will believe anything, even in elixir.

Happy New Year.  Maybe this will be the year we quit looking to blame our fellow citizens for their predicament and pull together as a nation to start solving some of our problems. After all, and against all conservative Republican propaganda, we are all in this together.   I can only hope.

Big Government

Haley Barbour has agreed to pardon two black women given double life sentences for armed robbery ($11 and no previous records) if one donates her kidney to the other (only in the South). Think about it. You are convicted of murder, but you will not have to serve that life term if you donate half a lung? Big government becoming a body shop. This man is Presidential material? Only in the America we have become.

Birthers and Faith

There was an article written by Sam Harris in the Huffington Post about how we are becoming the very rich and the poor and how our whole society is now structured to favor and transfer wealth to the wealthy.  Yes, that Sam Harris who is a devout atheist and wrote two of my favorite books, The End of Faith, Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason and Letters to a Christian Nation.  Sam was imploring the rich to show some Christian values.

No, the article was not anything about faith and the word Christian did not come up, but the idea of helping those less fortunate did (A New Year’s Resolution for the Rich).  But that is not my point today.  I will write tomorrow about how Charles Dickens’ world of poor and suffering is being revisited on us by the present crop of Republican “thinkers”, but today it got me thinking about faith and birthers

Warning! Warning! Old White Guy Thinking! Sam Harris, I believe, wrote probably the best work debunking the Bible and most religious belief.  Not only did he demonstrate the ugliness of the Bible, its cruelty, its many authors, its revisions, its factual inaccuracies, and its many contradictions as the word of God, but he demonstrated how this kind of thinking (or not thinking) leads to many of the cruelties and injustices that we see today.  He simply showed that a belief in God was totally irrational and not based upon any observable reality that could not be explained by other natural phenomena including the religious “experience”.

As an aside, there is a differentiation between religion as gospel and philosophy.  The philosophy purported to be preached by Jesus, which we call Christianity, is one of many philosophies about how we should lead our lives and treat others.  As a philosophy, it is subject to examination and adjustments as reality dictates.  That is very different from a religion whose dogma is the word of God and is inviolate, the very antithesis of rational thought.  Religions actually get more human when we pick and choose from what it is purported God dictated.

Okay, what does that have to do with birthers and faith?  Well, if you enter into a reasoned discussion with a religious soul (note that surveys show that in the general population, atheists know much more about the Bible than believers), and you have your intellectual ducks in a row, you can demonstrate that their beliefs in the Bible are either misinformed, or contradicted by the Bible itself.  When this complexity is thrown at them, they always fall back on faith.  They just know.  They look at you as that poor soul who just won’t let the light into your soul.  Of course there is always the “Harvey” solution if you can’t brook a supreme being.  One person’s dementia is another person’s salvation.

At any rate,  faith in our society is a revered commodity and I am not just talking about religious faith.  We hear stories all the time of some individual who faces insurmountable odds and somehow overcomes them to survive/be a success/overcome debilitating injuries, whatever.  When asked how they managed to persevere, they just say they had faith they could do it, or faith in God..  Of course we don’t usually tell the much more common stories of all those who just had faith and failed, or quite simply examine the fact that they had no other options, but the point is that faith does have a revered status in our society, earned or not.  But that got me thinking about the Birthers, those that believe President Obama is not a U.S. Citizen.

Birthers claim their belief is based upon the failure of President Obama to produce an original signed birth certificate, only the official one authorized for release to the public by the State of Hawaii.  Enter newly elected Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie who wants to put an end to this nonsense by releasing (if he can find a legal way to avoid privacy laws) the original birth certificate with all the original information and signatures.  His mistake is thinking this ultimate reality will inform the Birthers and make them go away.  He fails to take into account their faith.  They simply know it in their hearts (sound familiar?) and will invent another conspiracy theory to explain away the latest evidence.  See, God does work in mysteries ways.

Apparently what this should teach us is that there are various levels for the utility of faith. Is faith an important quality that allows us to persevere in difficult situations or is it a tool to facilitate our denial of reality to be used to further our own self-interest.  In some situations it can be what gets us through, and in others can be a highly negative force that enables us to ignore the reality that faces us with disastrous results.  So which is it?  Food for thought in 2011 where conservative faith, religious faith, and faith in American exceptionalism will all be in play in our political arena.

The Town

Warning!  Old guy reviewing movie and reveals plot.  If you haven’t seen it stop here.

Television just basically sucks during Christmas as all the good shows are on hiatus while football games and Christmas classics are in never ending loops.  So one goes hunting for a Pay for View movie, hoping to find a new Bourne thriller that entertains and gives one a little (just a little) food for thought.  In the case of the Bourne movies that food for thought was about how much power we give our government and how easily that power can corrupt.  Anyway we (my wife and I) decided to watch The Town.

The problem with this movie is not the acting, which was great, or the directing, which is also great.  It is the characters.  They just aren’t likable, except for the love interest/bank employee.  You start watching this movie and you know it can’t have a good ending and if it does, it is fantasy land.  You have this group of guys who robs bank.  It is not their fault, they are a product of the town and the social environment they grew up in.  The movie starts as they are in the middle of a bank heist and one of the gang brutally attacks the bank manager for setting off a silent alarm.  They take a bank employee hostage for their get away in case they have to use her as leverage against the police.  So when they escape, they terrorize her, but let her go.  See these are really a likable bunch.

This movie is about selfishness and self absorption.  The “hero”, played by Ben Affleck, is seen having sex with his sometime girlfriend and sister of one of his compatriots.  No love here.  She gets him off and then calmly gets off him and goes about her other duties.  I need an organism, she is handy.  No there, there.  This is their life in their little cultural enclave, and they are playing their parts.  I am not buying it.  You are either part of the system or you aren’t, but you make a choice every step of the way.

Ben is the sensitive one and when they realize that the female bank employee is a loose end and needs to be “taken care of”.  Ben says he can manage her and there is no need for violence.  See isn’t he lovable and redeemable.  These guys rob banks and terrorize people but it is just a cultural thing.   At any rate Ben falls in love with her and decides to pull the plug on his criminal activities.  Once again, this is just selfish behavior.  He wants her, therefore his impact on her life is immaterial. She works with disadvantaged kids and he steals and brutalizes.   Don’t you just love this guy?  The rest of the movie is just one selfish act after another.  The “girlfriend” (the sex slave) finds out he is trying to leave the life with the new flame and she wants out too.  She doesn’t love him, she just wants out of being a tool.  He rejects her, she gets in trouble with the police, and gives them up in a deal to get her kid back.  The fact that the deal will probably (and does) get her brother and others killed is not really an issue.  Nice lovable people.

Okay Ben escapes, but he finds that the police (some of which they gunned down in their escape) are with his new flame, staking out her apartment, so he escapes to Florida leaving her a bunch of money to help homeless kids while he works out how he will pay for his sins and someday get back with her.  I don’t know, but living in the Everglades with stolen money seems to me to be perfect penance for murder and mayhem.  We are left with the sweet thought that someday they will reunite and live happily ever after.  Hmm.  What about the policemen and the families they gunned down in their escape?  Will they live happily ever after?

Here to me is the critical difference between Jason Bourne and the Ben Affleck character:  Jason was flawed and used by his government, but he thought he was doing good.  He tries to make amends, and he realizes that will not assuage his conscience.  He knows he will always have to pay for his sins.  The Ben Affleck character chose his life style and every choice he made in the movie was selfish and self-serving.  In the end, he thinks he can just put it all away and have it all.  No, the problem with the movie in my mind is that it really says if you are special, and the impact you have on others with your choices is not your fault.  From a political point of view, I can’t figure out which side of the spectrum this one falls on, from your are not responsible for your choices because your community made you do it, to your are not responsible for the consequences because you are special.  Kind of a mixed bag of irresponsibility.

A New Start?

I was reading Harry Shearer in the Huffington Post and I think he expressed my feelings about the spurt of legislation in the lame duck Congress and the Conventional Wisdom defining this as a resurgence of the Obama Administration.  To wit:

We’re being urged by the Washington-NYC punditocracy to regard the post-shellacking performance of the lame-duck Congress as some sort of revival of President Obama as a getting-things-done-type leader. After all, look at what’s been passed by the Dem leadership on their way out the door.

Okay, let’s look. Health coverage for 9/11 responders. A new nuclear-arms treaty with the Russians. A tax compromise that extends the Bush cuts for the wealthy. Taken individually, or as a package, is this why, if you did, you voted for Barack Obama? More crucially, as has been pointed out elsewhere, in any other set of circumstances, these would be banal no-brainers to get through Congress, not as inconsequential as Clintonian school uniforms, but no more controversial. A man has climbed partway out of a hole he (and his advisors) dug for himself, and it’s being hailed as if he’d scaled a mountain.”

I completely agree with his assessment.  We expect so little any more that when we get a little, we think it is a lot.  I will give you that DADT was a major civil rights victory, but the courts were about to weigh in any way.  The real fight is next year and rescuing the economy.  In my mind there is only one way to do that, and that is increasing spending in the short term.  But the money to do that was given away to the rich in the tax cut extension.  If we don’t start thinking big again, there may be a point when it won’t be an option any more.

The Republicans are in a position to destroy our economy next year.  They control the house, next years budget has not been approved, so they are in a commanding position to starve the beast.  They are putting Know-Nothings on major committees in the house (don’t believe in climate change, science, and are terrified of brown people).  We are going to resemble hickville to the rest of the world as these people try to take us back into the 19th century.  So the question is, will Obama and the Democrats come out and play hardball with these throwbacks or are we going to see more back peddling for the country as they look for common ground with failure?

That is the challenge we face and there is no longer any middle ground.  Either the Democrats stand for increased and meaningful spending to stimulate the economy or we are going to see more unemployment while the stock market surges.  If President Obama continues the nonsense about cutting spending next year, then he plays right into the Republican’s hands of paralyzing action with fear of the deficit and sets the stage for more economic pain.  We shall see.

It’s a Wonderful Life?

I truly hate that movie.  Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, they all fill me with joy.  Not It’s a Wonderful Life.  I am having these irreverent thoughts on Christmas Day waiting to go to my sister-in-laws house for Christmas dinner.  We can’t ever have a midday meal so Christmas Day is usually spent killing time until the dinner. When you get to my age you can only party hardy till about 9:30, so the evening  fun is considerably shortened.   Anyway I am channel surfing, watching boring college football teams that didn’t make it to real bowl games, and I come upon George Bailey floundering around in Porterville.  I am wondering what this movie is really about.

It’s a Wonderful Life leaves me depressed and angry.   George Bailey gives up his dreams to do what everybody else needs and when things turn south, he thinks about pulling the plug.  Here is the kicker.  He thinks his life is a waste, but then he gets shown how the town might have turned out without him.  It is the ultimate guilt trip to keep him pulling other people’s loads.  The whole town rallies around him to show their support and chips in the money to save the bank.  I am thinking, let it fail and get a real life.

I mean, let’s just consider the banking (savings and loan) thing.  The money to pay the mortgages got lost because George hired Uncle Billy who is a bumbling nincompoop.  Now doesn’t this say something about nepotism and rewarding mediocrity?  Yet here is the town, who probably owns the properties getting foreclosed on, bailing out bad management.  There you have it, the downfall of the American Banking system foretold in the late 40’s.  Sure Mr. Porter is being a little mean by finding and hiding the money, but business is business.  If we bail out George, doesn’t that reward his poor management and Uncle Billy’s incompetence?

Then there is the whole Porterville thing.  That is Bedford Falls renamed for the evil and capitalistic Mr. Porter.  It is suppose to be the result of George having never existed.  But there was gambling, loose women, and booze, my idea of the perfect holiday.  George doesn’t even take one little drink or have one wild dance with the floozies.  What ever happened to “love the one your with?”  He is just shocked, shocked, shocked.  Actually looking at it from the economic and tax revenue angle, Porterville was a jumping little town.  No more boring George and alcohol less punch, with money to fix the potholes.  Just ask Atlantic City.

But the bottom line here is that the angel Clarence shows George how much his life means to other people.  And there my friends is the ultimate rub.  George has spent his entire life sacrificing for others, and while it is true that they have done all the things George has wished he would have done because of him, that is supposed to be comforting?  My life is important and meaningful because it sucks and is boring, but it makes everybody else’s party time possible?  Hot damn.  It almost makes you wish he would have jumped off that bridge to get the rest of town to pull up their socks.

No, the perfect ending for this movie is the scene where they are all at Georges house chipping in to pay off the bank (Mr. Porter), and George takes the cash and heads for Paris for the fling he so richly deserves with a couple of call girls from Porterville.  Because when the party is over, George will still be in Bedford Falls doing a job he hates, and never having a chance to really find out who he is, only who everybody else wants him to be.  It is the ultimate wasted life.  What was the moral here?  Life sucks and then you die, but it is worthwhile if everybody appreciates your sacrifice?  Sounds like the perfect motto for a drone in a factory.  “It sucks, but people really are glad because we are getting rich on your sweat and blood.”  Is life still worth it if they turn on you?  Honestly.

This is a very dark movie and all the way through it I keep hoping George will throw off the harness of convention and get his own life.  Why again is this a wonderful Christmas Movie?  So we will all go back to our boring lives making junk after the Christmas break?  I prefer Miracle on 34th Street where it makes you think there just still might be a little magic in this world.  There are other possibilities.

Seccession, Revisionism, WTF?

We have the Texas Governor who continuously raises the issue of succeeding from the Union.  Like they could afford to lose the $1.68 they get back from the federal government for every $1 they pay in.  Oh, I guess they want to raise their own army, form their own FAA, pay for their own highways, do their own border patrol, and on and on.  It’s nuts.  South Carolina is now reinventing history with their celebration of the anniversary of succession with a complete distortion of the reasons for succession.  Reinventing history and some inconvenient facts along with Haley Babour reinventing his racism and the South’s racist history.  No, it was about the big bad federal government forcing their way on them and their “State’s rights.”

What’s going on here?  This is irrational nonsense and yet we are seeing among the tea partiers and the conservatives this consistent line of nonsense as though they could turn back the clock and be farmers in the 19th century.   Who do they think pays their Medicare and Social Security?  Meanwhile in Texas the Texas Education of Board is white washing history to meet their religious and cultural beliefs instead of the reality of our past.

Well I know one thing that can cause this kind of denial and irrationality:  Fear.  Maybe these people are terrified.  Their irrational behavior is driven by fear of the future.  Their world is collapsing and they fear for the future.  All the stuff they hung onto and believed in is collapsing around them.  The economy is crashing, their futures and that of their children are at risk, there are more scary brown people, and the world has become a highly competitive place.  What they took for granted is disappearing.

They have found that their belief in American exceptionalism is not so exceptional anymore.  That is why they are touting it in the face of obvious counterdictions. Bottom line is that they are afraid of losing their favored status.  That is why this is primarily a white phenomenon.  It is blame and revisionism.  So they are trying to claw back the past.  The big bad federal government is causing all the problems so we can just jettison it and everything will be back to normal.  Fear is clouding their perception of reality.  If we can just return to those good old time values, everything will be okay.  Complexity is their enemy; Sarah Palin is their hero.

Okay, but how does that explain Haley Barbour and the rest of the history revisionists?  Because it is inconvenient to remember the ugliness of it.  Remember all that Southern politeness covering up a very paternal, cruel, and stagnant society.  It is inconvenient to remember that the federal government had to supplant them to ensure justice.  White Republicans (or anybody really) have very short memories and reinvent reality continuously if what gives them status and power is also what is polluting the present and our future.  Slavery was one of them, and conservative economic policy is the other.  How else do you explain reinventing integration as no big deal or people ignoring the very policies that wrecked our economy and reinstituting them unless you look at it through the lens of holding on to the status quo and your own favored position in that status quo?  They are terrified of the necessary changes for our future and are holding onto their made up history just as tight as they can so they don’t have to examine the path that caused this mess and their place on that path.

I see it all as one big disease.  Change is scary and when that change upsets the balance of power, it is terrifying to those who may lose their grip on that power.  The federal government is starting to look at our big problems and address them.  Ration solutions require correcting what isn’t working.  So it’s state’s rights and whatever other slander they can come up with to stall change.  Death panels, end of Medicare, whatever they can come up with is what they are stoking to keep the fear going.  It was abundantly clear in the lame duck Congress that Republicans are about obstruction, not solutions.  Solutions require change and that would upset their apple carts.

In order to be an economic and world power in the 21st century, America is going to have to change a whole lot of what it has been doing because it hasn’t been working.  And it hasn’t been working for a long time.  If you can’t see that and you think we can just to do more of the same, only harder, then you too have frozen your brain.   You deluded yourself into believing that back in 2003 things were wonderful under low taxes and no regulation, when the reality was we were living on a false bubble of inflated real estate and debt, with a growing government deficit.  But it was a warm comfortable time so can we just get back there?  That takes a revisionist history and denial.  That is where the Republican Party is right now.  That is where all this foolish secessionist talk and revisionist history is coming from.  At least that is what I think.  Got any better ideas?  Maybe it really is the fluoride in the water that is making us all crazy.  Michele Bachmann, Sharon Angle save us!

Lame Duck Bipartisanship?

Hardly.  What happened in the lame duck session is not some new bipartisanship or reaching across the isle.  What happened was that in the full spotlight of the nation watching the Republicans obstruct and obfuscate, it became clear that they had no real policy issues with these bills and they were hurting the nation and its people.  This lack of any real substantial objections became crystal clear.  The 9/11 Health Bill is a prime example.  With Senator Kyle (R-Arizona) whining about working through a religious holiday, John Stewart brought real first responders on his show who pointed out that firemen, policemen, and paramedics don’t feel they are dishonoring a religious holiday to work on that day.

Yes there were some monumental accomplishments.  The repeal of DADT was a win and a wonderful step forward for civil rights, but Congress (read Republicans)  was shamed into a popular position.  The Strategic Arms Treaty was a no-brainer and a Republican policy carried on by a Democrat.  That is where the hypocrisy of the Republicans was so obvious.  Let’s face it, the heath care bill was a recycled Republican plan from the 90’s.  But the reality is that we have seen the tip of the iceberg of their intransigence and irrationality.  For all those that think maybe they misjudged President Obama, think about what might have happened if he and the Democrats had fought these fights more publicly and earlier.

So does this re-empower President Obama for 2012?  Nope.  It is the Economy stupid, and on that one we lost big time.  All of the above will be forgotten if the economy continues to slide.  The tax cut bill almost guaranteed it.  There is stimulus, but it will be undone by States making major cuts next year, while the money necessary to help the States went to tax cuts for the wealthy setting up the deficit to be the issue of the future.  There is a reason I called this a seminal moment in my blog rejecting this compromise.  It was not some minor compromise.  It was giving away the keys to our economy.  It was President Obama lending legitimacy to Republican tax cuts as a cure all for everything.

But it gets worse.  Remember that continuing resolution to continue the budget at current levels till next year?  That puts the new Republicans in January in charge of whether they will fund all that great stuff we passed like health care reform and the 9/11 health care.  And now comes the really bad news in that the people the nation elected to take over the House want to cut the crap out of everything.  Who needs Medicare?  Who needs Social Security?  Don’t worry, they will continue funding defense.  If you don’t think this is what is at risk as a result of the tax cut, then you don’t understand strategy.  By growing the deficit without addressing the economy, the next step is to start making cuts in social program.  From a Republican point of view, lazy people just need to take a job a McDonald’s and unemployment insurance just encourages their laziness.  If you don’t believe it, just read their statements.

The only way that the economy is going to get better is if we understand that with shrinking demand, cuts in spending just tighten the spiral.  Until our President and Democrats recognize that you cannot compromise with Republicans whose primary aim is to bring you down, will not pass anything to help the economy, and quit using their (Republican) talking points about spending reductions, will we even be playing  in the right ball park.

Keynesian economics has not been repealed and until we finally understand that and that the idea of cutting in a severe recession is just going to make things worth, we are swimming upstream.  An Economist suggested that we lend the states the same amount of money we lent the banks at the same interest rates.  They could lend it out at current interest rates, make money, pay their bills, rehire teachers, fireman, etc., and probably pay most of it back.  But we won’t.  We gave it to the banks that caused this problem, and now we are giving it away to the rich instead of investing in our future.  The Republicans will fight anything that will help every step of the way unless as in the lame duck session, their irrationality is exposed.  Will we?  I doubt it.  Next year the battles will be extreme.

Eating Our Young Continued

I forgot to mention the good Americans who are feasting on their children’s brains.  That would be the Texas Board of Education who has decided Thomas Jefferson is not a mentionable, the Enlightenment was not about separating religion from government, McCarthy was a good communist hunter, not all religions are equal, etc., etc.  Like Haley Babour, reinventing history just dumbs us down and handicaps our children for facing our future.  Just another reason we should let Texas succeed from the Union (Texas Textbook Massacre).  Or as Paul Krugman put it on Monday (When Zombies Win), the Zombies are eating our brains  as they roam the country mumbling “cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes, we are exceptional.

Eating Our Young

There are certain species who are noted for eating their young.  Called “filial cannibalism” a wide range of animals feed on their own young including polar bears, burying beetles, hamsters, pigs, and a wide range of fish species, also many fresh-water aquarium fishes eat their young, such as tetras, black mollies, guppies, and gouramis.  The point is that it is common in the animal kingdom and I didn’t even mention insects.  The behavior has some survival advantages in that it may improve survival rates for the remaining young or it is a dominance behavior.  So why is it that we humans are now consuming our young?

No I don’t mean cannibalization in the strict sense of eating their flesh, but the cannibalization of their future by feasting on their education necessary for them to survive and prosper as adults.  Conservative philosophy is that we need to cut, cut, cut and all taxes are bad.  In Great Britain their answer to bad times was to raise the cost of a college education by threefold.  What was covered in the press was the demonstrations and the violence with almost no discussion of how this policy will rob future generations of an educated workforce.  The very idea of raising taxes to pay for their future is anathema to conservative dogma.  But that’s those crazy Brits, and has no bearing on the United States, right?

Wrong.  Here in California they are looking to further gut an educational system that is now rated 49 out of 51 in teacher staff expenditure per pupil (29th in total expenditure per pupil).  Read into that large classrooms, no arts, no counseling, and of course no learning for those that need it most.  As the Sacramento Bee reported on Monday in “Schools Budgets to Get Bleaker”, that “districts are bracing for another round of teacher furloughs, school closures and the elimination of programs outside the core teaching mission.”   My favorite description from one of our school superintendents of what is happening is as follows:  “To paint the mental picture, it’s as if two people are looking over a forest of stumps and one person says, “Let’s go get that low hanging fruit.””  And you know this is not just happening in California.

Meanwhile the electorate just put in office a whole group of people who want to gut our society more.  We have just compromised away any hope of help with the tax cuts for the rich.  We are eating our children’s future because we don’t want to pay for what we need.  We would rather have that new 47” LCD TV or a new Ipad, but we can’t see our way clear to pay for the education of our children.  Don’t worry about the rich; their kids can always go to private schools.  For the rest of us, we are so screwed.  So the answer to my original question of why we are cannibalizing our children’s future is quite simple.  We are so selfish, we don’t care.  Unlike the animal kingdom, it has no survival benefits while we suck our kids dry. No, I take that back.  Rich kids will not have to compete with their poorer counter parts, and we all lose.