President Obama is now proposing a higher education reform bill that would allow two years of community college free for those who work and get the grades. I am not in solidarity with Republican conservatives who are opposed to education reform in this country. Granted, the sixty-four [trillion] dollar question is how do we pay for it. Nonetheless, it is an absolute necessity we do it if America is going to have a future, not only competing, but existing in the world economy. However, I do not believe Obama’s choice of the community colleges is the right vehicle.
Reforming higher education without first reforming primary education (K-12) is an exercise in futility, a waste of taxpayer’s money, and will contribute further to growing the multi-trillion dollar deficit with no return on investment. Although a more expensive proposition and a bigger burden on the deficit, I would be willing to eat some Republican party crow and support the plan if and only if it were part of complete education reform package starting with our five-year olds entering kindergarten with an assurance they can read, write, and do basic arithmetic. You cannot teach pre-calculus mathematics to someone who can’t comprehend algebra, geometry, or even basic mathematics. Mr. Obama’s main objective is to allow the economically underprivileged to get a two-year financial head start, and then transfer to a four-year college or university and only pay for the last two years. This can only work on pupils properly educated at the K – 12 level that have learned everything required of them in thirteen years of primary education and be able to produce test scores that are a true barometer of their potential.
Another reason the community colleges are not the best vehicle are what they have become as a result of the failure of our primary education system. They have become remedial havens to attempt to bring those who slipped through the cracks up to a respectable level of literacy and mathematical competency. This may work for someone who failed at the high school or even junior high level, but two years is not enough if the failure began in grade school. Furthermore, community colleges could not stay financially afloat if they have to order both remedial and two-year college level courses with less than half the students paying customers. And if the “freebies” are all being subsidized by the federal government, never mind your great great great grandchildren, we will be deep in debt until Jesus returns or the apocalypse, depending on your belief system.
Finally, pushing our youth through the collegiate assembly line with no job for them when they graduate will turn The American Dream into a bottle of Dr Hood’s Snake Oil, or as Charles Dickens’s Mr. Scrooge would say, a humbug. For those of you not up on your Dickens or were ever curious the first time a parent or teacher read A Christmas Carol to you, humbug is old English slang for something deceptive. Before his reformation at the end of the book, Mr. Scrooge believed Christmas was the notion you should be merry on December 25th is merely a source of false hope for the future. It would be the worst tragedy known to man if The American Dream were to deteriorate to that. Instead of traveling in the dingy we call a community college, let’s put our children into the yacht; a world-class primary education, and let’s make sensible spending cuts with respect to the most superfluous entitlement. Let’s build a world-class economy and balance the federal budget and pass on to the next generation the same American Dream our Founding Fathers intended and many Americans enjoyed in the twentieth century. Let’s make twenty-first century America the world model for economic growth and job and business ownership opportunities in the free world, unsurpassed by any other nation in the world. After all, they are the only next generation we have!
Not only is free speech the First Amendment of our Constitution, not only is it the first of the Bill of Rights, but it is the first element of the First Amendment and first of the rights. For the same reason the Commandment Thou shall have no gods before thee had to be the first of the Ten Commandments. The other nine could have come in any order but until the people understood they would operate under the one and only God, one could not vindicate the other nine. By whose authority shall I be prohibited to kill, steal, or cheat on my spouse just because somebody etched some early alphabetic characters on a rock? But by committing to the First Commandment to have no god before the one and only God, the other nine laws become the divine wishes of our supreme being and obedience is required for the positive afterlife. The same is true at the secular and political levels with free speech. If freedom of the press preceded freedom of speech, the press, as free as it would be declared, could never establish any credibility since the written word is an extension of the spoken word and since the pen, typewriter, computer word processor, and social media channels are extensions of our hearts, minds, and tongues. Mark 4:14 tells us our words are our seeds and it is the power of the spoken word that separates mankind from all other species on Earth.
Recently, the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hedbo magazine in Paris, France and pre-recorded words of the recently slain employed at the magazine claiming they are already dead without free speech. As God’s children and members of the human race, our hearts cry out for the French. As conservative thinkers and crusaders for freedom and The Constitution, we find it quite intriguing that France speaks of free speech. It makes us think about how precious free speech is in America, especially since it the very foundation of a free country and a working democracy (or republic if you prefer). I have used the catch phrase on several blog posts of the past: dictatorships are made of iron, democracies are made of glass. The essence of substance to that phrase is that a democracy can vote in a dictator, but in a dictatorship, you cannot vote in a democracy, bloodshed is required. I also made reference on several occasions of that broken clock and the action of placing the big hand on the twelve, the little hand on the five, and hanging a sign under the clock that reads IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE. At the end of the day, the clock has not actually been repaired. Without free speech, the capitol building, the houses of congress, and the white house deteriorate and become merely the clock towers of the aforementioned clock. And every American citizen eighteen years of age and over that does not participate in the democratic process, at least on Election Day, represents a drop of arsenic in the river that bears the fish of free speech. Not voting is the same as not exercising free speech. Deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the employees at Charlie Hedbo, but my fellow Americans, we must take the tragedy in France as a lesson and reminder of how fragile free speech is in our own country; the world example for freedom and democracy.
Mr. Hannity asked Mr. Gingrich that very question. We are a little of both. As it turns out, the term Republic is actually an extension of the concept of Democracy or a government of the people, by the people, for the people. A RE-PUBLIC is a democracy where elected officials REpresent the PUBLIC or the people. A true, unadulterated democracy would work like an old-time New England Town Meeting where the people of the town attend the town meeting and vote directly on bills and proposed ordinances, as opposed to outsourcing this duty to elected representatives. New England Town Meetings were very affective in small towns but when we defeated the British in The American Revolution, our Founding Fathers warned of the mob-ocracy that would result by empowering all of the nation’s citizens; John Locke preached throughout his life that power inevitably corrupts and even good God-fearing people can succumb to temptation if possessing too much power. Besides, it was not the intention of the original founders to distribute power evenly as they did not want to get rid of their slaves. And as corrupt as Washington is and always will be, it is easier to deal with 536 corrupt people than 560 Million masses of people.
I believe the term American Democracy is a misnomer. As the word planet is an ancient Greek word meaning wandering star and Galileo proved to us all that planets are not stars. As American as a crowd at a baseball game singing Take me out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch when in fact, you are already at the ballgame and the barring extra innings, the ballgame is two-thirds completed. The proper title for the American Government should be American Republic; I will keep that in mind when
I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands…