Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Know Your Local Rightist --Vote Democratic Tuesday

Rightists think the world works in some magical, solid, and mechanical way. Free markets self-regulate, the Constitution is written in stone for all time, and their violence is always provoked and justified.

Let's apply Newton to the Bush Depression, specifically on unemployment:

I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

We may be ready to follow that great (Not!) Republican and "Just say no to drugs." That’s it, however.  A constructive, helpful response to the Bush Depression calls for more than just saying “No!” to personal  suffering and “No!” to social-economic decline. Thank you Democrats for providing the needed "external force" that is starting to reverse the conditions created by Bush and the "No!" boys.

Americans should vote Democratic on Tuesday because "Just saying "No!" to needed change" only takes you, your family and your friends backward into the selfish grasp of Bush robot thinking.

Scrooge McDuck's and the Rightist camp are constantly harping on "more debt." Yes, the U.S. has a debt problem. And yes the U.S. will need to deal with this debt problem--IN THE COURSE OF TIME.

Our country plans on being here long after the 2010 election, long after the the 2012 election, in fact long after we, our children and our childrens' children can no longer rise up and vote. This means our debt as a nation is not the bill we get from our credit card company each month. (And by the way, thank you Obama and Dems for passing consumer protection legislation that at least starts to muzzle the loan sharks running those companies.) Nations work on different time scales than mere mortals.

This means now is not the time for austerity, it's the time for investment. Interest rates are low and unemployment is high. Borrow the money and put people to work. People working are a good thing. Paying low interest charges on investments in people and badly needed infra-structure (roads, bridges, power grids, computer grids, etc.) are a good thing. And collecting taxes from people put back to work is also a good thing.

Rightists are short-sighted and selfish when it comes to planning for the nation. Too much ME and not enough US--as in United States!

Vote Democratic Tuesday and invest in yourself AND your nation.

Rightists want us to fear OUR own government. So much so that they go apoplectic if you call our nation a "democracy" and not a "republic." As if our REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY is some kind a shadowy enemy, a cabal planning to steal our freedoms and liberty rather than assure and protect these wonderful fruits of our still growing, still developing nation. I know, I know, Glen Beck doesn't see it this way. But Glen Beck is an entertainer not an historian; a rich demagogue not an unemployed citizen.

Yes, it's a big government, but this is a big country. Yes, government requires many laws and many workers, but we're a complex and growing society, we can't operate by getting together at the local bar and deciding what we should do about, say, clear cutting in our National Forests or  tasting the drugs we’re sold in order to decide if they’re safe or poisonous.

"No!" is not a policy, it's an excuse to ignore problems and run way from citizen responsibilities. "No!" sneers in our faces, saying, "I got mine, you get yours." "No!" is not the best of America.

Vote Democratic on Tuesday remembering it is OUR government and OUR government works for us.

Video:       'Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck' Tribute

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

Indiana’s public universities vary widely in how much money they spend to educate and graduate students—and none are performing at the top of their peer groups in efficiency, according to a new study commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. . . .

The study compares how much in state, local, tuition and fee revenue each school receives per student and per graduate. It then compares each school’s “cost per degree” against a group of peer institutions selected by the school and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. . . .

Chamber: State universities need to be more efficient
How can you argue with a report that is headlined:

“Chamber: State universities need to be more efficient”?

The magic word “productivity” is scattered throughout the summary of this report like leaves falling from trees in October. And “productivity” in the hands of the C of C is a concept just as brittle and dead as those leaves.

So, before we get all down in the mouth about what the august Chamber has to say as it grinds its usual axe for turning all of life into cogs in a business model, think for a minute about what the “product” of that “productivity” and “efficiency” is supposed to be.

Philosophers and educational theorists have been struggling with the question of what an education should be and do in our society since before the Athenian Chamber of Commerce put Socrates to death. This study is flawed in the many ways already mentioned. It, however, is mainly useless as a guide to policy because it includes an implied definition of what a college should do and create with its resources that is far too narrow and self-serving.

Someone (I think it was Oscar Wilde) once said a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I’m not saying a rebranding of the Chamber to Chamber of Cynics is called for, but the C of C’s study of college prices lacks finesse, insight, nuance and understanding. The C. of C., as always, appears to be very good at taking gross numbers and dividing and massaging them into a conclusion that fits their preconceived ideas and political agenda in regard to public expenditures. Can’t you just hear the Larry Kudlow wannabes whining to Mr. Mitch Outsource, “Oh my! Higher education is so expensive. Oh my! Some colleges cost more than others per graduate. Oh my! What a waste of our taxes.”

If value is worth compared to price, shouldn’t we all be paying more attention to that “worth” side of the equation?


Friday, October 08, 2010

A Daily Dose of Depression (DDD)

Here's a Daily Dose of Depression (which I will sometimes refer to as DDD because I know it's difficult to ask people to read the full name.)

David Foster Wallace on Commercial literature and reading