Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The True State of the Union

The state of the Union is mediocre at best. We have a Republican government that has grown the federal government by over 10% each year Bush has been in office. Big Government Republicans? Apparently. Give me President Clinton with two Republican Houses of Congress any day, with their 3% growth – which is at least as low as the rate of inflation. It is apparently too much to ask that there be true cuts, rather than mere cuts in the rate of growth.
Health care is only a problem because the Federal government keeps getting more and more involved in it. And as for those who do not have health insurance? Well, the truth is, most of us who do not have health insurance are in fact very young and very healthy, and that is why we don’t have it. The poorest are all covered by the Federal government.

Education is in truly pathetic condition. My fiancee is a pre-K teacher, and she has her 4 year olds counting up to 100, knowing all their letters and sounds (yes, sounds – even though they are discouraged from using phonics, which is the ONLY way students learn how to read), and some are even reading. In fact, she has them so advanced, the kindergarten teachers are complaining that they won’t have anything to teach them. Rather than using phonics to teach children how to read, they are using the completely useless look-say method, which requires that students memorize thousands of words without recognizing any connections among them. Students are pushed to read fast, but these same students don’t understand a thing they read. Rather than having students read and re-read until they understand, there is now a ridiculous tally method where students count up words and use the number of words to determine what a story is about or what its theme is. Mere numbers of words does not tell one anything about meaning or content, as research I have done on fictional texts shows. If we were to do a tally, we would say that Jude the Obscure is about church rather than friendship. Further, 3rd grade students don’t even know what a noun or a verb is, and thus do not know what makes up a complete sentence. And I could go on and on...

Basically, the state of the Union is pathetic when it comes to foundations. We are undermining our students left and right, using tests to determine how many prison cells to make for future inmates rather than to educate. We do not teach concepts, we discourage students from math and science, we teach our children to hate poetry, literature, and the arts. There is a crumbling of philosophical foundations throughout our country. For many, it is too late once they get to college – for those who get to college. If they are fortunate enough to have professors who challenge them and provide those foundations.

It is time for a revolution. Tinkering around the edges won’t do it. We don’t need educational reform, we need educational revolution (first, abolish "Education" as a major in college). We don’t need health care reform, we need health care revolution. We don’t need cuts in the increase in spending, we need radical, revolutionary reductions to remove the scourge of the federal government from our lives. Government is not reason, it is force (to paraphrase George Washington), and that is all we can ever expect from it. That is why (to paraphrase Thoreau), we need a government that does not govern at all. And each of us need to discover philosophy and art, truth and beauty. That is what is needed first for there to be true transformation. It is time for a revolution.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Time and Space, Rhyme and Place

I wander in search of a time after time,
Refusing to abort this dangerous climb
Into a space of great complexity --
The towers rise above this great city.
Can a place have a spirit? What about me?
Mine's just more complex than a towering tree.
Spirit arises with great density
Of space and of time. What propensity
For love of music's attracting chime
Has led me to unfolding out this new rhyme?