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Opinion

Opinion

Citizens owe America a better report

July 16, 2012

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Dear America:

Happy 236th birthday! And while we’re at it, take a bow for everything you do for us. Even after all these years, you’re still a remarkable lady.

Unfortunately, the reason we’re writing is neither to pass along happy returns nor to express appreciation. The reason is to apologize.

The fact is that we — your citizens and residents — are treating you pretty shabbily.

Since your birth, almost two and a half centuries ago, there’s been a clear arrangement. We the people vote, understand your past and present, and contribute to our communities. In return, you guard the founding principles, create prosperity and protect us from the threats of an unpredictable world.

The importance of this process — sometimes called “civic engagement” — is critical to our national fabric. It’s our collective voices that create government and business agendas, ensure accountability and preserve the ideals that underpin our society. Without this active involvement, to paraphrase Yeats, America will fall apart, the center cannot hold.

Unfortunately, we individuals have been reneging on our part of the agreement. Recently, we’ve been caught red-handed, our misdeeds exposed in two reports: “Fault Lines In Our Democracy” from the Educational Testing Service and “Guardian of Democracy” from the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. Here’s some of the evidence.

• Only one-third of Americans could name all three branches of government. One-third couldn’t name any.

• On the 2010 National Assessment of Education Progress, the “nation’s report card,” only about one-quarter of our high school seniors are “proficient” in civics (e.g. they can define “melting pot” and argue whether it applies to the United States).

• Only one in five Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 reads a newspaper. Only one in ten regularly clicks on a news Web page.

• In the areas of civic knowledge, only 5 percent of Americans were deemed competent in economics, 10 percent in geography, 11 percent in domestic issues, and 14 percent in foreign affairs.

• Turnout of eligible voters for the 2008 presidential election was high by our standards but still less than 60 percent. That means nearly 100 million failed to vote. (Asked why, one-third said they were too busy/forgot, and one-quarter said they’re not interested/it won’t matter.)

When we examine these data more closely, clear patterns emerge: They’re called education and age. In 2008, here’s who voted by education level: 39 percent of high school drop outs, 68 percent of those with some college, 83 percent of those with a master’s or higher. Here’s who voted by age group: 48 percent of those 18 to 24; 63 percent of those 35 to 44; 72 percent of those 55 to 75.

So what’s the fix?  Guardian of Democracy lays it out for us: “Knowledge of our system of governance and our rights and responsibilities as citizens is not passed through the gene pool. Each generation of Americans must be taught these basics. Families and parents have a key role to play, yet our schools remain the universal experience we all have to gain civic knowledge and skills.”

This solution will come as no surprise to those in our schools. In recent focus groups held by the College Board and Hart Research, students and teachers were asked about the purposes of high school. Their answer was very clear: The purpose of schooling cannot be limited to traditional academic learning. Schools must also teach citizenship, personal responsibility, lifelong learning and problem solving.

Can schools prepare students for college, train the workers of the future, create good citizens, and develop responsible individuals, all with too few and unstable resources? Possibly. But the current debates about school reform are not adequate.  While talking about teachers or measuring academic performance or discussing who controls our schools is important, we must focus on one subject: what we want our students to know and be able to do. That is the only way we will produce the kinds of students, workers, and citizens we need.

In the ETS report, Robert Maynard Hutchins, the visionary former president of the University of Chicago is quoted as saying, “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush.  It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” 

That comment, made in 1954, is as true today as it was more than a half-century ago. In the past we have overcome many serious challenges. We can do so again, but it will require that we respond with energy and commitment.             

America, happy birthday once again, and we hope that next year we’ll be back with a better report.

Sincerely,

Your residents and citizens

— Gene Budig is a former chancellor/president of three major state universities, including Kansas University, and past president of Major League Baseball’s American League. Alan Heaps is a vice president of the College Board in New York City.

Comments

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

Three comments:

  1. Contrary to the authors' assertion, government never "creates prosperity." Only the private business sector creates prosperity, the success of which is proportional to the amount of governmental taxation, regulation, and overall interference it has to face.

  2. If the authors wish to use 1954 as a benchmark, our system of public education, which many of us have vigorously attempted to support, is nowhere near what it was then in terms of excellence and emphasis on accomplishment and success. What has occurred since then has been a gradual watering down of excellence and competitive accomplishment in favor of a system of minimum competency and enforced mediocrity, in which everyone gets a high school diploma (or G.E.D.) and no one's feelings ever get hurt. For example, a few years back U.S.D 497 (Lawrence) did away with requiring high school students to take and pass basic Biology in order to be graduated. Why was it abandoned? Because not every student could pass it - which was openly admitted and discussed in school board meetings. Instead of redoubling efforts to teach our high school kids biology, the Board simply punted so that no one's feelings would get hurt.

  3. To the authors of this column: Outcomes-based education, which this piece appears to advocate, is not the answer. Don't forget that we can teach everyone to dunk a basketball: all we have to do is lower the goal. That's what we've gradually done since 1954, including "No Child Left Behind," which has been a colossal failure. What we need are more teachers, administrators, and school board members like Joe Clark, as portrayed by Morgan Freeman in "Lean on Me," and fewer touchy-feely education theorists who've brought us the mediocrity we've experienced since 1954, starting with the Dick and Jane books right up to the feel-good "middle school philosophy" now inflicted on American public education. Sadly, it's no wonder that American private and parochial schools have gradually become more and more successful as the years have gone by, as institutional mediocrity and its emphasis on appealing to the lowest common denominator have replaced excellence in our public school systems across the country. Yes, it's not as bad in Lawrence as it is in many other places, but we're working hard to keep up.

Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

"The role of the government is to create an environment where individuals and organizations can create prosperity through meeting the needs of others. The Founding Fathers asserted that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are given to us by our Creator and not by our government. Governments exist primarily to protect those rights against violations by others. Only in a country where the government protects the personal and property rights of its citizens can free enterprise succeed and flourish." http://freeenterprisealliance.org/

LloydDobbler 2 years, 4 months ago

I largely agree with you on education. No child left behind is a disaster which has led teachers to teach to a test in lieu of teaching them about process, theory, and methodology. But on your point about the private sector creating prosperity, you are being too simplistic. The government has an important role in creating infrastructure and research and an environment that promotes business within acceptable guidelines. If it weren't for the government, as an example, advancements in health and computer technology would not be where they are today. The concept that all government entities are out to squelch productivity is wrong.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

"The concept that all government entities are out to squelch productivity is wrong."

I never said that.

LloydDobbler 2 years, 4 months ago

You implied it with the proportionality statement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"Contrary to the authors' assertion, government never "creates prosperity.""

So you counter one assertion with another-- and one that's as wholly ideological as it is wrong.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

No, Bozo, I countered an assertion with a fact. The last 3 1/2 years have proven that fact once again, and all too well.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Taxes under the Obama administration are the lowest they have been in 30 years.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Which were a major contributor the record deficits of the last few years.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Interesting that nowhere in your list did you total up the cost of the Bush tax cuts over the last several years.

"Obama's call for taxing the wealthy would only generate $80 billion which is about 8 days worth of government spending."

And without taxing the wealthy, that deficit goes up by $80 billion (I assume that's per year, but you throw figures around so willy-nilly, it's hard to know.)

"How would that play in your family budget?"

There is absolutely nothing comparable between the federal budget and a family budget.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Cato, if the level of taxation is one of the major factors in determining prosperity, how then is it that the economy tanked when taxes were at historical lows, continues to flounder with taxes lower than they have ever been, and grew to make America the world's super power in the 20th century during a time when the top tax rate was 90%? Sorry, but low taxes are not a determinate of national propserity, it can only mean certain individuals get to retain more of their indivdual wealth.

On other points, you make sound arguments. I too believe schools are too quick to pass students who should be failing. Students, even in college, now expect "A"s when they do "C" work. The idea of making children "feel good" rather than making them actually achieve something is indeed a failed product of liberalism, thanks to the Baby Boomers, and needs to be done away with. Not every child will win in sports, just as not every student will excel in science. We need to challenge students so they can learn where they have skills so those skills can be fostered.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

One of the major causes of the Greek economic crisis is that the wealthy don't pay taxes-- precisely what folks like Cato (and the Koch Bros.) would like to see happen in this country.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

The only cause of the Greek economic crisis was (and is) runaway socialism, Bozo. It's there for all to see, throughout most of Europe.

Some of us don't want it to happen here. Keep your blinders on if you wish.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

The Greeks spend a smaller percentage of their GDP on social welfare than do the Germans, and they work longer hours, as well.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

Try looking into public sector unions in Greece, Bozo. You might learn something.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

"Work longer hours than the Germans".

We've been through this before. Work longer hours yet are far less productive. State both sides or neither, but stating half truths with the intent to mislead my win debate points. But they contribute nothing to an "honest" discussion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

It has everything to do with the types of economies that exist in the two countries. Germany has among the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world, while Greece has tourism.

The situation in Greece also has a lot to do with a strong central bank in Europe, but no support for anything else.

Many American states, including Mississippi, Texas and Florida, would be in really horrendous shape if the rest of US taxpayers weren't help to cover lots of the financial difficulties they've suffered over the last couple of decades.

But I understand the childish wish for a simplistic answer to Greece's problems (i.e. they're lazy socialist slackers.)

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

It's a lot more complicated than that, Bozo. It's decisions the Greeks made 5 years ago and decisions the Germans made 10 years ago. And decisions the Greeks made 20 years ago and decisions Germans made 40 years ago. It's taxation policies, immigration policies, at what age one can retire and at what percentage of earnings. It's a million different reasons. But that's why you can't just say Greeks work longer hours. As if that means anything. It means nothing, unless you include productivity, unless you include many things. But to throw that out there and suggest it's meaningful, is to mislead.

Even if your last post is true, someone in Greece decided that tourism is the path to follow as opposed to advanced manufacturing. Someone in Germany decided that advanced manufacturing is the path to follow rather than investing in tourism. Isn't there something to be said for allowing countries to follow their chosen path and reap the rewards, or suffer the consequences of their decisions?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Sure, but Europeans decided they wanted to combine their countries into a union, and that affects all of them when one country has troubles.

They should have thought it through a bit more before doing it, and decided how they would handle situations like this, in my view.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

That sounds good, but I would guess that there are just too many variables to think through. There would be too many unknowns. If they thought out all the variables, they would become paralysed with fear and indecision. Sometimes, leaders have to make decisions based on all information available at the time, knowing full well that they don't have all the information.

Greece's situation in the EU reminds me of a divorce, in slow motion. Sure, saying they shouldn't have been married is obvious now. But it wasn't then. Having made the mistake of marriage, how do they achieve their divorce with the smallest amount of pain?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Doesn't seem that complicated to me - they combined countries with diverse economies - it isn't rocket science to conclude that the countries with weaker economies may threaten the ones with stronger ones, and figure out a plan for if/when that happens.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

Geez, Jafs, if you think combining the economies of 27 member states, many with languages and cultures different from their own, would be easy, then surely running the economy of just one country, the U.S., would be a snap. So how come so many administrations have been unable to navigate such an easy task?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

I didn't say it was easy to combine them. I said it wasn't rocket science to imagine that countries with weaker economies would probably become problematic and that those with stronger ones would have to deal with it.

If I get a joint loan with somebody who has bad credit, is it too much for me to think that will probably become problematic at some point, and put something in place to deal with it?

Why have our political figures not done a better job of "running the economy"? Well, for one thing, I'm not sure it's really the job of the government to do that. But, let's assume it is, for the sake of discussion. Americans generally vote for people that promise them the moon, and demand nothing, so if somebody tells the truth about the economy, they're unlikely to get elected.

The truth, as far as I can tell, is that both higher taxes and lower spending are necessary to get things back on track. But nobody wants their taxes raised, and nobody wants their pet spending cut.

Democrats don't want to cut Medicare, SS, and social programs, while Republicans don't want to cut defense spending. Since those are the top 3 programs we spend money on, it's no wonder we can't fix things.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"Someone in Germany decided that advanced manufacturing is the path to follow rather than investing in tourism. Isn't there something to be said for allowing countries to follow their chosen path and reap the rewards, or suffer the consequences of their decisions?"

That's not the way the world works. There are myriad historical influences that have each country where they are, and it goes beyond just good and bad decisions made by individuals in each country. And quite often, the reason a country is where they are has more to do with actions from without than from within. And in Greece's case, globalization and foreign investment, which came along with the Euro, proved to be more negative than positive, and now those who invested in Greece want their ton of flesh, no matter how much misery it creates for the average Greek.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

"ton of flesh" - The obvious referral to the anti-semitic portrayal of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

Again, Bozo. Again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

With respect to education, many conservatives confuse being petty and mean-spirited with being tough-minded with high expectations.

And while there is certainly an excess of "feel good" measures in US education, what's really needed is to adopt realistic and fair expectations of all students, and that will never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

Your "top tax rate was 90%" argument is nothing but bogus tripe rolled out by the left on a regular basis. If you knew anything about taxation, you'd know that the wealthiest Americans often paid little or no income taxes when those rates were in effect because of tax shelters too numerous to count. Many of those shelters were done away with by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, signed into law by Ronald Reagan. Many who had previously benefited from such tax shelters, including many rich liberals, still despise Reagan for it.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Would that be the same Ronald Reagan who tripled the deficit during his time in office by lowering taxes to a 50% rate on the highest earners?

Yep, thought so.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

No. You often have trouble with facts, and continue to do so. That's one of the most ridiculous statements you've ever made on this forum, and that says something.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

He spoke carelessly.

If he had said "“If you've got a business — you didn't build that all by yourself," he would have been 100% accurate.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

It was way more than RC77's throwaway line deserved.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

I have no interest in defending him-- but that doesn't mean that hysterical paranoia from the wackosphere has any validity.

arizonajh 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually what he said was, "Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business - you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Not quite as sinister when taken in context and the first part is not left out.

He also said," "The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet."

His general argument using these examples was ,"that collective endeavor was central to the fortunes of the U.S."

all this was taken from the Daily Mail

My wife has an internet business and she works very hard at it but she did not invent the internet. She uses what the government (mostly through universities) provided. She also ships by UPS, FEDEX and also USPS who use roads and airports that she did not build. She works hard but her success is dependent on a structure that the US government (and it's people) promoted and paid for.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Well said. (not that the purely ideological posters above give a whit about facts.)

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

Who gave government the taxes to build roads and bridges?

arizonajh 2 years, 4 months ago

No, actually he does not. Only if you take it out of context, which you seem determined to do, does it appear that way. He does suggest that business owners are not islands. What he said is you can't get your products to market without the roads and bridges that the government built with taxpayer dollars. Those dollars come from rich and poor, business and private citizen. It is not an insult to anyone to point out the truth. The truth is those roads were paid for by all of us not just business. This attitude reminds me of prima dona wide receivers in the NFL. They make a touchdown and dance in the endzone pushing away other players who come to congratulate them so they can celebrate their singular triumph. Forgetting the blocker who kept the quarterback standing, forgetting the QB who threw the ball to just the right spot, the tightend who ran a pick to get them open and the coach who saw the vulnerable spot in a defense and called the right play. To them they caught the ball and that was the only thing that mattered. They may be a great athlete with amazing speed and the softest set of hands but they didn't and never could score all by themselves and most if not all business does not succede on only the owners abilities and assets.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

r77, you sure know how to make a fool out of yourself on these threads, You misquote the president and then make huge deal out of what he didn't say. When your outed on this you just dig your hole even deeper with even more of your made up nonsense. Oh well.

arizonajh 2 years, 4 months ago

I have worked for the same engineering company for 15 years and have worked on projects from Seattle to Saudi Arabia for both private and public clients. It took me 12 years to get my degree becuase I worked full time and never borrowed a dime to pay for it. I paid cash out of my own pocket and never took a class that I couldn't fit into a 40+ hours a week work schedule. Never took unemployment, food stamps, housing assistance, paid all my taxes and have never been fired from a job for any reason. My wife and I also own a medical records company which we have done and do all the things your mentioning along with all the regulations for medical records, privacy and security. I guarantee I have sacrificed and worked just as hard as you have. So please spare me the "you're a moocher or government employee B.S". "My guess" is, you are just an internet poser who acts like he is business person when the only thing you ever ran was your mouth. That may be totally wrong but if we're going to guess about each other with no information I can play that game too. No one ever said people don't have a tough time getting a business going. No one ever said they don't make sacrifices to keep it afloat. What was said is that no one makes it all on their own. I told you about me, now tell me about you. What business is it that you are in that you don't use the road system, the internet, fire and police protection; you don't use the mail, the electrical grid, water or sewer? How do your employees get to work where did they go to school, do you allow breaks to go to the bathroom at your business? Not that I know anything about you or your business but If you don't know how to handle your tax forms I would suggest you take a class in accounting or hire an accountant. If you have a problem with bad employees then I suggest you amend your hiring practices to get better employees. You seem very angry at me for even challenging your incorrect/partial quote when it was you that stated a partial misleading quote to start with. The tax payers do not, as you say, help with internal day to day workings of a business but the tax payers of this nation have provided the infrastructure and security that allows your business and mine to thrive, that you can not deny and that is what the President was saying.

arizonajh 2 years, 4 months ago

First of all I am not apologizing for anyone. Second the quote was not "silly" it was factual. The fail came when you misquoted the president in an attempt to smear him (do you really not see that?). Either you knowing left out part of the quote to change the meaning or you couldn't be bothered in your rush to condemn to find out the context, either way this is your failure not his. As for me personally, when on salary the whip is not cracked the same as with a hourly employee. As long as I get my work done I'll be just fine, so quit trying to look for something wrong with me to invalidate my point and avoid the fact that you were the one who was incorrect in what you stated as a quote. You still fail to mention how your business functions witthout benefit from the government, or do you just "work with" business owners? Personally as a business owner I will hire when I have demand for my product/service not when I "like" the guy in the oval office or his policy. Let's face it historically speaking tax rates are low, very low but the economy is terrible. I bet your business buddies when pressed would have to admit that the economy has more to do with their unwillingness to hire than taxes. If things were rosy in the rest of the world and the US was the only place having a problem and it started after B.O. took office it would be different. But even China is slowing and Europe is in turmoil. Class warfare is in turning to the 1% and saying they are the problem and it is also in saying look at the union guy he is why we're in this situation. Envy of slightly better off than you is just as bad as envy of the much better off than you. Both sides have their bogeyman and as of now the elimination of either will not in its isolation solve the problems we have. What exactly are the "confiscatory taxes" that Obama has placed on you? How is he punishing your hard work or risk taking, be specific. Until then since you can't seem to post without throwing a thinly veiled personal attack I'll just assume that you are just partisan hack who wouldn't give the president the credit he deserves if Reagan stood up in his grave and told you it was true.

arizonajh 2 years, 4 months ago

As far as Obama "doing a dance" Obama said,

" Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores."

Text from The Guardian

Yea, it was all about himself.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

For some reason, this got posted elsewhere on the thread-- at any rate, if you want to read something besides RC77's usual hysteria--

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57425555-503544/are-navy-seals-really-angry-with-obama/

Topple 2 years, 4 months ago

Ok. I see an article that says SEALS were frustrated that Obama put soldiers in danger with the quick release of Osama's death for his own political gain.

arizonajh 2 years, 4 months ago

"US Navy Seals" Did they come out as a group and say that or is that what you heard a Seal say or heard someone say they heard a Seal say? Got a quote for that one too? As far as what Clinton said, Obama could have just let it go. He could have decided it was too risky: foreign country, civilians could be killed, all our guys could end up ambushed and dead (it was a town equivalent to our West Point) or could end up like the Carter/Iran fiasco with failure before ever reaching the target. Was it a hard decision, Heck Yes! There were a thousand things that could go wrong and if you could think of a hundred you're a genius. Also, after 8 years of a majority of speech's being given almost exclusively at military bases how can anyone complain about Obama using the military for political gain? Does "mission accomplished" and landing on an aircraft carrier wearing a military flight suit ring a bell to you?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

I heard that Obama spits on returning service members, too.

Alyosha 2 years, 4 months ago

"Clearly suggested" is nearly an oxymoron.

That said, no, he said no such thing. Only those who can't take off their ideological blinders would get that from Obama's words.

Laughable, if it weren't so sad.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Context is such a tricky thing for some people to grasp.

Of course, anyone still rolling out the misspoken statement of "57 states" isn't really wanting to be taken seriously in the first place. No rational person actually believes Obama thought there truly were 57 states. That is just beyond lame.

Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

I concur with much of your comment, especially 'stop the infighting'. I do not believe this clip is 'trashing' our country by stating the facts... For instance: USA ranks 38th in literacy; 49th in life expectancy; 174th in infant mortality; 2nd in health expenditures; 1st in foreign aid; 1st in military expenditure;1st in incarceration rate.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

The right wing in this country is so extreme that they view public education, "...the universal experience we all have to gain civic knowledge and skills.", as liberal brainwashing.

Civic engagement is anathema to the extreme right wing. Indeed, thay are actively trying to destroy civic engagement and public education.

Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

Texas GOP Declares: No More Teaching of 'Critical Thinking Skills'. "In its party platform, the Texas Republican Party considered the role of critical thinking in education, and denounced it. Critical thinking, the Texans suggest, challenges both students' fixed beliefs and parental authority. That's risky, so they decided that Texas and Texans should be protected from a curriculum that teaches critical thinking skills." http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2005142827

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

And "Oppositional Defiance Disorder" is now in the DSM-V. Yeah. We get it.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Probably the only real way to deal with Texas is to just give it back to Mexico.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

To begin with, the words, "...an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are not in the Constitution. They are in the Declaration of Independence. The liberty referred to is NOT "liberty from government".
As much as Cato (I gag every time I use that screen name. I doubt seriously the person using it ever read any of the writings of the real Roman consul; who, by the way, was an ancestor of the Emperor Nero.) and the other freepers on this forum would like it to mean that, it doesn't. The US Constitution provides for the collection of taxes by the government to provide a basic level of services to it's citizens. If you don't wish to pay those taxes and contribute to the financial support of your own country, then I suggest you go elsewhere and live in a country with no taxes (if such a place exists). If you don't like how those taxes are spent, I suggest you either stand for election or support the election of someone that you believe will spend that money in a manner with which you agree.

cato_the_elder 2 years, 4 months ago

I've forgotten more about Cato the Elder than you've ever known.

Do you read Latin? I strongly doubt it.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

and he huffed and he puffed but still couldn't blow the house down.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

Cato the elder was a socialist. He made public works a priority, and ordered that Roman sewers aqueducts, and roads were repaired. He raised taxes to pay for all of the public works projects he oversaw.

He was also heavy on regulation. He stopped use of water by illicit means, and he regulated agriculture and other commercial activities tp ensure fairness and prevent abuse.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

"Do you read Latin? I strongly doubt it." You'd be very surprised. Oh wait...are you referring to classical Latin or Vulgate? Never mind. Come to think of it, that doesn't make any difference either.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

Cappy,

Easy one.

Anyone who speaks latin is seen to be higher/better.

Alyosha 2 years, 4 months ago

You shouldn't doubt things about which you have no knowledge. That's just being conservative and prudent. Oh wait.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

It is troubling that the right wing in this country has abandoned the idea of a societal and civic effort. They view taxes as simply taking hard earned money, yet they ignore what society as a whole, represented through our government, has done to lay the foundations of a civil society in which free enterpise can fluorish.

Obama: "Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business - you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Substitute in police, fire, regulation, education, etc.

The extreme right wing have no regard for public efforts to make society a civil place in which business can thrive and has thrived.

This is harmful to our capitalist economy and to our democracy.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 4 months ago

Hello. President George W. Bush was advised by Greenspan that he had to choose between tax cuts and the war in Iraq. We could not afford both. And, here we are, still talking about those same tax cuts. How is this societal and civic?

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 4 months ago

Two thirds...you didn't hear me stutter. I said TWO THIRDS... of the Federal budget goes for "defense". We spend more on "defense" than the next 26 countries with defense budgets combined. And 25 of those are allies. Don't YOU think it's time the US stopped being the world's police force and started taking care of it's own?

Alyosha 2 years, 4 months ago

You forget the debt run up by 2 wars fought wholly on credit. To believe Obama added that much debt is to believe in monsters under your bed.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

Trust me ... he believes in monsters under his bed.

And they are going to take away his guns, religion, force him into a gay marriage, and require him to acknowledge facts. Yes, he believes in monsters under the bed.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

The US debt is the result of two things: spending increases and tax cuts.

Spending by the US government is what has built and maintains our civic and societal infrastructure tp create a society welcoming to free enterprise.

A large part of our debt includes spending on defense, the military, and on wars.

Taxes are what pay for this spending.

The last thirty years have been dominated by the magical idea that we can spend without paying for it. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were nearly completely paid for by incurring debt, all the while taxes being cut.

It is selfish, childish, magical thinking that we can spend to maintain our civil society conducive to business and free enterprise and not pay for it through taxes.

This is the disconnect with modern right wing devastation economics.

Spending without paying for it.

Can't have it both ways, folks.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Actually, we can pay for it without raising taxes. All we have to do is print up more money.

And even though that comes with the potential cost of higher inflation, that's exactly what we should be doing. But it should only be done to stimulate the economy in useful and productive ways that have a multiplier effect throughout the economy-- blowing up other countries and giving ever more tax breaks to the wealthy are not useful or productive, and should be avoided.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Given the incredible ignorance of the electorate, should photo ID's be the only thing required to vote? How about a small civics exam?

Perhaps some 8th grade economics to help those poor deluded souls who in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary still cling to the Keynesian nonsense that government printing money and devaluing our currency (more than it already is) can “stimulate” a (somewhat) free market economy. Google "Depression of 1946." Enjoy.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

K.U. Chancellor Budig stated that one third of Americans could not name all three branches of government and another third could not name even one.

Civics exam? As in literacy test? Certainly not. That would be un-American and a violation of our right to vote. But that right and it's protection comes at a cost. And that cost is that we have a very uninformed electorate that keeps putting unqualified people into office.

Yes, it's a straw man argument. That said, we are in the process of getting the government we deserve. Straw man or not.

jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

I should have said "former" Chancellor ...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

Education, provided for free to everyone, is the answer-- not disenfranchisement.

beatrice 2 years, 4 months ago

tbaker, how about a literacy test while we are at it?

If you aren't sure why it might not be such a grand idea, Google "Jim Crow laws". Reflect.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 4 months ago

Keynes and Laffer are both correct. Which is correct at the time depends on context.

Supply-side thinking has merit when a demand is not being fulfilled. When folks have money to spend and businesses are too financially burdened to hire people to make products, then a cut in taxes to businesses is appropriate and everything the GOP says about "job creators" holds.

However, supply-side thinking is absolutely incorrect when businesses are sitting on record amounts of cash and people do not have enough money to spend on goods and services. A business tax cut will not help in this case. In this case, a middle class tax cut coupled with an increase in business and personal income tax is appropriate, as in increased government spending. These measures put money in the pockets of the middle class to buy gods and services, creating a demand and allowing the "job creators" to do just that, create jobs to satisfy a demand.

We are of course in the latter context now, when businesses have record amopunts of cash on hand but demand is reduced because of low cash flow in the middle class.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

The latest from the conservative lying machine: What Faux news said:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help." faux news, not obama

"If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." faux news, not obama

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together" . faux news, not obama

Now what Obama really said, in full context:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

What House Speaker John Boehner did say about Fox's out of context Obama comment: “He said that because he has no idea what it takes to build or run a small business.”

This is what rocchalk77 and all the faux news lovers and rush limbaugh and boehner and all the "hate obama" liars said Obama said. Complete liars and idiots. No integrity just plain zero character.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

msezdsit - are you aware of the fact "what Obama really said" is easily determined by viewing a videotape of him saying it, and needs no explaination from you?

People can watch it and make up their own minds. Have you heard the phrase "we report - you decide." People thinking for themselves must bother you.

Spin job fail

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Umm, seems like it's those on the right that are trying to spin it, by taking a few phrases out of context.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

The man said: "If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen."

No matter how generous one may be inclined to be in his assesment of that comment, it is very difficult to assign meanings other than what he intended. The man made very clear that he believes it was not the dream or the sweat of the people who have built successful businesses – it was government that did that. How can he say something like that and not be judged as someone who – at the very least – shows disdain and contempt for the entrepreneurs who work hard and risk everything. I think it provided us with a great example of his collectivist world view, one where we are all sheep being led by a government shepherd, where wealth is not to be created but redistributed. Obama is telling us that individual people cannot be successful, that the fruit of your labors are not your own. He said "Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." Really? Sure the Department of Defense funded some of the research, but look at the history Jafs, there was HUGE private investment in the development of the internet. Think about it - Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, the founders of Google, Facebook and Twitter, are all parasitic free-loaders? Really? Was their bussines before roads, bridges, and the internet?

His context was unmistakable.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Read the whole thing, and it becomes clear that your interpretation is simply misguided and incorrect.

He was talking about infrastructure.

No man is an island, and no successful business is created by one person alone, without employees, investors, etc. and/or without infrastructure, which is provided by government.

Extremism is not interesting to me, and generally inaccurate - nobody ever said that government did everything, and individuals nothing. I fail to comprehend why otherwise intelligent people are drawn into such caricatures of ideology that simply recognizing the value and role of government and other people is so difficult for them to do.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Taking one or two sentences out of context and spinning them into some sort of absurd comment is a waste of time, in my book.

Let's take some of the people you mention - Bill Gates copied the Macintosh operating system - at best he's a good copier. Of course his products are frequently under-tested and overpriced, and rely on selling people on the notion that they have to have the latest thing every year.

Steve Jobs was apparently a rather abusive boss.

And, none of these folks could have possibly succeeded without scores of talented hard working employees, who did the actual programming work involved.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

"Have you heard the phrase "we report - you decide." This is bakers/faux spin.

baker has to make this crap up so he/it can continue to spin what obama said into the lies he wants to make it into. Some basic english skills makes it absolutely unequivocal what Obama said : "you didn't build that" is taken out of context by baker/faus. Baker and faux want you to think that Obama intended to say that "you didn't build your business and what Obama did say is "...Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build the roads and bridges your business uses."

Sorry to stuff your idiotic spin into reality. Faux ran the edited version early and then ran the full clip later in the day but never changed their spin from the crap you have to believe in becaus faux told you so. Your full of yourself an faux, baker. Keep up your fantasies. thanks for the amusement , though.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

"we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together".

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

The president of the US is getting standing ovations for denigrating individual achievement and success. There was a day when the listless and lazy were scolded and lectured, now those who build and grow business and create and expand employment, who risk everything, who work hard, who stick to it, who are dedicated and persistent – they are now scorned and ridiculed by non-other than the President of the United States. Don’t forget Jafs, he was raised by avowed socialists. His grandfather was a communist. His friends and mentors were socialists, communists, and Marxists. He has called the private sector “the enemy.” Speaking of context this remark was not out of context, it is exactly what he believes. If you read his books and take the man at his word you’ll see what I mean.

Before I risk taking something out of context, define something for me. What does “because we do things together” mean to you?

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Exactly that. " It means we do things together." You and your faux minions are trying to turn that into "socialism" and then your trying to drag that into communism and your making a fool out of yourself tying to pull that crap off. As I posted earlier, you are at least amusing in your flopping around trying to make stuff up.

So, where I'm from it was standard practice if a farmer was ill or injured and couldn't get their crops in, without asking or charging for their services, the neighbor farmers would harvest and take the disabled farmers crops to market. In your world you call this socialism. In your world you would just tell the disabled farmer "tough luck" I'm not spending my time or money helping you out. Even at the expense that you might be that disabled farmer next time. Obama was referring to people helping people like the farmers helping their neighbor. Did you ever notice their are 5 players on a basketball team, not just one. 11 players on a football team, not just one. Keep up the amusement!!

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

You're clearly committed to your distortions - I think it would be a waste of time to try to show you more of how that's the case.

If you can't even read the first part of the sentence quoted, what hope is there?

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

It’s a bit out of character for you to assume so much Jafs, like thinking I didn’t read the first part of the sentence. I completely understand the first part, which is precisely why I didn't ask you what it means. I have an opinion about the second part of that sentence, but I didn’t want you to accuse me of taking things out of context, hence my asking you to define it. Since you veered into demagoguery accusing me of distorting a public speech anyone can watch for themselves (which is unlike you) I guess I’ll go ahead and dive in without your definition.

The issue I have with “working together” in the context I believe the President said it is this: Are the people in his vision working together because they voluntarily decided to of their own free will because it was in their best interest to do so, or are they being compelled to partner with government via coercion? Is the government regulating their behavior such that it makes it harder or impossible to pursue their interests, their happiness, and their private property? Is it nationalizing businesses in whole or part? Is it manipulating the marketplace like the community reinvestment act and causing recessions and financial disasters? Is taxing people and taking their personal property and misusing it for activities not prescribed by the constitution “working together?” Is this a civil society living in freedom or is this forced working together at the direction of government taxes, spending, and coercive laws tyranny?

Like the new AIDS drug the FDA just approved (created by a publically traded company) roads (to use Obama’s example) don’t just appear out of thin air, they have to be created. They have to be paid for by people who create wealth in the pursuit of their own private commerce because government creates zero wealth.

Obama is threatened by industrious, independent, and successful people. Consequently he has spent a lifetime attacking the American economic system. Read his books. In his mind, “working together” means anyone who refuses to sacrifice his liberty for the state, to serve others at his own cost, is harming those others by denying them their right to the product of his efforts. “Working together” in his mind means individuals have no reason to exist in their own right, other than serving others. He advocates stamping out self-interest as a moral imperative. By contrast, this country was founded by men who did not consider themselves sacrificial animals, servants or slaves to the state. By claiming that rights are unalienable, they held that rights exist whether or not anyone chooses to recognize them.

Obama is America’s Castro. He removed any doubt of this in yesterday’s speech.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

"They have to be paid for by people who create wealth in the pursuit of their own private commerce because government creates zero wealth."

This is patently false in the real world. It's only true in your artificial, wholly ideological imaginary world.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Prove the government creates wealth.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Nobody "creates" wealth.

Economies just move money around, which is good for them.

Governments, ironically, have the ability to print money, where private individuals don't have that ability. So, if putting more money into the economy is "wealth", then government can do that.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Incorrect Jafs. You are really off your game lately. Someone else get a hold of your account credentials?

Indivudals create wealth through commerce, the production/creation of a product or service that is seen to have value and is therefore consumed by other people (the marketplace) Printing money is not creating wealth (it's actually destroying it)

Government can only consume wealth and/or redistribute wealth, it can't create wealth. And unless wealth is created, there is nothing to consume or redistribute. That's why -- even when government is doing something we all agree must be done - government is a parasite. All it has is what it takes from the producers / creators of wealth.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Commerce is simply the activity of moving money around, it's not creating extra money. When I buy something, it's simply a transfer of money from my hands to somebody else's hands.

Only the government can create extra money, by printing it.

It was tongue in cheek of course, to suggest that means the government "creates wealth" - of course it doesn't, because of inflation.

All of us can only consume or redistribute, there's no magic money tree, right?

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Wow, all the distortions you have to work through just to get a handle on what "working together" means. Geese, no wonder you can't understand what the president said. You never even get to it after sorting through al this nutty crap. Reminds me of that old song that says "I hear voices" and they are faux news. Just keep parroting faux

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

If you read it and understood it, you wouldn't be accusing him of attacking and denigrating individual achievement.

"we succeed by our individual initiative" is an acknowledgment of the importance of that initiative, not a denigration of it.

Your attempts to exaggerate and distort notwithstanding.

You seem to have a bizarre somewhat Randian perspective, that there is some sort of stark choice between living for oneself or denying oneself to live altruistically for others, which is an absurd idea to me.

If you have such a problem with taxes, you should consider moving somewhere that doesn't include that power in their founding documents. Our system wasn't founded as a libertarian one, believing that taxation is theft.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

I've lost track of how many times I've told you I have no problem with taxes - provided they are collected and spent for constitutional activities. You really need to come up with something else to accuse me of.

America was not created to grow and perpetuate the American federal government. It was created for one reason: to protect and and gurantee the rights of indivudals to pursue their lives however they wished free from government intrusion (aka Great Britain at the time). We have moved away from that philosophy to the point now where indivudals are serving the American government, not themselves. The government is no longer protecting their individual liberty, it is taking it. The single best expression of liberty is personal property. The best expression of that is money a person works for and earns. The more the government demands at the point of a gun, the less liberty a person has.

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

What's constitutional is a matter of interpretation and opinion, on this one, not fact. How broadly one should interpret the "general welfare" clause is one issue.

If the only reason for the founding of the nation was to protect individual rights and liberties, we'd have a different constitution, one that looked more like libertarian ideology.

Instead, we have language like "to form a more perfect union", "general welfare", etc.

Your black and white thinking is not convincing to me - it's not a question of the government serving the people, or vice versa - the relationship is symbiotic, not parasitic. Rand was wrong when she claimed that the choice was between selfish self centeredness and self sacrificing altruism.

I completely disagree that the best expression of liberty is property - I can think of many other more important expressions of liberty. Love, friendship, speech and participation in our political process come immediately to mind. Art, music, spiritual exploration are more of those.

If you want to identify your liberty as your money, and feel that you lose your liberty when the government takes some money, go ahead. I still have a lot of freedom, regardless of that.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

"Have you heard the phrase "we report - you decide." This is bakers/faux spin.

So baker, your problem is that fox makes up the story and you decide you want to believe it and therefore you think you can just stick down everyone else's throat. I'm going to give you some free advice. Don't just believe everything faux tells you is true and then maybe you won't have to make such fool out of yourself trying to sell everyone else on your faux gullibility. You got burned by faux, you should be angry at faux for taking advantage of you.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

Go ahead and continue to believe a story about the President delivering a campaign speech in public recorded on videotape is made up. Knock yourself out.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

No, your wrong again. I watched the video, several times by now, and it is not made up, it is very real. What you want it to say, (apparently you haven't watched it),is made up and you still look pretty silly telling people over and over again that you still can't understand the video. I can buy that, baker, you can't understand the video because it doesn't say what you want it to say. It says what "it" says.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

You need the kind of help I cannot offer. Good luck.

tbaker 2 years, 4 months ago

I can't provide you the help you need. Good luck.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Your pretty typical, you need help but you don't know it.

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Nope, led by intelligence and education which disallows me to be blinded by fox

msezdsit 2 years, 4 months ago

Parroting Faux as usual. Have you ever had an original thought?

jafs 2 years, 4 months ago

Since your crystal ball is in full swing today, what am I having for dinner tonight?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 4 months ago

What really has the whackosphere up in arms is that Obama really was pointing out that our society/government indeed does have socialistic aspects to it-- and horror of horrors, it not only works, but businesses couldn't what they do without it!!!

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