Tuesday, August 31, 2010

politically incorrect, for sure!

My response:

What if your problem is not Fundamentalist Christianity? What if your main problem is the restrictive notion that: it is not OK to be not OK with someone/some group?

I felt much more free when I let go of the notion that I had to be OK with everyone. Some people are so superstitious and/or ignorant and/or hateful and/or hostile that I do not feel obliged to see them as my human brethren that I need to love- regardless. Sure, if I saw one drowning or about to step in front of a bus, I'd pull her out. However, I am comfortable with the idea that at least part of my motivation for such actions would be based in a holier-than-thou framework.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rage against the machine

A young person clearly wise beyond her years. I was particularly struck by her clear evaluation of the ties between public education and corporate interests (ie; the steady production of uninspired generations of workers/consumers).

I would only add that the system she rails against can be seen in another way. A wise person I know once told me: school is a game where the object is to get A's. The young lady who told me that (my daughter, by the way) understood the drawbacks/limitations of the system in which she found herself and succeeded regardless. I submit that she was able to do this because she also understood that the primary locus of her education was inside herself.

Is American public education less than an ideal system could be? Well, sure. On the other hand, a student's real education is not bounded by a school building. Education is mainly a function of the student. His/Her motivation and effort (and access to first world materials, I would argue) are the primary components.

My propositions:

What if public education can never be the ideal?

What if our expectation of the ideal is based upon an incorrect initial assessment of the machine's potential? (That is to say, lacking any other plan, we have asked too much of a system with inherent limitations.)

What would we do if that were the case?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jus Soli

Blog to blog to blog. I am finding the endlessly collated internet can, in turns, lead me down inane paths leaving me drained and a bit loopy or provide intellectual manna. This is related to the current format of the internet which suffers from what I have decided to call 'egalitarianism ad nauseum'. Though latin speakers may cringe at my construction, it seems clear to this observer that the internet is a wall at which one throws everything and it all sticks. It now occurs to me (and, not a moment too soon for the reader) that this is fodder for another post.

I came across a libertarian blog post. I want to say that I am ambivalent about libertarians but I can't bring myself to a final judgment on this question. In short, they are often very smart educated individuals with thoughtful nuanced ideas who regularly fail to see the forest for the trees in some crucial areas (notably safety net and compassion issues). With that dubious introduction, I would like to quote a few paragraphs from Mr. Will Wilkinson of the Cato institute (an unabashed libertarian think tank). Quoted as follows:

Liberalism and Birthright Citizenship

by Will Wilkinson on August 9, 2010

My argument that ending birthright citizenship could, over the medium-to-long term, help facilitate the sensible integration of North American labor markets has not gone over well with my friends on the left. Part of it, I’m afraid, is just knee-jerk opposition to policies their political enemies favor. Of course, the fact that bad people with bad motives support a policy does not mean it is therefore bad policy. There is often a large gap between the intended and actual effects of policy. I believe the international evidence supports the idea that ending pure jus soli softens opposition to immigration. Even if nativists and xenophobes shift to another argument with undiminished energy, the evidence suggests that worries about the fairness and distributive consequences of birthright citizenship harbored by more moderate voters would weaken, shifting the position of the median voter toward greater openness to immigration. Some progs seem committed to the argument that only racist xenophobes have any worries about the fairness or distributive consequences of birthright citizenship, but I think that’s pretty clearly false.

I should say, my argument was intended to suggest to border-sealers that they wouldn’t get what they wanted by ending birthright citizenship. No doubt it is too rhetorically tricky to demoralize the most passionate proponents of an idea while simultaneously communicating that it’s a good idea for other reasons, but that’s what I was going for.

I think a good deal of resistance to even entertaining the idea of ending pure jus soli flows from the fact that birthright citizenship is codified in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and the 14th Amendment was an enormous step toward guaranteeing the equal freedom of former slaves. The citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment is therefore not simply a now-outdated policy put in place to help guarantee that freed slaves receive the same privileges and legal protections as do other citizens. It has become a sort of jurisprudential monument to the value American culture sets on the ideal of equal freedom. To remove the citizenship clause from the Constitution would thus amount to an act of symbolic violence against hard-won American ideals of equality. The usually unstated implication is that such a development would indicate a collapse of political will to defend equal freedom generally, and that other gains in equality might therefore unravel. Though I understand why this kind of argument moves people, I find it no more compelling when liberals argue this way than when conservatives argue that, say, gay marriage is (a) a symbolic assault against a sacred institution and (b) a practical threat to the integrity of family, which is the foundation of civilization. **End quote.

At one point I thought that ultra-conservatives were the folks that seemed unable to wield nuanced ideas. They seem to exhibit a primal lust for a good ol' black and white argument. Pun intended. What mattered to them was that in the end they are on one side of the fence (presumably the 'right' side. wink) and everyone else is on the other. Now, a new idea has occurred to me. A dangerous idea. Perhaps progressives are not significantly better at this.

Just a thought...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More On Target

With respect to those who say that Target had been 'reaching out to gays' or pro-gay right up until now.

That is an interesting point of view.

For the sake of argument, let's assume your original assertion is true (reaching out to gays). I would offer another view of those actions that people perceive as being at odds. Each action is consistent with the others. The discrepancy comes into play when an observer conflates the motivations of corporations with those of individuals. While you or I may make a personal policy (standing up for justice, donating to causes, etc.) based on 'caring', corporations are motivated by profit/greed/bottom line. This is not intended as an indictment. Their stockholders expect nothing less.

My analogy: In the same way that humans often misinterpret the motivations of cute cuddly mammals, we have the same tendency regarding corporations and other institutions. I own a dog and I love the dog. I treat it as though it loved me. I do this because I am a human and don't really know what else I would do. However, I do not imagine for a moment that this creature is anything else but a domesticated predator. Knowing that does not diminish my feelings for the dog. I respect that she is what she is and is smart enough to get along in my world. I dare say if the situation was reversed, I'd be at pains to get along as well in her world.

On Target

I am amused at the way folks are all shocked by the actions of the Target Corporation. (They apparently donated money to some right-wing wacko.) Call me cynical but, I wonder how they arrived at the idea that Target was all warm and fuzzy and cared about what was right or cared about them?