Viewpoints from many state school board members regarding public school education, as reported in recent articles, were not atypical from someone having a conservative mentality.
There were numerous invocations of the words “choice” and “competition” as the necessary driving forces behind educational reforms, which suggest that the only suitable reforms must be grounded in a corporate business model based upon the ideology of the marketplace.
What this fails to recognize is that public goods such as education are not, and should not be, guided by the illusion of choice available in the marketplace.
Let me address this concept of choice from a political scientist’s perspective.
About choice, Benjamin Barber once said: “You go to Los Angeles today, you can rent or buy two hundred kinds of automobiles. And then, in those automobiles, you can sit … for five hours not moving on the freeway system there. The one choice you don’t have is genuine, efficient, cheap, accessible, public transportation. … Because the choice for public transportation is a social choice. A civic choice.”
When one thinks about education in terms of choice and competition, it is actually forcing one to do away with the public good (such as effective public transportation or public education) and adopt private means of educating children.
Barber’s analogy is applicable, as the lack of public transportation it forces us to all buy cars, which may or may not get us where we need to go in a timely fashion.
It’s quite unfortunate that many state school board members fail to grasp the significance of a common good known as public school education as similar to the common good of effective public transportation. Additionally, it’s too bad our society is incapable of grappling with the concept of what represents a social good and differentiating it from a private good.
Honor freedom of religion
The writer of the Nov. 13 letter “Individual choice of religion” said that employers who find it morally objectionable to pay for employees’ insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization should stand up for their faith and be willing to pay fines and penalties if they do not wish to comply with the Department Health and Human Services mandate.
Failing to do so, the writer says, means “employers would be saying to employees, in effect, ‘I have my own moral position, and I want you to pay for it.’ ”
Hobby Lobby is one employer that has filed suit against the mandate. It has over 13,000 employees. The government has said it would have to pay fines of $1.3 million per day for failure to comply.
Let’s assume that the disputed coverage costs $10 per year per employee. Should we expect Hobby Lobby to pay over $130,000 a year for things it considers to be immoral, or individual employees to pay $10 a year for things they consider to be morally acceptable?
Which resolution of this dilemma is more just, and which honors the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion?
From cutbacks to opportunities
The announced layoffs at Lockheed Martin are tragic for the workers and their families, as well as economically harmful to the city. The action, however, shouldn’t be surprising as our nation winds down from two wars and grapples with an unbalanced federal budget.
Rather than blame one group or another for Lockheed’s decision, time would be better spent by all stakeholders involved (especially workers and federal and local officials) investigating the feasibility of implementing the “Framework for Defense Transition Assistance” proposed earlier this year by the Institute for Policy Studies.
The document offers several practical recommendations for economic conversion to assist workers, communities and military industries. Among them are:
• Strengthen existing federal assistance for community planning, technical assistance, job retraining and finance to communities facing military plant closures. Specifically, increase planning and technical assistance grants from the Pentagon’s Office of Economic Adjustment to communities dealing with private sector military job loss, not just base closings.
• Expand funding for the Commerce Department’s Regional Innovation Center as well as Energy and Treasury Department programs designed to spur regional economic growth via the development of clean energy and sustainable transportation technologies. Re-fund the Labor Department’s job training programs addressing green jobs and adjustment for dislocated military workers.
• Restore several effective post-Cold War military downsizing programs focused on developing civilian uses for existing military technology.
• Initiate new programs responding to current conditions. This includes a National Network for Manufacturing that would earmark funds for environmentally sustainable clean energy, lightweight materials and efficient appliances, lights, computers and transportation, while also increasing the role for communities and workers in creating and sharing the gains of the innovations. Expand the current GI Bill to expand benefits for vocational training. Pass the Veteran Employment Assistance Act to help veteran-owned small businesses.
Some of these proposals would directly help Lockheed workers and Akron right now. Others are more long-term opportunities to transfer from what has been acknowledged or not as a national military industrial policy to a civilian one geared to sustainable and sensible energy, transportation and other sectors. The time for this is long overdue.
Northeast Ohio American
Friends Service Committee
Sinking into the quicksand
The quicksand of corruption, deceit, division, scandal, debt, the desire to accommodate the “politically correct,” plus the never-ending plan of the Obama administration of “fundamentally transforming” what once was into what they would have it be, is sinking us into the muck of destruction or collapse.
The it-can’t- happen-in-this- country attitude has put us in a place where no opposition to progressive ravings for “tolerance” has made us the intolerant. The freedom of choice only applies to the choices of the “progressives.” The muzzling of the truth is becoming the accepted way of life because of “national security.”
The Constitution is rapidly becoming an obsolete document. A once proud tradition is now an apology. Our military is being decimated before our very eyes.
This admired beacon of freedom is rapidly being extinguished, sinking below the quicksand that is engulfing that once bright light.
We, the believers of small government, the political conservatives, have been called “anarchists” by Harry Reid from the floor of the Senate.
If we believe in constitutional rights, have “unacceptable religious beliefs” (Christianity), belief in the sovereignty of the United States, support the Second Amendment, are concerned about possible financial collapse, are opposed to illegal immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage, we have “signs of concern” and are a “potential terrorist,” according to former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano,
The names we have been referred to by the left would never have passed the politically correct media if directed toward any other section of this society. They truly are despicable.
An “extremist” I’ve been called because of my beliefs. Using that as the standard for extremism from the left, I will gladly stake my claim.
When a “patriot” is defined as a “potential domestic terrorist,” is it the ambition of the left to create division by deception? It seems so, doesn’t it?
All about sharing the risk
I’m puzzled about the to-do when people protest paying for insurance coverage that they may never need. Insurance has always been about covering a wide segment of the population with an umbrella that is designed to share the burden.
A man may share the cost for maternity coverage that he will never need. And a woman may share the cost for prostate treatment that she will never need.
That’s how insurance is supposed to work. And that’s not a new idea, so you can’t blame Obamacare.