D. Eric Schansberg, an Acton adjunct scholar, takes a look at the Social Security system, and concludes that “policymakers should address the oppressive taxes that Social Security imposes on the working poor, its pathetic rate of return, and inequities in its payouts.”
Can the new Batman movie provide moral lessons on business ethics and philanthropy? Ben Sikma writes that the film affirms “the value of traditional institutions more generally, such as the family, rule of law, and private ownership of the means of production.”
Harvey Silverglate on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) blog, The Torch, passes on one explanation for why college tuition costs have been increasing at double digit rates for years on end. He writes in part:
Alan Charles Kors and I posited one answer to the seeming puzzle in our book The Shadow University. We noted the extraordinary increase in administrative staff on the student life side of colleges and universities. We attributed this in large measure to the vast increase in the university’s control over and interference in students’ non-academic lives, under the rubric of the university’s resurgent in loco parentis role. This development, commencing in the 1980s, coincided with the entrenchment of the notion that students in the newly diversified American university could not learn to get along without administrative micro-management, “sensitivity training,” imposition of forced “civility” with the aid of speech codes, and other such devices seeking to avoid “offense” being inflicted upon, or at least felt by, students, particularly those in “historically disadvantaged” groups. These vast new armies of student life administrators were seen as necessary, too, to protect universities from liability under new anti-harassment legislation and regulations—or so it seemed to timid administrators and the general counsel who advise them. The result has been an academic culture as sterile as it is oppressive.
This corresponds with a move away from education (properly understood) in favor of indoctrination.
This EducatioNation blog post contains the text of an incisive WSJ editorial, along with a sample curriculum that illustrates the idiocy outlined in the editorial.
In “Ethnomathematics,” Diane Ravitch writes, “In the early 1990s, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued standards that disparaged basic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, since all of these could be easily performed on a calculator.”
She goes on to outline some characteristics of the “new, new math,” including “using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction.” After all, as one textbook states, “teaching math in a neutral manner is not possible.”
The disdain for basic math skills in favor of reliance on calculators reminds me of Socrates’ criticism of the written word in Plato’s Phaedrus. Part of Socrates’ problem with writing is that it can become a sort of crutch, which actually promotes laziness, forgetfulness, sloth, et al.
Socrates relates a conversation between Theuth (the father of writing) and Thamus. Theuth contends that writing, “will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit.”
But Thamus replies:
O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
In this way, “social justice math” is really “know nothing” math.
Courtesy the Evangelical Ecologist, “A group called ‘Operation Noah’ has re-written parts of Scripture to fit their climate change message,” and goes on to compare two “versions” of Psalm 24.
I suppose this is just the next logical progression; if Scripture can’t be twisted by some perverse hermeneutic to fit your agenda, just change the text!
Author Ruth Jarman writes, “I hope it doesn’t look sacrilegious to re-write the word of God according to Ruth.” No matter if it actually is sacrilegious…just so it doesn’t look like it.
Otherwise, how would this bit of (unaltered) Scripture apply?
In response to the title of this post, you might reply: “Who cares?” I’ll tell you why you should perhaps care who these guys are and where they are. Matt and Brandon are two Michigan natives who have committed to running across the continental U.S. These two Christians (Brandon is a freshman at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, and Matt teaches at Montego Bay Christian Academy in Jamaica) are making the run for charity, Water for Children Africa.
I’ve never heard of the charity, but I do know that access to clean water is one of the most pressing issues facing the poor in developing nations today. And on the positive side, there are three water-based policy projects that are rated as “Good” by the Copenhagen Consensus 2004.
This post at a blog hosted by the Ratzinger Fan Club, Against the Grain, gives a brief overview of the “preferential option for the poor” in Catholic Social Teaching. In the process, Christopher writes,
Fr. Robert Sirico’s approach strikes me as being suprisingly close to Dorothy Day’s — at least in spirit, if not in policy. Browse through her extensive writings and you’ll encounter a strong believer in personal responsibility and self-empowerment, highly critical of state-sanctioned welfare and handouts which leave the poor in a state of dependency.
Contrary to the Catholic Workers of today who indulge in either general dismissals or denunciations of ‘the neocons’, I believe Ms. Day would have the desire and the capacity to truly listen to somebody like Fr. Sirico, or Michael Novak for that matter. They may not see eye to eye on the merits of the free market, but it’s likely that they would have discovered common ground in an appreciation of the personalism and social thought of Pope John Paul II.
Recent news about debt relief for poor African nations might give the impression that governmental corruption, inefficiency, and irresponsibility are unique to developing countries. This is simply not so.
Take, for example, the situation of the United States government. As of June 14, 2005, the total outstanding U.S. public debt is $7,804,534,405,437.48. That amounts to a share of debt for each U.S. citizen of just over $26,000.