Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More Government is Not Better Government

The theme emerging from the two definitive statements from the leading articulators of government, the Governor and the President, is the recognition that MORE government is not necessarily BETTER government -- and is often, an indication of WORSE government.

There are two basic responses when discovering a problem: one is to eliminate the problem -- and the other is to exploit the problem, in making it worse, in the foolish notion that the object and purpose of life is to create more problems and a greater problem, and thus more work, more high-paying jobs -- with guaranteed job security as the problem threatens to grow completely out of control and have all of society at its mercy.

On the national level, that would be the threat of international security and defense, which in the past, was allowed to be tolerated, as long as it was safely somewhere else. The terrorists of the world made it a point to show how easy it was to transport terrorist ideologies and tactics anywhere in the world -- and so there had to be the war against terrorism as the enemy -- which includes the fear, coercion and intimidtion that prevents us from actualizing life at its highest possibilities of fulfillment. So that threat of fear had to be addressed as the first course of business entering the 21st Century.

Anybody who has worked with the criminal minds know that the only way to stop those constant threats is with firmness -- or the abuses grow out of control with each tolerance and denial. The Vietnam experience had undermined our confidence to act definitively against violence. Even pacifists have to recognize that when a life is to be taken, it is no virtue in thinking that the innocent has no more right than the violent perpetrator to express their freedom in taking the life of another. We needed a leader who could make that distinction.

On the state level, the great concern has to be the public education system because the PROBLEM of education and learning is not the general rule. It is the public education system that is the failure -- and most of its problems are the manufacturing of failure, to guarantee their job security -- at even the cost to the teachers and the students. The academic institutions are creating artifical demand in insisting we have to learn many things just because that is the academic tradition, while NOT teaching the few necessary skills that are the foundations for self-directed, lifelong learning -- with or without a teacher. That’s the kind of education everybody needs now -- from the preschoolers to the most aged, to learn throughout their entire lives without having to enroll and pay tuition to do so.

That threatens the entrenched status quo of those who think learning for learning’s sake has any relevance and value at all. The whole academic tradition has to be brought into the 21st Century -- from the medieval model of the universities, in which only the privileged and idle people were occupied. People need to learn all the new things and new ways that are coming into being -- and not merely the old things taught for a purpose one hundred years ago.

There needs to be a pause from just continuing to do things as they’ve alwys been done before MORE -- just because it’s always been done that way before.


At February 02, 2006 9:24 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The same thing happens in many other lucrative fields. The health care industry is dependent on a steady stream of people in poor and declining health. So they are not vested in healthy people but those who are in poor health and need their services. Truly healthy people are the bane of the therapeutic services.

Newspapers need ignorance and disinformation to sell their product. An informed person doesn’t need another to do their thinking for them -- telling him of the politically correct opinion of the day -- reporting on events so as to maximize discord and conflict, rather than resolve the problems of human relations, communications and information. Information is used as a weapon instead of a tool -- to magnify the divisiveness, bias, hatred and partisanship. It would be far better if such demagogues had never been born than that they should dedicate their lives to producing the ill-will of the world they so gleefully exploit.

Unions disempower their own workers in order to keep them beholden to them. They convince their members they are “nothing” without them -- and only by banding together as a bullying group, can they impose their will on all the others -- and obtain more than everybody else, as they fair share.

Eventually, democracy comes to mean simply the struggle of every group against every other faction -- until the most brutal and ruthless, enslave and exploit all the others. Certainly there is a better way -- and that is to begin from a nonpartisan point of view rather than erroneously believing that more partisanship, or even bipartisanship, can ever resolve any problem of human relations. We need to have as leaders the most nonpartisan and unbiased people -- and not the most biased partisans, no matter how convinced they are of their moral and intellectual superiority over all the others (liberals).

We don’t need to fragment society in order to reconciliate it; we can keep it whole from the very beginning. In an age in which many of the problems and difficulties of the past have been eliminated, the old mind knows no other way to be -- but to create the life of hardship and misery, as their conditioning of how they were taught to be -- because they don’t know how to move on to the next level of human actualization. Nobody has ever prepared them for such a possibility -- that their problems are mainly the memories, traditions, culture of a more primitive time -- that might have even been just a generation ago in their childhood. And since then, they vowed never to learned another thing ever again. Those people can’t be teachers. The only thing worth teaching is how to learn -- by example.

All the impressive jargon and educational theories are totally worthless in the absent of that. That has nothing to do with learning and education but to qualify them for higher pay. Students recognize good teachers, learn from them, and they enjoy each other. Bad workers relentlessly demand more money pay for less work. Eventually they hope to reach the top of the ladder whereby they can just create more work for others.

At February 02, 2006 3:49 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The mainstream press’s understanding of the value of conditioning activities, emphasize the least significant aspects of that participation and involvement. It is the focus one develops that has power in doing anything -- and not operating a treadmill, mindlessly and joylessly going through motions, wishing one were doing anything else -- that has value.

That is the same perspective they bring to everything they observe and report on -- the least significant aspect of it. The profundity, the wonder, the significance, is what they cannot see, have no training for. The joy and positives of life escape them completely. And there is this resentment against everything and everybody else that is all they hope to “share” anymore -- that life is a downer, a great disappointment.

It reminds me of how as one of my young experiences coming out of college and attending a party of public school teachers, how all they did was complain about how miserable their classroom experience was. After I left that field and worked in several others, I recognized that seemed to be the peculiar feature of unionized workers -- that these people had come to hate their jobs and all that they were doing, in convincing themselves and everybody else how much they were sacrificing for the sake of others to perform that work, and in doing so, of course had no joy and respect in anything they did in life.

To transcend that perspective is very important -- to feel that everything one does has tremendous significance, shapes one's life and outlook. That is the joy and meaning of life -- so absent in the mainstream press.

At February 02, 2006 3:55 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Is there any wonder why the public is not interested in "sharing" their insights anymore -- and are fleeing them in droves?

It is the perspective of the third-rater -- that seeks to deny that life can be a first-rate experience.

At February 02, 2006 4:07 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

That is the unfortunate strategy and mentality the union’s have developed to convince the public they should be paid endlessly more -- that they have “sacrificed” their lives to perform their work, rather than that they are engaged in that work, because that is what they love to do, that is the ultimate expression of who they are, that is their calling in life -- and would make authentically great sacrifices to do. In that manner, it is not the public that disrespects and dishonors them -- but themselves.

Then all the money in the world cannot give them the self-respect they have sold their souls for.

At February 03, 2006 12:09 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Informing to Deceive:

by John Armor

The New York Times ran a story on 28 January, 2006, entitled, “Public-School Students Score Well in Math in Large-Scale Government Study.” Well, it wasn’t a “government” study. It was only paid for by a government grant. When one looks into the methodology of the atudy and the histories of its two researchers, the results are highly suspect.

The Times wrote:

A large-scale government-financed study has concluded that when it comes to math, students in regular public schools do as well as or significantly better than comparable students in private schools.

The study, by Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, compared fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of more than 340,000 students in 13,000 regular public, charter and private schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The 2003 test was given to 10 times more students than any previous test, giving researchers a trove of new data.

Though private school students have long scored higher on the national assessment, commonly referred to as "the nation's report card," the new study used advanced statistical techniques to adjust for the effects of income, school and home circumstances. The researchers said they compared math scores, not reading ones, because math was considered a clearer measure of a school's overall effectiveness.


The study itself says, but not until page 18, that “overall, due to the complexity of the issues involved, no single study can provide a definitive determination of the effectiveness of various forms of schooling.” The Times never mentions this caveat.

The study was based on the NAEP exams in math for 4th and 8th graders in 2003. The actual results showed that public school students scored about one grade level below private school students, and charter school ones. But the authors of the study then set out to “normalize” the data, by adjusting for sociological and home factors including race, income, and ownership of a computer.

It is not until page 21 that we find out that the factors used to adjust the data, and therefore reverse the results seen in the actual test results, were determined by a prior study co-authored by one of these authors, in 2004. Among the factors deliberately left out were, “school discipline climate, teacher quality, and even parental involvement.” Most studies conclude that all three of these have major impacts on student achievement.

A major factor the researchers used to change the results was “Home Resources,” detailed as homes which regularly receive newspapers and magazines, own a computer, an atlas, and books, coded by number owned. But household income was a separate factor used (in the form of SES, Socio-Economic Status). Anyone familiar with census data would know that all these items are more common in wealthier families. So, the researchers were actually double-counting household income.

Another fudge factor appears in footnote 12, where the authors wrote, “In order to preserve data, students who reported that they did not know if they had a particular resource were coded as ‘no’ on the grounds that even if the resource was present in his/her home, it was not (directly) enriching the student’s home experiences.” If the public school students were less likely to report accurately their “resources” at home, this assumption alone would question the entire results of this study.

On racial composition, the researchers used only “Black, Hispanic and American Indian.” Conspicuously absent from this list are Asian Americans. And anyone with the slightest knowledge of educational achievement in the US knows that the Asian-Americans outperform all other racial categories, including “Caucasian,” on standard tests like the ones here.

The reason why the data may have been manipulated to obtain the result that public schools are providing a better education – no matter that the actual test results show the opposite – appears on page 39, where the authors state that their results, “call into question the basic premise of such reforms [meaning charter schools, and voucher programs].”

An indication of the possible prejudices of the authors of this study appears in the bibliography, where the authors cite no less than nine papers written or co-authored by one of them, most of which challenge the premise that non-public schools produce a better educational product.

In short, had the reporters at the New York Times bothered to read the report they were reporting on, they would have found ample reason to question the conclusions it reached. But because the study supported the mantra of the Times that competition between public and private schools for parents with limited resources is undesirable, the Times trumpeted the results as solid.

And sadly, a fair number of other national media may take this study seriously without examining its methodologies, in part because of this stamp of approval from the Times.

At February 03, 2006 12:24 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

My favorite news distortion tactic is when, "adjusting for the cost of living in Hawaii," the highest actual wages become the lowest adjusted wages in the nation -- and they double and triple-adjust for inflation to say pretty much anything they want to say.

There're some pretty unscrupulous people in the news and information industry. A few of them honestly don't know any better -- but they are the exceptions.


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