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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Government Fails Our Children - What Is Freedom? Part III

In my last post there was a relatively minor reference to the fact that there is a difference between conservatives and republicans. One is an ideology, one is a political party, but both have always espoused the concept of limited government. I am routinely asked by my less than conservative friends this question “So what does limited government mean? Throwing my kids and elderly parents to the wolves?” I always find this line of reasoning and extremism highly insulting.

I will start by framing my argument within the U.S. Constitution by quoting Amendment X. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

There you have it. This explains limited government, and it said nothing about throwing anyone to the wolves or making old people starve. It explains the foundations of federalism, where each state is a sovereign entity and subjugates itself under the law only when there is an issue which transcends the needs of the state. For example, a kidnapping of a child in your state is a local matter. The local police take a report, investigate, and locate the child. There is some logistical and investigative assistance from the feds, but it is a local prosecution and the offender sent to a state prison. If that kidnapping crosses state lines, or is even suspected of doing so, it becomes a federal issue. At that time the full power of the federal government can be brought to bear on this case.

Amendment X means that the Constitution defines what the power of the federal government is to be, and anything not listed is left to the individual states. There is a method by which this Constitution can be changed, and that is ratification. Until that happens, or unless the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates a state law as unconstitutional, the powers of the government are specifically delineated.

Here is the problem. Over time, we have allowed the federal government to invalidate this Amendment. In fact, we have done more than allow, we have empowered.

Here is a story about how 12% of our nation’s high schools are “dropout factories”, which is defined as a school having less than 60% of its students graduate. Notice in the article that this rate is no higher than a decade ago. Part of the blame is laid on “No Child Left Behind” because the focus there is to educate younger kids. The Congress has the same answer that they have had since the 1960s: More federal money for high schools.

First consider what has happened in the last decade. In 1984, my high school graduation year, only smart people took a computer class. Computers in those days, for my younger readers, consisted of binary programs and word processors. “Drag and Drop” was something you did with the fumbled snap on a punt. “Copy and Paste” meant Xeroxing a page, cutting something out, and using a gluestick to attach it to another sheet of paper. Somewhere in this era the IBM CEO said that there was no future for personal computers, because people had no need for one in their home. My family bought our first computer in about 1987, and it was an IBM something or another that had a 40mb hard drive, and a monitor with three colors. A decade later or thereabouts, I bought my first Windows based computer for the price of a used car and had a new world opened to me. At that time in 1995, there were only a few hundred thousand webpages, and CompuServe and AOL were the social networking wonders.

Fast forward another decade to now. I have four computers in my home. Two desktops including an HP that is about 9 years old and hums along like a sewing machine. I have another desktop, and my wife and I each have a laptop, and even though they are primarily used for business, you get the idea. My six year old can navigate, with the help of a favorites folder, a dozen sites on the internet and loves to hang out with my wife and teen daughters downloading music (note to music labels: these are legitimate purchases done through Itunes). There are entire libraries on the internet, and one can do a research paper without leaving their home. Remember the undergrad days of living in the library searching for some obscure periodical or journal, only to find that someone tore it out and left with it in years past? Remember getting five dollars in dimes to make terrible copies of book pages and copyrights to take back to the dorm? We don’t do that anymore.

I teach undergrad classes online. There is an entire university library that I can access in my chair while I watch football on Saturdays. (Not during Auburn of course). Why do we have students failing? It isn’t because of lack of available information. It isn’t because the internet is expensive. It isn’t because of a lack of teachers, because we have something like seven universities in Alabama alone that graduate thousands of teachers each year.

The problem is that the federal government controls education. It is because there are mandates on schools to receive federal (OUR) money. It is because in an effort to make everyone equal, we lower standards to accommodate. We have forgotten that there are people who actually are smarter than others. Some have more drive than others. Some have more potential than others.

So we ignore the problem and continue to empower the federal government to abscond with dollar after dollar of our hard earned income to fail 12% of our children. We then allow them to try and solve the problem by taking MORE of our money to throw at the problem. If that tactic works, why are we failing the same percentage of kids that we failed a decade ago?

Freedom is the opportunity to make choices for my kids. It is the knowledge that the government is concentrating on economies and wars and policing and putting out fires and paving roads. Freedom is not having to keep abreast of what the federal government is doing so that we can concentrate on OUR lives and decide for ourselves the standards and resources that our kids need. Freedom is empowering the federal government to conduct the business for which they are suited, and leaving us to work out the things that the founders assigned to ME.

6 Posts From Readers:

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Excellent post. Your right on the mark about the X Amendment.

The first three articles in the Constitution CLEARLY define the powers of the Federal Government and the X Amendment was placed by the Framers to re-emphasise the limitations set by the Constitution and also the fact that governments existance is to serve the people who government is answerable to.

Education is one of many failures that have eroded the true intent of the Constitution and freedom. Students are now expected to think in accordance to what they are told by liberal teachers rather than reason and freely come to a conclusion of their own accord.

Well done my friend!

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Just a thought. When I did my Constitution Series. I created another blog and set it up as a side page link with all of the posts. It is in my upper sidebar and can be visited as a whole series now.

This series of yours is a must read and well worth saving for the future. Please consider the sidebar link and posting all that you have written then adding each one in the future!

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

Coming from you that is a compliment indeed, Ken. Thank you for the suggestion and I may do just that.

I might amend this one with a story, although the post was lonegr than I planned.

My oldest daughter doesn't eat seafood. My wife and I love it. I know some people jsut odn't like it, but her disfavor goes back to elementary school, about 5th or 6th grade.

One day we were having some form of fish for supper, and she said she didn't like fish. Asked why, she said she just didn't like it. She then said that her science teacher had told them that the oceans were poisoned, and so were the fish, because of dumping of medical waste and refuse from companies.

Does it happen? Yes. Has it poisoned the entire 75% of the earth's surface? I think not.

All in the name of science. Al Gore would be proud.

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

The typical liberal Gorwellian view of the eco system.

I hope your daughter is a seafood eater now and that this evil influence has subsided! Nothing like a good plate of shrimp, all you can eat crab legs, fried or panned flounder, oysters, mackeral steaks, ....I need to quit I am making myself drool with hunger! LOL

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

The funny thing is that she will eat fried shrimp. Nothing else, but she will eat friend shrimp anytime.

My wife and I love sushi, and routinely go to a place here for it. We took the kids not long ago and to give her credit, she tried it. She was good with the fried shrimp and California rolls, and attempted salmon and tuna.

She settled for Teriyaki

Anonymous said...

A good article Thank you!

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