With Thanks To Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, And Perle ©

It was Tuesday, February 22, 2005, and as we all recall, “if it is Tuesday, we must be in Belgium,” or Brussels and we were.  We the people of the United States represented by our man, the man that believes that he has a mandate, was there in Brussels.  He was speaking on our be-half, or at least on the behalf of those that voted for him.  For President Bush rarely if ever speaks on my behalf.

Mr. Bush was asked of his intentions towards Iran now that Iran has announced that they are engaged in nuclear proliferation.  Did he trust that Iran was only securing nuclear energy, or did he believe that they were building bombs, bombs that might be used against the United Sates and countries within the European Union?  Did he have evidence to support the suspected belief that Iran now holds Weapons of Mass Destruction and if he did, would he authorize military action against Iran?  Would he invade a country that he deems an enemy?  Would he choose diplomacy instead?

President Bush discussed the concerns for possible United States military action against Iran.  He stated that the idea “is simply ridiculous.”  However, he quickly added, “All options are on the table.” [The Washington Post]

We know from the eloquent statements he voiced in his inaugural address that Mr. Bush believes that democracy is the best form of government and that we, the people of the United States are destined to form a more perfect union everywhere, throughout the world. The President stated, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”  He voiced his intent “We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation, the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.”

However, he did remind us, as he would later reiterate in his State of the Union, that we would not impose our form of government on others.  Yet, he, we, as a nation [?] did decide to unilaterally invade Iraq.  The President felt a strong need to change the regime within Iraq and he persuaded the people to believe as he did, and as he does.

His intent was and is to promote democracy, worldwide, beginning with Iraq.  Though other countries did not support this decision and said so, loudly the President persisted.  He would pursue democracy at all cost.  Diplomacy was an idea that the President was reluctant to practice.  He was impatient; he wanted to attack Iraq.  For him, it was “just that simple!”  Saddam was among the evil emperors and he needed to be eliminated.

Then Secretary of State Colin Powell convinced Mr. Bush to speak to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, to ask other nations for their assistance.  The President did this and we, the United Sates received a modicum of support.  Smaller nations, with little strength, offered to help.  However, Britain was our only strong ally.  This did not matter to the President for he had the support he truly needed, he had God on his side and the Project for the New American Century.  He had Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] and that was all he needed, or so he thought.

Thus, George W. Bush went to war.  In recent months even conservatives reluctantly admit, that though they support the war, support the President in his decision to attack Iraq, they too “find fault with Rumsfeld,”The Weekly Standard wrote of this only a month ago.  In respect to the Iraqi war, some conservatives did and are still concluding that there is reason to disagree [The American Conservative] with the decisions made by Wolfowitz, Perle, Cheney, and even the dear President.  Many are saying that the war was poorly planned and executed; they complain for there is no exit strategy.  American soldiers continue to be wounded, maimed, and are even murdered.  The death toll has taken its toll on recruitment.  Policies that allow the armed services to retain troops beyond their contracted service do not escape notice by the people, even conservative people.  The possibility of a draft is a question that lingers.  Thus, we have the ridiculous.

The reason that progressives and conservatives alike believe that Bush states that the idea of invading Iran is ridiculous is because, financially and physically, we do not have the forces to do so!  Therefore, I thank you Misters Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, and Cheney.  You have made it possible.  Now the President cannot do as he proposes or prefers and I am grateful!!!!

I thought that you might enjoy perusing the thoughts of others.  Please travel to . . .

INCITE, A pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would be successful.

The Periscope, Bush in Europe, February 2005, Companion weblog to Euro-correspondent.com journalist network.

The American Street, Iranians can’t wait for Jan. 30th.

Recent Edition of Alternet, All Options on the Table, March 2, 2005

Binges Build A Being, Separate From Self [Chapter Three]

copyright © 2005 Betsy L. Angert

She sought out food, food, and more food.  She was not hungry; well, she was, though not for food.  She needed to fill the void, and yet if she felt full, she needed to eliminate that sensation.  Her stomach must feel as empty as her being felt; the two needed to be in balance, an empty mind, and an empty body felt best.

The eating was not eating it was as breathing.  She inhaled her food, quickly, only to throw it all up just as quickly.  When she did as she was doing, she felt nothing, and that was good!  She thought nothing, well; at least she thought nothing of what she was doing.  That was true for a time, though, not true too.  She, while engaging in the deed was somewhat separate from herself.  She was there and, yet, she was not.

She planned for the process and yet she did not.  She imagined what she would eat, and yet she did not.  She heard the cautions for what she was doing and for the consequences that these actions would bring, and yet, she did not.  It all began and progressed so innocently; it seemed so insignificant; yet it consumed her.

Consuming was her cycle.  Consuming food, being consumed by food, with food, and in truth, it had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with food; it had to do with feeling full, yet feeling empty.  More honestly, it had to do with the fear of feeling full and for the sadness of feeling empty.  She did not fear or feel sadness for what was in, or not in her stomach.

Chapter Three in a Series

Please peruse Chapters One through Six, if you choose.

  • The Beginning. Bulimia and Becoming [Chapter One]
  • Bulimia. A Bit Becomes a Binge [Chapter Two]
  • Binges Build A Being, Separate From Self [Chapter Three]
  • Hiding the Food. Hiding The Feelings, Hiding Me [Chapter Four]
  • The Satiated Stomach. The Study Of Food [Chapter Five]
  • Bulimia. Wait! It is Not My Weight [Chapter Six]
    Or Similar Discussions . . .

  • When Will I Be Right? Is It Ever Okay To Be Me?
  • Weight. Balancing Fat with Feelings, Habits With Health
  • Literacy and The Bush Legacy ©

    © copyright 2005 Betsy L. Angert

    I am baffled by the Bush budget, by the Bush family legacy, by Barbara, by Laura, and by the manner in which each of these mesh.

    I remember a time when Barbara Bush was First Lady.  She was outspoken in her strong support of programs that promote literacy.  She was quite concerned for the youth of this country; she feared that many young people were growing up in homes where reading and writing were not habits.  Mrs. Bush was troubled by the realization that parents were not reading to, or with, their offspring.  She concluded that if children did not have literate parents, they were less likely to become literate themselves.  She staunchly suggested that America needed to become academically competent, that this must be a priority, a priority within our homes, and a priority for our Nation.

    Former First Lady Barbara Bush was consumed in her concern, so much so that she decided to publicly promote policies that encouraged families to learn together.  Ultimately, she founded The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.  Thus, the Bush legacy for literacy began.

    Laura followed Barbara.  Laura Bush is a teacher, a librarian, and a woman committed to the idea of advancing knowledge.  She says her “whole life has been devoted to the advocacy of children.”  Laura looks at reading and writing in manners that seem more expansive than those of her mother-in-law.  For Mrs. Laura Bush the focus on literacy extends beyond the family; our current First Lady speaks of the need to teach reading and writing in our schools.

    This Thursday evening, February 10, 2005, Jim Lehrer of The News Hour interviewed Mrs. Bush.  He and the First Lady discussed her most pressing concern, improving the lives of boys.  Throughout the dialogue, she mentioned that much of what is true for boys is also applicable to girls.

    In sharing her thoughts, Laura Bush stated that today, many parents are not fully literate.  Frequently, parents cannot read or write and therefore they are not able to model these for their children.  She offered that countless numbers of our young Americans live with single parents, working parents, non-English speaking immigrant parents, parents that cannot or do not actively have the time or ability to teach their children erudition.  Mrs. Bush asserted that schools and communities are often a child’s only resource, hence, role models and mentors are, or must be, found outside the home.  It is for this reason Laura looks beyond the family in her desire to facilitate literacy.  Thus, the legacy continues and grows.

    President George W.  Bush may be following Laura or as he said at a recent event, they may actually be walking hand-in-hand. In the text of a speech made by the President and reported in The Washington Post, Mr. Bush stated that he and his wife share “the same passion . . . and that is to put systems in place to encourage every child to learn to read.”  He went on to say, “You cannot achieve in America if you cannot read.  And yet too many of our children cannot read.”  Mr. Bush, along with his wife, and mother, chooses to carry the torch of literacy, and the legacy marches on.

    "Native ability without education is like a tree without fruit."
    Aristippus [Founder of Cyrenaic School of Philosophy 430 B. C.]

    Our current President considers himself a champion in the arena of education.  He believes that his program, “No Child Left Behind,” is the shining light of his career; and he desires to expand it, placing the plan in our Nation’s high schools.  His proponents often offer that NCLB is among the thousand “points of light,” those mentioned by his father, Former President Bush.  The intention of this plan is to emphasize school “accountability”; for George W. Bush believes that if schools can prove that they are accountable than we can validate with certainty, that students are learning.

    Says our President, “If you believe every child can learn, then it makes sense to measure to determine whether every child is learning.”  He continues, “That’s called accountability, accountability for results. Accountability is so crucial to achieve our goal for every child learning to read, write, and add and subtract.

    In his efforts to ensure that our Nation’s schools are answerable for student learning and literacy, the President constructed this program [NCLB], one that standardizes education, educational policies, and practices.  He professes that standards will result in proficiency. The plan imposes identical criterion for all schools; measures must be met, or schools will suffer the consequences.  There is little to no consideration for the culture of the community; the variance within a student population does not alter this uniform testing structure.  Rural, urban, suburban, and home schools are all assessed as though they are the same. All are treated equally.

    Schools are expected to improve. There are rewards for increasing tallies and penalties for other results.  Pupils’ test scores determine success. Students’ progress, portfolios, and overall performance are not examined.  This plan and the President’s ponderings do not consider that better test scores do not necessarily give rise to better schools; nor do they guarantee superior student aptitudes. An idea that is lost in the shuffle, the shuffling of paperwork, is that high test-scores do not reap literacy or authentic learning.

    However, this idea is not lost among educators.  In a report titled "No Child Left Behind,” Comments and Concerns, published in October 2002, School Administrators of Iowa addressed this concern.  They stated, “extensive testing doesn’t make students smarter, more knowledgeable, or more likely to succeed.  What it does do is detract from educators’ legitimate efforts to do so.”

    Nonetheless, the President continues in his quest, he is expanding his horizons.  No matter what experts in education present, no matter the volume of dissent from districts, diocese, corporations that deliver instructional services, and even from students, Bush continues to believe that incentives for improving scores are incentives for improving schools.

    Mr. Bush believes that high-test scores do validate student learning. Thus, President Bush is now asking Congress to increase the funding, the breadth, and scope of “No Child Left Behind,” he is also asking to increase spending for many other school initiatives that measure “success.”

    Therefore, my befuddlement; it is my experience that outstanding scores do not truly reflect scholarship and. or literacy. When others share their personal experiences, I discover they are similar to my own.  As I read research and pedagogical presentations, I discern an understanding for my confusion.  There seems to be an agreement, assessing comprehension, and a curriculum is important.  There is also a shared acknowledgement, validating these can be quite a challenge.

    Rachel B. Tompkins, President of the Rural School and Community Trust (Rural Trust) in Washington, wrote, “No one argues with the lofty goals of this legislation.  No one argues that accountability is not a good thing.  What is wrong with the No Child Left Behind Act is that its cookie- cutter approach, like many other well-meaning, one-size-fits-all education policies, will almost certainly leave rural schools, and rural children behind.”

    This opinion is echoed throughout the land; it is not heard only in rural communities, the same distress is voiced in urban, suburban, and home schools.  Students and staffs are among the protestors, each protesting the limitations of this policy.  Yet, their shouts are as silence, they fall on deaf ears.  It seems to me that many of us are so saturated in a world of statistics, that we have become comfortable with the concept of calculating success.  We believe that statistics represent truth.  As adults, we deal with data.  When we deliberate, we state that we want, “Just the facts.”  We forget that what might be fact for one many be fiction for another.

    A concept is stronger than a fact.
    Charlotte P. Gillman [1860-1935, Writer]

    We forget what we once experienced.  We do not vividly recall the struggles we had as a student.  Therefore, I offer the subsequent scenarios in hopes that they will evoke much reflection.  I believe that these tales are ones that we all, or at least most of us, can relate to.  I also provide theory.

    After ruminating on your own experiences of authentic learning and digesting pedagogical principles, please read and review the proposed Bush budget 2006.  Once done, assess for yourself.  If you too experience that “education,” “evaluation,” and “effectiveness,” are all unique entities that they must work together if we are to ensure maximum benefits, if you find it as fascinating as I, that President Bush advocates literacy and learning and then focuses solely on “accountability,” then possibly, you, I, and we as a society can act together; we can choose to truly empower our culture, our classrooms, our communities, and our children.  I hope that we will.

    Here is the first of two scenarios that I am presenting.  Please recall a time when you took a test and failed though you knew the material well.  Were you distracted by our own life?  Were you possibly ill?  Did you not sleep well?  Were you experiencing excessive stresses?  Was the exam written in a manner that was less than compatible with the way that you learn?  Were the directions vague or at least, did they seem so to you?  Was the evaluation or the evaluator objective?  Were there other possibilities that caused you to perform poorly?

    Perhaps, you are among the rare ones that never failed an exam; therefore, you cannot relate to this tale.  If so, I offer another.  I ask you to remember a time when you studied for an exam; you jammed and crammed your skull full of what you might have thought to be meaningless facts, figures, formulas, and findings.  Possibly, you slept with your head on your books; you may have hoped that the data would diffuse into your brain.  As you walked or drove to class, you continued to force-feed your mind. You wanted to meld with the material. Then, you took the test, and you did well; you did very well. You scored a grade of “A+” and yet, minutes, hours, days, months, and years later you can recall little if any of that information.

    The reason: memorization is not learning.  What we commit to memory if not personally real and relevant will not be ours.  We will not and do not retain what we cannot relate to deeply.  We do not incorporate and internalize information that we experience as repetitive, unyielding, or rehearsed.

    It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
    Alec Bourne, From A Doctor’s Creed, Deputy Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

    Therefore, I propose that accurate evaluations must consider the process and progression of learning; they must consider that understanding does not occur in an instant.  It is vital to accept that what is effective teaching for one student can be a terrible trauma for another.  There must be awareness for the uniqueness of students, staffs, schools, and subjects.  We must acknowledge that “accountability” is a nice idea in the abstract; however, people and pupils are not abstractions.  They are concrete, complex, and the manner in which they achieve comprehension differs.  We must be willing to admit that competency cannot be determined in a single moment.  Nor can the results of a test or two establish true scholarship.  However, “No Child Left Behind” and other Bush proposals for education in 2006 consider none of these.  They focus on “accountability” rather than literacy or learning.

    Let us look at the limited perspective of our President and his ideas on literacy.  Mr. Bush focuses on a credo of facts and figures; he muses that these must be delivered, and studied with diligence.  He banishes the likelihood that learning is as Benjamin Bloom offered in his Taxonomy: findings and formulas are only a foundation for knowledge.

    A fact in itself is nothing.  It is valuable only for the idea attached to it, or the proof which it furnishes.
    Claude Bernard [1813-1878 Leading French Physiologist]

    To cement these we need to analyze, assimilate, synthesize, and evaluate the material. Then, after engaging in these practices fully, we need to use the information and tools to create anew.  The Bush proposals acknowledge none of this.  As stated earlier, as expressed by the President, and as evident in his plans for education, he only address accountability.  There is no consideration for the stability of scholarship.

    Mr. Bush is correct, the groundwork is important; the need to confirm comprehension is vital.  However, he seems to forget that there are ways to present information and to confirm comprehension that are expansive and flexible.  Can we not choose to adopt forms that are more fluid?  Might we think through all the possibilities and probabilities?  Might we also be cognizant of how individuals differ, how schools differ, how situations differ?  Might we modify our methods, and attend to the differences?  Might we prepare for the uniqueness of pupils, of people, of populations, and acknowledge these in our policies?  Might we accept that learners and learning do not simply fit into a box of “standard,” sub-standard, or superior?

    Academicians and others acknowledge that there are pedagogical principles that speak to the significant difference in students, the difference in their learning styles?  Educators such as Howard Gardner offer his work with Multiple Intelligences.  These theories provide us with possibilities for improving our schools.  Daniel Goleman speaks of Emotional Intelligence; he presents incredible insights into the process of learning.  Then there are the concepts of Authentic Assessment and Portfolio Reviews.  Each of these addresses the truth of literacy and learning.  Literacy is more than merely being able to read, write, and compute at a basic level.  Literacy and learning are substantive concepts and cannot be scored simply.   Accountability is one part of the taxonomy of evaluation.

    I believe that before we assess accountability, we must first, consider our definition and our vision for education.  Do we want to fill the minds of our children with facts, figures, and formulas, those that have little depth and meaning, or would we prefer to cultivate curiosity, creativity, innovation, invention, and imagination?

    Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; but directly involve me, and I’ll make it my own. – Confucian text

    In defining education, I wish to offer two thoughts from a man that most of us experience as a genius, Einstein was a great man, a scientist, and a scholar, though notably, he was a poor student.  His grades did not account for his learning.  Many of his teachers assumed that young Albert was therefore not absorbing information; his understanding was not visible in a conventional sense.  Now, in retrospect, we know that he was grasping all that was placed before him.  He captured the concepts of arithmetic, reading, and writing skills.  He also retained his ability to imagine.  This exalted man, in his later years was often heard to say,
    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education, He also expressed that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
    Albert Einstein

    I wonder how many of us feel much of what Einstein expressed. How much of what we learned in school was a help, how much a hindrance, how much added to our scholarship and to our success?  Did teachers encourage us to think for ourselves?  Did our schooling foster curiosity, creativity, and a flourishing imagination or were these quelled in favor of following the lead of a mandated curriculum?

    Did we, as Einstein, receive grades that were not reflections of our learning?  How often did we feel that attempts to calculate our competency were inaccurate?  Did our scores properly evaluate all that we learned?  Did our grades truly assess our achievements?  Were our assignments or the tests we took tailored to the manner in which we learn or were they rote and routine.  Did examinations ask us to regurgitate information just as it had been delivered to us?  Were these appraisals offered only in written forms?  Were we ever evaluated on what we said aloud?  Were our creations a substantial consideration? Is anyone able to objectively calculate our capacity or our creativity?  If exams offer only rigid forms of evaluation, will the results really reveal the acquisition of knowledge?

    If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.
    Ignacio Estrada, Administrator, National University of Colombia

    I offer these perspectives and ask each of us, as persons that have been pupils at some time in our lives, and as people that can choose to be either part of the problem or part of the solution, and as voters to consider the possibility that assessing accountability through testing and statistics is extremely limited.  Rarely do these methods accurately determine the quality of scholarship or that of our schools.

    When we evaluate literacy strictly through test scores, we are often estimating the ability of students to memorize, to mock, or mimic their mentors.  I believe that education differs from accountability, just as memorization differs from learning.  The two are not synonymous.

    I believe that means and medians do not genuinely measure learning, nor do scores and statistics authentically evaluate the effectiveness of an educator or the education.  Assessments do not accurately analyze the credibility of a curriculum.  Often they calculate only the strategy a student uses in test taking or their ability to guesstimate, estimate, and merely memorize material for a moment.  Though test taking is a skill, it does not correlate to problem solving in the “real” world.  Therefore, I ask Mr. Bush, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Members of Congress, Barbara, Laura, parents, former, and present pupils to consider the policy that dictates “accountability” and consider one that creates authenticity in learning and in literacy.  I ask them to also think through their wants and the true Bush legacy.

    The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.
    R. M. Hutchins [American Educator, Author, The University of Utopia and The Learning Society, Board Editor for Encyclopedia Britannica]

    I beg of you, please ponder the scenarios that I presented.  Reflect upon your own education, and if you are able, acknowledge that there were times that you “knew your stuff’ and yet received scores that did not show this; if there were times that you tested well and yet, now, you recall little if any of what you “learned,” then look at proposed Bush budget 2006 and consider the contrast.  Spending for 2006 focuses on “accountability,” measurements, and means testing.  Monies for literacy, learning, and imaginative lessons were removed.

    For your review, I offer the specifics of the Bush budget 2006 as it applies to education, literacy, and “accountability.”

    According to the National School Boards Association, in his recent 2006 budget submission, Mr. Bush is requesting $1.5 billion for high school reforms, $1.2 billion to finance a High School Intervention Initiative, and an endowment of $250 million.  These later funds will be used to measure student performances in the areas of reading, language arts, and high school math.  Each of these proposals demonstrates that the President is truly committed to our schools, to literacy, and to the need for greater accountability.

    While Mr. Bush wishes to expand and endorse programs that improve our educational system, he also desires to reduce our Nation’s deficit.  The afore-mentioned endorsements are costly, and therefore, the President feels a need to “consolidate, reduce, or eliminate” other programs, even other educational programs.

    In his effort to balance the books, he intends to merge, moderate, and purge programs such as . . .

  • Vocational Education [$1.19 billion]
  • Upward Bound, Smaller Learning Communities [$94.5 million]
  • Even Start [$225.1 million] literacy grants
  • Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grants [$437.4 million]
  • Education Technology grants [$496 million]
  • Teacher Quality Enhancement [$68.3 million]
  • Comprehensive School Reform [$205.3 million]

    Among the other programs slated for termination is the Title V, plan.  This is a State Grant for Innovative Programs.  For 2006, the President is requesting an allotment of $100 million.  This contrasts with the 2005 distribution of $198.4 million.  The Administration states that this discrepancy is dictated by the need to address priorities that they consider more serious, mainly, the priority of “accountability."  They offer, “The reduced request reflects a decision to redirect funding to higher-priority activities that are better targeted to national needs and have stronger accountability mechanisms.

    The President is also choosing to eliminate financial support for Teacher Quality Enhancement initiatives.  Currently, these benefits [$68.3 million] are used to “recruit, prepare, license, and support teachers.”  The Administration suggests that the activities initiated within this program can be accomplished through the auspices of other federal programs.

    In total, 150 programs will be impacted.  In a report released by Oxford Analytic report, and published in Forbes.com, “Forty-eight of these are administered by the Education Department.”

    You may wish to read other commentaries on the Bush Budget and its affects on Education.

  • BuzzFlash features, “Bush Budget’s Hit List Includes Children
  • Here’s What’s Left writes of Bush’s Budget Cuts: Education
  • International Reading Association offers a discussion on the Issues in Literacy
  • 1984, 1988, The Brave New World. 632 AF [After Ford] ©

    Now, two of these dates have passed with little of the predicted fanfare. You may recall the fears and fiction of 1984 by George Orwell; however, do you recall the folly and fortunes told by George W. Bush?

    It was 1978, congressional candidate George Walker Bush was campaigning. He went out on the Texas stump and began speaking of the inevitable, the demise of Social Security. He predicted its bankruptcy and stated that by 1988, the system would be “bust!” He was not alone in this fostering of fear; there were others. They focused on the faults within the Social Security system and not the benefits. They each presented these flaws as fatal.

    According to many sources, the Economic Policy Institute among them, those fighting against Social Security protections were not the poor, the downtrodden, the disabled, the elderly, dependent children, or those whose income left them little extra for saving. They were not those that needed the protection of a system such as this. For the most part those that protested the structure were persons with ample wealth and prosperity. Their concern was often for having more while here on Earth and leaving more for their progeny. They were interested in their own profits and not in the poverty, provisions, and the potential for those less fortunate. Those speaking out against Social Security believed that any individuals can, and should be able to take care of themselves alone, regardless of the circumstances.

    * Please listen to Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich speak on the Social Security Surplus!

    To read the text of this commentary, please refer to “Connect the Dots,” a piece published in The American Prospect.

    Among those wishing to eliminate Social Security, was and is free-market economist Milton Friedman. In the 1950’s, Professor Friedman presented his arguments for privatizing Social Security, he and others of means, endorsed public policies that stressed individual ownership. Initially, his work was merely an academic exercise. Dr. Friedman developed his theory during his tenure at the University of Chicago, 1946 through 1976. Friedman being a scholar was among the elite; his proposals and papers were highly regarded. Therefore, his thoughts were considered more credible than those of others. His writings gave birth to a serious crusade, the elimination of Social Security.

    In actuality, Friedman was not the first to discuss this. From the time of its inception in 1935, Libertarians throughout the land were protesting the program. Those with copious capital were also against the idea of Social Security. Yet, when Friedman spoke of the same, people listened more intently. His credentials as a successful economist, one that advocates the preservation and expansion of individual freedoms were just what the like-minded affluent and Libertarians needed. As recently reported in the Los Angeles Times, under Milton Friedman’s tutelage, the movement gained momentum.

    When Professor Friedman first wrote of revamping Social Security, he stressed eliminating the “social” and the “security” from Social Security. He was and is in favor of enriching the “individual” and the idea, of “ownership.” However, in proposing his hypothesis he did not consider that, individuals do not exist in isolation. His proponents did not conceive of this possibility either. Nor did he or his followers consider that “owners” do not necessarily have complete control over their possessions.

    Perhaps, many of these persons were and are Chief Executive Officers. Possibly, they have and had a greater sense of authority over their assets than the average American does. For the average American holding stocks, investing in funds, and purchasing certificate shares, is what they or we do when there is extra. Rarely, does our ownership of these yield opulence. Even the wealthy intellectually know that investing in the stock market can be a gamble, a crapshoot, and an action that offers only a small sense of control.

    I ask that each of us, even the well-off, to please consider your own personal history. Whether you are wealthy or not; are you able to completely control your possessions? Do they not break, belie, and burden you at times? Yes, the things that you own may bring benefits, however, you cannot accurately predict when or if these will come. As individuals we work to profit; we postulate that we alone know what is best, not only for ourselves, but for others. We assume that if we invest wisely, prosperity will come. Yet, it does not always, nor does it come easily for most of us.

    Many of us have experienced times when we thought that we were being judicious with our finances and then, later discovered that we had not been. There were aspects and issues out of our control and those that we did not consider. As thinking people, we may wish to presume that if an allotment of money is given to us from our income, we would be able to maximize it. Yet, realistically, the dollars we invest are not ours alone, we invest in a company, a concept, and a configuration that requires that we share ownership. Seldom, is our money solely ours alone. When we buy into the market we are buying publicly traded stocks, bonds, or certificates. Our investments are influenced by a market economy, one that is fickle and can just as easily fail, as it might sail.

    Interestingly enough, any professional financier advises their clients to diversify, to consider the safety of funds, rather than rely solely on individual stocks. They speak of turning to indexes; they state that there is strength in numbers; strength in joining forces, strength in, dare I use the phrase from Aesop’s fables “Bundle of Sticks,” ??There is strength in union!’ Hence, we have the logic of our joint venture into the Social Security System. Safeties and securities are built into this system. There are protections and provisions for inflation; management fees are also considered. There are benefits within the Social Security System that are lacking in the policies that promote privatization.

    Yet, those that wish to maximize their personal investing power choose to ignore these facts. They prefer to deny that not all are equally equipped to invest and to do it well, that if people were given that same fractional portion of their income to invest, some deposits and potential gains would be small, even paltry, in comparison to wealthier others. Those well informed in financing, dismiss the fact that most lack a working knowledge of economic theories, and while it is true that they can learn, who will fund and furnish this education. Functioning as an island, operating with fewer options, having less to draw from or on, is never as fruitful in working in association with others.

    Nonetheless, those that would benefit from privatization, individual ownership, those that would receive greater gains on their capital, George W. Bush and his bandwagon continue to beat the drum of doom. They hype fear and cry of a crisis, or what was once a crisis. The New York Times recently reported that the rhetoric of “crisis” did not poll well; therefore, the term has been changed, What Bush once called a crisis is now known as a “serious problem.”

    “Serious problem” or “crisis,” those against the program are as steadfast as they were decades ago. They now claim just as they did then. They continue to predict and prophesize peril. They persist in gathering for the storm, and for a gloom that did not come in 1988. They neglect to tell us why their earlier forecasts never came, and this information is significant. It is important to know why the system did not fail and to learn from this.

    Social Security did not go ‘bust’ because there were those that chose to recognize what was, to reflect, and then, to resolutely act, rather than react. Many chose to be aware, to acknowledge what was not working well, and then, make corrections. In 1983, Congress came together and worked to improve the structure, to refine the design, and to strengthen the support that Social Security provides. They amended the plan and solvency was restored, actually, a surplus was created. Though the naysayers continue to say it is not so. Please read the amendments enacted in 1983; assess these for your self.

    After evaluating the changes made to the Social Security plan in 1983, consider the most recent report submitted by the Congressional Budget Office on the future of the same. This account offers a more optimistic projection than the President and his pals do. The CBO estimates that Social Security will exhaust its Treasury’s supply by 2052, whereupon the tax revenue it takes in will be able to pay out 81 percent of its obligations. Even at those reduced rates, the benefits that retirees receive would be higher in today’s dollars than those that current retirees are awarded.

    Regardless, the stance of those that wish to scrap the system is as solid as it was decades ago! They are stating that we need to; that we must, obliterate what is working and start anew. This is as people often do, when they do not like what is, when what is does not benefit them personally. Instead of acknowledging what is working well and alter aspects that need reconfiguring, they simply trash it all, in its entirety. When people do destroy what is, eventually, they discover that much of the quality of the original is lost.

    Whether the action is personal or political, it is costly. Millions, billions, and in this case, an estimated [two] trillions of dollars will be spent on seeking a solution, a solution that may be worse than what was. For reactive behaviors such as this are frequently followed by a realization, there are flaws in the new arrangements. The cost to right the new wrong is even greater than a slight correction of the original might have been.

    Yes, there are still concerns in the current Social Security System and these do need to be attended to. However, Bush is not asking us to address these issues, he is requesting more. He is proposing a complete change, asking us to abandon what is, and to eliminate an essence that is of great value to many, to most, and simply not serving the wealthy as well. Trite though true, when we opt for a complete change we often “throw the baby out with the bath water.” To truly learn, we must look at life as a progression, a building, not a destroying. We evolve when we consider our errors and when we use these to educate ourselves. When we reject what is, when we “cut and run” we often create situations that are worst than the first. Yet, this is as Bush and his bunch are proposing to do.

    The administration and its alliances want us to ignore that the Social Security system has secured an income for our less fortunate elders, the disabled, dependent children, disadvantaged, and others in need. Prior to the initiation of Social Security, a large portion of the population was destined to a life of poverty. Without Social Security, over 11 million seniors would not survive. Women comprise sixty percent of all recipients. The majority of these women receive fifty to ninety percent of their income from Social Security payments. Then there are the dependent youth, survivors, and spouses of those whose lives were lost; there are the disabled, the disadvantaged, and others. Social security protects these persons from poverty. Without Social Security as it is, I ask what will become of these people?

    Even President Bush acknowledges that Social Security benefits many and that some are short-changed. He recently spoke of how “blacks” do not receive as much as other races do. He offered the likelihood that African Americans are and will be given less, for their lifespan is shorter. When I heard of this statement, I could not help but wonder why do we not address the issues that would lengthen their life span? Why, for the most part, do they not have equal opportunities for “black” persons and other minorities?  William E. Spriggs, discussed the “truth” Bush proposed. He writes, African Americans and Social Security, Why the Privatization Advocates Are Wrong,Dollars and Sense, The Magazine of Economic Justice.

    Currently and since our founding, we the people of the United States of America have not had genuine equality. Therefore, Americans in their infinite wisdom chose to secure not only their own lives, but also those of others. Actually, when we help others, all reap the rewards. The economy is strengthened when everyone has viable income. We profit, as a whole, when we protect each other from poverty.

    Together, we are the people, the people of the “United” States of America. We know to our core just as Lincoln offered, “United we stand!” Thus, I ask, what of the people? What will we the people, those that work daily, are paid hourly, or have salaries sufficient to support our family and ourselves do? Will we, those that have few profits, those that struggle to survive, will we, those that thrive, though not excessively so, will we let the prediction of Aldus Huxley be what comes? Will we become a Brave New World, just as the world Huxley wrote of? The author surmised that our world was becoming one in which there would be one global-government, a regime of the rich, one that would rise to power, stripping the common people of their freedom. Will we allow our world to be that Brave New World?
    After sharing my own thoughts, I decided to read other offerings on the Social Security controversy.  You may wish to connect to these thoughts as well.

    On February 8, 2005, Mary Lynn F. Jones of Alternet wrote of Internal Bleeding within the Republican Party.

    Farhad Manjo of Salon.com asks, “Does Social Security Shortchange Blacks?”

    Days after my writing, on February 9, 2005, Former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich spoke of the Social Security Surplus!  Please take a moment to listen this Fascinating Commentary!!

    See how the System of Personal, Individual Accounts is working or is not in Chile.  Please read “A Personal Burden; Chile switched to a privatized pension system”.

    Please consider MaxSpeak as he discusses the math used to calculate Social Security MORE MATH PROBLEMS AT THE POST

    Please explore and consider an animated presentation, by Lee Arnold.  Social Security: The Real Connections

    Please consider the Cost. Bruce Webb offers the Social Security Trustees reports What is the Low Cost alternative? What does it mean? Webb discusses the significance of these facts.

    From Writing History to Re-Writing History ©

    “History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions.”
        Voltaire [Author and Philosopher -1694 ?” 1778]

    On Saturday, January 29, 2005, while reading The Los Angeles Times I discovered an interesting article by Peter Wallsten.  Initially, it appeared innocuous, though newsworthy.  First, I noticed a large photograph of Condoleezza Rice; she was taking her oath of office, being sworn in as Secretary of State.  Granted, this event is important; yet, it was not the occasion that intrigued me, the title of this exposé did.  It read, “Recasting Republicans as the Party of Civil Rights.”

    I knew that the Republican right was working to write history, paying pundits to promote their propaganda and using taxpayer monies to do so, nonetheless this title implied more.  It seems that the Republicans are not only writing history, now they are re-writing history!

    As I read further, I felt great trepidation.  Apparently, Yale University history professor David Blight does as well.  He proclaimed that, "It’s appalling to me as a historian and as an American citizen.  It necessitates ignoring and avoiding at least 80 years of the history of the Republican Party, that the Republican Party became the bastion of white solidarity, white comfort.”

    When historians consider the legacy of the Grand Old Party, they note that it is quite “complex.”  The Republican Party came into being in 1854 and while it was founded on the philosophies of freedom, free people, free minds, and free expression, the focus quickly became that of free enterprise.  Shortly after the Civil War, [1861 – 1865], the Republican Party adopted policies and practices that emphasize the individual.  The Party offered opportunities, though not equally or for all.  Increasingly, businesses were befriended and the GOP showed far less concern for civil rights issues.  This was and has been the character of the Grand Old Party for nearly a century now.

    These qualities are still strongly served in the Republican bequest.  As recently as three short years ago this vein was still apparent.  Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) voiced a segregationist stance.  He mused that the country might have been better served under a Strom Thurmond, Presidency.  After this admission, Lott was forced to resign as the Party’s Senate leader.

    Words may amend the actions of the party or its proponents; however, the affects of these do not change.  This administration is known for its use of language; they give languishing circumstances a new light.  Agendas are reframed; conservatives are compassionate.  Policy is under a kinder and gentler guise.  Nonetheless, we cannot escape what we have witnessed.

    In May 2004, we read reports, one from the AFL-CIO, of how this administration was attempting to “write history” in questionable manners.  Through a General Accounting Office report, it was discovered that the Department of Health and Human Services and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services generated, what appeared to be news broadcasts, those that are presumed to report history in the making.  In actuality, these were advertisements praising the Medicare Reform program proposed by the Bush Administration.  The GAO stated that this practice of paying for and producing propaganda with taxpayer funds was and is illegal.

    Then, almost a year later, we learn that the Department of Education is also giving rise to create as they crave.  They worked to assure a supportive following for the “No Child Left Behind” program.  They paid commercially successful conservative commentator, Armstrong Williams money to sing the praises of the Bush plan.  This endorsement cost the taxpayers a mere quarter of one million dollars.  Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post wrote of this conflict of interest in January of 2005.

    Then there was Maggie Gallagher; she states that she was hired for her expertise and of course, columnists are often hired for their expertise. Again, Journalist Howard Kurtz wrote of this escapade,“Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract.”

    Next, we heard of Mike McManus.  CNN revealed that, “Another columnist paid to help promote Bush policy.”  Again, the right continues to write history, as they would want it to be.  While it is true that every event and every exchange is historical, the Republican plan seems to be, if you want to ensure that history is, as you desire, then write it yourself.
    Please consder another writing, AlterNet on “The GOP Media Machine Churns On”