The Siren Song of the Losing-Side Cold War Charlatan


February 24, 2020

Photo: tpsdave, Pixabay, License

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

While I am near certain that none who read this will vote for socialism (AKA communism-lite) in November, you may have some family members or friends who might be so inclined.  The following is offered to shed light on just a single aspect of “Bernie’s” and Warren’s nonsense that might help dissuade an errant son, daughter (or in my case a grandson or granddaughter) from engaging in such self-destructive behavior:

Anybody can promise anything (or even everything), but fulfilling some “promises” is impossible.  Free stuff isn’t better and most often is much worse than stuff we pay for.  When stuff is “free” it is not without cost.  Free stuff just gets paid for differently and since it is “free” it is public, and thus, all sorts of “rules” are put into place to ensure it is provided “fairly.”

When looking at “free stuff,” public schools are a good place to start.  In the old days, schools actually allowed teachers to grade students on their work and to evaluate students’ abilities through standardized testing.  Some students actually got failing grades and had to retake the course or be held back to retake the entire school year.  Even my days – attending public schools in the 40s and 50s — “IQ” had already been determined to be a ‘loaded’ term.  So, Cleveland’s public school system avoided its use by labeling the test results, P.L.R. (for Probable Learning Rate”).  And classes were organized so that those whose scores were higher –125 and above – dealt with more challenging subject matter and course materials, while students with lower PLRs got gradually less and less challenging teaching materials and curriculum, consistent with group size.  The purpose was to NOT leave students behind.  All students could obtain high school diplomas and fair grades — within their groups.  The real benefits went to the students who didn’t feel frustrated (if not bored) by less challenging class materials and standards reduced to the lowest common denominator — on the one side; or, frustrated (if not angry) at not being able to keep up with faster classmates on the other side.  Note: not everybody got to take the SATs upon graduation, even among those among those with the higher PLRs. All this seemed to work OK for us.

In later years, some parents took umbrage at the fact that Johnny didn’t have the same textbooks as Jane, even though they were in the same grade at the same school.  Others were upset that test scores varied wildly.  When scores were further analyzed based on race, national origin, family income, and other sliced-and-diced criteria, authorities demanded all sorts of studies, and when those results were further “analyzed,” “biases” were claimed:  the teachers must be grading unfairly, or something else.  So, on the altar of “fairness,” the pursuit of “excellence” was sacrificed, course materials were dumbed down, and testing was adjusted to produce homogenized results to ensure imagined “equality.”

Next, the “education establishment” that oversaw the above mess convinced all parents that every kid – regardless of aptitude – should go to college, because (so their parents were told): kids without college degrees will not find good jobs.  And so, lots of high school “graduates” over the past few decades have gone to college and taken all sorts of courses (at great cost) without a real plan on how such course materials might add value to finding work in a particular field or in their job search.  The exceptions were those students who completed courses in specific specialties such as medicine, law, engineering, and so forth.  Too many among those who took general education courses without specialized majors ran up sizeable student debts which they now find unable to pay down and worse, cannot land the well-paying sinecures promised by promoters of  “everybody needs college.”

The ideal for universities was not to be a tech school, but to be a place of advanced learning where the search for knowledge and wisdom and, dare we say it, enlightenment, was encouraged.  The university was never intended to be a certain conduit for good employment.  Many universities have excellent research facilities where qualified and  advanced students can participate in the exploration of science and medicine and much more.  But, only gifted students need apply.  Every research project involves statistics and analysis and care and patience recording observations and verifying data.  Such efforts are not for everyone.  Many simply lack the self-discipline or brain power to do such work.

Fast-forward to today’s seeming increasing love affair with “free stuff” promised by liberal-progressive-leftist-socialist candidates for the highest office in the land.  “Free” college would come with a host of government rules to “ensure fairness” – a lot like those imposed on public elementary and secondary schools.  But, we must ask, “How would those ‘rules’ impact the concept of University as a center of excellence?”  Honest grading is essential to differentiate success and failure.  Neither physics nor chemistry cares how a student feels about his or her answer.  Math deals in absolutes.  Quantities are to be measured.  Results are to be tallied – accurately.  Observations are to be recorded.  And logic and the understanding of concepts are important subsets of qualifications for participation in such programs.  Even a lot of gifted people lack the temperament for such work.  So, if research is to succeed and move society forward, it must rely upon dedicated and capable research scientists.  This is an important function of universities and not the stuff that lends itself to predetermined “equal outcomes” for all who might apply.

MarioYorba, Pixabay

But, the socialist mindset is that those in authority can enforce equal outcomes – by fiat – by simple declaration.  Best and brightest be damned.  “Equality” is the watchword.  This is socialism.  This is “free” college for any who apply.  Progress be damned.

All this describes only one aspect of the universal banality of “socialism” and “free stuff.”  The whole thing boils down to a belief that government-controlled “group-think” is superior to individual abilities, uniqueness, desires, and aspirations.  The ultimate “Big Brother” not only knows best, but knows what is best for YOU.

If after sharing this, your target still “feels the Berne,” please let me know and we will dissect another of the “freebies” promised by that losing side Cold Warrior Charlatan.

Old Frank

One Response to "The Siren Song of the Losing-Side Cold War Charlatan"

  1. Cort Wrotnowski   Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 12:11 PM

    “When all else fails, lower your standards” is the hidden mantra of (democratic) socialism. Where people feel they can’t make it in life, they default to wanting “free stuff” since they can’t get it by their own efforts. That is as far as their thinking goes.

    Efforts to educate, enlighten, stimulate thinking, consider the other point of view, ad nauseum, is a waste of time.

    I will share an example of cracked thinking. Daughter has an artistic mother. The mother has trouble making a living as an artist. Her answer? Get the government to give her a job as an artist. Not learn how to market. Not find someone to help with selling her works. Not work on ideas that sell. No, get the government to help. That is her default position. She is 33.

    She supports Bernie. The implicit belief “Government can do what I can’t do for myself” is common. Too common. Because these people do not think, do not understand, they only respond to what impacts their narrow and uninformed world view. Talk about easy pickings.

    Somewhere is also the implicit belief that, by doing community service, I am “giving back” and in turn, somewhere, someone will “give back” to me in some form of voluntarism (not so bad) the form of government programs (very bad).

    The only consolation I see is that around such folks are those who do understand. I can only hope and pray we get through to them in time.

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