Re: George Neumayr’s Abortion is Un-American:
Mr. Neumayr’s case against abortion is eloquent and convincing… in a vacuum. To the pro- and anti-abortionist crowds in this country, this is a binary issue: off/on, good/bad, right/wrong, black/white. No gray area. Does anyone have any area of their lives that falls into those neat little categories?
It is time the anti-abortionists go beyond stale rhetoric and begin to show their seriousness with deeds and not words. Why not adopt all of the children in foster care so that there is room in the system for the 1.5 million additional children that will be born each year? Why not setup a system for caring for these unwanted and uncared-for children that will flood the U.S. each year? I am not pro- or anti-abortion, just sick of the rhetoric of both sides that continually fail to deal with the issue in any meaningful way.
— Ben Berry
This is a very fine article.
I do not understand why our conservative writers, journalists, and politicians continue to use the term “democracy” when our founding fathers greatly feared that term for our government and society. The United States was founded a Republic and as a Republic, a government ruled by law (not the will of man).
Further, the Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution to protect the individual states from federal interference in those areas of state’s rights and was not ratified until they were added. Now most interpret the Bill of Rights are there to protect the individual from local and state government allowing the federal government to create all kinds of social, educational, and economic programs that run into billions of dollars.
I am a long time subscriber and really appreciate TAS.
Thank you for all the great work you do.
— Bruce Frace
Re: Gary Wolfram’s Subsidized Stupidity:
With apologies to your profession, Professor Wolfram, I think we could easily do without 99% of you. And here’s why:
Granted that the “college experience” — at least as it is popularly perceived these days — is a lot more than listening to lectures, taking notes, and then taking tests. Yet that is the essence of it, everything else being extraneous to it to a greater or lesser degree.
Given that, and given our society’s breathtaking electronic communications capabilities, why shouldn’t we get the best professors in each field and have their lectures piped-in to every classroom on every campus in the country? Why, aside from money, shouldn’t students in college “y” benefit from the same high-level of instruction as students in college “x”? Technologically it would be as easy as pie (closed-circuit TV, videotape, whatever), and economically it would drastically reduce the cost of college because we’d be paying only a handful of the best people, instead of legions of mediocrities.
Oh, we could still keep some teachers on staff, but mostly to provide a personal presence — to answer questions and grade papers. But the important work, the fundamental work of offering lectures would be done by those who are the acknowledged masters in their fields.
The model on which our higher education system is based is now — what? — at least two or three hundred years old, and so steeped in ‘tradition’ that, it seems to me, tradition is held to be a higher value than actual education. Meantime, every industry, every business, and every other profession in this society remakes itself on a regular basis in order to take advantage of new technologies, new thinking, and to stay competitive.
I say gut the whole system and rebuild it with an eye to taking advantage of all current capabilities for instruction in a modern world.
Will it happen? Of course not, at least not in my lifetime. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. It only means that the entrenched interests are very powerful, and that consumers are either too ignorant or too weak to demand it.
My father came home from World War II, got a job, started raising a family, and spent ten years acquiring a Drexel University degree in night school. To the best of my knowledge he did not participate in any extracurricular activities, did not attend any sporting or social events, did nothing but attend class, study on his own, and pass the tests as they came up. His “college experience” might have been less than what younger, full-time, day-school students received, but the true value of the education he received was no less real or valid. Indeed he always thought that the way he got his degree was better, because it was focused on what he was there for, and did not waste his precious time.
— Charles R. Vail
Gary Wolfram should look at the state legislatures as to the reason why tuition at state universities has risen so quickly. Here in Oklahoma, the legislature decreased the appropriations, over the past several years, to state universities while allowing the state universities to increase their tuition. Faced with the prospect of laying off university instructors and reducing the number of courses offered, the universities increased tuition. There really wasn’t any choice. The increase in tuitions really didn’t help faculty salary — here at the University of Central Oklahoma, we received a 4% increase in salary (the first increase in 4 years). Please advise Mr. Wolfram to do a better job in his research before finishing an article.
— David L. von Minden, Ph.D.
University of Central Oklahoma
Talk about a drunken sailor. Higher education is completely out of control and is much worse than Wolfram suggests. Yes, he talks about government spending on higher education, but what about the private donations? How much money is donated to these institutions each year? This figure is even greater than the student loan program. Yet, tuitions continue to rise.
The simple fact is that colleges and universities have no interest in making education affordable. They are organizational dinosaurs. In their budgeting process, they set tuition rates according to student loan ceilings and the amount of endowments they collect. Also, colleges and universities are overbuilt. Show me an institution that is not constructing a new building, and I will show you some beachfront property in Arizona. If you step onto any college campus at 3 p.m. in the afternoon, you will find more than half the buildings empty. Yet, the administration will cry that they do not have enough classroom space.
Higher education is a bloated bureaucracy with overpaid administrators and professors who want big salaries but only want to teach between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon.
I noticed that Wolfram is from Hillsdale. When was the last time Hillsdale lowered its charges? In fact, Hillsdale charges over $20K a year. It is just as bloated as the rest of the bunch. I am sure that you will find more administrators at Hillsdale than teachers. Hillsdale does not live off government loans but conservative donors who finance the fat salaries of its administrators and its insatiable demand for new buildings.
We do not need a program that would invest in students by having them pay part of their salaries for upteen years! Under that model, tuition would continue to rise. What we need is competition in education. We need new colleges that are efficient. We need colleges that teach all day and into the evening. Hey, we are living in the information technology age! Yet colleges continue to produce more paperwork, hire more administrators, and build more buildings. As for the students, they get less education but are charged more every year.
Next to government, colleges and universities are the most inefficient and expensive institutions in this country. I agree that they are “subsidized stupidity,” but we need a new vision of education and not a new method of financing these cows.
Here in Arizona, we are creating a new college that will not indebt the students for the next ten years. We are building a college that will become a new model for higher education.
— Dr. Matthew Holland
What Big Education needs to control its out-of-control costs is a dose of Hillarycare. What Hillary tried to do to medical care we should do for education. And who could complain? Not the students (or their parents) who would watch their bills drop dramatically. Certainly not the overwhelmingly socialist/Marxist professoriate.
Democrats could hardly stand in the way of this new expansion of the Leviathan State. And Republicans? Well, given current attitudes on campuses around the country, things could hardly be worse.
And, once you think about it, a little dose of socialism at the “kickee” end might do wonders for academic attitudes. This is true because most academics are actually closet fascists. They imagine that with the advent of socialism the elite (them) will finally gain their well deserved recognition. In other words, the will be on top and order the peasants around (in the peasants’ best interests, of course). In other words, they will be the “kickers,” and the rest of us will be the “kickees.” Nothing, certainly no rational argument based on mere experience, logic and history, could be calculated to more rapidly disabuse the professsoriate of their socialist fantasies faster than the experience of socialism — as “kickee” human lab rat.
Hillarycare For Education!
— John Sutherland
St. Louis, Missouri
Re: Christopher Orlet’s Wild, Wild World of Animal Rights:
Every day I check The American Spectator and enjoy one or two articles. Being a dairy farmer, the article titled “Wild, Wild World of Animal Rights” caught my eye. The entire article was great until I got to the last paragraph, which asks that judges “investigate why California taxpayers are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise milk.”
As far as I am aware, the California Milk Producer’s Advisory Board is funded by a producer assessment. Every producer (myself included) in the country pays $.15 per cwt of milk produced to promote the product. $.10 is spent nationally through the National Dairy Board and $.05 is spent at the state level to promote products locally. It is true the state departments of agriculture appoint their states members of their advisory boards, but the funds to run them are from producers.
— Eric Ooms
Old Chatham, New York
Christopher Orlet replies:
According to the California Supreme Court, the California Milk Producers Advisory Board is a state entity. Mr. Ooms says the Advisory Board is funded by a private entity, the California Dairy Producers. A government-appointed agency funded by a private entity? Seems like a potential conflict of interest to me. How would that be different from Rupert Murdoch paying a U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s salary?
Re: Ralph R. Reiland’s Dishwasher Economics:
“Measured over the past 15 years, state spending in Pennsylvania expanded at nearly triple the rate of inflation.”
Thanks to Ralph Reiland for the numbers that back up my suspicions, and no thanks to Tom Ridge and a Republican legislature for their endless parade of new programs in a decade of squandered opportunity. They were holding all the cards but misplayed them terribly. Ridge is gone, having risen far above his level of incompetence, but sadly the full-time legislators remain. It’s more than the Eagles’ season that has Ed Rendell smiling these days.
— Tioga Joe
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski’s Mr. Tonight:
I somehow managed to watch The Tonight Show while in junior high school. I grew fond of Georgie Jessell and his stories. I loved dear, ol’ Burt Munson, the charming character actor. I adored Steve and Edie. I nearly fell out of bed laughing at the dear woman whose job was to pick out the bad potato chips and a near disaster with her prize collection of “artwork” made from the chips.
An absolute supreme night of television, however, was when the Chairman of the Board himself, Frank Sinatra, was a guest. It was magic. I feel sorry for everyone before 1962-1992 and afterward for missing an opening monologue during those years. We are losing the greats of entertainment, and there are simply no replacements to be seen.
— Claudia Morris
Not content with his place in TV history, Mr. Carson took it upon himself to spend the few remaining years of his life decrying conservative politics — to the point where he became a typical Hollywood Liberal; as opposed to its quintessential comic.
— Chef Tim
It will be interesting to see the true fallout from the Arlen Specter mess. The Arlen Specter who is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is the same Arlen Specter who has served in the U.S. Senate for several years now. Who would have guessed?
The answer is the Republican leadership should have. Now, gauging from the conservative Republican response, it appears that Mr. Frist and the leadership of the party have a very tough row to hoe. They are going to have to make some very tough decisions and stand to lose Specter’s seat no matter what they do.
The President stands to lose every judicial nomination that comes before the Senate for the next four years, if Mr. Specter is not removed. But if he is removed, he may actively work against the
Republican party in Congress. As if he wasn’t now. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Well, we’ll just have to stay tuned for more of this story. Let’s hope that there is a happy ending.
— Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Now after trying to be good guys and helping Specter retain his Senate seat, conservatives now face the possibility of giving Democrats two seats for the price of one. With Santorum now in the crosshairs, and Specter being a “Jeffords” anyway, Republicans now have to defend the indefensible.
Conservatives should take a page from Democrat politics “Chicago-style”: simply neuter and lobotomize Specter from any further committee responsibilities but keep him loyal.
P.S. Good luck defending Santorum and all that, he’s learned his lesson. I wish Republicans would learn that there can be no compromise when dealing with the Democrat or the “Jeffords” party.
— P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
I think Mr. Fallert pretty much hit the nail on the head in his LTE. I am beginning to feel as him with this growing BS in Washington about Bush and the Judiciary committee chairman. Actually, I am beginning to believe that Bush really wants things the way they are going. He’s too smart a man to be taken in by the likes of Specter and he’s also smart enough to use him as a ploy for his true intentions. Bush’s record in Texas as Governor showed the same slippery side of him regarding the Judicial bench down there. Also, when did the “War on Terror” suddenly become a “War of Liberation” in the Mideast? It’s one thing to protect America but quite another to engage in a foreign adventure to free a people who really don’t want to be freed. I could really care less if those people experience democracy, my main concern is them killing us and making life miserable for decent people. As long as they ride their camels, pray to Allah (or whoever), and pump the oil, I could care less. When they don’t pump the oil, strap bombs on, and make a general nuisance of themselves, then we kick butt until they resume the former. As far as Specter goes, if Bush is really upset about him, why doesn’t he tell his boy in the Senate to hand him (Specter) a broom and let him sweep floors while a real conservative takes over the reins? Like Mr. Fallert surmised…. Just what are Bush’s real intentions regarding the Judiciary?
— Pete Chagnon
Re: David Watson’s letter (under “Over a Pork Barrel”) in Reader Mail’s Camera Ready:
Lest your correspondent (Reader Mail, Jan. 25) get too hopeful about his “heaping plate of bacon” proposal for getting suspected terrorists to talk, he needs to know that a Muslim is permitted to eat normally prohibited foods if they are all that is available. (“He who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. God is the Forgiver, the Merciful.” Qur’an 2:173). Whether a true extremist will allow himself to sully the imagined “purity” of his distorted practice of the religion, is of course another issue. And God knows best.
— Jeffrey Erickson
A small correction to David Watson’s suggestion of bacon as an instrument of interrogation when Muslim terrorists are involved. It was not General Patton who originated this technique in the Philippines (indeed, he never served there and was in any event too young to have participated in military action against Muslim terrorists in the early 20th century). General Pershing is credited with this innovation and may have shared the story with Patton when the two of them served together in Mexico while chasing Pancho Villa, or in later years when Black Jack romantically pursued Patton’s sister. Otherwise, I’m all for it.
— James Parker
Re: Bob Johnson’s letter (“Spectator Supersized”) in Reader Mail’s Camera Ready:
Please tell Bob Johnson that Internet Explorer has five, not three, font sizes, ranging from largest to smallest. The default is medium. Simply click on the VIEW menu item, point at TEXT SIZE and select the size you want. No download necessary, not to mention the other hassles of changing your Internet software.
— Patrick R. Glass
LTC, USA (Retired)
In light of liberal calls for the cancellation of the inauguration of President George W. Bush and the subsequent donation of the $40 million to tsunami relief efforts, will Hollywood lead by example and cancel the Academy Awards? Rather than spend millions on dresses and jewels, Hollywood celebrities can finally show their fellow Americans that they really do “support the troops by donating that money to military family support groups. While many in Hollywood have made such claims for over two years now, their words have rung hollow as they have shown no support via donations or participation in USO tours.
Come on Hollywood, do the right thing and cancel the Academy Awards. You could hold another telethon as well, this time to benefit those and their loved ones who sacrifice so much to keep us all safe.
P.S. Just kidding. We know you are too selfish and vain to perform such a selfless act. Besides, it’s your money. Unlike liberals, we don’t feel it’s any of our business to tell you what to do with it.
— Jon Alvarez
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