Tag Archives: Common Core

A Ted Cruz 2016 News Sandwich

(For those who are not familiar with the News Sandwich format, my goal is always to sandwich some bad news between at least two items of good news. Read “About,” above, for more on this blog.)

Yesterday Ted Cruz delivered this speech

in which he formally announced that he is running for President in the 2016 election. Cruz gave us ample reason to continue to believe that he is the best option we have in the field, reiterating his intention to sign legislation repealing every word of Obamacare and every word of Common Core; to abolish the IRS and have us file our taxes–which would be levied at a flat rate–on a postcard-sized form; to unapologetically stand with Israel and prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon; to protect our privacy, and more.

The date Cruz chose to announce his candidacy could not have been more perfect. He reminded us that, 240 years earlier, Patrick Henry delivered his legendary “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech in a church about 100 miles away; and that 5 years earlier, Barack Obama had signed Obamacare into law. Anyone in whom there remains a glimmer of appreciation for what the United States once was–as Ayn Rand repeatedly said, the most moral and most noble nation on earth–could see the evidence of decline in that single snapshot. And Cruz who, as usual, came across as earnest and knowledgeable (speaking, as many have noted, entirely without teleprompter), is offering us the promise of taking significant steps towards returning this country to what it once was.

I wasn’t surprised that Cruz–a religious man speaking from Liberty University–promised to do some things that would, in my view, violate individual rights: restrict (perhaps even ban–Cruz was a bit vague here) a woman’s right to abortion, as well as gay marriage. What was surprising is that, immediately after promising to repeal every word of Common Core, Cruz spoke of a “fundamental right to education,” something that, to my knowledge, has not yet existed at the federal level. (Many states, in their own constitutions, purport to guarantee such a right, but our federal constitution leaves education as the province of the state governments.) Hearing that, I fear that Cruz, were he to succeed in his plans, might create more freedom in education in the short term, but only at the price of having a bigger federal government takeover of education down the road. I am eager to hear more details about his plans.

Another thing that has not surprised me is many Objectivists’ reluctance to support Ted Cruz because of his religious views. As I reiterated on my show last night, my support for Cruz is a contextual decision, based on my judgement that he is likely to be the best candidate in the field–substantially better than any other–and that our country’s situation is dire enough to take a chance on a good, albeit religious, candidate.

What has surprised me is the vehemence with which many who purport to be limited government conservatives have criticized and, at least so far, rejected Cruz. Assuming these conservatives agree with most or all of Cruz’s policy positions, why the vehemence? I fear there are a couple things that might be going on, and neither bodes well for the future of this country.

First, I fear that many reject Cruz for the same reason that Greg Gutfeld and others have criticized him: that Cruz is, at least to some extent, selfish. In Gutfeld’s terms, “Cruz is in it for himself.” Cruz has twice, on the floor of the Senate during filibuster-type speeches, cited Ayn Rand. Once, during his Obamacare “filibuster,” he went so far as to name Rand as “one of my all-time heroes,” and urged people to read her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. As I’ve said repeatedly on my show, I think the difference that has made the difference with Cruz is his genuine appreciation for Ayn Rand and his earnest and surprisingly successful attempt to integrate her view of rational self-interest with his religious views. Could it be that many conservatives reject Cruz precisely because of this fact? As Rand demonstrated in her novels and nonfiction works (e.g., The Virtue of Selfishness), it is the morality of rational self-interest that provides the only defensible philosophical foundation for the right to the pursuit of happiness. If many of those who are supposed to be the proponents of limited government reject the ideas on which it rests, tyranny is closer than we think.

The second thing I fear could be seen as a variation on the first: that the thirty-plus years that have passed since we elected Ronald Reagan–thirty-plus additional years of progressive education and inculcating dependence via the welfare state–have taken their toll on the American sense of life. The principle of individual rights and the goal of restoring limited government are, for many, no longer ideas grounded in reality, but fantasies to be achieved “someday.” “The country isn’t ready for a Ted Cruz,” many of these critics say, choosing instead to embrace the milquetoast alternatives of Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, even Scott Walker.

Of course there is no such thing as “milquetoast” when we’re talking about moderating the protection of individual rights. And with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion becoming more entrenched by the day, the FCC’s recent takeover of the Internet, and much more, the situation is becoming dire. So it baffles me that so many who say they are for individual rights and limited government, so vehemently reject the only candidate who seems to be offering a clear path toward achieving both. Let’s hope that Cruz wins over critics like these over the next 18 months. The support of some talk radio heavyweights–Limbaugh, Beck and Levin–will no doubt help in this.

In the meantime, I thank those who participated in the chatroom during last night’s show for helping me formulate my four-question interview for Ted Cruz, should he ever accept my standing invitation to be interviewed for my show:

1. What would you tell limited-government atheists who would like to support you, but worry that you will ban abortion and prohibit marriage among homosexuals?

2. You say that, on the one hand, you would like to repeal Common Core, but that you would also like to recognize a federal “fundamental right to education.” Don’t you think the latter would create a dangerous new precedent, which would someday invite something even worse than Common Core?

3. During your announcement speech you didn’t mention the Federal Reserve or the vast debt our country has accumulated. Do you have particular plans for those?

4. Rawls or Rand? You have expressed affinity for both thinkers, but they held contradictory views. Can you explain?

Over the next 17 months or so I will do what I can to get these questions before Cruz. Let me know if you can help. And, if you like this post, and would like to see me get this interview, please share with your friends and followers. Thanks!

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American Sense of Life vs. Government Schools

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, spoke at the Intellectual Property Expo in London today. Among the controversial statements to the press made by Sir Tim in the hours leading up to the event, is his assertion that “computers are getting smarter and we are not.” What should we do? Paraphrases Matt Warman of The Telegraph, “The only solution, he argues, is for people to embrace new technology, and accept that some jobs will simply disappear.”

One sort of job that will not disappear, predicts Sir Tim, is that of software developers. In fact, the demand for software developers, he thinks, will be limited only by our imagination:

I think in a way with software if people are interested in writing it, it’s not that there’s a certain amount of software that needs to be written. What you do with it is limited only by your imagination. If your imagination limited, OK. But some of it can be very artistic some of it can be very practical.

Those of us who embrace new technology, and who realize that everything comes with a cost, accept the inevitable job displacement that often accompanies innovation. We realize that the way to thrive, now and in the future, is by ensuring that we and our children receive a quality education that will allow us to adapt to a changing job market.

But will our government permit us to do this?

Parents who choose to send their kids to government schools are finding they are able to exercise less and less control over their children’s education. Many states across the country are still in the process of implementing Common Core, in which the curriculum–which some have complained will indoctrinate and dumb-down our children to an even greater degree than before–is dictated by a federally-appointed body. Those states that are implementing Common Core are being bribed, with our tax dollars, to get as many children as possible to take and pass–whatever that means–a series of standardized tests based on the Common Core. Now, in Wyoming, the Attorney General has, according to the Daily Caller, “officially advised the Wyoming Department of Education that it is illegal for parents to opt their own children out of statewide standardized assessment tests given in taxpayer-funded public schools.” Illegal to keep your own children home on the day the tests are administered because you don’t want their brains–or egos–to be turned into mush.

Think you can escape the effects of the Common Core by choosing to homeschool your child? Think again.

On Sept. 18 The Examiner reported that a New Jersey family that was homeschooling their children “received a notice from the local Superintendent of Schools that they must adhere to Common Core standards.” The Home School Legal Defense Association is there to help the parents fight back, but given the increasing popularity of the homeschooling movement (see this story, for example, about the increase in the rate of homeschooling in NC), I doubt this will be the last we’ll see of this sort of power grab.

Thankfully the American sense of life seems to be alive and well in parents throughout the country: The Daily Caller reports today that a recently published study shows that the public–and, in particular, parents at the local level in school districts throughout the country–is increasingly turning against the Common Core. (You may rightfully experience satisfaction that the study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports Common Core.)

When surveyed, 34 percent of district leaders described resistance from outside the school system as a major challenge to implementing Common Core, and another 39 percent described it as a minor challenge (18 percent said it was not a challenge at all).

That is a dramatic shift from 2011, when only 5 percent of district leaders said outside resistance was a major problem, 35 percent said it was a minor one, and 60 percent said it wasn’t a problem.

And of course the report found that implementing Common Core, as with any other government program, will cost more than originally projected: “[A]ll is not well even for district heads, who are adamant that more time, effort, and money than initially expected will be necessary for Common Core to work.”

Read more of The Daily Caller’s summary here.

As Ayn Rand wrote in her essay, “Don’t Let It Go,” “An American is an independent entity….[and] has no concept of service (or of servitude) to anyone.” Let’s hope that parents will continue to embrace this attitude and resist Common Core—and that they are able to overcome the bureaucratic inertia that already exists in the curriculum’s favor. Eventually, of course, my hope is that a substantial minority of parents in our country will join the abolitionist movement, but for now it is the Common Core that must be defeated.

(Those who need extra concrete motivation to join the abolitionist movement: Check out this story, in which we learn that a chain of Ohio “charter schools,” which are government-funded, but privately run, and are supposed to provide a higher quality alternative to “traditional” government schools, are hiring a large number of Turkish teachers of dubious qualification.)

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When Government Offers You Lemons, Grow Avocados

In North Carolina there has been a surge in home schooling that is attributed, in this article by EAGnews.org, to parents’ rejection of the Common Core curriculum. According to the article, there has been a 27-percent increase in the number of home schools since 2011-12, and the number of children attending home schools now exceeds the number attending private schools. The best news is that over 180,000 children in North Carolina are attending either private schools or home schools, and therefore are not being indoctrinated by government schools.

I hope that, even when North Carolina makes the changes to the curriculum discussed in the article, parents keep their kids out of the government schools. One reason they’d be likely to do this is that they have already overcome the anxieties and obstacles associated with starting the homeschooling process, so they’re already more comfortable with it. Parents everywhere need to realize that Common Core is just the latest step in the government takeover of education; what existed before Common Core likely wasn’t much better in terms of content or pedagogy. More importantly the government school system, founded upon compulsory taxation and other forms of government force, was just as immoral before Common Core. For more on this topic, read “The New Abolitionism” by C. Bradley Thompson.

If only there were an analogous alternative for those of us wishing to escape the effects of Obamacare! (Unless you are a doctor who can afford his own hospital equipment and hire a private nursing staff, home medicine is not a realistic alternative.)

Fox News reports that a (slim) majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare. But this is little comfort to those companies who want to continue to offer quality health insurance to their employees while avoiding the so-called “Cadillac Tax.” In order to avoid the tax, employers are “shifting workers into plans with higher deductibles,” and “increas[ing] premiums for spouses who have access to other plans.”

From the article:

Robert Laszewski of Health Policy and Strategy Associates said he doubted many will end up paying the tax.

“What we’re finding is almost no employers are going to be hit by this ‘Cadillac tax.’ You’d be stupid to get hit by this ‘Cadillac tax,’” he said. “They’re all cutting their benefits right now.”

Already the “Cadillac tax” has been delayed, due to pressure from unions and other groups with political pull. Between the delay, and the fact that employers are cutting plans to avoid the tax, government won’t be getting the revenue it projected, which means Obamacare will cost a lot more than we were told it would. Nothing new for government, unfortunately.

A bit of good news from China: an entrepreneur there has modeled the solution to the problem of minimum wage hikes: cute robots that cook and deliver food in restaurants, each costing only $6,500. In China, that’s “roughly equal to the salary of a human employee.” Here, the salary of an employee is over twice that. Moreover, according to the robots’ inventor, restaurant owner Song Yugang, “The robots can understand 40 everyday sentences. They can’t get sick or ask for vacation. After charging up for two hours they can work for five hours.”

So, while I completely support the option some restaurants are choosing–adding a “minimum wage surcharge” to their tabs to show customers the effect of minimum wage increases–these cute robots make the same point in a way that avoids confrontation, and saves the employer a lot of money and headaches.

Bonus: you don’t have to buy a healthcare plan, “Cadillac” or otherwise, for a robot 🙂

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