Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Peculiar Institution

French journalist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr summed it up – The more things change, the more they remain the same. I’ll add: with the same old thinking. The 21st Century is a lot different from the 18th Century, yet some things remain eerily similar.

As a history enthusiast I get peeved when some-less-than-well-read person interprets the historical fact of slavery in the United States in current perspective rather than that of the 18th and 19th century. The institutional force and accommodation of slavery is seldom appreciated. For the most part, the framers of the Constitution knew of the inherent incompatibility of slavery and the Republic. The dilemma was how to phase out and otherwise end the “Peculiar Institution” as it was often referred. They couldn’t agree how to do it and thus the Peculiar Institution continued until caught up in a civil war.

To appreciate the tentacles, benefits, customs, and inertia of slavery, one need only step into a conference room crowded with union teachers, educators and bureaucrats and shout: “School vouchers!” In that instant the passion and investment in the government school plantation system is revealed.

There are huge numbers of folks who refuse to modify or restructure the government school system as it exists because it would disrupt a powerful economic system, political power base, and social engineering scheme. This 21st century Peculiar Institution is protected by law and punishments are in place for parents daring to practice “choice” in their children’s education.

The parallels with the Peculiar Institution of previous centuries and our own are spooky. Like the former, the latter also has a core of abolitionist dedicated to ending the practice. Such abolitionist find repugnant laws forcing children to attend a certain school, that schools are run by the government, and that an elite can afford to bypass the system. If the elite elect to bypass the system, then should not that benefit be available to all citizens?

Now don’t misunderstand, I am not referencing Public Education. Should a national referendum be held with the sole question “Should the public treasury pay for the essential education of citizens?” the answer would be a resounding yes. The concept of vouchers which follow the student satisfies public education.

An education system run by government where certain classes of citizens are forced to attend (that is, denied a choice available to an elite) runs the risk of degenerating from “education” to indoctrination. A tyranny first disarms, then seizes control of the schools.

21st century America is a place unimaginable by our 18th and 19th century predecessors. Yet each has its Peculiar Institution. The more things change, the more they remain the same (unless the old thinking changes!)
Now that's a bump for the night.

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