“… because I don’t care anymore. I am a communist, I think people are too stupid to vote and if you don’t like it go to the Dean because I have tenure and there is nothing they can say to stop me.”
With absolutely no hyperbole that was an actual statement made by a professor of Philosophy during my early college years. Earning an Associates, Bachelors & Masters I’ve spent a lot of time in classrooms listening to garbage like that.
In many classes I always knew the right answers, not because I was better prepared or more enlightened than other students but because I knew the political arguments that drove research. I read Chomsky & Zinn, devoured journal articles and left-wing media, and was raised on liberalism; it wasn’t hard for me to see the direction professors were taking and then write an essay or adapt an argument that would please them rather than challenge anyones beliefs.
I was fortunate enough to work in research under a very large Federal grant exploring education not long after receiving my last degree. The purpose of the research was conservative; get kids interested in Math, Science & Technology, an important national priority in this age of innovation and growing overseas competition. The means to achieving that objective, though well meaning as they were, never seemed quite right. They were wasteful, often unproductive and without millions of dollars to guide them sustainability or the ability to replicate any results across the nation seem impossible.
I was given a window into the wasteful and mismanaged government system; I spent my life believing that government could be a solution to our problems, but everywhere I turned I began to see how government can often get in the way.
I was also able to see poverty first hand. Working alongside a deteriorating urban school district I was exposed to children who were impoverished. So many of them came to school loaded with iPods, portable DVD players and designer sneakers. I saw that their parents drove expensive cars and spent money on anything but the essentials. The schools themselves were surrounded by the homes in which many students lived. They are rundown neighborhoods where the houses are falling apart but students would tell me they had cable television, the latest DVD movies, they even had computers to update Facebook and MySpace pages, and so many children had the latest cell phones to txt message friends during class.
The schools themselves have growing access to new technology. The walls are crumbling and the rooms subject to rat and mice infestations but the main reason books as well as pens and pencils are in short supply is because kids would either lose or deface them or their parents would not send their children to class with the basic materials needed to learn. A ruler, a pencil, a book of paper, they have their iPods and cell phones, but not the essentials to learn.
Many of these students never show up to school, some coming back into class after weeks or even months of being absent for no reason other than they do not want to go. It is the teacher’s job to manage a classroom where many of the students have no knowledge of the lessons that come before.
The experiences I had are not rare or limited to the area. I have spoken with many social workers, teachers, educators, politicians and community workers in NYS and across the country. I have learned that the key component to our nations failing schools, rising crime and urban drug abuse is not a simple lack of funds; a position advocated by every social science teacher and liberal activist I have ever met, many of whom have spent only superficial time in cities, sending graduate students instead to collect data in the environment.
Many of those who live in poverty know how to game the system, to combine welfare benefits with tax free earnings and profits made from illegal activities. This cash is not spent bettering oneself or the community, it is used rather to drain the system and make our world that much bleaker, to poison their bodies and give wasteful material things to their children that replace education, hard work or true love.
Unfortunetly there are some who raise their children in terrible abuse, some still who place their young ones into the sex or drug trades placing absolutely no value but monetary on the lives of innocent children.
What is lacking is not a financial leg up but a core set of values. In four years of working with the downtrodden I found more often than not a complete and utter lack of essential and fundamental skills. While there are endless programs, especially here in New York State, to work with this population the old adage about feeding someone rather than teaching them to fish holds true. Unwilling to change, many of these people will simply drain resources from the majority giving nothing in return.
There is no value of property, family, work, structure, health, environment and most of all community. I have witnessed fights break out in the threats, been threatened when I refused to give money to addicts, watched children threaten the lives of teachers and deface property. I have also seen children exceed beyond all expectations, learn, prosper, get college scholarships to become the first in their family to go to higher education and defy all expectations at every level.
Yes there were many exceptions to the negative rules, children and parents who care and want to work with teachers, police officers, city councils and the community organizers so valued by the left. They are too often the minority and too often sucked back into lives of crime, drugs, sexual exploitation and despair.
The more I witnessed first hand how a lack of values and a sense of entitlement was destroying lives in the city the more I saw it throughout our society even with the wealthiest around me. Born to baby boomers and living within the “me” generation, I have spent much of my life with a similar expectations; a belief that I was owed a good job, material welfare and the American dream handed to me on a silver platter with little work or ingenuity on my part.
No silver platter exists; stepping out of the college classroom opened my eyes to that. As I began working hard from the bottom up, I began looking inward, taking every opportunity available to rise and making the changes necessary to adapt myself to jobs and hold lasting and beneficial relationships.
As I progress I continue to watch others my age sit back believing they will start a business, become a filmmaker, get on television, strike gold as a music producer, or simply be recognized for their uniqueness while lounging at a bar or Starbucks and handed all that they need by someone else. They make up a great deal of the financial mess that has created our nations fiscal crisis, they are heading into their early to mid thirties with little on a resume but larger than life demands.
With no value for work or the process of walking up a ladder, they sit and wait, aging like our nation, adrift and looking for a handout.
At its core is liberalism and neo-liberal marketing slogans like “compassionate conservatism” that has lead to the embrace of massive spending, easy credit, failed policies and a belief by the majority that they are “owed” everything at no cost.
Next: Conclusion to this post is coming soon