In my August column on education, I described how progressive educators in the 1930s decided to change the social order through education. They were disillusioned with the capitalist system, seeing that the depression had gone very deep. Their use of public schools to promote a collectivist society was the beginning of education being used to indoctrinate as much as educate our children. (Indoctrination by many special interests has expanded over the years, limiting the time spent in academic training.)
This solution of progressive educators to overcome capitalist injustices was too extreme. Since the 1930s, America has found ways to hold business more accountable without turning to socialism. In fact, there are two main ways to hold capitalists accountable to their communities: one is by permeating the culture with religious traditions that stress the duty citizens and businesses have to their communities, the other is through government regulations and oversight when business practices do not live up to principles.
The idea of socialism sounds very appealing. Socialists see government ownership and control as the greatest safeguard for the happiness of all citizens. Government is supposed to be a powerful parent who only uses its power for the good of the people. It sounds very comforting to have a powerful, unselfish, loving parent, but the problem lies in keeping that parental government from abusing its power. Who or what will prevent those who govern without checks and balances from being corrupted by their power? Human nature is not sufficiently good to be able to trust that much power in the hands of a few.
When government defines its role as that of a family, it becomes tyrannical. It uses laws, courts, the media, and public schools to pressure people to think and act in a certain manner-to be politically correct. Rather than being a referee guaranteeing justice, it becomes a manipulating and threatening parent, providing favors while demanding conformity.
Capitalism and republican democracy (American democracy) is the opposite of socialism. They depend for their success upon checks and balances caused by human ambition, competition and the desire for ownership. When people strive and compete for ownership or power, they check each other without requiring excessive laws or government control. Surprisingly, when the religious ideals of love, unselfishness, and sacrifice dominate economics and government rather than simply influencing them, they do not generate the greatest economic success and greatest freedom for the greatest number of people.
Since the early 1900s, our public schools and modern liberals have tried to convert us to socialism. The hippie movement in the 1960s was an explosion of socialist energy that had been building over many years, which opposed the traditional ideals of American culture. At the time, as a hippie, I did not realize that the ideas of loving and unselfish giving when applied to government and economics were really rooted in a communist or socialist philosophy. When these ideals failed to create a utopian society, I learned that the values of love and unselfishness that are central to successful families and churches have to influence society, but they cannot be a formula for government or economics.
In the United States, although yielding to some socialist programs, capitalism has managed to survive and prosper. In fact, we have discovered that more people have benefited by limiting capitalist power than by becoming a socialist country. Regulated capitalism has truly raised all boats on the tide of the free-market system. However, we continue to be in a struggle against the socialism that dominates Canada and most of Europe. For example, executive orders and laws have been used to undermine the property rights of farmers and ranchers, and locally the redevelopment agency is expanding its power to use eminent domain to take private property for private profit. Government control of private property is a move towards socialism.
America is in a struggle to determine if government is a parent or a referee. If it becomes a parent, then we will lose our freedom. If the role of government becomes caring for its people instead of creating opportunities for people to take care of themselves, it will have to control our thoughts and attitudes. We will have to be manipulated to deny the very human qualities that protect our democratic government and economic achievement. We will be forced to repress our ambition for personal success, our competitive drive to achieve, and our personal desire to own a piece of this earth. Without these qualities, we will become children dependent on government.
Linda Rae Hermann School board member, Berryessa Union School District email@example.com
Linda Rae Hermann
Author, The Kennedy Legacy: It's Time to Fulfill It
Last month I talked about our nation's newfound unity and how necessary that unity will be in our war against terrorism. I think we all know that united we stand but divided we fall. Even though we are united at this moment, nevertheless, our union is very fragile. The cultural revolution since the 1960s has made us divided at the root of our social, moral and political value system. The last presidential election revealed that the nation is culturally and politically split in half.
Although the cold-blooded attack on September 11 united us, still, deeply rooted division cannot permanently vanish in one day. As the war is prolonged, the root of our dividedness will resurface. To prevent a rupture of our unity, Americans will have to immediately pull together the fabric of our society that has been unraveling. The traditions of civility and the principles of freedom upon which our nation was founded have to be reintroduced into our culture. These are the traditions and principles that have united us for over two hundred years.
In order to reestablish those principles and values, we will have to put aside the childish, self-indulgent ideas derived from the cultural revolution that encouraged us to pursue pleasure, self-gratification, and self-importance while, at the same time, starving our souls and fragmenting our nation. I know that the goals and values of the cultural revolution were childish and self-indulgent because I participated in their initial manifestation in the hippie movement, and the hippie values have since permeated our mainstream culture.
It will not be possible to maintain and consolidate our present unity if many educators are teaching our children Anti-American sentiment. Recent reports about professors using class time to propagandize against America, is deplorable. These attacks on our patriotism are not new. They just expose what has been taking place in schools since the 1960s. The basics in reading, writing, math, and American history have taken a back seat for years to the progressive goals of changing the social values of our children. The reason honoring our flag feels so satisfying and uplifting is because the critical tone against our nation in many of our public schools and much of the Media has denied us pride in America. In fact, many of the failures in public education have been caused by too much time spent training our children's attitudes about environmentalism, diversity, feminism, recycling, global warming, sexual orientation, school to work, and animal rights instead of educating their minds.
Our Founding Fathers saw the purpose of education, besides learning the basics, as two-fold: one, to pass on knowledge of the basic principles upon which our nation was founded. They wanted citizens to know the philosophical roots of the best ideas of western civilization. The ideas of freedom, equality, and human rights for all people, not just for the aristocracy and the rich, are a product of the best of western civilization and our wise, American founders. They knew that it would take a knowledgeable citizenry for us to keep the democratic republic they had given us. Secondly, they wanted education to pass on the knowledge of the traditions of civility and character training that had been formulated and fashioned through centuries of pondering and reflection.
Politically correct thinking and Anti-American sentiments have suppressed patriotism and freedom of thought and speech in our nation for over thirty years. Now, our hearts are stirred and united when we sing "God Bless America" and we honor our flag again. A lid has been lifted off of our spirits, and we are relishing our newfound patriotism. In order to sustain this unity and patriotism, our minds will have to be renewed and reintroduced to the best of American ideas and ideals. Then, we will be able to continue loving our country without feeling ashamed because, what we truly love when we are loving our country are our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and our heritage of freedom.
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