Month Archives: October 2011

OWSers, Radicalism, and Education Costs

by Chris Gacek

October 18, 2011

Doug Schoen, the former pollster for President Bill Clinton, has written an interesting article for the Wall Street Journal on the world view of the Occupy Wall Street protesters now sitting in Manhattans Zucotti Park. A senior researcher at his polling firm, Arielle Alter Confino, interviewed nearly 200 of the OWS occupiers on October 10th and 11th. She found that they have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies.

Schoen describes their thinking in more detail:

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesnt represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.

He adds that the OWS is bound by a a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas. Schoen goes on to express his opinion that alignment with those who hold such opinions would be electorally destructive.

That said, Repair_Man_Jack on RedState has a nice blog post discussing the skyrocketing cost of college tuition and its impact on young adults. Stories had run indicating that some of the OWSers were protesting about the burden of student loans. Given Schoens interview results this might have been a story line intended to make the protesters more sympathetic. On the other hand, a bunch of Marxists might just want their debts repudiated.

Whatever they believe the RedState article recognizes this dissatisfaction. The underlying problem is real and FRChas expressed its concern with the existence of the higher education racket. (Paul Peterson of Harvard accurately called it the Education Industrial Complex in 2008.) American education is defective at the primary and secondary levels, but higher education is also deeply in need of reform. Price competition and alternative forms of professional credentialing are needed badly. An astute politician could garner great support from young voters merely by recognizing that a problem exists.

(Stephanie Guttman also discusses the OWS/education link on October 7 in a post on NROs Corner. However, she attributes E-I-C to Michael Medved and raises the desirability of a return to vocational schools.)

Downward Mobility” and the Need for More People

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 17, 2011

In a characteristically perceptive op-ed titled “Downward Mobility,” Washington Post economics writer Robert Samuelson notes that “for young Americans, the future could be dimmer.” As he summarizes:

In 1990, there were 32 million Americans 65 and over; by 2040, that’s reckoned at 80 million. Rising costs for Social Security and Medicare have created a new political dynamic: If benefits for the elderly aren’t cut, burdens on the young will go up. Decaying infrastructure poses similar choices. Either pay for repairs or tolerate substandard roads and schools. If today’s weak recovery persists, the outlook darkens. Unemployment will remain high, say 7 percent to 9 percent. Wage increases will remain depressed. Young workers will have trouble finding jobs to develop the skills and contacts that lead to better jobs. Productivity growth might falter.

This is not a scenario anyone wants to contemplate, but contemplate it we must if we want our country to remain the economic engine and beacon of prosperity it for decades has been.

One thing Samuelson did not note, however, is that our economic crisis is significantly augmented by a lack of future employees. As my colleagues Drs. Pat Fagan and Henry Potrykus have demonstrated in their important study, “Decline of Economic Growth: Human Capital and Population Change,” “The slowdown of GDP growth is explained by the concentration of both population and human capital in the baby boom, which is now being replaced by lower human capital cohorts.” In sum, they argue, “the historical balance of population growth, human capital development, and physical capital investment is the optimum national path to economic growth. Growing our human capital is critical to our future economic growth.”

We cannot have a growing economy with a shrinking labor pool. Yet that is the grim demographic reality we are facing. Even the most extraordinary gains in productivity cannot compensate for a lack of one indispensable resource: people. Given that we are losing roughly 3,000 unborn children through abortion every day, is it any wonder that our economic future looks bleaker than ever?

Peggy Noonan with Interesting Insights on Recent Public Opinion Shifts

by Chris Gacek

October 17, 2011

Peggy Noonans most recent column in the Wall Street Journal (Friday, October 14), Its No Time for Moderation, had some keen insights on recent developments in public opinion. She is thinking about the coming of the Occupy Wall Street movement and other manifestations of discontent and asks:

Why is this happening now, and not two years ago? Because at some point in the past year or six months, people started to realize: The economy really isnt going to get better for a long time. Everyone seems to know in their gut that unemployment is going to stay bad or get worse. Everyone knows the jobless rate is higher than the government says, because they look around and see that more than 9% of their friends and family are un- or underemployed. People put on the news and hear aboutEuropeand bankruptcy, and worry that its going to spread here. Eighteen months ago smart people could talk on TV about how were on a growth path and recovery will begin by fall of 2010. Nobody talks like that now.

And people have a sense that nothings going to get better unless something big is done, some fundamental change is made in our financial structures. It wont be small-time rejiggeringa 5% cut in this tax, a 3% reduction in that programthat will get us out of this.

She also comments perceptively on the demise of President Obamas jobs proposal and why it lacked any momentum:

President Obamas jobs bill failed in the Senate this week, and the headline is not that it lost, its that it lost and nobody noticed. Polls actually showed support for various parts of it. You know why it failed? Because he was for it. Because he said, Pass this bill. So weak is public faith in his economic leadership that people figure if hes behind it, it must be a bad idea.

In conclusion, it appears that the political energy that characterized 2010 lies ready to be tapped by candidates with good, BIG ideas in 2012.

White or Yellow? My Hometowns Big Row

by Robert Morrison

October 14, 2011

The rest of American is watching this fall as thousands of demonstrators flood into Manhattan, blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, and calling on their brethren to Occupy Wall Street. As columnist George Will wryly notes: these OWS folks think Washington,D.C.is (a) hopelessly corrupt and (b) ought to be given a lot more power over our lives. Some fun.

A number of conservative activists charged into the crowd of aging hippies with signs that said Unions Destroy Jobs and Capitalism is Great. Hopefully, they didnt get stoned. And hopefully, too, they didnt inhale.

In my placid hometown, nobody is talking about making this an American Fall. Nor are they yet planning to occupy anything except the usual orange formica booths at Chick n Ruths Delly. There, on Main Street just down from the historic Maryland State House, you can take part every morning in the Pledge of Allegiance (8:30weekdays,9:30Saturdays). There, too, along with your ketchup and eggs, you might brush elbows with a former governor. Yes, governors and state legislative bigwigs regularly hold court at Chick n Ruths.

So, whats the big controversy in Annapolis? Its White or Yellow. The fight is on over whether our beautiful Old State House dome should be painted white or yellow.

The State Archivist has been called in to help referee the fight. In a front-page story in the local paper, affectionately called the Crabwrapper, Dr. Edwin C. Papenfuse

is shown way up in the domes scaffolding. He stands where Thomas Jefferson and James Madison stood on the balcony. There, they pondered the future of the country in 1790. Now, thats mild language. There, in truth, they plotted how to counter Alexander Hamiltons first attempt to occupy Wall Street. Only Hamilton wanted to help the banks, and bind them to the new federal government, not abolish them.

The debates were hot and heavy then. The 1790s were an era of political passions. The Whiskey Rebellion threatened to put an early end to our experiment in self government. That it, until President Washington showed up at the head of 13,000 troops. He put down that revolt of those unhappyPennsylvaniafarmerswith overwhelming force. Whenever the federal government appears in arms,Hamilton advised George Washington, it should appear like a Hercules.

Ed Papenfuse thinks the Old State House dome ought to be re-painted white, the color it has been for the past 180 years. Gov. Martin OMalley seems to agree. That would seem to settle the matter.

Ah, but Annapolis architect Fred Fishback counters these arguments. He provides some convincing points that the Old State House dome was originally painted a golden hue. And, after all,Marylands state colors are black and yellow. I kind of like this approach, too. Marylanders might be inspired to sing: Black and yellow/red and white/They are precious in his sight/Jesus loves the little children of the world.

What was the color of the Old State House dome when Congress met there in 1783-84? It seems were not sure. Thats when Gen.Washington came to Annapolis to resign his commissiontwo days before Christmas, 1783. He gave the power back to the Congress that had first given it to him.

Well, we do know that the dome was white when President Lincoln strode through Annapolis in early 1865. I had the pleasure of joining hundreds of Annapolitans as we re-traced the route the long-legged president took as he strode between the train depot and the boat dock at theNavalAcademy. That wasAnnapolis celebration of the Lincoln Bicentennial. He was headed for a peace conference to end the Civil War. Too bad the Great Emancipator couldnt stop in, for the Maryland Legislature was at that moment debating Lincoln’s greatest measurethe Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the abolition of slavery. (It passed.)

All this history makes Annapolis a great home town. But it reminds us, too, that the states should not be mere administrative units of the federal government, not branch offices ofWashington, D.C. The states can and should play a vital role in our federal system. They should, for example, resume their role in setting education policy. Thirty years of federal intrusion in this area have achieved nothing and wasted billions.

The AnnapolisCapital reports theres still some doubt whether the governor will sign off on a white dome. Happily, this is a decision were still allowed to make in our own state. Unless we change the current way of doing business in our country, more and more of the decisions of government will be made in Washington, D.C. That great city is only 32 miles from Annapolis, but Id still like to see us keep our distance. White or yellow? I dont have a strong preference. But I want Maryland to make the decision.

Time, Leisure, and the Pursuit of Virtue: Witherspoon lecture to explore the growth of moral capital in the modern age

by Family Research Council

October 13, 2011

Can reflection, meditation, and “moral leisure” survive the Twitter age? Our contemporary American connectedness and busy-ness certainly make it harder to focus on timeless things like wisdom and virtue.

Some of our religious leaders are nudging our churches (i.e. institutions meant to guard and foster virtue) to catch up with the social media times. But, then, some of our most tech-savvy millennials are ditching their personal iPhones in favor of uninterrupted dinner conversations and real books.

Gerson Moreno-Riano, Ph.D. will explore these themes at the Family Research Councils upcoming 2011 Witherspoon Lecture, at 12:00 noon on October 20th. Dr. Moreno-Riano is the dean of undergraduate studies and associate professor of government at Regent University. He suggests that our misuse of time and leisure threatens both public and private morality. But Dr. Moreno-Riano also offers hopeful remedies to recover and reverse the effects of this crisis.

Click here to register for next Thursdays event. The lecture will be webcast at www.frc.org. Light refreshments will be provided.

Listen to My Heart Beat

by Cathy Ruse

October 13, 2011

When Austin and I learned we were pregnant for the fourth time, we rushed to the radiology lab not the usual response to such happy news, but this pregnancy followed three miscarriages and so we had a routine: positive home pregnancy test followed quickly by a blood test to check for hormone levels and then an ultrasound to try to see what was happening. In prior ultrasounds we had seen a yolk sac but not much growth and, most important, no measurable heartbeat. Each of these pregnancies miscarried between 4 and 9 weeks.

This time was different. There on the ultrasound, at just 4 weeks, was the rapid flutter of a tiny rudimentary heart! What a sight! And then, what a sound! I had always held pro-life views. Always known that a tiny growing child in the womb was a living human being. But seeing and hearing Lucys heart beat brought me to a deeper knowledge of the truth of her humanity. It was my sweetest encounter with Thomistic epistemology.

A coalition of pro-life groups is embarking on a new effort to promote state laws nationwide that would do one simple thing: require abortion practitioners to make the fetal heartbeat audible and visible to pregnant women before an abortion. It does not ban abortion or restrict it in any other way. It does not require abortion practitioners to make pro-life statements. It simply requires the use of medical technology to impart medical facts. Genius.

An Associated Press report yesterday quoted Ohio Right to Life director Mike Gonidakis, whose group is part of the coalition, as touting the measure as both legally sound and effective: This is it, he said. This is the one thats going to continue to save lives in the current court environment we have. The approach is supported by Family Research Council Action, the National Right to Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans United for Life, and Susan B. Anthony List.

The pro-abortion crowd is sounding the alarm, of course, and falsely claiming this approach takes away womens rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Knowledge is power. Let those little hearts beat!

Copts Face Persecution in Egypt; Other Christians in Danger

by Chris Gacek

October 12, 2011

Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post has written a powerful article (The Forgotten Christians of the East) describing the growing danger to Christians living in Muslim countries and most recently in Egypt:

On Sunday night, Egyptian Copts staged what was supposed to be a peaceful vigil at Egypt’s state television headquarters in Cairo. The 1,000 Christians represented the ancient Christian community of some 8 million whose presence in Egypt predates the establishment of Islam by several centuries. They gathered in Cairo to protest the recent burning of two churches by Islamic mobs and the rapid escalation of state-supported violent attacks on Christians by Muslim groups since the overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in February.

According to Coptic sources, the protesters Sunday night were beset by Islamic attackers who were rapidly backed up by military forces. Between 19 and 40 Copts were killed by soldiers and Muslim attackers. They were run over by military vehicles, beaten, shot and dragged through the streets of Cairo.

Maggie Michael of Associated Press wrote an analysis piece from Cairo that was carried in the Washington Times. Michael noted that Mubaraks fall and the subsequent fading of authoritarian rule [in Egypt] empowered Islamist fundamentalists, known here as Salafis, who have special resentment for Christians. This appears to be the general pattern in the countries that have experienced the Arab Spring. As old power structures toppled, the political replacement in contemporary Arab politics tends toward Islamist extremism. It is a dangerous trend for religious minorities that needs to be opposed by the United States government.

 

Does Faith Mean a Better College Education?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 12, 2011

Forbes magazine has issued its listing of the best colleges in America. Some of the magazine’s data were compiled by the “Rate My Professors” website. Of interest to FRC Blog readers is the following: of the 25 colleges with the best professors, 10 are either overtly Christian or affiliated with a Christian denomination (the distinction being that some religiously-oriented colleges have a more faith-integrated mission and curriculum than others). Two others are military academies (West Point, Air Force) with strong pro-faith traditions.

Of further note is that “(n)one of the Ivy league schools … crack the list of the top 25 schools with the best professors. Princeton came the closest at 57th best. According to the teacher quality rankings, Cornell fared the worst among the Ivies it came in 445th out of 650 schools.

Does this mean that those who teach in faith-based institutions of higher education are more caring, more diligent, or more competent than those who teach at in state or otherwise secular institutions? Not necessarily. But perhaps faith-friendliness encourages the kind of personal interest and focused teaching that is so often lacking in larger and/or secular schools.

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education,” said Theodore Roosevelt, a Harvard grad. When the Bible and university training are combined, students benefit greatly.

NIH Approves Another Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line for Taxpayer Funding

by David Prentice

October 11, 2011

NIH Director Francis Collins has approved another human embryonic stem cell line for federal taxpayer funding. The line, HUES PGD 14, was added to the NIH registry today, bringing the total number of approved hESC lines to 136. The line was created by Harvard University from a female embryo, and according to the information provided on the NIH website: “The embryo from which this hESC line was derived was determined through preimplantation genetic diagnosis to be affected with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.” This highlights the point made by Dr. James Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher in the ongoing Sherley et al. v. Sebelius et al. case, that there is a continued demand for more embryo destruction and more hESC lines, and the current NIH guidelines continue to provide an incentive for more human embryo destruction.

Meanwhile, adult stem cells remain the gold standard for patient treatments. You can see some examples at Stem Cell Research Facts.

Commitment to the Sacredness of Life Should Unite All Christians

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 11, 2011

David Gushee, a self-professed “progressive” Evangelical who supported Barack Obama in 2008, yesterday published an elegant piece on the sacredness of human life, in which he previews his forthcoming book on this topic. Conservative Evangelicals can applaud Gushee’s argument, as summarized in the following:

The moral witness of the early church gives us stark evidence of what our forebears understood lifes sacredness to mean. Theirs was a comprehensive sacredness of life ethic that recoiled at the shedding of blood and opposed Christian participation in practices ranging from abortion to infanticide to murder to gladiator games to torture to war.

As to war, the record of the early church is much more mixed; over time, there were many Christian soldiers in the Roman legions, and the text of the New Testament indicates that military service is consistent with God’s plan for both government and His redeemed people. But Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Georgia’s Mercer University, should be given his due: He is a political liberal whose commitment to Scripture is such that he cannot deny the witness of God’s Word - that personhood begins at conception.

In a 2009 op-ed in USA Today, Gushee described his disillusionment with the then-nascent Obama Administration:

Mexico City, conscience clause, Sebelius, embryonic stem cells. In each case, I have been asked by friends at Democratic or progressive-leaning think tanks not just to refrain from opposing these moves, but instead to support them in the name of a broader understanding of what it means to be pro-life. I mainly refused … a society that legally permits abortion on demand is deeply corrupt. It pays for adult sexual liberties with the lives of defenseless developing children. That practice, in turn, desensitizes society to the implications of paying for prospective medical cures with defenseless frozen embryos, which themselves are available because our society pays for medically assisted reproductive technology by producing hundreds of thousands of these embryos as spares.

As he puts it in yesterday’s Associated Baptist Press op-ed, “My biblical explorations find building blocks for this belief (that human life is sacred) in the Old Testament and New Testament. These include the creation narratives (including the imago dei concept), Old Testament laws and prophetic writings. It also includes New Testament narratives about Jesus and the early church as well as the theological significance of God becoming human in Jesus Christ and dying for sinners such as us.”

Amen, brother. Amen.

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