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The Moving Finger Writes

November 22, 2010

A restful weekend at mom’s.  Systematically purging stress from my life in the most constructive and methodical way, a program that I can say with great satisfaction has helped me lose about 17 lbs. since mid-October, with about 27 to go to hit the golden number, never approached in my adulthood, of 199.  Took a mental health day on Friday to see Harry Potter, which was dark and deep and wonderful.  Incontrovertible atheist that I am, I still have to marvel at the magical powers that put three, count ‘em three child actors in the biggest spotlight that ever was, and all of them grew up into extremely talented actors and decent people, with none of them going bonkers along the way.  Just think of the tragedy that could have been – “We have a great little girl for the role of Hermione, she’s from the Mickey Mouse show and her name is Britney!”

I think I need to start a new series on the marvels and economically healthful benefits of socialism to a capitalist economy.  As I noted before, I believe socialized medicine would be a great unleasher of held-back intellectual capital – our current “feudalized medicine” chains everyone of all but the upper classes to a job, or a state, with entrepreneurship blocked because potential “Producers” have kids with asthma or heart defects and can never go out on their own without effectively putting their children to death.  La la la “Obamacare” is supposed to end the pre-existing condition clause, but what a crock to say we will fix this terrible problem…in 2014, giving the right plenty of time to eliminate all useful provisions. (“We’re going to repeal all of Obamacare!” John Boehner shouts.  Yes, that horrible law that prevents insurance companies from denying children insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions is downright un-American.)

The Atlantic has come out with an article showing America’s math scores, with each US state ranked against world countries.  Using the magic of data to dismiss the claim that “oh it’s only the dumb kids who keep our scores down, my Skyler is brilliant,” the researchers ranked the top math performers in the US against the top math performers around the world, to get a true picture of how much we suck. 

Here’s the first page of the graphic, on which only Massachusetts ranks even close to the rest of the world (click here to scroll through the whole shebang):


And here is the lower end of the scale:


On which my own state of Nevada is shining ever so dully, just a little worse than Kentucky and barely better than Arkansas and Tennessee.

There are two “take-aways” from this.  First, I thought it would be most instructive to compare this chart with approval rates, state-by-state, for gay marriage (see the full graphic here):


As Glenn Beck would say, O the ominous parallels.  (Richard Florida already noted that “blue states win” in the knowledge economy.)  It would be nice if some interested reader took these two sets of numbers and did a comparative graphic – I still have to get to St. Lawrence this morning, and loads of work to do at work. 

Edumacation is the enemy of the right wing, in every place and every time.  They are always cutting taxes and fees, with the constant notable exception of college tuition costs.  You have to keep ‘em dumb if you want ‘em voting Republican; how else can you keep successfully shouting “Look over there, it’s two men kissing!” while you’re picking their pockets?  The new right is just as intent at keeping its own kids dumb and hateful as they are everyone else’s, as evidenced from Willow Palin’s response on Facebook to a critic of her mom’s TV show.  Verily verily the moving finger of the Lord writes; the problem is, what it writes is, “your [sic] such a faggot.”  You’d think this would help ensure a better tomorrow for America, as the children left behind should be the dumb bigots who learned at the feet of their dumb bigoted parents, but unfortunately dumbness has been enshrined by the legions of the right as a virtue – “she’s got a good heart,” you hear.  “She makes up words because her heart is so full she can’t speak what’s in her heart!  And if she gets to be prexident and breaks the gummymint, I know we will all pray on it and Jeebus will fix it.”  I think it’s safe to say that approximately 25% of the American public is nuts – the figure King George II’s approval ratings never dipped below, or the Senator from Aetna’s.

The final, most instructive “socialist” takeaway from the article is this:

Reading the list, one cannot help but thank God for Massachusetts, which offers the United States some shred of national dignity—a result echoed in other international tests. “If all American fourth- and eighth-grade kids did as well in math and science as they do in Massachusetts,” writes the veteran education author Karin Chenoweth in her 2009 book, How It’s Being Done, “we still wouldn’t be in Singapore’s league but we’d be giving Japan and Chinese Taipei a run for their money.”

…What did Massachusetts do? Well, nothing that many countries (and industries) didn’t do a long time ago. For example, Massachusetts made it harder to become a teacher, requiring newcomers to pass a basic literacy test before entering the classroom. (In the first year, more than a third of the new teachers failed the test.) The state also required students to pass a test before graduating from high school—a notion so heretical that it led to protests in which students burned state superintendent David Driscoll in effigy. To help tutor the kids who failed, the state moved money around to the places where it was needed most. “We had a system of standards and held people to it—adults and students,” Driscoll says.

Massachusetts, in other words, began demanding meaningful outcomes from everyone in the school building. Obvious though it may seem, it’s an idea that remains sacrilegious in many U.S. schools, despite the clumsy advances of No Child Left Behind.

That’s right – the heavy hand of the gummymint of Taxachusetts made their children the smartest in the country. 

Which in turn means that Taxachusetts becomes, despite its tax burden, the most attractive state in the nation for any corporation who needs smart workers.  Which in turn improves the economy of the state, which in turn drives down the overall tax burden of each taxpayer, and improves the overall quality of life.  Because, when they are employed correctly, taxes improve the economy by improving infrastructure.  (Yes, employed incorrectly as they were on the “Big Dig” they’re a financial sinkhole, but that proves that taxes are bad about as well as the fact that it’s snowing in February disproves global warming.) 

Once again, then, a Socialist endeavor drives a smarter and therefore more powerful Capitalism. 


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