A Dangerous Combination

Following up on yesterday's rant about the science ignorance of one of our wanna be leaders, Valerie Strauss in the Post's Answer Sheet blog notes that Senator Rubio also is a supporter of STEM education.

A focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects will ensure that America remains highly competitive in the global market. Systemic reform with school choice, virtual learning and opportunity scholarships will allow STEM-focused students to study the critical subject areas that will help them succeed in our economy.

Strauss finds great irony in the fact that Rubio “sees a STEM education crisis while misunderstanding basic scientific findings”.

I think irony may be too forgiving. This is scientific ignorance plus hypocracy, a combination that seems to occur together in too many American politicians.


Hypocrisy in the Desert

Following up on my previous post (from ten days ago??!), I’m recovering from a very busy two-week trip to Arizona, visiting family and friends located all over the state, and generally doing a nostalgia tour.

However, even with family and college connections, I’m not sure I could ever live there again.

For one thing, I like having four seasons, even with some snow in the winter, as opposed to the one and a half (hot and warm) in the major population areas of Phoenix and Tucson.

But another big stopper is the wide gulf between my social/political views and that of most areas in Arizona.  I’m moderate to liberal on most subjects, while the majority of people running the state are conservative to moon-bat, far right reactionary.

Some of that extremism is on public view all over the place on billboards and road signs, most critical of any sort of government, especially federal.

Which is both ironic and not a little hypocritical since much of the state and especially Phoenix, the 6th largest city in the US, would not exist in it’s current form (a textbook illustration of suburban sprawl) without at least one particular major government program.

Starting in the early 70’s, US and Arizona taxpayers spent nearly $5 billion on the Central Arizona Project, a 330 mile canal that carries water from Colorado River, plus more billions over the years for a network of distribution aqueducts.

In addition, both federal and state governments are deeply involved with water rights and allocation, not to mention price subsidies, especially when it comes to farmers, who grow far more product than the desert would normally support.

Of course, all of this is just one example in one state of the hypocrisy at the foundation of these anti-government hypocrites. Is there any reason to discuss how Arizona is full of retired teabaggers receiving Social Security, Medicare, and other government benefits?

So, there you have one aspect of Arizona that doesn’t show up in the travel brochures.

A nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Economic Hypocrisy

This being the overly-large school district we are, the economic mess now in progress means that we get to go through yet another round of armageddon-sized budget cuts.

To give you some idea of how large, the amount we’re supposedly in the hole is about the same as that spent annually by more than a few much smaller systems elsewhere in Virginia.

So, what gets hacked and what do we keep?

As is usual in these situations, the school board directs the superintendent to come up with a list of proposed “savings” and then all the different constituents muster whatever pressure they can to save a particular program.

However, there are two big problems with this particular political dance.

Almost everybody, even those with no K12-aged kids, claim they want “good” schools in their neighborhood (good for property values).

And almost none of them want to pay the bill.

It’s not just schools.

Too many people in this country expect the government to provide them with all kinds of services (even most in that super-hypocritical government-is-evil crowd), while at the same time demanding that someone else pay for them.

Leading that hypocrisy parade are politicians like the candidates in this year’s gubernatorial race, along with most of those for other offices, who make all kinds of promises about improving education all over the state (when they aren’t sliming each other, that is).

While at the same time swearing that they will not raise taxes. Or reduce them.

So, we come back to the real question in this mess: when it comes to public schools, what are you willing to pay for?

Unfortunately, we never seem to get around to having a serious discussion on this issue.

Instead our so-called leaders lie to all of us and display their hypocrisy by way of sound bites, 30 second television ads, and those useless he-said-she-said debates on the talking heads channels.

Hypocrisy Overload

Washington DC is commonly used as a metaphorical punching bag by a wide variety of critics, both in and out of politics, and that’s to be expected considering this is the national capital.

But once in a while there comes instances of massive hypocrisy spouted by critics that sound like something straight out of The Onion.

For example, this past Saturday a crowd of people (one much smaller than claimed by supporters) staged a protest on the mall in front of the Capitol.

Nothing unusual. The city gets dozens of manufactured events every year, and those of us who live in the DC area always know to check the papers to see what kind of mess they plan to make of travel in and out of the city.

This particular group was rallying against “big government”, “government spending”, “excessive taxation”, and an assortment of other whines that were in their script.

However, it seems one of their pet congress critters is unhappy with Metro, our local transportation system, saying they didn’t provide enough subway cars to get everyone to the demonstration on time.

A PUBLIC transportation system, paid for by an inadequate amount of TAXES, run by the GOVERNMENT didn’t live up to his high expectations.

Let’s face it, Metro is far from perfect, and the system has been deteriorating lately due to lack of support.

But overall they do a good job of not only transporting hundreds of thousands of locals every week but also millions of tourists who visit every year. And by all reports, ridership last Saturday was not much higher than most weekends this time of year.

So, if these people who hate government programs and their government-paid representative don’t like the public transportation system around here, and don’t like waiting on the platform like the rest of us, maybe they should either walk or take a cab.

Oh, yeah. That same fine representative, who is now demanding a GOVERNMENT investigation of Metro, thought that using private transit was a bad thing.

And then there’s another congress critter I ran across on some program who regurgitated what he called “the old line” about Washington being “100 square miles surrounded by reality”.

Obviously this clueless character has never made the very short trip from his cozy House chambers to Southeast DC. Or many parts of Northeast. Both well inside his 100 square miles.

Plenty of stark reality going on in those neighborhoods, reality that has NO representation in Congress and is largely ignored by most of the idiots like him working inside that irony-free zone of hypocrisy perched on Capitol Hill.