David Brooks, "The Paralysis of the State". October 12
We Mostly Wanted To Try A Shorter David Brooks: If we didn't give state and municipal employees medical benefits, we could afford bridges and chunnels and skyways and all that other shit we don't need. And everyone left would have a HeliHummer. Except the Drones, of course.
Say, That Was Fun, Let's Try A Shorter Ross Douthat: The American Enterprise Institute and its Associated Mouthpieces would like to remind you that we never said Charter schools were any better than the public schools. If you can't tell propaganda from fact, blame your uncaring unionized public school teacher. Hey, here's a movie!
Maybe You Should Have That Blind Spot Looked At. By Someone Who Isn't Blind: Things are apparently now so dire for the Brooks-style Republican--that is, the sort which has to pretend it considers something more than winning elections, and so realizes we're speeding toward two more years of Republican Do Nothingism--that he's taken to bashing police pensions. Cops make $70,000 per! They can retire at 50!
Let us note here, again, how often it is that honorary Lt. Colonels such as Brooks demonstrate their complete unfamiliarity with anyone who's actually served in the US military. Where, for example, one may retire after twenty years (at 38!) with half pay, or stick it out for another ten (48! under 50!) for 75% pay. Plus low-cost health care at restricted facilities for yourself and your family, government guaranteed housing loans, and any number of benefit programs. You can get $36,000 for college for serving two years, or one, if you pay $100/month to get into the program. Do we begrudge them, Mr. Brooks? Or are we just keeping them on standby for when we need that Trans-Pacific tunnel built?
There are roughly 700,000 law enforcement officers working at the state or local level in this country. It's absolutely certain that a considerably higher percentage puts his or her life on the line, everyday, "defending our freedoms", than do the 2.5 million members of our military cartel, which requires 8 support troops for every soldier in the field. If your Magic Formula is so fucking Magic, why don't you apply it everywhere?
[No, I didn't forget. The Army's not unionized, right? And not likely to be? So I answered my own question. Okay, then, so we've got $47 billion in aircraft carriers floating around at this minute--that's using the Navy's figures, and their math isn't like land math; there are those who say the damned things cost more than twice as much--and $23 billion in the first of their ten replacements. That's just construction cost for the existing ships, and doesn't include the billions in development, the $300M in annual operating costs, the $2.5 B overhauls they all need, and the God Knows What it'll cost our grandchildren--won't someone think of the unborn?--to decommission the damned things starting twenty years from now, at two nuclear reactors each. Wanna name an international incident in the modern era which would have required as many as three? Wanna calculate the odds, then, of two such incidents happening simultaneously? That's but 60% of the fleet. And this is not Our Military Budget, Fifty Times That of Our Largest Potential Competitor. It's just the premier show-off piece for one branch, and its express function, almost from the time the Nimitz was built, is to cow tenth-rate military powers so we don't have to go around threatening to nuke a Hemisphere every time Coca-Cola doesn't get its way. In which, by the way, we are routinely thwarted by weapons which could have been manufactured for a high school science fair. In 1917.]
Ask AEI: Douthat acknowledges anti-public school propaganda; the intention is not to correct any false impressions, but to accrue credit for admitting Truth while simultaneously arguing that we pursue Error anyway. How much longer does this sort of shit get a free pass? Some AEI functionary says, "Wait a minute, let's not go overboard about Charter schools." He says this not as we're going overboard about Charter schools, but fifteen years late, after we've seen their results are nothing like what was being claimed around the time we all jumped into the deep. And just before some pop-culture wilting convinces everyone all over again that we should go overboard about Charter schools, thereby placing them dangerously near the point where they'll have no where left to hide.
So instead it's time for a little pre-lowering expectations. After all, Charters do somebody some good, and they're already paid for. And this is supposed to explain how Missing the Fucking Point is still a viable option. Because if Charters haven't performed substantially better than the public schools, and done so right out of the box, then the mistake isn't Charters. The mistake is your argument. Not the exaggerated one; the one you're making now.
[Here's a Tell, by the way, like you fucking need one when these arrogant assholes don't think they even have to hide the cards: Douthat:
[T]he jury is still out on whether either policy consistently raises academic performance.
Or, in other words, it doesn't.]
2+2: Even supposing this shit was unequivocal--by which I mean "unequivocal evidence for your argument", and not "unequivocal evidence of your cupidity", which it almost is, you're still full of it. Just because I feel an obligation to continue free education in this country doesn't mean I think the loudest assholes, the biggest vote-buyers, and Our Acknowledged Corporate Masters get to design the curriculum. Whether Microsoft can pick up its next generation of software pirates domestically is no concern of mine; maybe when you fucks start demanding as much from corporations as you do from ordinary citizens I'll sign on. It was somewhat amusing to see that Guggenheim fellow on Colbert the other day, pretending, one, that his movie didn't bash teachers and, two, that we have an obligation to fund public education as a training ground for the private sector, but the private sector has no obligation to hire Americans nor treat them fairly. At the end of the day, you can't--or won't--lift a finger to assure that the whole thing isn't in vain. I'm not sure how you sell this to any population qualified to judge someone else's eduation. And I know it's been said before, but it seems so apt: go fuck yourselves.