Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Haddad: Sanctity of marriage must be protected

In his pseudoblog, Richard complains that "ever-swelling waves of political correctness threaten to erode the very foundation of the family unit." He doesn't mention the slowly building wave of equal protection nationwide for non-heterosexuals, but his dog whistle is good and loud, just to let us know that unashamed, blockheaded bigotry is not dead in Courierworld.

What's amusing is the photo he put on as an illustration, apparently shot by himself, showing a pair of happy newlyweds. Not all that long ago that white Marine and his brown bride could have been jailed in Arizona for that photo. The state instituted anti-miscegenation laws in 1865 and did not repeal them till 1962.

I imagine Richard's father in the role of Courier columnist in 1960, opining mightily that an "ever-swelling wave of disgusting racial impropriety threatens to erode the very foundation of the family unit." Ack.

Whenever you read some variation on "political correctness," dear reader, bear in mind that it can be fairly translated as "positive change that frightens the writer." What we've learned over and over again is that the fears that seem so important to one generation are often laughable to the next.

Amster: Corporations, politicians need work

I have no idea what the headline is supposed to mean, but Randall's column yesterday really gets to the meat of most of our big social problems. I've long advocated the idea that corporatism is the mostly hidden third force that distorts our social systems and politics beyond reason, and that corporations use our progressive-vs-conservative mental model to deceive us into giving them pretty much everything they want from us. It's a really important point, and we almost never hear it in our mainstream media, which despite all the screaming are neither conservative nor progressive, but firmly corporatist.

I appreciate that Randall used the health-care bill (which you can reference via the sidebar link at left) as his main example. Universal health care is something progressives have been fighting for since the '40s, and so conservative readers might expect Randall to favor anything that seems to move in that direction. One of the most effective ways of convincing people is to drive the snakes from your own nest first. The commenters don't seem to get the point at all, but that's par for this course, I'm afraid. What pains me is that conservatives so rarely seem to notice that corporations are equally inimical to their interests. Until we can see that we all share the pain of this cancer at the heart of our society, we'll never begin to address it.

I broadly agree with Randall here, but I'm not quite so cynical that the issue will end by simply enriching corporations again. They don't always win all the marbles, as our relatively shallow but firm national commitment to environmental protection is showing. Sometimes they're even teachable. New laws make small changes in a large, dynamic system, and more changes always follow. We have choices about where this first step will lead. If we can maintain clear vision and some hardheaded optimism, we can go far.

Editorial: The real priority on kindergarten

In today's rambling, apparently unedited editorial, it's difficult to tease out what the unnamed Courier editor is trying to say. He details the costs to school districts of the retraction of recently instituted funding for all-day K, and how they're allowing parents to make up the shortfall to keep the program going. (He doesn't mention that in relying on this sort of thing in cutting the budget, the Legislature has simply pushed the costs back onto taxpayers by other means than direct taxation.)

After pointing out the standards that kids are expected to meet for entering the first primary grade, he concludes that "the question we should be asking" is "are we putting too much pressure on them? Is childhood over way too soon?" and I have to wonder what planet the editor is inhabiting. Does he really think that all the kids growing up unsocialized and prepared only to be perpetual teenagers aren't getting enough of childhood? Yikes. Our entire society seems dedicated to never getting past adolescence, and it's getting worse, not better.

The idea that education is somehow separate from childhood is ridiculous. Education is the raw essence of childhood -- it's the whole point. Yes, there are a lot of important experiences that our factory-style education model does not usually provide for children, but that's not to say we couldn't be doing a lot better with it. That takes imagination, vision, dedicated professionals and the sort of serious funding that most "conservatives" won't countenance.

What would the editor prefer to early childhood education -- more TV? More baby-warehouse daycare with hordes of other kids? Or is the core idea, once again, forcing mothers out of the workplace and into barefoot-and-pregnant mode, where so many "conservatives" think they truly belong?