Category Archives: Education

The Boys at the Back

From Christina Hoff Sommers:

Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.

The study’s authors analyzed data from more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subject areas received lower grades than their test scores would have predicted.

The scholars attributed this “misalignment” to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, the ability to sit still and work independently. As most parents know, girls tend to develop these skills earlier and more naturally than boys.

No previous study, to my knowledge, has demonstrated that the well-known gender gap in school grades begins so early and is almost entirely attributable to differences in behavior. The researchers found that teachers rated boys as less proficient even when the boys did just as well as the girls on tests of reading, math and science. . .

A few decades ago, when we realized that girls languished behind boys in math and science, we mounted a concerted effort to give them more support, with significant success. Shouldn’t we do the same for boys?. . .

Read it all.

George Zimmerman vs Elizabeth Warren

Too good not to steal (apparently this is somewhere on Facebook).

‘I had an abortion’ T-shirt sparks backlash at college, students wear ‘I haven’t killed a baby’ in protest

All the way from the Daily Mail in the U.K., a story about the University of North Carolina-Wilmington:

T-shirts reading ‘I had an abortion’ were sold at the University of North Carolina Monday, sparking a backlash by fellow students.

In an effort to eliminate the negative stigma attached to abortion, the T-shirts were sold with the hope of helping women too afraid to admit to having the procedure talk about their experience.

However fellow pro-life students, in fervent protest of the shirts, took to wearing their own in response, which said ‘I haven’t killed a baby.’

The pro-choice shirts were part of a book signing and ‘Stories of Choice’ discussion lead by third-wave feminist activist, and abortion rights advocate, Jennifer Baumgardner.

Students angered by the T-shirts thought they promoted praise of a procedure that many deemed ‘unpraiseworthy’….

Read it all, and good for those students who fought back against the abortion culture.  (Just a tip, there’s a reason there’s “negative stigma” to the act of abortion, and for the greater society, that will never go away, nor should it.)

For resources and help for those who have had an abortion, check out Rachel’s Vineyard (a nationwide ministry to those suffering after abortion and in need of emotional and spiritual healing) and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Vanderbilt Catholic to leave campus after refusing to comply with non-discrimination policy

Background in this post: Vanderbilt University: Christian campus groups can’t require leaders to have specific beliefs.

And now it’s official. I wonder how many groups will exodus from Vanderbilt University. From the Blaze:

The ruckus over Vanderbilt University’s non-discrimination policy and regulations that require campus Christian groups (among others) to allow non-believers to serve in leadership roles continues. This week, Vanderbilt Catholic, one of the largest faith clubs at the school, has announced that it will not comply with the newly-enforced rules.

The Catholic group’s decision will mean that, as of the end of the year, it will no longer be an official university group. Instead, it will serve as an off-campus ministry. The Rev. John Sims Baker, a chaplain at Vanderbilt Catholic, said on Tuesday that the group has been forced to make the rash decision to leave campus. It is the first Vanderbilt group to make such an announcement….

The main argument surrounds an “all-comers” policy, which means that all students should be allowed to be members of campus groups. Additionally, every individual, regardless of belief, should — according to Vanderbilt policy — have the opportunity to run for office.

While faith groups embrace the first portion of the rule, it is this second notion — that anyone can be a leader — that is drawing the ire of student-run organizations like Vanderbilt Catholic.

“The discriminatory non-discrimination policy at Vanderbilt University has forced our hand,” Baker said in a statement. “Our purpose has always been to share the Gospel and proudly to proclaim our Catholic faith. What other reason could there be for a Catholic organization at Vanderbilt?”

According to the statement, student clubs are being forced to re-register in April, as they will be asked to affirm their allegiance to the non-discrimination policy. Rather than complying as an official portion of campus life, the club will “reorganize.”

“We are going to open our doors wider in order to make a greater effort to reach out to all Vanderbilt students and all college students in Nashville,” the proclamation reads….

First and foremost, the regulation would require Christian groups to allow non-Christians to lead Bible studies (pending elections). In turn, it would essentially force gay rights groups to embrace leaders who disagree fervently with gay marriage and other ideals. In the end, the leadership portion of the non-discrimination continues to be the most controversial.

Read it all.

Ace: There are four possible main types of educated people–guess what type Obama is

Being Ace, he’ll tell you, of course:

As Pethokoukis says, it’s an anecdote that defines the presidency.

Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.

There are four possible main types of educated people:

  • Good student, good thinker
  • Good student, bad thinker
  • Bad student, good thinker
  • Bad student, bad thinker

I don’t actually think Obama was a good student — I mean, where are the grades, yo? — but I would call him a “good student” in the sense that he believed whatever his professors told him.

A pliable mind, let’s call it.

Some people are bad as students because they reject the crap their professors tell them. Some of these people are just idiots; some are pretty smart, and go on to do big things.

On the other hand, some “good students” are complete idiots themselves, and what makes them good students — pliability, willingness to believe — is exactly what makes them bad thinkers.

Obama’s that type, obviously.

He has no rebelliousness of mind. No defiance of thought.

He believes everything his leftist professors and leftist heroes and leftist patrons (like Bill Ayers) told him.

He’s got a soft mind. A soft man, who’s lived a soft life, with soft hands, and a soft mind.

Meanwhile, this parvenu (where are the grades, yo?) sends out his flack to call Paul Ryan “aggressively and deliberately ignorant” on this very issue….

Read it all.

When you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail


An oldy but goody (August 2010), from News Channel 5 in Franklin, Tennessee:

…But a now former Middle school football coach in Williamson County said writing a politically-charged country song got him fired, after it rubbed a few parents the wrong way.

26 year old Bryan Glover is not shy about his political opinions. He is proud tea party Republican and felt compelled to voice his disappointment in the current administration through his music. But he never thought sharing his new song would leave him unemployed.

The song is called, “When You’re Holding A Hammer, Everything Looks Like A Nail.” It is a reference to Glover’s frustrations with the current administration and President Obama. Glover co-wrote the tune with a parent on the Grassland Middle School football team. He never thought sending it out to friends, family and player’s parents could put the hammer on the nail of his job with the school….

Within hours, parents called the school to complain of the politically charged lyrics and Glover said the principal at Grassland Middle School told the head football coach to release Glover from his position with the team.

“He just said parents were complaining, maybe there was a comment of racial overtones,” Glover said,

“I found it amusing,” said parent Michael Kasaitis about Glover’s country song.

He said no matter the opinion on his music, the link was sent from his personal email account and it is free speech.

“I was totally upset. He has every right to write a song, write a book or to make his opinion known,” said Kasaitis….

Read it all.

Governmental irony

Feds ask for delay in Belmont Abbey College’s lawsuit against HHS mandate

When you got nothin’, you stall. From LifeSiteNews.com:

Days after saying the birth control mandate was “final,” the Obama administration has told a federal court it shouldn’t rule on a lawsuit against the new rule because the administration may decide to change it at an unspecified later date.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Belmont Abbey College in the case, said Friday that the administration’s response lacked any constitutional defense of the mandate, which would force religious organizations, including charities, hospitals, and even religious orders, to cover birth control, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs.

“Apparently, the administration has decided that the mandate, as written and finalized, is constitutionally indefensible,” said Hannah Smith, senior counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “Its only hope is to ask the court to look the other way based on an empty promise to possibly change the rules in the future.”…

And you would trust this administration why? So read it all, and check out the news from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

N.C. nanny state: Preschooler’s homemade lunch replaced with cafeteria “nuggets” [UPDATED]

[UPDATE] My suspicious nature says, “Follow the money.” Who has the contract to provide food and is getting taxpayer money for every meal they give out? From the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, more on the story:

A mother in Hoke County complains her daughter was forced to eat a school lunch because a government inspector determined her home-made lunch did not meet nutrition requirements. In fact, all of the students in the NC Pre-K program classroom at West Hoke Elementary School in Raeford had to accept a school lunch in addition to their lunches brought from home.

NC Pre-K (before this year known as More at Four) is a state-funded education program designed to “enhance school readiness” for four year-olds.

The mother, who doesn’t wish to be identified at this time, says she made her daughter a lunch that contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. A state inspector assessing the pre-K program at the school said the girl also needed a vegetable, so the inspector ordered a full school lunch tray for her. While the four-year-old was still allowed to eat her home lunch, the girl was forced to take a helping of chicken nuggets, milk, a fruit and a vegetable to supplement her sack lunch.

The mother says the girl was so intimidated by the inspection process that she was too scared to eat all of her homemade lunch. The girl ate only the chicken nuggets provided to her by the school, so she still didn’t eat a vegetable.

The mother says her daughter doesn’t like vegetables and – like most four year olds – will only eat them at home under close supervision….

The mother added, “It’s just a headache to keep arguing and fighting. I’ve even wrote a note to her teachers and said do not give my daughter anything else unless it comes out of her lunchbox and they are still going against me and putting a milk in front of her every day.

“Friday she came home and said ‘Mom, they give me vegetable soup and a milk,’” said the mother.

“So I went to the cafeteria to make sure she had no fee and it’s not being charged to her account yet,” she continued, ” but what concerned me was that I got a letter from the principal and it says students who do not bring a healthy lunch will be offered the missing portions which may result in a fee from the cafeteria. So if I don’t stay on top of her account on a weekly basis there’s that opportunity that charges could be put on her account and then if I let it go too far then it’s like I’m going to have a big battle.”…

[Original] I mean, how nutritious do you think the school’s “nuggets” were? And tell me again why the state is inspecting children’s lunch boxes? From the Carolina Journal:

State agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.

The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.

“I don’t feel that I should pay for a cafeteria lunch when I provide lunch for her from home,” the mother wrote in a complaint to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County.

The girl’s grandmother, who sometimes helps pack her lunch, told Carolina Journal that she is a petite, picky 4-year-old who eats white whole wheat bread and is not big on vegetables.

“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”

When the girl came home with her lunch untouched, her mother wanted to know what she ate instead. Three chicken nuggets, the girl answered. Everything else on her cafeteria tray went to waste.

“She came home with her whole sandwich I had packed, because she chose to eat the nuggets on the lunch tray, because they put it in front of her,” her mother said. “You’re telling a 4-year-old. ‘oh. you’re lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”…

Read it all. I think her lunch from home sounded pretty good. Glad my child’s out of elementary school. (And the state agent telling the girl the lunch her mother packed wasn’t good enough undercuts parental authority big time!)

Charen: “Unwed and imperturbed”

Worth a read. From Mona Charen at National Review Online:

…The collapse of marriage among the lower and lower middle classes is rapidly tapping our national strength. Women from wealthier families get it. They generally wait until they’re married to have babies. They know that two parents create stability, financial security, and the social structure to optimize the chances of rearing happy, healthy, and productive new citizens. The illegitimacy rate among women with college educations, while it has tripled since 1960, is still only about 8 percent. As Kay Hymowitz noted in Marriage and Caste in America, “Virtually all — 92 percent — of children whose families make over $75,000 per year are living with both parents. On the other end of the income scale, the situation is reversed: only about 20 percent of kids in families earning under $15,000 live with both parents.”

The failure to marry on the part of the lower middle and lower classes — not the tax code, or Wall Street, or competition from China, — is what is aggravating inequality in America.

The toll is incalculable. In every way that social science can measure — school performance, drug abuse, unemployment, suicide, poverty, depression, dependence on government handouts, mental illness, violence, and far more — children raised by single parents (especially when their parents never married) are at a severe disadvantage. The failure to form families is devastating our schools, exacerbating inequality, and diminishing happiness on a grand scale….

Read it all.

Vanderbilt University: Christian campus groups can’t require leaders to have specific beliefs

We’re looking at colleges this year. I think we’ll strike Vanderbilt from our list–I can’t even imagine paying tuition for this kind of sloppy thinking that violates every bit of common sense (and, yes, I know Vanderbilt is a private university and can set policies like this):

The students were waiting for the doors to open for a community forum about the university’s nondiscrimination policy. That policy bans student religious groups from requiring their leaders to hold specific beliefs.

University leaders say the policy ensures that campus organizations are open to all students. Opponents of the ban say it restricts their freedom of religion.

Four campus groups — the Christian Legal Society, Beta Upsilon Chi, Graduate Student Fellowship and Fellowship of Christian Athletes — all violate the policy. That means they could lose their standing as registered student organizations….

Provost Richard McCarty and David Williams, vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics, stated that the university would not back down from its nondiscrimination policy.

That policy is simple, McCarty said.

Registered student organizations must allow all students to be members and to stand for election as leaders….

Let’s see:

  • Requiring beliefs for membership–well, maybe those groups should welcome all as long as they’re not disruptive
  • Requiring beliefs for leaders–now that seems pretty self-evident to all but the Vanderbilt administration

And more at The Blaze:

At the center of debate is the university’s nondiscrimination policy, which bans student-led faith groups, among others, from requiring leaders to hold specific beliefs.

The policy, which in many ways contradicts theological requirements, has created angst among members of both the student body and the university’s faculty. These opponents see the ban as a crackdown on their freedom of religion and speech. School leaders, though, maintain that the policy is necessary to ensure that all students feel welcome at campus clubs and events….

Support Belmont Abbey College against the mandated HHS regulations

Belmont Abbey College

Already in front of the mandated HHS regulations issue (remember, these regulations were issued this past August to take affect in one year), Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, working with the Becket Fund, filed suit against the federal government (specifically HHS) on November 10, 2011, to protect their First Amendment and federal statutory rights to be free from what they consider a “government-imposed substantial burden on its religious freedom.” From the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty:

…So in August 2011, when the federal government issued a regulation requiring that all group health plans must cover “[FDA-]approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,” Belmont Abbey knew it could not be true to both the government mandate and its Church’s teachings.  This is so because FDA-approved contraceptives include a number of drugs Belmont Abbey, and many scientists, consider to be abortifacients—most notably Plan B and Ella.  Were Belmont Abbey to choose not to cover contraception and sterilization as required by the government mandate, it would be penalized with a hefty fine and forced to terminate its health insurance for employees and students. For example, a religious organization with 100 employees would have to pay the federal government $140,000 per year for the “privilege” of not underwriting medical services it believes are immoral. In other words, Belmont Abbey would be forced to pay for the right to remain true to its principles!…

Belmont Abbey’s only recourse is to sue the federal government and ask the court to protect its First Amendment and federal statutory rights from this substantial burden by the federal government.

Check it out, and check out the Becket Fund’s FAQs on the case. If you’re able, donate to Belmont Abbey:

“A monk at Belmont Abbey may preach on Sunday that pre-marital sex, contraception, and abortions are immoral, but on Monday, the government would force the same monk to pay for students to receive the very drugs and procedures he denounces,” said Hannah Smith, Senior Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “This is much worse than an un-funded mandate; it is a monk-funded mandate.”

Blind among enemies

I read once that of all our senses, sight is the strongest and that’s one reason why concern with skin color permeates our various cultures, so discrimination (in the classical sense of making distinctions between and among) is almost inevitable along skin hue lines.

Median wealth ratios, 1984 to 2009 (Pew Research Center)

Perhaps it’s for this reason that the recent headline on the wealth gap used language that emphasized the racial/ethnic component of that gap. From the Pew Research Center, we get the hard data divided along racial/ethnic (visual) lines to support the statement that the wealth gap is at its highest between White Americans and Black/Hispanic Americans, but from the Associated Press news story, we get this:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century. . .

The analysis shows the racial and ethnic impact of the economic meltdown, which ravaged housing values and sent unemployment soaring. It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites who are more likely to have 401(k) retirement accounts or other stock holdings. . .

And what caught my eye in the above paragraph was this sentence:

It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites who are more likely to have 401(k) retirement accounts or other stock holdings.

So while skin color is the marker that the information gatherers have used to break down their data, it seems from an initial reading that age is really one of the primary culprits (the other ones I’ll get to later) in the wealth disparity.

This makes sense—America’s demographics are changing, with the growth rate of minority groups overtaking that of the majority white population. So the wealth discrepancy is not necessarily because of racial discrimination (as the headlines imply by using race as the distinguishing factor), but because older people have worked for a longer time, hopefully have saved for a longer time, and because of that, have had more resources to invest. They may also have owned their houses for longer and so have not lost as much equity.  Skin color doesn’t enter into those reasons.

Median net worth of households with and without home equity, 2005 and 2009 (Pew Research Center)

What are some of the other main culprits in this newest wealth gap?

For many Hispanics (and Asians), it is the deterioration of the housing market. That market rose the highest and fell the fartherest in those states with the largest Hispanic populations: Nevada, California, Arizona, and Florida. And of course, who was to blame for this rush to buy? While the homebuyers have the greatest responsibility, Congress, and its push to get everyone into their own houses no matter the cost, bears a great part of the blame (thus the growth of subprime mortgages and the mandate to fulfill the “American Dream” even for those not financially ready). Younger people shouldn’t necessarily buy houses since they may need the flexibility to move quickly for job opportunities. And saddling lower income workers with house payments that will take much of their take-home pay should be criminal.

And here’s where another culprit comes into play—and that’s education.

There are large Asian populations in many of those states with the greatest loss of home equity, but there is no significant wealth gap between Whites and Asians–perhaps because Asians have the highest “education attainment” levels of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S.: 50% of Asians 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while that percentage is 31% for Whites, 18% for Blacks, and only 12% for Hispanics. From the U.S. Census Bureau:

The 2005 ASEC data reinforce the value of a college education. Among workers 18 and over with a bachelor’s degree, average earnings were $51,600 a year, while those with a high school diploma earned $28,600. Workers with an advanced degree made an average of $78,100, and those without a high school diploma averaged $19,200.

So age, home equity, and educational levels all play into the wealth gap, which is not to say that race/ethnicity isn’t a factor. After all, ethnic cultural norms affect decisions on pursuing educational goals, racial factors may affect employment numbers and the corresponding income variables, and government intervention in the housing market to ensure minorities had access to mortgage funds was certainly a decision that affected buyers along racial/ethnic lines.

But for most of the areas of life that we codify, organize and classify, the idea of “race” as being the primary reason for any and all results noted fails dismally to consider other prominent factors–other factors that may actually help us find the best ways to decrease the wealth gap.

Inside the entitlement generation

Entitlement
Okay, I know it’s from Canada, but this article by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail sounds like what I’ve been hearing in the U.S.:

…The survey found that work/life balance and vacation time ranked extremely high on their wish list. They also expected high salaries and quick promotions. On average, they expected a starting salary of $53,000 a year….

Plenty of students believe their professors’ expectations are downright unreasonable. “They think their lecture is the only way to get their information. But there are so many new ways to learn,” one University of Alberta student told the CBC. They’re also unapologetic that study hours have shrunk to the vanishing point. “We’re doing so many other things. We’re doing all these clubs and extracurricular activities.”

What they aren’t doing is cluttering their minds with ideas. University students once devoured the works of Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx and Gloria Steinem. Today, they devour the works of Harry Potter. “Well, at least we’re reading something, right?” Ms. Godmere, the student spokesperson, said. Like many students, she believes course reading lists need to be more relevant. “These works that we are expected to read are from a different time. More people need to cater to the younger audience.” To which [Prof. Ken Coates, professor of history and former dean at the University of Waterloo] responds, “If you want to tackle the most difficult, interesting, challenging thinkers in the world, you have to read very thick books with lots of words.”…

The entitlement mindset didn’t come from nowhere. It came from us. It came from a generation of adults who believed that kids should never be allowed to fail, or told the truth about their abilities, or learn that getting what you want is sometimes hard. On top of that, we have the modern fallacy of higher education – much beloved of politicians, who believe the acquisition of a BA is a sort of alchemy that can transform intellectual dross into gold and ensure that everyone, no matter how inert, can succeed in the knowledge economy.

Not all students share this mindset. The best are as good as ever, maybe better. The top 15 per cent or 20 per cent – the same students who would have gone to university a generation ago – really do crave intellectual engagement. They really will land jobs at $53,000 a year, and up.

Ken Coates believes we should bring back streaming and make vocational education far more important than it is now. University should be for students who are interested in, and capable of, high-level work. Colleges and tech schools can offer more practical, job-oriented education for everyone else….

Check it out.

More college officials learn about applicants from Facebook

From USAToday:

The number of college admissions officials using Facebook to learn more about an applicant has quadrupled in the past year, underscoring the effect social media has on U.S. culture and academic life, a survey shows. Googling is nearly as prevalent. . .

Of survey takers who went online, 12% say what they found “negatively impacted” the applicant’s chances of admission. That’s down from 38% in 2008, when 10% said they consulted social networking sites while evaluating students. Among offenses cited: essay plagiarism, vulgarities in blogs and photos showing underage drinking. . .

The debate over whether it’s appropriate for colleges to look beyond what prospective students submit in their applications remains unsettled. Kenyon College explicitly forbids such activity. “We are not Luddites, mind you. We are trying to practice ethical admissions,” says Admissions Dean Jennifer Delahunty. ” Reading their Facebook pages is like, in another era, wire-tapping applicants’ phones and reading their diaries.”

Paul Marthers [vice president for enrollment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute] notes, though, that information students post online is “fair game.”

Others offer a more positive reason for checking an applicant’s Facebook profile. Wake Forest University Admissions Dean Martha Allman says her younger staffers like to see (an applicant’s) “digital personality.”. . .

Check it out.

MinutePhysics

MinutePhysicscheck them out!

Hitler jumps the shark

(Originally published on Ricochet, reprinted in light of the recent Wisconsin recall election bust for the unions and Democrats)

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

— Karl Marx (1818-1883)

And Hitler as farce is upon us. Okay, I’ve broken Godwin’s Law in the title, much less in the first sentence, as the Law states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1” (or for us non-math majors, “Any political argument, carried on long enough, will eventually provoke a Nazi reference”), and this was in full display at the union protests in Madison, Wisconsin.

How else to explain the over-reaching use of Hitler’s image, his name, the Nazi symbol of the swastika in the protests? And not just over-reaching but downright bad history. It makes no sense to equate Hitler and his government with any elected officials in the United States, Democrat or Republican.

But, what exactly is the deal with Hitler and the unions? Just so we have our facts straight, on May 2, 1933, Adolph Hitler, chancellor of Germany, and the Nazis (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) abolished all unions. They did this by seizing all labor union funds, arresting the union leaders and sending them to concentration camps, mandating that the only workers organizations that could exist would be those created by Hitler, and replacing collective bargaining by using Hitler-appointed “trustees” to regulate the conditions of all labor contracts.

Hitler abolished all unions by decree, by fiat, by force, not through the legislative process.

The ill-informed Wisconsin teachers (don’t you know, the Internet is your friend?) and some Democratic legislators (Wisconsin state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee) seemed to think that because Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-majority legislature wrote, as part of their budget repair bill, legislation that restricts collective bargaining and requires public employee union members to contribute more to their health care premiums and pension funds, among other things, that the age of Hitler is once again upon us. “The history of Hitler,” Taylor told a reporter on Feb. 15, 2011, “in 1933, he abolished unions, and that’s what our governor’s doing today.”

As Ed Morrissey at HotAir wrote:

[I]t’s a fallacious argument. Hitler was also a vegetarian who owned a dog. Are all vegetarians Nazis? All dog owners? The Nazis aren’t history’s great villains because Hitler opposed public-sector unions. To equate that with Naziism isn’t just reprehensible, it’s downright ignorant and minimizes the actual horrors of Naziism.

The comparison of legitimate policy debate and legislative action with the Nazi regime (along with all of Hitler’s horrendous atrocities) led the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation to condemn “the hyperbolic use of Nazi and Holocaust references” by protesters in the debate.

But the bigger issue remains: does calling someone a Nazi or comparing them to Hitler mean anything anymore? Or has it become like calling someone a racist? Something that identifies the political proclivities of the person making the remark rather than the person receiving it?

Are we so far removed from World War II that we no longer have any clear picture of exactly what the Nazis did to those they opposed? Is our teaching of history (excuse me, social studies) so weak and superficial that students can actually think that the duly-elected governor of the state, along with the duly-elected legislative branch, campaigning on the issue of reining in the public-sector unions, is somehow reminiscent of Hitler being appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and then making himself Führer in 1934 as he destroyed any group or person that opposed him?

It cheapens any and every argument made on this issue when Hitler analogies are used. I recommend that all Wisconsin teachers (well, all teachers actually) take a remedial course in Western Civ, with particular emphasis on early 20th-century history and the rise of fascism in Europe, before they ever again compare any U.S. politician with Hitler.

Wahrheit über alles.

Truth. Above. All.

Altcatholicah: In defense of the stay-at-home mom

From Rachel Marie Collins:

. . . Perhaps if children had come easily to us — that is, if we weren’t infertile — I might not have appreciated as fully what a blessing motherhood really is. I might have been the woman who thinks that as a stay-at-home mom I was missing out on something — that I had traded a productive life in the world for something less fulfilling, prestigious, or valuable. That I had somehow downgraded from professional super-star to invisible Catholic slum-mum.

So I’m quite aware that some may view my decision to stay at home as a waste of my talents and education — an injustice to the intellectual abilities God gave me. In a recent Altcatholicah podcast on this topic, Carrie Severino argues that the biblical view of the perfect woman isn’t necessarily “someone who’s merely a Donna Reed standing in the kitchen.” Severino cites the noble woman described in Proverbs 31 as an example of a woman who both manages her vocation as a mother and wife and does justice to her God-given talents — a mother who participates in commerce, toils the field, manages her employees, and invests in real estate.

But, while it’s tempting to read this chapter in Proverbs as a prescriptive list of attributes for the “good woman,” I think the real issue here is one of motivation. We ought to look to this noble woman but not necessarily to imitate her actions — it’s more valuable that we imitate her disposition and reasons for action. I’ve found the pertinent question is not “what does she do?” but rather “why does she do it?” The passage provides an answer by concluding that while “favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, the woman that feareth the Lord shall be praised.”. . .

Check it out.

Blind among enemies

I read once that of all our senses, sight is the strongest and that’s one reason why concern with skin color permeates our various cultures, so discrimination (in the classical sense of making distinctions between and among) is almost inevitable along skin hue lines.

Median wealth ratios, 1984 to 2009
Perhaps it’s for this reason that the recent headline on the wealth gap used language that emphasized the racial/ethnic component of that gap. From the Pew Research Center, we get the hard data divided along racial/ethnic (visual) lines to support the statement that the wealth gap is at its highest between White Americans and Black/Hispanic Americans, but from the Associated Press news story, we get this:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century. . .

The analysis shows the racial and ethnic impact of the economic meltdown, which ravaged housing values and sent unemployment soaring. It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites who are more likely to have 401(k) retirement accounts or other stock holdings. . .

And what caught my eye in the above paragraph was this sentence:

It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites who are more likely to have 401(k) retirement accounts or other stock holdings.

So while skin color is the marker that the information gatherers have used to break down their data, it seems from an initial reading that age is really one of the primary culprits (the other ones I’ll get to later) in the wealth disparity.

This makes sense—America’s demographics are changing, with the growth rate of minority groups overtaking that of the majority white population. So the wealth discrepancy is not necessarily because of racial discrimination (as the headlines imply by using race as the distinguishing factor), but because older people have worked for a longer time, hopefully have saved for a longer time, and because of that, have had more resources to invest. They may also have owned their houses for longer and so have not lost as much equity.  Skin color doesn’t enter into those reasons.

Median net worth of households with and without home equity, 2005 and 2009

What are some of the other main culprits in this newest wealth gap?

For many Hispanics (and Asians), it is the deterioration of the housing market. That market rose the highest and fell the fartherest in those states with the largest Hispanic populations: Nevada, California, Arizona, and Florida. And of course, who was to blame for this rush to buy? While the homebuyers have the greatest responsibility, Congress, and its push to get everyone into their own houses no matter the cost, bears a great part of the blame (thus the growth of subprime mortgages and the mandate to fulfill the “American Dream” even for those not financially ready). Younger people shouldn’t necessarily buy houses since they may need the flexibility to move quickly for job opportunities. And saddling lower income workers with house payments that will take much of their take-home pay should be criminal.

And here’s where another culprit comes into play—and that’s education.

There are large Asian populations in many of those states with the greatest loss of home equity, but there is no significant wealth gap between Whites and Asians–perhaps because Asians have the highest “education attainment” levels of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S.: 50% of Asians 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, while that percentage is 31% for Whites, 18% for Blacks, and only 12% for Hispanics. From the U.S. Census Bureau:

The 2005 ASEC data reinforce the value of a college education. Among workers 18 and over with a bachelor’s degree, average earnings were $51,600 a year, while those with a high school diploma earned $28,600. Workers with an advanced degree made an average of $78,100, and those without a high school diploma averaged $19,200.

So age, home equity, and educational levels all play into the wealth gap, which is not to say that race/ethnicity isn’t a factor. After all, ethnic cultural norms affect decisions on pursuing educational goals, racial factors may affect employment numbers and the corresponding income variables, and government intervention in the housing market to ensure minorities had access to mortgage funds was certainly a decision that affected buyers along racial/ethnic lines.

But for most of the areas of life that we codify, organize and classify, the idea of “race” as being the primary reason for any and all results noted fails dismally to consider other prominent factors–other factors that may actually help us find the best ways to decrease the wealth gap.

Barone: Will the college bubble burst from public subsidies?

And they wonder why California’s broke.

From Michael Barone at the Washington Examiner.com:

When governments want to encourage what they believe is beneficial behavior, they subsidize it. Sounds like good public policy. But there can be problems. Behavior that is beneficial for most people may not be so for everybody. And government subsidies can go too far.

Subsidies create incentives for what economists call rent-seeking behavior. Providers of supposedly beneficial goods or services try to sop up as much of the subsidy money as they can by raising prices. After all, their customers are paying with money supplied by the government.

Bubble money, as it turns out. And sooner or later bubbles burst. . .

“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” [Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal] has said. “Education may still be the only thing people still believe in in the United States.” But the combination of rising costs and dubious quality may be undermining that belief.

For what have institutions of higher learning accomplished with their vast increases in revenues? The answer in all too many cases is administrative bloat.

Take the California State University system, the second tier in that state’s public higher education. Between 1975 and 2008 the number of faculty rose by 3 percent, to 12,019 positions. During those same years the number of administrators rose 221 percent, to 12,183. That’s right: There are more administrators than teachers at Cal State now.

Check it all out.