Thursday, July 7, 2011

Post No. 167: Children of a Greater God, or Why Cary, NC is in the Bible Belt


© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

There are certain works of art which, simply by virtue of their name, implore one to examine them further. For us, two of them have always been Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (what a great name), and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (not bad either).

There is a work about which we wondered for years, but never chose to examine until recently - Children of a Lesser God. Having been brought up in a world of monotheistic religions, we asked, “How could there be a lesser God, and who are these children so affected?” Of course, we know better than to take anything seriously, but it still got our attention. We finally decided to explore this work this month, but it was a personal experience which prompted us to do so – our encounter with Children of a Greater God.

We found the kids in Cary, a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina. Raleigh, apart from being the capital, is the heart of the Research Triangle. The “Triangle” not only contains Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, but also serves as HQs for numerous high-tech companies. It is also the home of Bozo the Clown. Although settled in 1750, if asked during the 1960s where Cary was, few would have been able to respond.

The son of one of our friends ran in a track meet for private high school students. The event was held at the Cary Academy, the most prestigious private school in the region. Since the collective athletic prowess of the participants left much to be desired, we found ourselves taking note of other things. Upon entering the long, tree-lined, manicured entrance to the campus enveloped in lush vegetation, we got a sense that we were going to see something different.

The parkway carried us to a lot full of high-priced SUVs. The Academy buildings, in their bucolic setting, looked more like those of a private college than a grade school in the midst of a densely populated urban center. Once we entered the stands on the side of the stunning Tartan track, our attention turned to those seated around us.

There were roughly 150 of them (consisting mostly of parents and siblings of the athletes), of which 15 were African-American and 3 Asian. Despite the fact that North Carolina is generally regarded as the number 1 state in the nation in terms of percentage increase in Hispanics, no Hispanics were in sight, in any capacity. The onlookers were all fresh in appearance, healthy, clean-cut, and smartly dressed. No one was obese, and there no smell of fried chicken in the air. Although it is possible that someone had a rosebud or heart planted just above their navel or the crack in their butt, there was not a tattoo to be found.

All of the conversations around us were civil in tone, with many revolving around trips abroad. There was a noticeable lack of rowdiness and profanity, and the N word was either across the tracks, or on vacation. What was perhaps most revealing was that there was a throng of kids in the 4-6 year old range, who were permitted to roam the grounds unattended and expected to return to their parents unmolested.

While we explore lots of social policy issues on this blog, and how they relate to personal responsibility, we rarely address class issues. And socio-economic class is a big deal.

We’ve often wondered whether, if there were only one “socialist,” social policy implemented by our government, we’d be a better nation. That policy would consist of ensuring that all children get the same socio-economic start. After all, it’s not their fault who their parents are, and what their parents have, and where their parents live…. Now that’s a program we could support. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know. The parents would exploit it.)

But poverty and paucity of options run deep… and long, and at some point become institutionalized and inculcated in nature, despite the few aberrant worms who escape.

We looked up some stats on Cary, the town. The racial makeup is 71% Caucasian, 8% African-American, 13% Asian, and 7% Hispanic or Latino. With respect to education, 68% of the adults hold an associate degree or higher, and 61% possess a bachelor degree or higher. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the state for municipalities of its size, and it was judged the 4th safest of 327 large cities in the nation.

Although we wouldn’t want to live in Cary, due to its lack of filth and vice, perhaps calling those kids we met on the track that Friday afternoon “Children of a Greater God,” might not be that far a stretch. After all, the situation in which they find themselves is more than happenstance – isn’t it?

41 comments:

  1. ‘Spector,

    Interesting.

    Excepting the absence of discussion about international travel and the presence of the occasional tattoo or body piercing, your account of the comportment at Tartan Track sounds not unlike that which I have witnessed at many stock car and drag races here in the southern U.S. Apparently, even poor people are capable of a degree of self-respect and civility. Who’d a thunk it.

    As to your singular socialist policy: you are correct that all children would indeed receive the same level of education – which is to say, the minimum required to produce the results needed for obedience and productivity by The State; I’m not certain that I understand that logic. It is common knowledge that authoritarianism leads to mediocrity. After a couple of generations, parents and children alike would have only The State’s own educational standards of education for comparison, as no private academies would exist as a yardstick. The fox would be firmly in charge of the henhouse.

    One more thing: the rest of the state of North Carolina swears that “Cary” is an acronym for “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees”. I can neither confirm nor deny that contention, but perhaps your next sociological examination of Cary might include a brief survey of the inhabitants’ location of origin. I bring this up only because my experience with our relocated and well-heeled northern neighbors confirms that they are indeed capable of civil conduct . . . when amongst those of like backgrounds. When they relocate to my rural county which is principally populated by lower-income native southerners such as I, their decorum quickly changes to that of “conquistador”. It is their apparent opinion that the only thing wrong with the South is southerners . . .

    The Independent Cuss

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  2. Well said! There is something very scary about this portrayal of a town. "The Stepford Wives" comes to mind. I think I'll join you somewhere else.

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  3. Ahh, you went straight to the heart of the matter.

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  4. By the way Independent Cuss, one of our friends claims that he used to joke that the funniest thing about the North was their conviction that the War of Northern Aggression was over. Now he does not find that funny.

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  5. Dan, welcome back. It's been a while. We're glad that you made reference to The Stepford Wives. It's actually an example of a title which is not particularly interesting, and therefore we did not examine it for many years. However, once we did, we found the story absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the reference.

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  6. What a fascinating stereotyping exercise that was. I am sure you don't see it that way, though, Inspector. Chalk it up to my over-sensitivity.

    I could mention that that "socialist" plan might be handled with something called "school vouchers." When I was a young'n, they had no school boundaries for high schools until the year I was to enter the 10th grade. I found myself north of the line for my high school of choice. I was forced to go just as far to another high school, one I did not wish to attend. A school voucher system back then would have allowed me to attend a school I wanted. Who knows? I might have not quit school that year and attended a cheap private school. My parents had to pay for my education.

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  7. 'Spector,

    You raise an interesting point.

    The reason that I am suspicious of any such Federally-mandated effort involving equity/equality/education is that, complements of the USDOE and the It-Takes-A-Village-to-Raise-No-Child-Left-Behind mentality, we ostensibly have such a program in place at this time – and it ain’t workin’. What will it take to “make it work”? Why, more of our money, of course! By my calculations, they have had at least four decades confiscating incrementally more and more of our money to “make it work”. And how is that working out for us?

    Here is a perfect example of how money is used by a government to leverage more money instead of dispensing equity, equality and education: NC Governor Beverly Perdue’s state “Education Lottery”. Touted as a boon to public education in North Carolina, it is instead being used as a weapon to coerce our state’s counties to raise their property taxes! The higher the property taxes in a county, the more bucks they receive from Aunty Bev’s Pin Money Jar – how equitable. In other words, poorer counties which can’t or won’t punish their citizens for the crime of owning real estate get LESS money for education via NC’s regressive-but-voluntary tax upon the poor, AKA the aforementioned “Education Lottery”. Our poor rural county is, of course, right there at the bottom of their list; sounds perfectly equitable to me . . . right? And why is this perpetrated? Because the state government gets a certain percentage of those county property taxes, don’tcha know – and they LOVE more free money.

    This is only one example involving one state. Now: imagine if the Feds were in charge of dispensing such “equity” and “equality”. Do you honestly think that such a “tool” (weapon) would be used for good instead of being manipulated for evil? Dream on . . .

    The Independent Cuss

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  8. My mother, whenever I raised questions of fairness regarding me and my siblings, would sweetly say, "Life ain't fair." of course, for many years, I believed it could be made fair; that it would be wonderful if everyone were given a close to equal chance from birth. I grew up, though, and changed my mind.
    Children in "privileged" families get more than a better home environment, more food in their bellies, better attention from their parents, and a lack of gunfire in the streets outside their homes. They get better genes, too. They get parents of higher IQ's, they get a tradition of better and more education, they get higher expectations from close and extended family members, and much more. You cannot replicate these things for the poor and disadvantaged.

    At one time (and often today), immigrant families came to America with little more than the clothes on their back and hope in their hearts. Instead of crying for fairness and equity in amenities, they pushed for their children to go to school, to work hard, to strive for more. Not all of them made their way to great success but enough did. Not by emulating sports stars or media stars but by setting goals like getting a degree and then working toward it buoyed by what little their parents could afford and supplemented by part-time work of their own.

    Yes, Inspector, it would be wonderful if life was fair but it has never been and I don't expect that will ever change.

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  9. Douglas:

    We've thought about the phrase "stereotyping exercise" for a couple of days now, and we still can not come up with an interpretation which we think that you possibly meant. Please elaborate for us.

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  10. 'Spector,

    I understood Douglas's meaning perfectly.

    Did my initial response to your post not provide a clue regarding how both Douglas and I interpreted it . . ?

    The Independent Cuss

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  11. Douglas and Independent Cuss:

    In using the phrase "stereotyping exercise," are you suggesting that we slanted our observations, did not accurately relate what we saw, that the events described did not occur or the conditions did not exist, or that our evaluation of the environment described was not that different from what exists in most schools in the US, to advance some agenda that you perceive we had?

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  12. ‘Spector and Douglas,

    Perhaps I misspoke, then.

    I must confess that I came at this post from the perspective of classism, not that of ethnicity. My emphasis was that members of any productive socioeconomic class are capable of civil public discourse and behavior, not only those cloistered in the rarified atmosphere of an elite private prep school.

    True, the manner of dress and topics of discussion may differ . . . but I frankly attribute the presence of civility in virtually any social setting to the absence of free-flowing alcoholic beverages, rather than to the absence of (enter name of “lesser” socioeconomic group here).

    The Independent Cuss

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  13. Actually, we did count them. We took notes of our observations to ensure accuracy. No slice of any region is accurately representative of the larger region.

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  14. Cary Academy is what it is in a region that is what it is.

    It is dramatically different from the public schools with which we are familiar in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta, Vancouver (B.C.), and Los Angeles. Additionally, the decorum of the parents at school events and the decorum of the students on public, mass transit vehicles is dramatically different.

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  15. I am not. I am suggesting you looked for factors that would fit with your preconceptions and, not too surprisingly, found them.

    Why is the demographic makeup of
    a town, village, neighborhood, or region important?

    I asked earlier if you felt compelled to count and make note of the various ethnic groups represented. Have you considered that question?

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  16. We read this post over and over looking for a perceived bias or agenda, and could not find one, because we did have one.

    Based on our training, all facts are important and relevant. They go into an analysis. If we had taken a video of the event, or a panoramic shapshot, with the exception of the census and historical data, the description would have been the same.

    Many people frequently assume that others have a particular point of view, or an agenda, and we believe that they do themselves, and communication, and discourse, a disservice, because they prejudge the content of the messenger.

    Here was our point or message in generating this piece, which we apparently did a poor job of articulating. Let's assume that there are 73 factors that go into the equation in terms of increasing the probability of getting a successful, quality, grade school education. Of these 73 factors, there are some positive elements, such as sense of safety, good nutrition, quality shelter, quality clothing, good health, parents who can read and write, etc. On the negative side, there are high crime, poor nutrition, dilapidated shelter, poor clothing, poor health, parents who can neither read or write, etc. We just described an event where we saw evidence of lots of the positive factors, and few of the negative, and thought that we would comment on it.

    There was no other agenda.

    Imagine a kid traveling through France, and he wrote a letter home to his friends describing what he saw, and the friends interpreting it as his effort to communicate some biased, political or social view of the world. Wow. That's pretty intense.

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  17. You mentioned numerous things here Independent Cuss, only one which we will address. While we are big fans of private enterprise, and feel that private entities are far more motivated to excel, the privatization of our educational system would have both positive and negative consequences. We aren't sure whether the good would outweigh the bad, although it might be interesting to try out the privatization of a small to mid-sized school district as a pilot study.

    To ensure accuracy, we are checking on the annual tuition ranges for private schools comparable to Cary Academy. However, it is our understanding that similar schools have tuition in the range of $5,000 - $10,000.

    You should be aware that many private schools weed out mid-grade and low grade performers. Only the very top performers are allowed to stay. By doing so, the average G.P.A.s, the percentage of kids admitted to top colleges, SAT scores, etc., are exceptional. Interestingly, kids from the same family frequently can not attend the same school. If we privatized school systems, what would you suggest that we do with the low performers? What private school would want to have low performers?

    There are lots of other potential reasons our educational system has declined over the past 50 years. They are far to numerous to outline here. However, we are suffering from what many once-prosperous societies before us have suffered from. We became too comfortable, too soft, less motivated, and less hungry.

    A man working 65-80 hours a week will always beat out a man willing to work 35. A man willing to work until the day he dies will always beat out a man trying to retire at 62. A man willing to forego vacation will always beat out a man asking for more vacation time. It is difficult to compete against those who are more motivated and hungrier. For us to think that we had the optimal standard of living could carry along for only so long.

    Every empire ultimately falls, and every dog has its day. There is an African proverb which we like:

    Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.

    It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed.

    Every morning a lion wakes up.

    It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death.

    It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.

    When the sun comes up, you better start running.

    We, as a country, have stopped running. We spend far too much time bitching about what others have done to us, and the glorious past. In the mean time, Chinese kids attending public schools are kicking our asses.

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  18. In your surveying of these people in Cary, did you ask each of them (or even a statistically valid percentage) why they live there? What brought them there if they were not born there? And, if they were born there, why they have chosen to stay?

    I am just curious. You see, that would have been important to me in making a judgment about the town. I have said many times that I did not understand why some of my shipmates returned to the environments (their "home towns") after leaving the service. I still do not understand why so many chose to return to ghettos and barrios and places they thought of as miserable when they had left them. Every time I moved (and I moved many times in my life), it was to a better neighborhood, a town that afforded me more opportunity, or somewhere (subjectively, at least) better than where I was coming from.

    Cary would seem a nice place to me. Not because of its demographics but because its people seemed to care about the community, because the people seemed friendly (neighborly, if you will), because it seems better than where I am right now.

    I wouldn't worry about its demographics because that is not my concern. I don't see people as representative of a group but as individuals.

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  19. I met with a friend today, a Canadian living here year round. You know what he found refreshing and different about the U.S.? Opportunity and entrepreneurship. He said that didn't happen in Canada, parents did not encourage their children to take risks.
    I said, "and there are some people who want to make this country like that." By which I meant that they wanted to reduce that risk by suppressing that risk taking. They want something called "fairness."

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  20. No, we did not attend our friend's son's track meet in an official capacity as a member of the press. We were just struck by how different the environment and crowd were, and jotted down some notes reflecting what we observed.

    We suspect that you are in the minority in terms of lack of interest in demographic data. Major corporations analyze such data each time they consider moving to an area. It is a staple of the diets of advertising and public relations firms. Trial lawyers pore over such data in choosing juries. Community colleges use demographic data in assessing their student populations and formulating programs. Many parents examine such data in determining where to move and live.

    We tried to locate the article which we saw last week, but we were unable to do so. This may not be entirely accurate, but according to a recent poll, something like 43% of certain residents said that they would not like to live in the same neighborhood, participate in activities, or have some involvement with African-Americans. If we are able to locate it, we will provide you a link.

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  21. You don't have to convince me of that, I have seen it all my life. Probably why I try not to engage in it. I understand it (at least, I believe I do) and where it comes from. I even wrote a bit about my beliefs in that area in a guest column somewhere. Perhaps you'll recall it. Tell me, have they ever polled African-Americans on a similar vein?

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  22. Douglas:

    A couple of years ago, two of the Fellows associated with the Institute conducted small business management seminars, and generated manuals to be used during the seminars. We are in the process of editing the manuals to be published and sold on the Internet. Just today, we read the section on market research, and reflected on how much demographic data can assist management in effectively and efficiently operating their business.

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  23. 'Spector,

    1) Please re-read my comments (which were unfortunately improperly paragraphed – technical glitch). I never suggested privatizing all education; I simply suggested that we cease throwing more money into this bottomless pit until we see it produce some results with the money which it is already allocated. And we certainly shouldn’t give it more power.

    2) I can't imagine why a private school would care one way or the other about the presence/absence of low performers; just as in the case of a private college, either way they get paid their tuition fee.

    3) The matter is academic (pun intended) since public schools do exist to accommodate the laggards, and I would not have it otherwise. Incidentally, I am one of those publicly-educated laggards. But just because the public schools tried to fill my head with crap doesn't mean that I fell for it . . .

    4) I have rarely been running when the sun came up, yet here I remain – unstarved and uneaten. I would like to think that our western society has evolved just a bit past the brutality of the wild animals of the African savannah . . .

    5) Certainly, the children of a clever socialist regime are seemingly well-educated. So tell me: would you want YOUR children educated in Chinese schools? For the privilege of a “good education”, would you consign them to suffer the privation of unspeakable human rights offences, slave wages, deplorably unsafe workplaces and unhealthy environmental conditions? Obviously, the Chinese government considers its citizens to be expendable – but hey, the kids get a great education on the way to their mandatory adult role as Disposable Tool of the Party! I would love to get a glimpse at the sort of “motivation” the Chinese public schools use to attain such outstanding academic results . . . or perhaps not.

    The Independent Cuss

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  24. "This may not be entirely accurate, but according to a recent poll, something like 43% of certain residents said that they would not like to live in the same neighborhood, participate in activities, or have some involvement with African-Americans."

    'Spector,

    And these are the people amongst whom you would have your children live so that they could get a "good education" . . ?

    I have a certain amount of first-hand experience with elitism. In "occupied" Fairfax County, Virginia the wealthy newcomers who call the shots despise the lower-income natives; guess into which group I fit. In the mid-1980s, the Chairman of County Supervisors actually made the following statement to the local newspaper: "I would prefer that no one who earns under $50,000 per year would live in Fairfax County." And no, that statement is not in the least embellished or taken out of context; it meant exactly what you think it did.

    I don't care how good the education system is or how bright the student might be . . . private school or public, it is impossible to obtain a good education in such a living/learning environment.

    The Independent Cuss

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  25. Independent Cuss:

    None of the Fellows here at the Institute have any kids; however, are you suggesting that American parents should not want their kids educated in American schools?

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  26. (sigh)

    That being the case, "your children" exist solely within the hypothetical realm as do my own.

    As to my meaning: no, I am suggesting that perhaps American parents might not go out of their way to subject their offspring to a living/learning environment wherein 43% of the population would prefer not to live near African Americans – all in the name of obtaining a “good education” for said offspring. Unless I misunderstood, it would seem that you attribute such a sentiment to the inhabitants of Cary, North Carolina.

    You must admit that such an attitude might call into question the definition of "good education" . . .

    The Independent Cuss

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  27. Absolutely. I have not ever said that people don't conform to social patterns of behavior nor that businesses (and government and politicians) cannot take advantage of the knowledge and use it to manipulate the public for fun and profit. Not to change that behavior, you see, but to use it to their own advantage. But we weren't talking about that. We were talking about why you want reassurance that this (this prejudice) is so.

    If you tell me that people are prejudiced and bigoted, I will agree completely. But, if you then tell me, "But not me.. or my personal friends and colleagues" then I will vehemently disagree. I might even laugh out loud. And when people assume that others are (because those surveys say so) then I wonder why they need to run ad hoc, unscientific, surveys to prove what they already believe (or to illustrate it t others), I have to wonder why they engage in such exercises.

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  28. Nope, the sentiment was a national sentiment, not the sentiment of residents of Cary. The stories were not related in any way, at least not by us. We were responding to Douglas' contention that he did not see the need for the insertion of demographic data in our post. We responded that lots of people make decisions based on demographic data, including parents.

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  29. Douglas :

    1. Please locate a post wherein we stated that the Fellows connected with the Institute, our personal friends, or our colleagues are not prejudiced and bigoted in some form or fashion. We'll be glad to address it, and if we said that, we'll retract it.

    2. This is a comment which you have made on numerous occasions since you have been following this blog. We realize that you consider yourself a modern day Diogenes of Sinope, and you're entitled to pursue that philosophical approach to life.

    3. You may or may not recall that we wrote a very extensive post entitled, "Racism, While Problematic, Has a Pragmatic and Utilitarian Function." We think that prejudice and racism are genetically encoded.

    4. We hope that more people than not, would, as Lincoln once said, "be guided by the angels of our better nature."

    5. That being said, what we find a bit disconcerting is your seeming cynicism about any effort on the part of humans to try to be objective and fair. You seem to suggest that it is a waste of time. We feel differently. We feel that everyday, we're capable of re-evaluating ourselves and the systems within which we function, to see if they are fair and objective. That's how we, and many we know, like to spend our time. That some think that is a waste of time is fine. Everyone is entitled to pursue what they value in life.

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  30. So, you think it is normal to count the numbers of each ethnic group at a track event that you went to instead of merely enjoying the moment, the event, and the friend?

    I have, I see, offended you. I suppose I should apologize for that. But I choose not to.

    I will, therefore, go on hiatus until such time of my choosing.

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  31. No Douglas, we're not the least offended. We can't imagine any group or person writing a public blog, and not moderating comments being offended by anything. Disagreement is the nature of the beast. We did not expect, nor did we did it warranted, an apology.

    We don't any stats, info, polls, or surveys which suggest what is normal to do at a track meet. We don't know. You apparently have some opinions in that regard, to which you are entitled.

    However, in our view of the view, all information is good information. Examining and considering every thing assists one in making decisions, of whatever variety.

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  32. ‘Spector,

    If that is the case, then the intolerance issue is worse than I had thought. It is bad enough that they feel that way, but to actually admit it in a national poll is definitely cringe-worthy.

    I have no answer to any aspect of this problem, then. I know that the answer is neither to effectively “nationalize” all education, nor is it to make all education resemble that which is dispensed at Cary Academy – your description of which gives me that whole “Stepford Kids” vibe – nor is it to do nothing.

    Perhaps a Petrie dish containing two (three?) childless men is not the most conducive medium in which to solve this sort of problem . . .

    The Independent Cuss

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  33. Independent Cuss:

    Although you are a long-time follower of our blog, you may not have read one of our very first posts, Racism, While Problematic, Serves a Pragmatic and Utilitarian Purpose.

    What people feel in their hearts, what people reveal in private, and what people reveal when being observed, are very different things.

    Have we made any progress on the race relations front, either nation-wide or globally, over the past 100 years? Who knows.

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  34. I agree, socio-economic class is a big deal but seldom looked at, not just in the US. The demographic make up of private schools in Germany and other European countries are similar to that in the US. It would be ideal if we had policies in place that would ensure that all children get the same socio-economic start. Who want's to pay for that? Our politicians seem to be more concerned with other issues. Furthermore, I do not think that they view all citizens as resources.
    There is more than one way to interpret demographic data. Looking at the Cary stats you provided would make it easy for some to believe in the "Bell Curve" and the myth that the people who are at the bottom of the social ladder are all there because they are lazy, irresponsible and less intelligent. So why bother to invest in them?
    If I remember correctly it was President Obama who called on the Nation to "invent stuff" earlier this year. It made me smile and wonder if he ever bothered to look at who's inventing. Most inventors do not come from community colleges, they come from top schools. Not that surprising if you think that in order to implement an innovation it takes more than just a bright idea. Research, testing, building prototypes, patents... cost plenty of money and someone has to pay for it.
    To me it looks unlikely that our current career politicians will realize or admit that it's important to promote and implement change.

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  35. wsteffie:

    You said a lot here, but we will focus on just one thing which we believe explains much in society, namely your statement to the effect that you do not think that our politicians view all citizens as resources.

    It is very important to recognize this pragmatic reality in examining the operation of our governance model. Not everyone matters, unfortunately, particularly to elected officials. For elected officials, the people who matter are the ones who vote, or the ones who facilitate what they hope to accomplish, the ones with the most power or money, and the ones who make the most noise.

    If someone is of no value to them, and arguably can not hurt them, why pay attention to them? We think that this philosophy was ever present in the government's response to Katrina.

    Under the governance model in operation in the U.S., not everyone matters. It's a fundamental principle in the operation of a competitive society. Slavery in America was a reflection of that attitude.

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  36. Since lot's of countries do have similar problems right now I would not say that the problem is a specific governance model. Looks more like laissez-faire capitalism and greed are the problem. If politicians even cared about the working middle class they would cut military spending instead of education programs, Medicare and SS and they would have declared war on unemployment.

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  37. wSteffie: "War on Unemployment," what a concept.

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  38. Steffie,

    Might your War on Unemployment look a bit like my proposal to declare American jobs to be a precious national resource and make it illegal to export them, and to sufficiently secure our borders so that illegals who will work for lower wages can't take what jobs are left . . ?

    The Independent Cuss

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  39. Sorry for the late reply Cuss, hope you still get to read this. Yes, my War on Unemployment would look much like yours indeed!! I do have to say though that the illegals that I've met over here have all been hard-working and law- abiding. I can't get upset about someone that comes over here because he has to live in poverty and fear and wants to provide for his children. I do get upset with the people that employ and exploit them. They are the culprits and usually get away with some fines (likely figured already into their equations).

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  40. Thanks for your contribution in response to an older post. We particularly appreciate it because sometimes after the heat of the debate dissipates, we see or think of things which we did not consider previously. The passage of time also allows us to change our views on certain subjects. We find ourselves re-reading each of our posts and the comments responsive thereto, over and over, throughout the year.

    Here in the United States, we have difficulty putting our arms around the immigrant issue because we have a complex history of assimilating them, characterizing them, and using them.

    For example, although there are legal and illegal immigrants, quite often, people assess the incoming masses based on their appearance or country of origin, not their legal status. For many Americans, they could care less about the legal status.

    Another complexity has to do with the geographic location of the immigrants. They are needed and welcomed in some locations, and not others.

    Still another complexity has to do with the shortage or abundance of jobs in a particular geographic area, at a particular point in time, and the compensation paid relative to their native country and what is typically paid in the U.S.

    The reality is that we become more xenophobic during times of economic stress, and turn to seemingly more simplistic generalizations about those who we perceive as a threat, depending on our individual circumstances and where we are located, and what type of job we have.

    There is even another complexity. It is not always the low skill - low pay jobs that are at issue. There are some highly skilled jobs in this country, which pay a very good wage, and there are too few properly trained, qualified citizens capable of performing them.

    Here's a question for you. Why do we permit immigrants, whether legal or not, to enter this country to become actors and singers? Don't we have enough unemployed or underemployed artists already here?

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  41. Xenophobia is on the rise over here as well Inspector. The people that are not xenophobic (still the majority), do know that legal or illegal aliens are not the problem and are not to blame. A lot of our problems over here have been created by current and past administrations. We're facing a shortage of trained engineers right now. We have not been able to attract students to engineering for years, so this shortage was to be expected.

    If one views the alien actors and singers as food for the tabloids & MSN then they almost look like job creators.:-)

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