American Elephants

Patterns of Behavior, Endlessly Repeated, But Doomed to Failure. by The Elephant's Child


President Obama frequently speaks about education, and he seems to feel passionately about improving outcomes for poor minority children.

And yet, despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we’ve let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us. Let me give you a few statistics. In 8th grade math, we’ve fallen to 9th place. Singapore’s middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they should. And year after year, a stubborn gap persists between how well white students are doing compared to their African-American and Latino classmates. The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, it’s unsustainable for our democracy, it’s unacceptable for our children — and we can’t afford to let it continue.

What’s at stake is nothing less than the American Dream….It’s that most American of ideas, that with the right education, a child of any race, any faith, any station, can overcome whatever barriers stand in their way and fulfill their God-given potential.

So why in early 2009, was one of President Obama’s first acts in office to end the DC school voucher program? He even sought to revoke scholarships that had already been promised to children for the coming term. The children who benefitted from the program were mostly of African-American descent, a constituency Obama carried by 96% in 2008. Ever since taking office, President Obama has maintained a pernicious fixation on rooting out school choice programs. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have instituted voucher programs which allow students from low-income families to escape failing schools. Why are they not celebrated?
Louisiana is the latest frontier in the fight for school choice. The program has initially proven to be wildly popular and successful. 93% of parents whose children receive vouchers  approve of the law. In August, the Justice Department abruptly intervened to halt the Louisiana Scholarship Program on the grounds that it exacerbates segregation in public schools. As students leave certain schools to migrate to others, the racial makeup at each end is changed. And that is important because?

What has been little noticed is that this kind of conflict between the soaring speech and reality on the ground is the rule rather than the exception. Obama was going to save people from the climbing cost of health care, and the depredations of the despised insurance companies; and we are just learning how much more expensive ObamaCare is going to be, and how costs will continue to soar.

We were withdrawing from Iraq because it was a dumb war, and we had to bring our troops home; so now we are rushing supplies and equipment back to Iraq to help government forces combat an explosion of violence by an al Qaeda backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria. This happens in the context of the deaths of more than 8,000 Iraqis in 2013, the highest level of violence since 2008.

Obama speaks about creating jobs, yet refuses to deal with the Keystone XL pipeline which promises 20,000 high-paying jobs on the pipeline and many more spin-off jobs servicing the pipeline. Obama shut down drilling in the Gulf, even as he brags about the increased production of oil and gas from private lands and private interests in the Dakotas, which he opposed.

Obama wanted to save the world from the depredations of global warming, so he spent billions on windmills and solar farms to free the nation from our slavish dependence on foreign oil — while the fracking that he opposed has brought us a wealth of oil and gas that is making the United States the energy capital of the world. We should be exporting oil and gas and growing the economy.

The latest distraction from ObamaCare is inequality, which is a bad thing. Everybody should be equal? How is that to be accomplished? Obama quickly increased inequality just before he left for Hawaii by giving a raise to government workers, only 1%, but the District of Columbia and surrounding counties are the wealthiest in the country.

It is a pattern, repeated over and over. Soaring rhetoric, visions of sugarplums, theater, on the one hand, and in the real world — nothing works. He wants people to think well of him, so the words are meant to please. ObamaCare is the big divide.

The”Lie of the Year”was too big. The slowly exposed truth too obvious, too expensive, too frightening. But we’re on to him. It isn’t just the website, that was just ordinary incompetence exposed. But they don’t know how insurance is supposed to work, they don’t understand the doctor-patient relationship, they don’t understand free markets and how incentives work. Scores of think-tanks and scholars and experts have come up with ideas about how to make the relationship between people and their health and their care providers work. Exciting ideas. But all the Democrats have in their filing cabinet is a big thick folder titled “Regulation.” They will tell you what to do, how to do it, how much you can charge, and what services to provide to the people. Control, and one-size fits all.

It’s too late. We’re on to him. It isn’t going to work — like all the other big ideas that don’t work. Some people think big thoughts about changing the world; while others roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of organizing, planning, and fixing and making the damn thing run smoothly. When your car breaks down on a snowy winter road, who would you rather have along, a professor of women’s studies or a competent mechanic? When and how did we give the Democrats in Congress the right to decide what medicine we may have, which doctor we may consult, whether we may have the operation we need, and which hospital we may go to? In what imaginary world did we give them that power? Government does not have the right, even if they have the power, to decide what is good for us.


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