Monday, February 27, 2012

The War on Brains

From Revenge of the Nerds:

Gilbert:  I just wanted to say that I'm a nerd, and I'm here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds. I mean uh, all our lives we've been laughed at and made to feel inferior. And tonight, those bastards, they trashed our house. Why? Cause we're smart? Cause we look different? Well, we're not. I'm a nerd, and uh, I'm pretty proud of it. 

Lewis:   Hi, Gilbert. I'm a nerd too. I just found that out tonight. We have news for the beautiful people. There's a lot more of us than there are of you. I know there's alumni here tonight. When you went to Adams you might've been called a spazz, or a dork, or a geek. Any of you that have ever felt stepped on, left out, picked on, put down, whether you think you're a nerd or not, why don't you just come down here and join us. Okay? Come on. 

Gilbert:   Just join us cos uh, no-one's gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends.

Being college educated is worse than being on life’s Bridge to Nowhere.  It is the fast track straight to Liberalville and godlessness, and the President of the United States is behind the wheel.  That’s this week’s campaign message from Rick Santorum.  Well, today I am here to stand up for college education and encourage greater access to college for all Americans.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to become an intellectual snob without fear of ridicule.  No one’s gonna really be free until ‘college educated’ persecution ends.

The War on Brains has been waged by the GOP for several cycles now, and Rick Santorum is just the latest in a long line of champions of academic mediocrity.  George W. Bush reveled in his cluelessness and wore it as a badge of honor.  He held up his average grades as proof of his ordinariness, and he bragged about getting his information from limited, biased sources.  Reading would only soften his resolve.  Rick Perry bragged about being 13th in his graduating class of 12 students (it was part of his stump speech) which practically celebrates his status as The Child Left Behind.  A college education is the road to snobbery, and no one will vote for a snob, especially not in Texas.

Thanks to Mr. Santorum and others, we also know that a college education is the path to liberalism.  Santorum derides President Obama’s efforts to make college more affordable and accessible to people as part of his Master Plan to manufacture and indoctrinate more liberals.  That could be.  Since watching lots of cable TV seems to have created more Republicans, so perhaps the opposite is true and higher education creates more Democrats.  Being open to new ways of thinking, being open to the fact that we live on a globe inhabited by others with different opinions can cause one to consider some liberal positions, much as learning only from Mom and Dad and your pastor can cause one to consider only their less nuanced positions.  A reasonable conclusion from Santorum’s partisan theory is that we’ll have more conservatives if fewer people obtain a college degree.  Brilliant. 
Kids, stay in school – elementary school, that is.

The debate ratcheted up another notch this weekend.  Now college is a path to snobbery, liberalism, AND godlessness.  Santorum has proof!   He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure.  That’s sounds about right.  Young adults in college are always losing things.  When our kids come home from college to do laundry, their innocence is misplaced and they have questions about authority that they never asked before.  Of course, the “before” period refers to when they were only 10 years old and obeyed our every instruction out of fear.

The facts, however, do not support Santorum’s position on the loss of “faith commitment”.    A study published 2007 in the journal Social Forces - which PBS reports that Santorum’s claim is based on - finds that Americans who don’t go to college experience a steeper decline in their religiosity than those who do.

“Contrary to our own and others’ expectations, however, young adults who never enrolled in college are presently the least religious young Americans,” the journal concluded, noting that “64 percent of those currently enrolled in a traditional four-year institution have curbed their attendance habits. Yet, 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.” 

Uh oh, that would mean that NOT going to college led to LESS religious commitment, but that’s impossible because Obama supports it.
Hey, Rick, correlation does not mean causation.  Perhaps a person’s maturity causes more questions about the faith traditions they learned as children, regardless of their college “indoctrination” by those tweed jacket wearing Alinskys.  It’s more fun to rail against liberal, godless snobs, though, isn’t it?

Putting aside that Liberty and Bob Jones Universities are options for those like-minded conservatives to attend if they so choose, Santorum’s argument ignores an important fact of market-based labor supply and demand.  For many of the job openings today, we have the numbers of people but not the people with the required skill set.  The unemployment issue in this country is exacerbated by a skills deficit.  That leaves us with a few choices:  We can export the jobs to countries that are investing in their populace to learn those skills; we could import the talent from other countries through legal immigration; we could develop our own talent with the citizenry we already have.  If developing our own talent pool for the existing jobs that require a higher education to succeed, we might want to stop accusing those who strive for college as “snobs”.  They are our future.

Santorum used to agree.  His 2006 campaign website had the following text:

 “In addition to Rick’s support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education.  Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.”

It used to be a smart political strategy to encourage those on the lower rungs to aspire to reaching the higher rungs.  Lifetime earnings increase on average for those who are more highly educated.  6 years ago, Santorum understood that.  Even Romney, with little to no political instincts to speak of, knows that you should hold out the hope of being rich to the masses.  Santorum prefers the class warfare track (yes, I went there), and that’s his choice.
It seemed to be working at his rally.  Here are some quotes from the attendees at his Troy, Michigan event (from Politico):

“They try and disguise it with, you know, ‘equal opportunity’…” Stephen Clement began.

“It’s communism,” Murrow said, cutting him off. “The professors are all teaching the kids…”

“Where does the social engineering stop?” Clement jumped back in, fired up. “Does it stop after we send everybody to college, or does it stop after we set their curriculum and said, ‘these are the things you’re allowed to study?’ Does it become the Soviet Union?”

Yes, improved access to college for American children is equal to boarding the slow boat to the Soviet Union.  I don’t see it that way myself, but I went to college.  What do I know…

As Maureen Dowd noted, the name Santorum comes from the same Latin root as sanctimonious.  If you don’t believe me, just google his name.

Rick Santorum (channeling the ghost of Revenge of the Nerds character Coach Harris): You know, when you were a baby in your crib, your father looked down at you, he had but one hope - some day my son will grow to be a man. Well look at you now. You just got your asses whipped by a bunch of goddamn nerds.  *Nerds*! Well, if I was you, I'd do something about it. I would get up and redeem myself in the eyes of my father, my maker, and my *coach*!

Now Vote Santorum – or side with the godless, liberal snobs that go to college.

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