February 8th, 2017


Are we not cabinet? We are DeVos

40 years ago I was where our new Secretary of Education is now: wanting to smash the public school system. I felt that way because I thought it existed to serve the social order.

OK, that’s a smart-ass oversimplification, but one of the minor disastrous results of Nehemiah Scudder’s tie-breaking vote was to dig up John Green’s dim-witted post that begins with an endorsement of totalitarianism and ends not knowing the difference between stupid and ignorant.

I believed the libertarian oversimplification that the State gives everyone what the dictator or the majority wants but the Market has requisite variety. I seemed to be an example. Public school, where the dull normals set the pace, exacerbated my attention and anger issues, making me (and often my classmates) miserable. Then, an intellectually rigorous prep school kept me interested enough in learning that I was merely as unhappy as teenagers usually are, brought my oppositional defiant disorder down to challenging the dress rules, and enabled me to suck up huge wads of math, science, and literature.

I gave up my support for the voucher system when I realized it would turn the schools over to the kind of people who run insurance companies. That was typical of my abandonment of libertarianism. I still agree with Tim Leary that politics is so animalistic it should be done on all fours, but business is every bit as quadrupedal.

And education, like public health, is a public good that, alas, has to be centrally coordinated by an organization to which we give the monopoly of legitimized force. It is a public good because giving everyone a chance to develop their abilities (even if they’re dark-skinned or their families are poor or they start out not speaking English) will make things better for everyone.

As Uncle Sigmund said, the paranoid is never entirely mistaken. There are many people who really do want the schools to serve the social order. They want to protect the tender minds of the young from Godless heliocentrism or make them have lots of unwanted pregnancies (excuse me, I mean they want to indoctrinate them with the fantasy of Abstinence Only, which always winds up that way). Or they want the schools to make everyone equal instead of developing everyone to their fullest; some even believe that both can be done simultaneously, which is at least as feasible as lining up alphabetically by height. There are those who want the school draft to have no exemptions: Those with intellectual or financial resources must send their children into the system so that (in theory) they cannot be educated without educating everyone. The word I would use for that is “hostages.”

Forbidden words

This is what the Senate was not permitted to hear.

I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.
I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions' confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this be made a part of the hearing record.
I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions—Coretta Scott King
ETA: That was the covering letter. Here’s the whole thing. Thanx to theweaselking for the reminder