Archive for September 8th, 2009

As a species, are humans getting dumber, or does instant access to information just make it seem that way? A couple of stories in today’s news have me pondering pandering as what was once journalism jigs toward justification with revenue being the mighty motivator.

Starting with all the flap over the President of the United States addressing the nation’s school children, I admit to being aghast. Although I agree that it was totally wrong for Dan Quayle to insist kids spell potato incorrectly, the country’s leaders are supposed to be role models, inspirational … every kid has the potential to be, etc. … and it is rather the job of the President to LEAD, even kids.

This article from the Heritage Foundation takes issue with that whole ‘leadership’ thing, apparently, reducing the office of the President to a political entity without merit .

Parents across the country have raised alarm about President Obama’s planned “back to school” address to American students. When the Department of Education released a lesson plan that included asking youngsters—how can you help President Obama?—parents’ concern that their children were being “organized” for political purposes was justified.

Helping the President is now a bad thing that children are to be turned away from, protected from the idea of? There’s a concept history will not take kindly to.

I won’t bother making too much of a point about the fact that math skills seem to be lacking at the Heritage Foundation … “This year, American taxpayers will spend $10,000 per-student on the average students’ public school education this year. A kindergartener starting school this year can expect to have $100,000 spent on his or her education.” … but will say that $7,692.31 per child per year is peanuts.

Considering the fact that Americans spent more than $66 billion on soft drinks in 2004 … and probably more than that in 2008 … that less-that-ten-grand (do the math) sounds meager.

And speaking of how things sound …

Yet for millions of kids, this six-figure investment will lead to dismal results.

doesn’t sound good. Turn it around, however, and talk about the millions of kids who make the most out of under-funded education, graduate from high school, go through college, establish successful careers, head up companies, raise families and keep the world spinning and the picture shifts from a boo hiss to hearty hoorays accompanied by no few thank-our-lucky-stars.

Arguments over a Presidential address to American children should have been nothing more than a tempest in tepid tea, sour grapes grumbling from some of those who didn’t get enough votes to be running the show right now. Contrary to the general welfare, however, the rabble raises revenue so rates regurgitation.

Of course, this isn’t only an American phenomenon. Over in Europe, they’re getting the short end of the stick from the press as it goes to great lengths to make a tall tale out of French President Sarkozy’s stature … as if his wife wearing flats proves he’s a heel when it comes to running a country.

The BBC headlines the story, “Sarkozy height row grips France”, and if that’s not insulting … even to the French (which might very well be the point, since this is from the BBC) … well …

Mass media … short on substance, but long on prevarication. Why? Because it sells.

We’ll be shortchanged as long as we keep buying it. Shouldn’t we have loftier goals?

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