from the Congress Action newsletter

Glorification Of Ignorance

by: Kim Weissman
October 8, 2000

This week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed (96 to 1), and Clinton is expected to sign into law, legislation designed to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to grant increased numbers of visas to nonimmigrant aliens. The reason for this legislation, according to Senator John Warner (R-VA) in the Congressional Record, is that "…there does exist a tight labor market in many fields, especially the information technology fields. … This tight labor market makes it difficult for the high-tech industry to fill job openings, and this difficulty is compounded by the fact that our American education system, for one reason or another, is not producing enough individuals with the interest and skills for employment in the information technology fields. If these jobs are not filled, our economy will suffer, and these American companies will move overseas to fill their jobs."

Senator Partick Leahy (D-VT) explained, "Due to the stunning economic growth we have experienced in the past eight years, unemployment is lower than the best-case scenario envisioned by most economists. … Although it is important that the high-tech industry ensure that it is making maximum possible use of American workers, it should also have access to highly-skilled workers from abroad, particularly workers who were educated at American universities."

The bill in question is S.2045, the "American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000". Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) put his finger on both the short-term and long-term problem:

"In the short-term, a tight labor market, increasing globalization, and a burgeoning economy have combined to increase demand for skilled workers well beyond what was forecast when Congress last addressed the issue of temporary visas for highly skilled workers in 1998. …The longer term solution lies with our own children and our own workers; and in ensuring that our education and training of our current and future workforce matches the demands in our high tech 21st century global economy."

How can this be? How can there be a shortage of educated high technology workers, here in the United States, the alleged high technology capitol of the world? After all, look at our historic lead in creating the core elements of our high technology economy. The development of the modern electronic computer is usually credited to Jancsi von Neumann (although born in Hungary, and educated in Zurich and Budapest) working at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, building on the work of University of Pennsylvania researchers Eckert and Mauchly and their ENIAC computer. The integrated circuit was invented by scientists working at Fairchild Semiconductor and Texas Instruments. And as everyone knows, our own current Vice President himself invented the Internet. So why can't America's high technology companies find enough highly trained people, born and educated in the United States, to fill out their workforces?

According to a report titled "Before It's Too Late: A Report to the Nation from The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century", (the Glenn Commission) released September 27, 2000 by the U.S. Department of Education, "…the current preparation that students in the United States receive in mathematics and science is, in a word, unacceptable. Recent reports of the performance of our country’s students from both the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) echo a dismal message of lackluster performance, now three decades old; it’s time the nation heeded it — before it’s too late."

The Executive Summary of the report warns "The primary message of this report holds that America’s students must improve their performance in mathematics and science if they are to succeed in today’s world and if the United States is to stay competitive in an integrated global economy." The Commission concluded that, "…the most direct route to improving mathematics and science achievement for all students is better mathematics and science teaching." The nation needs better teachers. One proposal from the Commission to achieve that is a step adamantly opposed by the nation's teachers' unions: "incentives — whether in the form of cash awards, salary increases, support for further education, or community-wide recognition — are needed to encourage deserving mathematics and science teachers to remain in teaching and improve their skills."

America's education system is dominated by America's teachers' unions. And those unions are very much like the current democrat candidate for president whom they support — firmly striding across that fabled "bridge to the 21st century", but marching in the wrong direction. As was recently commented about Gore's approach to governing, "Mr. Gore seems intent on recreating the Democratic Party agenda of the 1950s, if not the 1930s." Any honest analysis of Al Gore's proposed agenda for the nation, if he becomes president, would have to conclude that his goal is to further expand an already massive regulatory state in which, no matter what the question, government alone has the right answer.

That approach, as exemplified by Gore's serial demagogic attacks against one major industry after another, has the economy increasingly worried. The reason that the stock market — a useful indicator for the health of the economy — has been stagnating lately, according to some analysis, is the growing fear among investors that Gore could win the presidency and bring a democrat congress with him. This would enable him to actually enact into law many of his radical and destructive ideas.

The Glenn Commission finds the same stuck-in-the-past problem with American education: "The basic teaching style in too many mathematics and science classes today remains essentially what it was two generations ago. By contrast, teaching innovation and higher student performance are well documented in other countries, where students’ improvements are anchored to an insistence on strong professional development for teachers." Does anyone seriously believe, if Gore becomes president and democrats the majority in the congress, that there will be any meaningful structural reform of the education system, beyond simply throwing more taxpayer money at the same failed and unreformed system? Our education system, driven as it is by backward-looking bureaucrats, politicians, and unions, is, and will remain if Gore becomes president, mired in the past and unwilling, under leftist ideological domination, to even consider stepping into the future by adopting what has made the private economy so strong — competition and incentives.

But there remains another, even more fundamental problem in our society. That problem was succinctly enunciated by the late astronomer and scientist, Carl Sagan — "One trend that bothers me is the glorification of stupidity, that it's all right not to know anything...". The glorification of stupidity, the disrespect for science, and the growing virulent hatred of intellectual endeavor of any sort whatsoever — the trend is ominous and growing.

That trend is only exacerbated by congressional dinosaurs such as Ted Kennedy, pandering to the pernicious psychology of victimhood in those rendered dysfunctional by his own leftist ideology. More comfortable with the past than the future, Kennedy tried to impose racial quotas and the heavy hand of government regulation even on a bill called the "American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000". No 21st century for Kennedy! His amendments (which were "laid on the table", ie: set aside without prejudice) required recruitment of "members of underrepresented minority groups", and authorized the Secretary of Labor "…to pursue appropriate penalties where appropriate." When a "hate crimes" provision was removed from a defense bill this week, Kennedy opined that the failure to anoint special victims for special protection violated the nation's "commitment to…equal protection of the laws". In the leftist's vision of the world, equal protection of the law is only obtained by government-mandated and enforced inequality.

Leftists such as Kennedy himself have created, at least in part, the problem he sought to address, by fostering that psychology of victimhood among minorities. As scholar Thomas Sowell put it,

"One of the…huge handicaps that black students face is the attitude that trying to learn is 'acting white'. Self-destructive as this notion may be, it is a logical corollary of the social vision that says whitey is out to get you and it doesn't matter how much you know or how hard you try. Which party panders to this victimhood vision? Which party cuddles up with race hustlers like Al Sharpton, who promotes this paranoid tribalism? The Democrats in general and Al Gore and Hillary Clinton in particular."

The dysfunctional education system has implications more profound than simply a shortage of Americans trained in high technology, and requires repairs far more extensive than the importation of more foreigners. This is because the educational failure spans more than just science and mathematics. Of far more significance to the long term health, not only of our economy, but of our form of government and our very freedom itself, is the public education system's failure to properly educate students in history, civics, and economics. Thus we hear Al Gore attacking "big pharmaceuticals", "big oil", and "obscene profits" (any corporate profits to committed leftists like Gore are "obscene"), and suggesting the need for price controls and government regulations in both areas. And the economically illiterate cheer, having no conception of the supply and demand equation dominating the price of oil, no realization that Gore's own restrictions on energy production in all its forms has caused oil shortages, and no understanding of the harm to their own health that drug price controls will cause by killing pharmaceutical research and development.

When democrats propose an ever expanding role of government in every aspect of our lives, the Constitutionally and historically illiterate think that that is the proper role of government. When Gore — and some equally guilty republicans — pushes his idea of putting taxpayer money into a so-called "lock-box" to prevent it from being spent by congress, people ignorant of civics and the processes of government don't understand that whatever one congress enacts by way of a "lock-box" can be easily revoked by the next congress. Even allegedly educated people now routinely talk about preventing "government money" from being diverted to school vouchers, as though there really is such a thing as "government money", as separate and distinct from money taken from citizens and businesses through taxation.

When Al Gore justifies his intention to appoint activist judges by proclaiming that the Constitution should be a "growing" document that changes with the politically correct fashion of the day (and therefore that the text really doesn't mean what it clearly says, or says something that it clearly does not); when the totalitarians on the left proclaim that the Second Amendment protects only the rights of the federal government and not the rights of individuals (making it the only one of the Bill of Rights so uniquely situated); when the campaign finance reform crowd proclaims that the First Amendment doesn't protect political speech; the Constitutionally and historically illiterate nod in ignorant agreement.

So when the government launches an armored assault against men, women, and children in Waco, resulting in the deaths of over 80 Americans, and justifies it because those people were religious fanatics; when federal agents kick in the door of a peaceful home in Miami and take a child at the point of a machine gun, and justify it because the child's relatives wanted the custody matter settled by a court of law rather than by a diktat from the Attorney General; when a federal sharpshooter in Idaho kills an unarmed woman holding her baby and is said to just be doing his duty, because the unfortunate woman got what she deserved since her husband was a "gun nut"; no one should be shocked when so few of our fellow citizens — propagandized and rendered ignorant by decades of public school "education" — stand up and demand of our government, "How Dare You!"

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." — Thomas Jefferson

The above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.

BACK Education

TYSK eagle

News Depts Articles Library
Lite Stuff Links Credits Home


8 oct 2000