Thomas Friedman writes another great column
… first, lamenting about our choices this election and candidates that are promoting many of the very same ideas that got us into this mess.
Am I hearing right ?
Let’s have more tax cuts, unlinked to any specific spending cuts and while we’re still fighting two wars — because that worked so well during the Bush years to make our economy strong and our deficit small. Let’s immediately cut government spending, instead of phasing cuts in gradually, while we’re still mired in a recession — because that worked so well in the Great Depression. Let’s roll back financial regulation — because we’ve learned from experience that Wall Street can police itself and average Americans will never have to bail it out.
Let’s have no limits on corporate campaign spending so oil and coal companies can more easily and anonymously strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its powers to limit pollution in the air our kids breathe. Let’s discriminate against gays and lesbians who want to join the military and fight for their country. Let’s restrict immigration, because, after all, we don’t live in a world where America’s most important competitive advantage is its ability to attract the world’s best brains. Let’s repeal our limited health care reform rather than see what works and then fix it. Let’s oppose the free-trade system that made us rich.
Let’s kowtow even more to public service unions so they’ll make even more money than private sector workers, so they’ll give even more money to Democrats who will give them even more generous pensions, so not only California and New York will go bankrupt but every other state too. Let’s pay for more tax cuts by uncovering waste I can’t identify, fraud I haven’t found and abuse that I’ll get back to you on later.
All that’s missing is any realistic diagnosis of where we are as a country and what we need to get back to sustainable growth.
Mr. Friedman then goes on to cite a nonpartisan group of America’s most distinguished engineers, scientists, educators and industrialists recommendations of ten actions the federal government could take to enhance science and technology so America could successfully compete in the 21st century.
“Here is a little dose of reality about where we actually rank today,” says Charles M. Vest, the former M.I.T. president, who worked on the study:
– sixth in global innovation-based competitiveness, but 40th in rate of change over the last decade;
– 11th among industrialized nations in the fraction of 25- to 34-year-olds who have graduated from high school;
– 16th in college completion rate;
– 22nd in broadband Internet access;
– 24th in life expectancy at birth;
– 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving degrees in science or engineering;
– 48th in quality of K-12 math and science education;
– and 29th in the number of mobile phones per 100 people.
“This is not a pretty picture, and it cannot be wished away,” said Vest. The study recommended a series of steps — some that President Obama has already initiated, some that still need Congress’s support — designed to increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education, to reinforce long-term basic research, and to create the right tax and policy incentives so we can develop, recruit and retain the best and brightest students, scientists and engineers in the world.
The goal is to make America the premier place to innovate and invest in innovation to create high-paying jobs.
Mr. Friedman concludes “A dysfunctional political system is one that knows the right answers but can’t even discuss them rationally.”
The underlying question that Mr. Friedman does not ask is : “Does the Federal Government have any role in funding Education ?”
But that is a question that has been asked in a survey by Liberty Central :
Should Congress continue to use the “general welfare” clause ( Article I, Section 8 ) to regulate aspects of our lives, such as agriculture and education, that are traditionally under the authority of the private sector, state, and local government?
While many candidates did not respond to the survey, Joel Demos, the Republican candidate to represent Minnesota’s Fifth District writes :
No. Over time, Congress has been unchecked in expanding the federal government’s reach into far too many aspects of our lives. The original purpose of the “general welfare” clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution was to connect Congress’s taxing and spending authority to already enumerated powers – such as regulating interstate commerce or building and sustaining a military. It was not meant to give catch-all authority to the federal government to do whatever it pleased in the name of “general welfare” for the country.
Mr. Demos later returns to the subject in a response to another question, writing “State and local governments know how to better spend education dollars”.
This should be a key question that John Kline (R-MN-02) who is the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee needs to address. During the twenty-five minute discussion on MPR (that Mr. Kline considers to be his only debate responsibility with Democrat challenger Shelley Madore), host Gary Eichten tried to get Mr. Kline to discuss Education funding but Mr. Kline backpedaled into the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind program (that Mr. Kline always reminds the voters that he was not part of the Congress when it adopted the Bush program.)
Yet, Mr. Kline has been an active promoter of Marianette Miller-Meeks for Iowa’s Second District, who writes :
“No. At the time the constitution was written, welfare defined protecting one’s life, property and ability to prosper through one’s own commerce, not social or collective welfare as currently utilized.”
With a number of US Senate candidates — such as Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Ken Buck in Colorado, Sharron Angle in Nevada, and Ron Paul in Kentucky – vocalizing opposition to federal funding of education makes this a serious question.
I have to echo Mr. Friedman’s question … if I am hearing right, those rankings that Mr. Vest cited will only be going down.