American Idle

By now, we all know who the winner of American Idol is. But, of interest is the fact that more than 63 million votes were cast to choose the winner— “more than any president in the history of our country has received,” host Ryan Seacrest noted.

Something has to be terribly wrong when more people obviously care about a television show than the future leader of their country. We claim President Bush cannot pronounce words half the words he says, yet we ignore our own intellectual decadence.

The great historian Arnold Toynbee wrote:

The things that make good headlines attract our attention because they are on the surface of the stream of life, and they distract our attention from the slower, impalpable, imponderable movements that work below the surface and penetrate to the depths. But of course it is really these deeper, slower movements that, in the end, make history, and it is they that stand out huge in retrospect, when the sensational passing events have dwindled, in perspective, to their true proportions.

Toynbee is dead on. Understanding about the current immigration debate in the Congress is less enjoyable than watching the models on Deal or No Deal. Reading Cosmopolitan feels better than the words of Plato or Aristotle. Our popular culture may be "poisonous and toxic" as Pat Buchanan contends, but I will admit it is fun... as other young Americans around me will agree.

Sadly, there is a price to pay for knowing more about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Young Americans are geographically illiterate. Among the findings:

  • Thirty-three percent of respondents couldn't pinpoint Louisiana on a map.
  • Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.
  • Two-thirds didn't know that the earthquake that killed 70,000 people in October 2005 occurred in Pakistan.
  • Six in 10 could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East.
  • Forty-seven percent could not find the Indian subcontinent on a map of Asia.
  • Seventy-five percent were unable to locate Israel on a map of the Middle East.
  • Nearly three-quarters incorrectly named English as the most widely spoken native language.
  • Six in 10 did not know the border between North and South Korea is the most heavily fortified in the world.
  • Thirty percent thought the most heavily fortified border was between the United States and Mexico.

The National Geographic-Roper Public Affairs 2006 Geographic Literacy Study states, "these results suggest that young people in the United States ... are unprepared for an increasingly global future."

As the Romans watched in the Coliseum we too watch the gridiron on TV as our favorite teams run a ball back and forth. Having fun is important, though. After all, our forefathers worked hard so we could have this kind of prosperity. But, debauchery must have its limits because "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Posted by Mike Tate at May 25, 2006 9:36 AM
Comment #151164
But, of interest is the fact that more than 63 million votes were cast to choose the winner— “more than any president in the history of our country has received,” host Ryan Seacrest noted.

Mike, Seacrest is accurate, but since people can vote multiple times on American Idol it’s not really a fair comparison.

Posted by: Craig at May 25, 2006 9:52 AM
Comment #151166

I support the right of anyone who does not want to vote should not. In fact, Ideally, I think I should be the only one that votes.

Posted by: frankxcid at May 25, 2006 10:08 AM
Comment #151169

Perhaps we could get a better voter turnout in the Presidential Election if America could text in their votes.

Posted by: Jbob at May 25, 2006 10:18 AM
Comment #151174

This is just an observation, but I’m guessing the target audience of american idol is probably teenagers (I don’t watch it so I could be wrong) and they mostly cannot vote for president (18 year olds excluded). I’m sure 13-17 year olds voted in droves on idol though.

I do believe that the election would probably be just as valid if anybody could text in there vote though.

Posted by: reed at May 25, 2006 10:29 AM
Comment #151176

First of all,Toynbee had no sense of pitch,and would have been eliminated in the local rounds. But what of it? Bread and circuses are hardly a new concept,American Idol taking its place as the latest flavor. It behooves the individual to maintain a steady hand on the pulse of important things. The information is there for the taking. We are all grownups here,and sometimes that means changing the channel to C-Span or Meet the Press. Or dare I say READ!

Posted by: jblym at May 25, 2006 10:30 AM
Comment #151179

I’m so discouraged that I’d move to Canada— if I could find it!

Posted by: lee at May 25, 2006 10:36 AM
Comment #151184

I believe that with each freedom and/or right also comes the responsibility of using that right or freedom in the best possible way.

If you are going to exercise your right to vote, you have the responsibility to cast an informed vote. The single-issue and uninformed voters (on each side) are doing a dis-service to this country.

If you are going to exercise your right to free speech by criticizing foreign policy, immigration, etc. you have the responsibility to research the subject so you can form an informed opinion and be able to debate it.

The so-called “drive-by media” is contributing to the problem by misrepresenting the opinions of “journalists” as hard, factual, irrefutable news. Again, both sides are guilty. It shows that the MSM is more of an entertainment industry than an information industry.

An unaccountable education system is contributing to the problem by “teaching to tests”. If the students were getting a proper education to begin with, they kids would be able to pass the test without “teaching to the test”. What was going on in the classroom to begin with?!?
Standardized testing is important to ensure a quality education is accessible to everyone. There should be minimum criteria for federal funds. I am amazed when people complain about underperforming schools losing federal money. If I were a parent or taxpayer in that district, I’d be complaining about the failure of the administrators and teaching staff to meet the minimum criteria!!

Irresponsible parents are also to blame for the poor education of their children. They don’t pay attention to the schools, what the kids are doing in school, how they are doing in school, etc. It’s more important to them to have the big flashy house and 2 BMW’s. The only way to do that is for both parents to earn a paycheck. Thus the kids are not supervised and are not accountable. If you are going to exercise your right or freedom to have sex, you need to be prepared to accept the responsibilty of the potential result. That is why abortion continues to be a major issue. A quick “fix” to a “problem”.

It’s all becoming an issue of appearances and instant gratification.

Posted by: Rich at May 25, 2006 10:46 AM
Comment #151186


There is a proposal (in Arizona, I think) to enter voters into a lottery of sorts where one lucky voter would win a million dollars. The idea is to get more people to actually vote. Unfortunately, simply getting more votes isn’t much of a solution, if the added voters are ignorant of the issues. It would mean their votes were really rather random. I’d prefer at least a measure of knowledge in the votes.

But its an interesting thought, isnt it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at May 25, 2006 10:47 AM
Comment #151189


Excellent post. I’m sure somebody here will have an issue with it but I certainly don’t. It sounds as though the question of “why is it so” is being asked somewhere within your post.

I’ll toss in my 2 cents worth. While large in scope the answer in my opinion is relatively simple. We don’t have to care or worry about what happens elsewhere. As long as the natural disasters and conflicts happen somewhere else the vast number of people educated or not just don’t care…until it affects their standard of living or interrupts their good times.

Couple this attitude with how the election and voting process takes place here in the US and see if any of the following makes sense.

You mention that 63M people don’t even vote for their own elected officials. Why should they? Politicians aren’t in office to represent the citizens of this country they represent the campaign contributors whether thay are from this country or not and legal residients or not. They are there for the power and whatever money comes from it. The Illegal immigrant issue is a perfect example. Neither party is interested in doing what the overwhelming majority of the law abiding US CITIZENS want. Politicians are going to pander to their future voters, campaign contributors and sell out those that believe in doing the right thing - like enforcing the law.

At least on American idol the vote actually counts for something regardless of whether or not it means anything. The people had something to say and they were heard. The audience voted and decided the end result. There were no politicians twisting the data, crying foul, pointing a finger across the isle, or making excuses for the fuctionally illiterate that can’t operate a voting machine - or whatever excuse they have for their incompetance.

It was a simple vote that 63 million people could obviously participate in with a definative end result the following morning. Politicians should learn something from this. But they won’t, there is no reason too.

Posted by: Scarne at May 25, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #151190

Try this online geography test.

I have always had an easy time with geography and languages, but I do sometimes wonder how much use it really is to know some of these things. If I could trade one of my languages for a good working knowledge of advanced math or engineering, I would certainly do it.

Posted by: Jack at May 25, 2006 10:51 AM
Comment #151192

Perhaps if our candidates had real talent more people would vote.

Posted by: Rocky at May 25, 2006 11:01 AM
Comment #151196

A non fear-mongering, anti-immigrant post from Mike Tate?


Posted by: LawnBoy at May 25, 2006 11:19 AM
Comment #151201

Your dead on in your assessment of the schools. They teach to test and ignore anything not on them. This is one of many reasons why the Federal Government needs to be taken out of the education business. The Department of education needs to be shut down and control of the schools given back to the parents. Unfortunately though the parents are products of Federally run schools. But I beleive that there’s enough of them want their younins to have a better education than they got. These parents will hold the school board accountable for the quality of education in the schools.
The problem is that the local school boards can’t being held accountable because they hide behind federal mandates.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 25, 2006 11:39 AM
Comment #151218
By now, we all know who the winner of American Idol is.

I don’t. I live in Singapore, and we’re still broadcasting last season. Don’t ruin it for me.

Posted by: American Pundit at May 25, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #151220

Kids today sure aren’t well educated. Hey, I know, let’s cut education funding!

Posted by: David S at May 25, 2006 12:07 PM
Comment #151225


Funding is not much related to performance. You cannot even find a decent coorelation between amt spent per pupil and results. It is a management problem and to some extent a cultural one.

Some U.S. public schools are very good. Others suck. Giving more money to the ones that don’t perform well would probably result in a lowering of standards unless we solve the management problems first.

Posted by: Jack at May 25, 2006 12:16 PM
Comment #151232

The stat that really grabbed me was the one that said “6 of 10 can’t locate Iraq”. Wonder if these are the same people who disapprove of the war?

Posted by: Dan Cochran at May 25, 2006 12:29 PM
Comment #151244

David S.

I’m back in school working on another degree. Apparently one isn’t enough in todays market. I WAS splitting my class time between the local public college and a private college just to keep expenses in line as much as possible. Not any more, I’ve dumped the public and I’m staying with the private. The public school system is more concerned with every political issue in the spectrum. The private school is providing me with the staff, support and material to actually have the skills necessary to up my standard of living. Explain to me how “MORE FUNDING” eliminates the politics and increases the skill set of the staff? Educators ARE politicians and politicians have only one mission. To protect thier job at societys expense.

Posted by: Scarne at May 25, 2006 12:52 PM
Comment #151252
Mike, Seacrest is accurate, but since people can vote multiple times on American Idol it’s not really a fair comparison.

He’s also comparing the total for the two candidates to the total of 1 candidate in a presidential election.

But the baby boom generation has spoiled their children and done this country no favor.

Posted by: Schwamp at May 25, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #151262

“Giving more money to the ones that don’t perform well would probably result in a lowering of standards unless we solve the management problems first.

No Jack. It would give them food (some cannot even afford breakfast, no less lunch) education (tutoring programs, especially for state mandated tests) and allows for teachers to be trained better.

Ron Brown,

Please tell me your post is in jest. Before you tell us what is needed in education, maybe you should run your comments through spell check. It makes it hard to take your commentary serious.

Or maybe it is the School Board’s fault.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 25, 2006 1:18 PM
Comment #151266

Kids today sure aren’t well educated. Hey, I know, let’s cut education funding!

Posted by: David S at May 25, 2006 12:07 PM

The sad part is that we could most likely cut funding any it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Throwing money at a problem will never solve anything.
When I was in school our county school district spent around $25 - $30 a day per student. Of course this was the 50’s and early 60’s. Today the same school district is spending $450 - $500 per day per student. Sure you can adjust for inflation but it would still most likely come to more per student than then. I’ll leave that to the numbers crunchers here to figure out if they want too.
The problem is, the kids aren’t getting as good of an education as I got. And I think mine wasn’t that great.
The major problem is accountability. The school board isn’t being held accountable to the parents. They have to answer to the state who answers to the Department of Education. And if the Education Department don’t like the way things are going, the state looses money. Then the school district looses money. And theonly thing school boards worry about these days is money.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 25, 2006 1:25 PM
Comment #151268


Are you really equating people watching TV pablum like American Idol with bad geography skills, “intellectual decadence”, and “debauchery”?

No wonder the Repubs are going to get their asses whooped this November.

Posted by: Dave at May 25, 2006 1:28 PM
Comment #151270
the same school district is spending $450 - $500 per day per student. Ron Brown at May 25, 2006 01:25 PM
For a 180 day school year that adds up to $81000-$90000 per year per kid. My district spends less than 10% of that. Care to fix your numbers? Posted by: Dave at May 25, 2006 1:31 PM
Comment #151280


The poorly performing districts are not always those that are poorly funded. Some of the highest funded schools are in DC. They are also some of the worst in the nation. Iowa has some of the best and funds in the middle range. Utah is good at the low end.

And what about Catholic schools that have very low budgets and still educate ghetto children and the poor very well (including at least one Supreme Court justice)?

Bad management can soak up a lot of cash and bad managers are often very eloquent and politically savvy.

We discussed this issue before and I recall somebody saying something about a rule that some % actually go to instruction. That is a good idea.

Posted by: Jack at May 25, 2006 1:54 PM
Comment #151281


Yes it is Arizona. However, ignorant voters aren’t a concern because you are right, they randomly distribute their votes, having no effect on the election. The impact of the informed voters is not diluted since the equal and random distribution of the non-informed voters. Its called the median voter theroem and is pretty well established in American politics.


Posted by: Xander Jones at May 25, 2006 1:57 PM
Comment #151283

“The school board isn’t being held accountable to the parents.”

Funny, I see it the other way. The School Board is not holding parents accountable. How much time does a parent spend with their child when it comes to education? Very little. Parents view school as a daycare for their children. What many refuse to do is understand that education is a process at school and at home. How can a child be expected to learn when they have to go home and babysit three siblings? How can a student learn if they did not even have dinner the night before? These are the types of kids we are dealing with. Contrary to what Jack says, middle class to rich schools are far from struggling. Schools in Mississippi (the lowest literacy rate in the US) and California ( a state with many ESL students) are the ones that are not doing well. Catholic Schools? Come on. Not only is the Catholic Church one of the RICHEST organizations in the world, their schools are privately funded and their students are hand picked.

I say we start a No PARENT Behind campaign. This is for the dead beats that think teachers are the only part of this equation. Want you welfare check? You had better have put in x amount of hours in the school. Want to be taxed more? If not, you had better put in x amount of hours in the school.

Sometimes we should just look in the mirror instead of finding somebody else to blame. Education is simply what you and your child decide they want to get out of it. Not what you think a School Board wants.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 25, 2006 2:09 PM
Comment #151286


Ron Brown, feel free to spell check me. I have already found 3 errors.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 25, 2006 2:11 PM
Comment #151287


I was pointing out how more young Americans care about popular culture than politics and because of that, yes, ignorance about world affairs is common.

Posted by: Mike Tate at May 25, 2006 2:11 PM
Comment #151289

It was Ronald Reagan who first proposed doing away utterly with the (relatively New, at the time) Department Of Education. Just as he did (successfully, for a while) with OSHA.

He was not the last Conservative to suggest it, either.

In the meantime, what Conservative Governance in either the White House, or Congress, or both has made quite sure of, since then, is that Public Education is Unfunded or Underfunded, so that it withers on the vine. This includes funding for PBS and the NEA.

Study after study after study has shown that Conservative Americans are less-well educated (in terms of both Test-Based Performance, *and* in terms of years of Formal Schooling) than their Liberal contemporaries. Further studies show that individuals who self-identify as Conservatives and watch Fox “News” as their chosen outlet for (dis)Information repeatedly get 60%-80% *WRONG* on Test Questions about current affairs. And remember: it was this Dumbed-Down population who were so easily manipulated by the Lies of WMD and Smoking Mushroom Clouds; they were literally Scared Witless.

Mission Accomplished, Conservatives! You have engineered yourselves a massively uninformed and ignorant Consumer Monkeymass to do your bidding and vote for your Corporate War-Profiteers when they’re told to.

Now all you have to do is get out of America before it breaks down entirely and the CHUD get into your Gated Communities…

Posted by: Betster at May 25, 2006 2:16 PM
Comment #151298


Youth has always cared more about popular culture than politics. But my issue is actually with the adjectives you chose. I try not to suppose, but from your selection of the terms “debauchery” and “decadence” I suppose you’re a moralist, probably religious. (Sorry I don’t have time to review prior postings for verification) That particular segment of society has been yelling at the “decay of Americas morals” for 200 years and, IMHO, has seriously distorted perceptions of reality and what everyone else thinks about “things”.
As for the complaint of our education system, I think that’s a very local condition. My kids schools are great and reflect my values. The biggest problem I see is infestation of “belief” into science, not national policy or funding levels.


What’s a “CHUD”?

Posted by: Dave at May 25, 2006 2:42 PM
Comment #151303

“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards. “

Mark Twain

Posted by: Tim Crow at May 25, 2006 2:58 PM
Comment #151315

“I want to thank you for the importance that you’ve shown for education and literacy.” —

George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2005

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 25, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #151317


Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller

Posted by: Rocky at May 25, 2006 3:24 PM
Comment #151322

This is why it makes perfect sense that Republicans keep cutting education funding and making college less affordable! I

nteresting post nonetheless. This issue isn’t so much about American Idol, its demographics or the number of times one can vote but about the essense of Toynbee’s quote. I think we can all agree his observation is true. How to shift the tide is where the great debate lies.

Posted by: Vihar Sheth at May 25, 2006 3:32 PM
Comment #151323

If you could phone in your vote or do it online I’m sure more people would vote. I apologize for this bit of a derail, but I wanted to offer my condolences on Lay, Bush’s “Best friend” being found guilty on all six counts against him of fraud and conspiracy, with a combined possible penalty of 45 years in prison.

Bush and Lay forged an alliance in the 1990s to advance Bush’s political ambitions and Lay’s business prospects, contributed $122,500 to Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns in Texas. Lay would later explain “I was very close to George W.” All told, Lay, his company and its employees contributed close to $2 million to fund George W. Bush’s political rise.

Lay was appointed as one of five members of the elite “Energy Department Transition Team,” which set the stage for the Vice President
Dick Cheney’s energy task force and administration policies designed to benefit corporations such as Enron. A report on “Bush Administration Contacts with Enron,” compiled at the request of Congressman Henry Waxman, D-California, by the minority staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, found evidence of at least 112 contacts between Enron and White House or other Administration officials during the month prior to the corporation’s very-public collapse in late 2001.

As Waxman explained in a 2001 interview, “The fact of the matter is that Enron and Ken Lay, who was the Chief Executive Officer of Enron, had an extraordinary amount of influence and access to the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Max at May 25, 2006 3:35 PM
Comment #151331

Perhaps if our candidates had real talent more people would vote.

Posted by: Rocky at May 25, 2006 11:01 AM


Posted by: goodkingned at May 25, 2006 4:10 PM
Comment #151338


You are right about the parents, but we have a chicken and egg problem. Poorly performing parents often produce poorly performing kids, and poorly performing kids grow up to be poorly performing parents. But this is more culture than money. We have seen the remarkable examples of abysmally poor immigrants (Jews in 1900, Koreans later, then Vietnamese) producing outstanding second generations in crowded and under funded schools. It was not that long ago, many of us grew up with large class sizes and having to share resources.

I don’t know a solution to this, but I don’t perceive primarily a money problem. In our society money follows talent and hard work to a fairly regular degree, although sometimes with a generational lag. What that means, however, is that we often mistake the effects of good parenting and positive environments that come primarily from behaviors for those that come primarily from money.


What study after study? Do you want to compare test scores? The top ten states on an SAT/ACT performance are Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, N Dakota, Utah, Montana, Missouri & Washington. I don’t see a clear political bias. As I recall seven of these states went for Bush. I don’t see why intelligence should track politics, since many people seem to inherit their politics and/or pick it up from the people who live around them. Kids are probably temporarily more liberal when they go to college, but they change their minds when they get more practical experience.

Even George McGovern has belatedly come to a more pro business stand now that he has more … experience.

Liberals sometimes think they are smarter. That is why we keep on beating them and why they cannot understand it. But if you want to think that you are smarter, that’s fine. I won’t bother casting any more pearls on this particular subject.

Posted by: Jack at May 25, 2006 5:05 PM
Comment #151346

Dave- Regarding the decadence in today’s society, have you taken a good look at fashions for pre-teen girls? When I was in the Navy, we had names for girls who dressed like that. Today, I should suppose the term is “Pop Tart”. Since I have a 17 year old son, I don’t worry too much about what he wears. We just insist that it cover everything and look halfway decent. However, as a substitute teacher in a local high school, I can tell you that I wonder what parents are thinking when they allow their choldren to come to school dressed as they are. You can see more clothes on the hookers that inhabit street corners!

Regarding the involvement of parents in the education process, it works! All three of our local schools (2 public, one Catholic) emphasize the involvement of parents. All three schools have done quite well over the past several years in statewide and national academic competitions. The Catholic school has a contract that parents must sign pledging 40 hours a year of volunteer service to the school. Most of the ones I talk to at least double that because they appreciate what the school is doing for their children.

Perhaps the public schools could learn something from that? By the way, Dave, congratulations on being satisfied with your school system. According to most of the data I have seen, concerned parents aren’t. Those that are too busy, or don’t care, are.

Posted by: John Back at May 25, 2006 5:19 PM
Comment #151349


FYI, belief has always been a part of science. Try asking a cosmologist to explpain the “Big Bang” theory without asking you to take most of what he/she says on faith, especially the part obout the pre-bang atom that exploded. Where did it come from?

Posted by: John Back at May 25, 2006 5:23 PM
Comment #151355

Typically, Asian immigrants (like you said even from commonly known poverty sticken nations)and immigrants from India do much better than those of European, Native American or Latin countries. An example of this can be seen at the University of Washington. Once they had to rid thier school of affirmative action, the minority population went up. Asian american students dominated the demographics which basically excluded Native Americans and Latin Americans.

This all has to do with the value put on education. Latin countries need a lot of work in this area, but so do we. If we think that it is ok to promote crap like “Git er’ Done” or made up languages such as ebonics, we are in a world of hurt.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 25, 2006 5:37 PM
Comment #151358

To some extent, we have focus less on geography in our curriculum since the advent of the space race in the 60’s. There is an increase focus on geography since the late 80’s. It depends on the school and the teacher. I got a very comprehensive course in geography in 6th grade in the late 70’s. The countries, the people, the cities, their Capitols, economies/industies, languages spoken, cultures, and more.

As for our public educational system, I think the quality of the education is quite good. However, we can make even better. It is the students and the philosophy that make the American system different when compare to other countries. We believe and want everyone to have at least a high school education (grades 1-12). We go to great expenses and efforts to provide a variety of curriculum to cater to the needs and desires of the students/parents. We try to help those that have fallen behind to catch up. We provide different levels of paces and difficulties in the various subjects classes. From basics, to normal, to advanced or accelerated, to gifted or talented. So, the average U.S. graduates is a little behind the average graduates in Germany or Japan, for example. The European and other educational systems are much more elitist. Students are screened before they get to high school levels. Those screen out will choose a different educational path such as learning a trade. Those at the high school levels will persue an academic career that may lead to higher education. If we were to pick the top tiers of our h.s. graduates and compare them, we should see that they are quite close.

Getting accepted into a university in Europe is hard, but once in, most will graduate. Our college education is also free, but we offer many educational aids. Getting into many American universities or colleges is not so hard (except for Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and so on). Also, college education here is not free. In contrast, only 1 out of 3 American college students will graduate. By the way, American higher education is renowned around the world. Some of the best universities are in the country.

Our country provide ample opportunities for advancement through education, and this is a good thing. Curiously, our capitalist nation actually provide an easier access to education than many socialist countries.

Posted by: Daniel at May 25, 2006 5:45 PM
Comment #151360

I took the geography test. That is a good one. The hardest part is the exact location for some of those. I am a philatelist and I figured I could do well with it. But for two or three that I blew, those little perfect locations kept me below 40 at 38.

Posted by: tomh at May 25, 2006 5:47 PM
Comment #151365

Very well put.

I would like to add something to my statement. The NCLB program had to cut the tutoring part out of it because nobody used it. That is pretty upsetting when we have money for something this important, yet parents are too lazy to use it.

But the NCLB program was a joke in the first place.

Posted by: Vincent Vega at May 25, 2006 5:54 PM
Comment #151367

I meant to say:

Getting accepted into a university in Europe is hard, but once in, most will graduate. Their college education is also free. Getting into many American universities or colleges is not so hard (except for Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and so on). Also, college education here is not free, but we offer many education aids/fundings.

Posted by: Daniel at May 25, 2006 5:56 PM
Comment #151372

My comment is that obivously American Idol, is very easy to vote for, no time away from work or trying to find a polling place that moves like the planets around the cities political bias. Also the A.I. voter is moved by a sense of having a personal effect on the outcome because they see a quick and direct result of their vote. As a republican I voted for the current administration in 2000 and 2004 with the ferverent hope of change in the inspiring way that President Regan brought the USA, instead we are involved in an armed conflict in Iraq, that has no value that the american public can see and makes many rethink their political values. The American public will vote when inspired by the direction a candidate will take and then the immediate actions to achieve the stated goals that were supported by the voters. Without this motivation apathy sets in as easily as in the unopposed elections of a totalitarian regime.

Posted by: Ben at May 25, 2006 6:08 PM
Comment #151401

Vincent Vega I am not sure why you equate Parents with children in public schools with welfare reciepients. It might be that one of the reasons parents dont spend as much time with their children as they should is because they are too busy working. Yes,working to pay the ever incresing tax burden that our public school boards impose. Our republican legislature is so busy increasing the profits for buisness.that they seem to have no time for the middle class who is choking. On a slightly different note,can anyone tell me-Is the war in Iraq eating up all of the peace dividend? You remember the billions we were going to save now that the cold war was over.

Posted by: jblym at May 25, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #151418

We only have ourselves to blame because it has been made so easy to just ask/demand that government do for us than to do for ourselves. How did it come to this, where the Federal government is concerned with any aspect of an individuals life! Why then do we still have all of those SELFAGGRANDIZING, NARCISSISTIC, LITTLE ASSHOLES SUPPOSEDLY LOOKING OUT FOR US!

Thank God for Al Gore, he invented the Internet (so he said). And thank God for Bill Clinton he made sure the everyone has access, so every homeless person can wander into any fire house and check his e-mail.
That being said consider this.
How is it that we can talk directly to someone on the other side of the Earth about anything instantly via a “chat room” on the WWW. We trust all of our financial assets to an ATM. Yet we distrust an electronic voting machine!
What if I am so inclined and interested I could go to a government operated, moderated chat room of topics or business of the day that interest me. I can discuss with my neighbors and other interested individuals the pros, cons, argue, convince, convert or be converted. Then at a preannounced time all discussion is terminated and we may cast a vote! Then the next day the votes are tallied and published and a small group of bureaucrats execute the will of the people, thus eliminating hordes of obstacles to progress. This is known as a Democracy, what we have now is a Republic; so they tell us.
Take this streamlining even farther. It has been estimated that taxes combined could be as high as 50%.
What if the government who loves to print volumes of bullshit could print a catalog of every agency that needs a buck is listed with a synopsis of its function and budget. Be it the Mohair Commission entrusted with securing the quality of imported Mohair or the Defense Department or H.U.D. or the darkest most clandestine agency working on the next big “star wars” project. If it is something that I am interested in and support I just check the box and to what percentage I wish to support it until my bill totals my tax obligation. If your favorite agency is the N.E.A. and it does not get enough interest and funding BY THOSE THAT ARE INTERESTED IN IT! Then it will just not happen that year and any funding it does get will go into the general fund. Agencies would be responsible for promoting their usefulness to gain support next year. This way the people have spoken and we don’t need a bunch of useless, out of work Lawyers posing as politicians in parttime jobs playing with our lives.
Here in Texas our beloved Dems skipped town, left the state, abandoned their post, didn’t show up for work, didn’t call in sick and didn’t have a note from their doctor to avoid a vote ! If I did that at my job I wouldn’t even have to clean out my desk it would be delivered to me! And these are Parttime employees because it damn sure aint no full time gig going to parties and fundraisers! Then just to show me how insignificant I am to them they pass (by voice vote so there is no record and provides denyability) a 25% retirement increase!

Posted by: R. Paul Gani at May 25, 2006 9:37 PM
Comment #151441

I’m surprised that none of you Cons responded to Bester’s post. It’s interesting. I’ve always thought it funny that the Cons take on college professors as if they are a fourth arm of government and a real threat to our Democracy. It’s just always struck me as strange that the best educated might be the most liberal, that’s all…

But getting back to the point of this post, some countries fine or penalize you for not voting. Now you don’t have to choose a candidate—you can leave your ballot blank, but you *do* have to show up. How about that, rather than a lottery? And while we’re at it, how about a day off for the people that work for a living to have time to vote?

Posted by: DavidL at May 25, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #151459

No I don’t care to check my numbers. The figure I gave you is correct for my district. This is why the whole damn school board needs to be replaced. That amount is totally unacceptable. And the board keeps wanting to spend even more money. The school system here is running a deficit of about $1.4 million this year.

I agree that too many parents don’t show much intrest in their child’s education. This is why school boards aren’t being held accountable to the parents.
Our school board meets on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. There might be 15 to 20 parents there. And most of them just want to bitch because their little darling got a D or F, or was disciplined by the school principle. This is in district with around 1,800 students.
But let the board say they want to cut back on some sport or an after school activity and the place is packed with parents protesting the cuts. Where are they when the board is discussing another bond issue for something that has supposedly been done 3 times already?

I’m running for the only at large seat in the district. The man I’m running against has been on the board for 16 years and is the most powerful member of the board. So far he has voted on the wrong side of every issue. He hasn’t ever seen a bond issue or tax increase he doesn’t like. He has voted several time to lower the standards of passing.
In November of last year he killed an appropriation to replace the districts three oldest buses. These buses are 25, 28, and 32 years old. They are worn out and are costing around $8,000 a year per bus in repairs alone. But he says there’s nothing wrong with them.
Back in January of this year the one that’s 25 years old had the brakes go out on it when the driver tried to stop at a RR crossing. Fortunately there wasn’t a train coming and the driver had just let the last of the kids off the bus. This guy still claims that the buses don’t need to be replaced.
However he voted in April to spend $1.5 million on a new school administration building. Seems the current one isn’t good enough for the district. It’s only 15 years old. Newer than the newest school which is 25 years old.
The thing is that the rest of the board goes along with this kind of crap.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 26, 2006 12:23 AM
Comment #151473

Hold on a minute! Is Seacrest right? Seacrest claimed that 63 million people voting to select the next American Idol is more than voted for the President. In the last election, more than 122 million people voted with 62 million for President Bush and 59 million for Senator Kerry. So, yes, the combined vote for Idol tops President Bush but not the total vote for President. And, since Mr. Hicks did not win 100% of the Idol vote, we can deduce that Hicks was not selected by more people than voted for the President.

Posted by: Jody at May 26, 2006 1:06 AM
Comment #151530


Are you absolutely sure that your school district spends $80,000+ per child per year? My school district has 1300 children, that would mean an annual school budget of $104,000,000!


I am involved with my school committee. Being “satisfied” does not mean I think everything is perfect. I’ll assume there was no backhand attempt to imply a lack of involvement or concern.
As for “belief” being an element of science, that shows a complete lack of understanding about science. It is not faith, it is estimations pending evidence. The science will follow the evidence and change according to new (if conflicting) knowledge. It won’t just blindly follow what some fool in a big hat says. As for the seminal moment in the universe, nobody claims to know “where from”, except for the guy with the hat. And it’s heresy to ask where the guy who started it all came form.


Thanks for the CHUD def’n.

Does anyone know where the term comes from.

Posted by: Dave at May 26, 2006 8:53 AM
Comment #151534

Mike, good post.

Jack, thanks for the geography of europe link, I played with it for over an hour. I had some problems with the small countries like Lichtenstein, Slovenia, and San Marino, especially when faced with an empty map of europe. I started out with a 71%. I always enjoyed geography.

Posted by: gergle at May 26, 2006 9:22 AM
Comment #151586

Actually I do want to revise my figures. I checked the figures I have and found out I gave some wrong numbers. When I was a in school the school district spent $12 - $15 per day per child. The $25 - $30 figure was from the 70s.
In 1990 the year my opponent was elected to the board the district spent $109 per day per kid.
The cost has increased that much with him and the rest in office.
I also want to revise the deficit figure I posted last night. This year has a $2.5 million projected deficit. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it ain’t higher.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 26, 2006 11:32 AM
Comment #151687


Are you using standardized dollars? You can’t compare 60’s dollars to 00’s dollars. Inflation, ya know?

Posted by: gergle at May 26, 2006 3:19 PM
Comment #151756


I will assume that you made your statement about science with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I have taken quite a few science courses in college and have had extended conversations with many more scientists. I have not found your observations to be accurate. Most of the educated science folks I have knownm including a couple of Nobel people, are just as set in their ideas as any “guy in a hat”. In fact, they could be “the guy in the hat”. And, most of them go ballistic, in a most serious scientific way, when the word “faith” comes into play. I had one professor in college, when challenged by one of us classfolks who had read something published after the 1940”s, was heard to declaim: ” I don’t care what so-and-so says, I’m right and you’d better believe it!” Nedless to say, that was a most interesting class. Don’t tell me about the scientific mind. They can be just as dogmatic and wrong as any “guy in a hat”.

Posted by: John Back at May 26, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #151830

So are you say that a school district spending $350-$450 per student per day is OK because of inflation? You sound like my opponent.
But no I haven’t adjusted for inflation. But even at that when other districts are spending around $100 per student per day and some as low as $68 per student per day, $350-$400 is outrageous. Specially when you consider that the quality of the education the kids are getting is substandard.

Posted by: Ron Brown at May 27, 2006 12:20 AM
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