Wake Up Amercia – Politicians Do NOT Create The Economy

Citizens of this great country must wake up and realize that politicans do NOT create the economy. In fact, they bleed it, more often than not, through frivolous and zealous spending.

Likewise, the elected representatives of Main Street USA need to realize that government does not affect the economy in ways they think it does.

What really moves the U.S. financially, in all ways, is the private sector. A healthy American business front is the only thing that is needed to turn a poor economic environment into a strong and vibrant one.

Politicians generate tons of rhetoric about “jobs and the economy” and how they have plans to improve these areas for the people.

The only jobs created (or sustained) in any significant volume that add to the economy are in the private sector. And each and every job created by politicos in the public arena costs taxpayers more than the overall benefits produced. Capitol Hill has, for several decades now, grown the public sector into a giant labyrinth of the economy.

Any first year student of United States government knows, in no uncertain terms, that the Founding Fathers did not endorse a vast government body reaching into all areas of society. Quite the opposite. The federal government was formed for a few specific reasons.

They had studied many forms of government, studied the rise and fall of governments, and studied what makes a government good or bad when they wrote and passed the documents creating the United States.

Some knew that any government body is not ideal. Witness Thomas Paine, who said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

The size and scope of government very much concerned them.

Consider that Thomas Jefferson said, “Most bad government has grown out of too much government,” as well as, “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Patrick Henry, fearing an overbearing giant, said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

They also knew that people of questionable character and morals would undoutedly gain entry to the public sector.

Noah Webster, the father of American education, wrote as a warning, “If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes; Corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.”

It is now a given that earmarks (legislative provisions) are attached by the hundreds to large pieces of legislation (costing all taxpayers billions) which are, in reality, for the politician’s selfish and local purposes.

Citizens of America need to realize that government today has grown, gradually over scores of years, into something too big to continue to feed. It has bankrupt this nation and yet those elected to represent and serve the people still expect (demand) taxpayers to provide vast sustenance for their “work.”

Government must change. The United States must become, once again, “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address, and not what it has eroded into – of, for and by the politicians.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Illiterate America: If It Wasn’t Broken, Why "Fix" It ???

In a country that has offered and supported free education to the entirety of its population it is seriously criminal that such a huge number of citizens are functionally illiterate.

Reports state that as many as 50 million adult Americans fit that category, costing businesses and taxpayers over two hundred billion dollars annually in remedial education and losses due to crime, unemployment, welfare, and more. Further, over 60% of all prison inmates and 85% of all juvenile offenders have problems with reading, writing and basic math.

In 1997, the United States Congress requested the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a committee to assess the effectiveness of the various approaches utilized to teach reading skills and to, basically, discover why the country was so illiterate.

The National Reading Panel (NRP), following over two years of exhaustive research, concluded, in The Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read, that there are five key factors that must be present for effective reading instruction.

The first two elements are “phonemic awareness” (the ability to notice, think about and work with the individual sounds in spoken words) and “systematic phonics instruction” (teaching the relationships between the letters of written language and the individual sounds of spoken language).

These two factors had, basically, been taught since at least 1500 BC when the Egyptians and Phoenicians developed their alphabets and was the method exclusively used in America for scores of years but seemed to have all but vanished from most reading curricula during the 20th century, replaced by sight-word teaching, known also under a variety of different names (i.e., sight reading, look-say, whole-word, etc.).

As early as 1927, neurologist Dr. Samuel Orton, under a Rockefeller Foundation grant, concluded that children who had been diagnosed with ‘congenital word blindness’ (now called dyslexia) were actually severely harmed by the teaching methods (sight-reading) employed. His findings were reported in a scientific paper entitled The ‘Sight Reading’ Method of Teaching Reading as a Source of Reading Disability.

That methodology, and the results that it produces, are nothing less than child abuse, which is a criminal offense.

Three decades later, in 1955, author and Doctor of English Rudlof Flesch isolated the decline of literacy in America with the replacement of phonics instruction by sight-word when he published his best-selling book, Why Johnny Can’t Read.

So, if it wasn’t broken, why “fix” it?

For a partial answer, one must understand the beginnings of the movement. The below quote is from John Dewey, an educator and psychologist who became one of the main forces behind the change, circa 1898:

“It is almost an unquestioned assumption, of educational theory and practice both, that the first three years of a child’s school-life shall be mainly taken up with learning to read and write his own language…It does not follow, however, that because this course was once wise it is so any longer…The plea for the predominance of learning to read in early school life because of the great importance attaching to literature seems to me a perversion.”

Literature, a perversion? Is not the ability to read literature the way to obtain knowledge?

Even in today’s high-tech environment, the vast majority of content on the web is the written word.

Another strong proponent of eliminating phonics was Edward Lee Thorndike, a psychologist who laid the foundation for educational psychology. In 1906, he had this to say about the mission of a teacher:

“The aim of the teacher is to produce desirable and prevent undesirable changes in human beings by producing and preventing certain responses.”

Produce and prevent changes and responses? That sounds more like his own work in animal behavior than in teaching the youth of America.

Perhaps the definition of ‘teach,’ per Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, is more extensively accurate:

“To instruct; to inform; to communicate to another the knowledge of that of which he was before ignorant.”

Teaching has nothing at all to do with behavior modification and everything to do with literature. (Literature, as defined back then was: comprehends a knowledge of ancient languages, denominated classical, history, grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, as well as of the sciences.)

If one looks at American literacy prior to the theories of people such as Dewey and Thorndike becoming paramount in society it becomes abundantly clear that phonics was not broken and should not have been “fixed,” especially with a method that does not, and cannot, produce positive results with all people.

And, in fact, that which was used to replace phonics not only broke, but devastated, a fully functioning and workable education system.

The following link easily proves the point. 1895 8th Grade Final Exam  It is the 1895 8th grade final exam from Salina, Kansas.

Since 2005, this blogger has had many people, including those who hold a Ph.D. or Ed.D., attempt to pass the test with better than a 50% score. Even allowing credit for answers unique to that period’s lifestyle (such as the question dealing with a bushel of hay), no one has yet accomplished this task.

Another point of proof is Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book (commonly called the Blue-Backed Speller and also published under different titles, such as The American Spelling Book), first published in 1783, and used by luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin who home-schooled his daughter using the book. It includes words required to be known by students at the time and is especially significant considering the fact that most people only attended school until about the 8th grade level.

There is also this simple fact: there was no such thing as “remedial reading” prior to 1925, the date at which public schools were universally “teaching” reading using the whole word method. And, what is used for remediation: phonics!

All the propaganda in the world cannot cover up the fact that what Dr. Seuss said so succinctly in 1981 was correct, “I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country.”

He is in excellent company.

To all those who fight the good fight, to use phonics instruction to teach or remediate reading skills, keep up the fight.

The “reading wars” are not over and will not be over until our country is 100% back to pure phonics reading instruction, providing access to all information and knowledge that is available to every citizen of the United States.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

The Affordable Care Act & The Constitution

The stage is set for the Supreme Court to become involved, whether they wish to or not, in the decision of whether or not forcing citizens of Main Street USA to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.

While there certainly is debate centered around other portions of the incredibly massive piece of porked-out legislation, the rulings of two Federal judges that Congress has overstepped its authority by relying upon the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution (while two others ruled the opposite) all but guarantees the highest court’s involvement.

Simply put, the Commerce Clause (Article I) grants Congress the power to “…regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

Throughout the decades the Supreme Court has used that particular clause very very broadly, including rulings on Depression-era farm quotas as well as bans on racial discrimination in the 1960s.

This Main Streeter finds it extremely difficult to fathom exactly how racial discrimination fits into the Commerce Clause. Whether one is Democrat, Republican or Independent, how could it be that human beings are considered as commerce?

In reality, the court used this clause because a company that was discriminating earned a majority of it’s revenue through interstate commerce. That still seems a stretch when, in fact, the country was founded in the belief that all people are created equal. Consider that the 14th Amendement (1868) guarantees equal protection under the law and racial discrimination would quality as something which is not equal. It seems, therefore, that the 14th Amendment offers a quite superior legal standing to ban racial discrimination.

In an attempt to determine what may or may not have been included in the thoughts and intentions of our Founding Fathers regarding the Commerce Clause, the reference used was the American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, 1828.

It was thought that perhaps by using a dictionary from that time period there could be some light shed on the issue at hand today (and perhaps even some of those earlier court decisions that do not quite seem to fit).

The definition of Commerce is: “In a general sense, an interchange or mutual change of goods, wares, productions, or property of any kind, between nations or individuals, either by barter, or by purchase and sale; trade; traffick.” It further defines inland commerce as: “…the trade of commodities between citizens of the same nation.”

Turning a page, the definition of Commodity is: “…anything that is useful, but particularly in commerce, including everything movable that is bought and sold, goods, wares, merchandise, produce of land and manufactures. Unless perhaps animals may be excepted, the word includes all the movables which are objects of commerce.”

Based upon the above definitions, which were used by those responsible for writing and implementing the Constitution it seems clear that mandating that a citizen of the United States purchase health insurance through the vehicle known as the Affordable Care Act is, indeed, unconstitutional.

It really is not even debatable.

That, coupled with the actual wording of the Article in question (“regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”), indicates that Article I gives absolutely NO power to Congress to force citizens (i.e., individuals) to purchase anything.

Undoubtedly someone will be called upon, when all is said and done and attorneys for both sides have voiced their last convincing words, to write a decision. And that document will more than likely be scores and scores of pages, when, in fact, it boils down to just a couple.

And, as a last thought, allowing Capitol Hill to mandate what an individual must purchase opens the door for future edicts by those elected representatives who are supposed to be serving the interests of Americans, not dictating them.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Spelling Bee Protest

The Associated Press ran a story with the headline, “In DC, even the Spelling Bee draws protesters.”

The article did mention that there were only four of them and that they were peaceful.

It does seem that today anything can be protested, even the way in which words have been spelled for hundreds of years.

The likely ringleader of the group was a former elementary school principal who feels that enough should be spelled as enuf and fruit as froot and claims that “the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.”

Nowhere in the article is there reference to where the 40 percent figure comes from. Perhaps it is derived from legal and illegal immigrants arriving and trying to master American English. As well, if students were taught phonics in school, they would not have this spelling issue.

A quick read through the over one thousand posts to the article show that the vast majority of Main Street USA does not agree with the four protesters.

Many people wrote about why we should not dumb down education even further than it already has been for decades. One person posted this: “I think this woman personifies everything about what’s wrong w/ our educational system.”

Perhaps the protesters should take a look at Noah Webster’s 1783 “blue back” speller, the actual title of which is A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, to see what our Founding Fathers considered as essential for the education of American society.

Or, maybe they could muster the courage to take the 1895 8th grade final exam from Salina, KS. It is challenging to anyone, even those with a doctorate in education, and puts on display what students were expected to learn by the time they were teenagers. For those who are interested it can be viewed here: 1895 9th Grade Final Exam (Good Luck).

Admittedly, there are a couple of questions applicable to that particular time period and locale, but the majority of questions are for everyone’s general education, including today. And, as is pointed out on the website, the school year was seven months long, leaving five months for planting, farming and harvest.

The above is one of the best arguments against statements that the current school year needs to be lengthened in order to properly educate our students, as proposed by the White House and Department of Education. (It is this bloggers belief that school days are too short and break and vacation time during the academic year is probably excessive.)

However, the point is that back then students had to master the basics in an equivalent period of educational time.

Today, as evidenced by years of various and sundry tests, they do not.

The wheel, so to speak, does not be to reinvented. It needs to be resurrected.

Over For now.

Main Street One