Tearing Down The Foundation

The most important part of a building is the foundation. If the foundation is sturdy, chances are the building will stand. Our government is built on the concept of Judeo-Christian values. The Constitution states that our rights come from God and that the Constitution is there to insure those rights are protected–the rights do not come from government.

On Friday night, Attorney General William Barr gave a speech at Notre Dame about the attack on those traditional values that form the basis of our society. Yesterday The Observer posted an article about the speech. The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s & Holy Cross.

The article reports:

U.S. Attorney General William Barr spoke at Notre Dame Law School on Friday evening, calling for a defense of Judeo-Christian values and religious freedom in response to growing secularism in America.

The event was reserved for students, faculty and staff of the Notre Dame Law School and de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, both of which hosted the lecture. It took place in the McCartan Courtroom while another room in the law school streamed the speech to another crowd of ticket-holding students and faculty.

Barr began by discussing the new challenges the United States is facing today. It’s a difficulty he said the Founding Fathers foresaw as “the supreme test of a free society.”

“The central question was whether over the long haul, we the people can handle freedom,” Barr said. “The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.”

In the Founders’ view, Barr said, free government was only suitable for people who had the discipline to control themselves according to a transcendent moral order. As John Adams put it, he said, the United States Constitution was made only for “a moral and religious people.” 

“Now, modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as sort of otherworldly superstition imposed by a killjoy clergy,” Barr said. “But in fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct. They reflect the rules that are best for man not in the by-and-by but in the here-and-now.”

By the same token, he said, violations of these moral laws have “bad, real world consequences” for man and society — such as society is seeing today.

“I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years, religion has been under increasing attack,” Barr said. “On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square. On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.”

With escalating suicide rates, the drug epidemic, hate crimes and more, there is a campaign to “destroy the traditional moral order,” Barr said, and secularists ignore these results and press on with “even greater militancy.”

Please follow the link to read the entire article. The last part of the article includes the students’ reaction to the speech. Some of that reaction reflects the moral rebellion that has characterized many of our young college students.

CNS News also posted an article about the speech.

CNS News notes:

The secularist government attempts to alleviate bad consequences by advancing abortion, enabling drug use and assuming the roles of parent and spouse, Barr said. And, while promising unlimited freedom, the end result of the secularist religion is one of servitude, he warned:

“So, the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

“The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

“The solution to the breakdown of the family is for The State to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage.

“And, while we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

“We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on whom we depend.”

“Interestingly, this idea of The State as the Alleviator of Bad Consequences has given rise to a new moral system that goes hand-in-hand with the secularization of society. It can be called the System of Macro-Morality. And, in some ways, it is an inversion of Christian morality.

“Christianity teaches a Micro-Morality: we transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation. The new secular religion teaches Macro-Morality. Once morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather their commitment to political causes and collective action to address various social problems.

“This system allows us not to worry so much about the strictures on our own private lives, because we can find salvation on the picket line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by participating in demonstrations on this cause or on that.”

The generation that is fighting to destroy the foundation of America will have to live with the consequences of their actions. They might not like what they have created.

My Favorite Democrat Got It Right Again

My favorite Democrat has always been former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York. He understood human nature and how government policies would actually hurt the people they claimed to help. He understood that the War on Poverty would destroy the African-American family structure (and eventually the white family structure) and he also understood the long-term impact of the Higher Education Act passed in 1965.

Today The Federalist posted an article about higher education in America that deals with some of the issues behind the indoctrination that is currently happening on our college campuses.

The article reports:

Far too many pundits believe culture is upstream from politics. That might be true, but bad policy is often upstream of culture. And it is shocking how often Republicans use the “culture” trope as an excuse for long-running inaction and lack of serious thought on needed policy changes.

One such example is higher education. Speakers such as Heather Mac Donald have done an excellent job of highlighting examples of the far-left bias that is prevalent at America’s higher ed institutions. Conservative YouTube channels are great at highlighting the perils of conservative speakers attempting to speak on various campuses.

But few address the elephant in the room. Taxpayers are heavily subsidizing the entrenched and blatant anti-American and anti-Christian bent in our colleges and universities.The huge budgets of these colleges — and their ability to pay professors well over six figures to teach for only several hours a week, only during the school year — is entirely the result of choices our elected officials have made.

…It started in 1965, when as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s fateful Great Society, Congress passed the Higher Education Act. Among other things, the legislation introduced subsidized student loans to increase the number of Americans attending college, and it has been reauthorized multiple times since. Ever since, the terms of those loans have become more generous (the subsidization has increased).

The effects have been predictable, and many did predict them. For example, Democrat Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, early in his career as a policy wonk, warned the system would lead to higher college costs.

Generally speaking, more money chasing after something raises its price. But the money chasing after higher ed is uniquely dulled of its price sensitivity. Borrowers are young and have little perspective about how much they are borrowing. These young, subsidized borrowers are also robbed of price signals, as everyone gets the same rate no matter what major he or she chooses.

The article points out that college costs have increased dramatically since 1965–the costs have increased much more quickly that the rate of inflation (four times faster than inflation since 1978).

The article continues:

Nevertheless, Congress certainly succeeded in its goal of more Americans attending college: Almost 70 percent of high school graduates now enroll in college, and the percentage of Americans aged 25 to 34 years old who have a secondary degree has moved from about 25 percent in 1990 to almost 50 percent today. But although college on average still provides a positive return on investment, that return has dropped significantly. Here’s The Economist, again:

By the universities’ own measures, this [binge of money and increase of administrators] has produced splendid results. Students are more than twice as likely to receive ‘A’ grades now than in 1960. When outsiders do the grading, however, they are less impressed: One study found that 36% of students ‘did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning’ over four years of college.

For many Americans, the return on college is negative. Part of this is because many Americans going to college are ill-suited for it. For example, 40 percent of American students fail to get a four-year degree within six years of enrolling.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. It is fascinating. In the meantime, encourage you child to attend trade school instead of college. In the very near future, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics will have more job opportunities than engineers.

A Program That Is Getting Results

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the oldest voucher program in the United States. This program began in 1990. The program offers private school vouchers to low-income Milwaukee kids using a lottery system. The article reports that just 341 students participated in the program’s first year. Today, that figure is nearly 30,000 across 126 public schools.

The article reports:

Because it has been running for so long, the MPCP has been widely studied. Past analyses have found that it increases math scores (although not reading), as well as high-school graduation and college enrollment rates. Other voucher experiments have also shown encouraging results: A 2013 study found that Washington, D.C.’s voucher program increased graduation rates by 21 percentage points, while a 2015 analysis of New York’s voucher system saw an increase in college enrollment among students with black mothers.

The authors of the new paper looked at data on students from elementary school through ninth grade who were enrolled in Milwaukee private schools in 2006. They identified 2,727 MPCP students, then used a detailed methodology to “match” them to comparable students in the Milwaukee Public School (MPS) system based on where they lived, their demographic information, their parents’ educational backgrounds, and other controls.

Having constructed their “treatment” and “control” groups, the researchers then looked at how each group faired in relation to pivotal achievement milestones: completing high school, ever enrolling in college, completing at least a year of college, and graduating from college.

The article concludes:

“MPCP students are more likely to enroll, persist, and have more total years in a four-year college than their MPS peers,” the authors write. “We also find evidence that MPCP students are significantly more likely to graduate from college, although that college completion finding is only statistically significant in our sample of students who entered the program in third through eighth grade.”

Specifically, MPCP students who were in ninth grade in 2006 were 6 percentage points more likely than their MPS peers to enroll in a four-year college—46 percent versus 40 percent. MPCP students who were in third through eighth grades were 4 percentage points more likely to enroll in a four-year college, and 3 percentage points more likely to graduate (all effects statistically significant).

These results contribute to what the authors call “a growing body of evaluation results indicating that private school voucher programs positively affect student educational attainment.” They point in particular to a Florida program, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the effects of which on graduation are “nearly identical.”

“The collective evidence in this paper indicates that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program tend to have higher levels of educational attainment than a carefully matched comparison group of Milwaukee Public School students,” the authors conclude. “The MPCP students are more likely to enroll, persist, and experience more total years in a four-year college.”

Obviously the children using the vouchers to attend private schools are getting a better education than the students in public schools. I would guess that children involved in the voucher program also have a higher level of parental involvement–one of the keys to success for students. The children involved in the voucher program probably also know that there may be penalties for not doing the work required. I suspect that discipline in the private schools is probably more prevalent than in public schools. Our public schools have become places where children are not held to an academic or behavior standard. The success of the children in the voucher programs is an indication of problems in our public schools.

Our Ancestors Understood Human Nature A Lot Better Than We Do

From Vox June 23:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s proposal to make college free in the United States just got bigger: He wants to erase all student debt too. All $1.6 trillion of it.

The Vermont senator will unveil the most ambitious higher education plan in the Democratic 2020 presidential primary so far on Monday. The proposal would make two- and four-year public and tribal colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free, and erase the roughly $1.6 trillion in student loan debt currently owed in the US, paid for by a tax on Wall Street.

Currently, about 45 million Americans have student loans. This would cancel debt for all of them — regardless of their income or assets. That’s a notable difference from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s free college proposal, which also provides broad debt relief but caps it for households with incomes over $250,000.

Sanders is proposing funding streams to states, tribes, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to allow them to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees. The bill would also increase spending on work-study programs and build up federal grant programs for low-income students for additional costs related to getting an education, from housing and transportation to buying books.

The proposal would cost $2.2 trillion over 10 years, which Sanders says would be paid for with his Wall Street tax. He proposed a Wall Street speculation tax in 2016, which would raise small levies on buying and selling stocks, bonds, and derivatives; many experts estimate it could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Sanders’s office cited progressive economist Robert Pollin’s projection that the tax would bring in $2.4 trillion in revenues over 10 years.

From The New York Post February 22nd:

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren said they both support reparations for African-Americans affected by slavery.

Asked about the matter last week on the 105.1 FM show “Breakfast Club,” Harris agreed with the host that reparations are necessary to address problems of “inequities.”

“America has a history of 200 years of slavery. We had Jim Crow. We had legal segregation in America for a very long time,” she said on the radio show. “We have got to recognize, back to that earlier point, people aren’t starting out on the same base in terms of their ability to succeed and so we have got to recognize that and give people a lift up.”

From Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 – 5 January 1813), who obviously understood a lot more than all three of these Democrat candidates for President:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.”
Alexander Fraser Tytler
We have a choice of where we will be on that timeline.

Failed Parenting

One of the most important things a parent can do is lead by example. Any time a parent does something that is not above board, it is a pretty good bet that their child will learn that it is okay to take shortcuts that may not be entirely honest. Unfortunately there seems to be a group of parents that despite their success has not yet figured this out.

The Associated Press is reporting today that federal authorities have charged a number of wealthy and famous people with falsifying information to make sure their children got into their schools of choice. I understand the desire of any parent to provide the best education possible for their children, but this scheme definitely stepped over the line.

The article reports:

Fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s most elite schools.

Federal authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying an estimated $25 million in bribes.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the results of an investigation code-named Operation Varsity Blues.

…At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance or business, were among those charged. Dozens, including Huffman, were arrested by midday.

The coaches worked at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.

The article continues:

The bribes allegedly were dispensed through an admissions consulting company in Newport Beach, California. Authorities said parents paid William Singer, the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, the bribe money to get their children into college.

Prosecutors said Singer was scheduled to plead guilty in Boston Tuesday to charges including racketeering conspiracy. John Vandemoer, the former head sailing coach at Stanford, was also expected to plead guilty.

Colleges moved quickly to discipline the coaches accused. Stanford fired Vandemoer, UCLA suspended its soccer coach, and Wake Forest did the same with its volleyball coach.

Several schools, including USC and Yale, said they were victims themselves of the scam. USC also said it is reviewing its admissions process to prevent further such abuses.

This is a sad commentary on where we are as a society. Obviously some parents want to take the guess work out of college admissions. What is the lesson they are teaching their children? I wonder exactly how much of these scheme the children involved were aware of. Certainly if a child is recruited for a sport he has no knowledge of, he might notice that something is amiss. I hope the penalties for the parents are severe. As much as I can sympathize with the stress of getting children into good colleges (all three of my daughters are college graduates, two have advanced degrees), what these parents did is inexcusable–first of all because it is patently dishonest and second of all because of the example it sets for the students.

When Is The Playing Field Actually Level?

Channel 8 in Cleveland reported yesterday that President Trump is planning to rescind the Obama administration policy of considering race in college admissions,

The article reports:

The shift would give schools and universities the federal government’s blessing to take a race-neutral approach to the students they consider for admission.

A formal announcement was expected later Tuesday from the Justice and Education departments, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been disclosed.

The guidance from the Obama administration gave schools a framework for “considering race to further the compelling interests in achieving diversity and avoiding racial isolation.” That approach replaced Bush-era policy from a decade earlier.

The new guidance will not have the force of law, but schools will presumably be able to defend themselves from lawsuits by following administration policy.

Yesterday a video was posted on YouTube of an Indian student Tucker Carlson interviewed who claimed to be black in order to get into medical school. The student explains the problems with acceptance to schools based on race.

Here is the interview:

Making decisions on race is racism, regardless of who benefits. The idea that someone with lower grades or test scoress would be admitted to medical school simply because of their color may be well-intentioned, but it is wrong. The answer to past racial discrimination is not present discrimination, it is treating everyone equally. Until we learn to hire people, admit people to college, and treat all people equally, we will not have racial harmony. More discrimination is not the answer to past wrongs.

About That College Thing

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article yesterday about President Obama’s speech detailing his plan for higher education. The goal of the plan is to make college more affordable, tackle rising costs, and improve the value of college for students and their families. That sounds really good until you realize that federal subsidies are largely responsible for the exponential increases in college tuition in recent years. Included in the President’s plan for colleges is a federal rating system.

Mr. Mirengoff points out:

The federal rating system is unnecessary. Plenty of private outfits — most famously, U.S. News and World Report — rate colleges on a broad array of criteria. Relevant information about colleges is easy to come by, and from sources more trustworthy than ideologically-driven federal bureaucrats.

While the first elements of Obama’s plan is merely unnecessary, the second element — tying federal assistance to the federal rating system — strikes me as pernicious. First, I doubt the federal government’s ability to rate colleges with sufficient accuracy to justify attaching monetary consequences to its ratings.

Second, Obama’s plan will increase the federal government’s ability to coerce colleges into embracing even more fully a left-wing agenda — e.g., discriminating against whites in admissions and hiring, unfairly disciplining male students based on flimsy allegations of sexual harassment, and so forth.

Third, even if the federal government were able to come up with a reasonable and unbiased rating system, it would still have no business discriminating financially against the families of students who decide to attend colleges they (and the families) believe are better suited to their particular purposes.

The federal bureaucracy is already out of control. We really do not need to make it worse. The plan offered by the President does not reduce federal subsidies to colleges–it simply redistributes them. This seems to be another opportunity for the government to pick winners and losers. The government has already meddled unsuccessfully in the auto industry and in the energy industry. We don’t need to let them meddle unsuccessfully into higher education.

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