Less empathy from college students … good for them!

May 28, 2010


A review of several studies show that American college students demonstrate less empathy than college students of 20-30 years ago.

I say “good for them”.

Empathy is the easiest thing on earth to have when you are brought having it demonstrated for you. Over the last 10-15 years, however, what has this generation of college students been subjected to? It certainly has not been a lot of adults feeling bad for them, nor is it a lot of support from said adults … they see their own government taking the things that are precious to them, and taking it away or reducing it.

I think this generation has learned a valuable lesson: you had better put yourself as the #1 priority, because no one else is going to look out for you … you certainly cannot trust the government to help you out and you had better scrimp ever last dime, because that long off retirement (at least not until your late 60s, and maybe even early 70s) is a gift from their grandparents’s generation.

Honestly, who can blame them for being more self centered?


The new domino theory: US … Greece … the rest of Europe …

May 24, 2010


For a long time, the US and Europe have thumbed their noses at each other … the US spends money inefficiently, and does not guarantee a cushy retirement for everyone, forcing people to actually work and save for retirement. In Europe the “nannystate” has been the standard for much of the continent since WWII.

A few months ago, I recall reading a broadly painted description of the European nannystate as being akin to a pyramid scheme … one in which the base is being severely depleted as nations see their populations age … and that was before the current global economic crisis hit.

Greece is the proverbial tip of the iceberg … mismanagement led to their nation being the first to go over, though much of Western Europe is staring at unthinkable major cuts to the benefits paid out to their citizens. Certainly not every nation will descend into mass chaos like Greece, but because such a large swath of the population is tied to the benefits dolled out by the government, cuts will affect a larger percent of the population at once. Perhaps most telling: some European countries pay cash bounties on newborns …. newborns after all are absolutely necessary to buoy up the “pyramidality” of the scheme. Now, some of those countries are thinking of stepping away from those bounties. Retirement ages (as low as 60 in some countries) are looking to edge up (by comparison, retirement from teaching with full benefits in Illinois I think just edged north of 65).

The question is: will Europe be able to hold together while its baby boom generation suckles from the ever thinning sow. If it can, there is a chance that Europe may be able to return to its fancy free lifestyle in a few decades.

Time will tell.

Thou shalt not steal … and other commandments that Tea Partiers can ignore

May 13, 2010


To restate: I am apolitical, but think of myself as a bit old school …I don’t count agitators as heroes, but neither do I consider businessmen as heroes either. In short, I feel no one really represents me politically, and feel pretty abandoned by our current system of politics.

For those not in the know, this whole Tea Bagging thing has gotten out of hand … I am not for extremists left or right wing …. heck I think most of the lot of politicians could take a long swim in the Gulf of Mexico, but in Maine, things are getting surreal.

It seems this past week the Maine GOP came together to vote on a new platform. Among the planks:

-Global Warming is a myth (while exact causation is not entirely understood, the rising temperatures are not mythology)
-a part which reads It is immoral to steal property rightfully earned by one person, and give it to another who has no claim or right to its benefits. (I guess this is somehow related to all socialist policies except social security because so many of the over 60 crowd that these yahoos cater to don’t see social security as anything related to socialism, despite actually having the word “social” in the name …. I call this the hypocrisy of these nuts, but I digress).

There are other kookie things.

It turns out that members of the Maine GOP met at a local middle school, and one particularly ornery group found themselves in a social studies class, which, admittedly, sounds like it belonged to someone who is a little left of center, and wasn’t necessarily filtering all of that. Among the things in the classroom:

-a collage extorting labor rights, including a quote by Eugene Debs, entitled “The War Has Begun”.
– a poster featuring George W. Bush and the quote “I feel like I can see evil”
-several copies of the U.S. Constitution, distributed by the ACLU
– a sticker on a filing cabinet: “People for the American Way – Fight the Right.”

When the teacher returned this past Monday, he found that the labor poster was gone and replaced by a red-white-and-blue bumper sticker reading “Working People Vote Republican”.

Said teacher starts sending e-mails to local Republicans asking for information on his missing poster. No luck

His principal, on the other hand got an earful from GOP members phoning in to complain about the particular classroom. When the principal attacked the idea that someone would steal something, a particular caller praised the thief, saying that it should have been stolen.

As a teacher, you always need to be a bit careful to filter your particular views to avoid either proclaiming them as the only correct interpretation of a view point, and you certainly have to make sure that if you are presenting contemporary political views (common in social studies classes), you be careful to present something of a balanced view …. strengths and weaknesses of particular philosophies. This teacher may not have been doing so.

That aside, the asinine behavior being portrayed by some relatively high up members of the Maine GOP are not worthy of a party that claims to stand up for anything remotely related to family values.