Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – July 15, 2011

What a week it has been…..just about wherever you are in the United States it is boilingstupidhot, so try and stay cool. But it is hard to stay cool when watching the twin forces of greed and meanness surface in the debt ceiling/budget debate. Meanwhile the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is finally going to remove the name “Nigger Lake” from its official records – that only took a few hundred years. And last, but not least, the Texas State Board of Education has renewed its efforts to introduce creationism into science courses taught in that state, presumably to make sure that Texas students get dumb and stay dumb.

For the Love of Money

Here is a brief primer on the current debt ceiling/budget debate. While there are many moving parts to this grand conflict and true philosophical battle between President Obama and the Democrats on one side and the G.O.Tea Party on the other, facts do matter:

1. Social Security and Medicare are key elements of the social services safety net in this country. Proposed cuts to these programs (cuts that have been demanded by the G.O.Tea Party as the price for raising the country’s debt ceiling and avoiding an economic Armageddon) will inflict true hardship and real pain on millions of Americans, typically men, women and children who can least afford any more pain and hardship in their lives.

2. The G.O.Tea Party has pledged to wreck this country’s international credit ratings for years to come rather than raise taxes or eliminate deductions that wealthy individuals and mammoth corporations have used to avoid paying taxes.

3. In this tax-friendly environment Google has an effective tax rate of 2.4%, Microsoft profits are up by 30% and General Electric pays no taxes on 2010 profits of $10 billion and has received a $3.2 billion tax credit. (Please note that General Electric also received a $140 billion taxpayer funded bailout.)
The presumed logic of the G.O.Tea Party is that any increase in taxes will “kill jobs”. What we know is that after over a decade of reducing corporate and personal taxes the rich are richer, the wealthy are wealthier, and the supremely profitable companies are raking in profits while creating few, if any, new jobs. And somehow the poor, the elderly, the working middle class are supposed to pay for phony wars, tax subsidies for the rich and bear the burden of reduced social services.

I doubt that many Americans actually signed up for this cruise. But right now we are on boat to Nowhere, and getting there fast.

What’s in a Name?

I read the news today…..oh boy! The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that it is removing the name “Nigger Lake” from it official records. This upstate lake has been on the official records of the state of New York for decades, if not centuries.

No one knows the origins of the lake’s name, but I would hazard a guess that if someone were to dredge that lake they would find the waterlogged remains of its namesake.

This little story should serve as a reminder regarding how far this country has come – and how far it still has to go.

Visiting the Tomb of Adam and Eve

Barbara Cargill was appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry (and soon to be G.O.Tea Party presidential candidate) as the chair of the Texas State Board of Education. She has stated that her mission is to bring “Christian values” to public education in Texas beginning with a requirement that creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to the theory of evolution.

Perhaps Ms. Cargill could better spend her time searching for the tomb of Adam and Eve or the wreckage of Noah’s Ark. Unfortunately she seems intent on seeing that the students in the Texas public school system will be ignorant of basic scientific theories and principles.

Chemistry, biology, physiology, astronomy and geology cannot be taught usefully from a curriculum based upon creationism. To ask the students in Texas, or anywhere else, to be ignorant during the most competitive economic times in the history of the planet is…..well, just ignorant.

Have a great weekend!

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