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Dinosaurs Pawlenty

This past week, I was watching the Daily Show with John Stewart and heard one of the dumbest things ever.  Not a funny, ha-ha, dumb thing, but rather a plain old-fashioned, “what the hell did he just say”, stupid thing.  The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, was the guest.  He and John Stewart were discussing making government more responsible.  The conversation moved towards higher education and Pawlenty became ridiculous.  First, he called universities monopolies.  Then, about lectures, he said why “can’t I just pull that down on my iPhone or iPad whenever the heck I feel like it?’  This is incredibly shortsighted and ignorant.  It displays no knowledge of what actually happens in a university, and goes a long way towards explaining why our public school system is so screwed up.  With bureaucrats like Pawlenty in charge, no wonder education is in the shape it is.  He was playing to the anti-education, down with government, tea party crowd.  Education as entertainment, not the creation of a thinking individual.

Pawlenty, who appears to be a nice, quiet guy, is dangerous.  I know it sounds a little strange to say this if you see him.  However, he is the governor of a state, one of the leaders of the Republican Party, and potentially president in 2012.  He is anti-education, which means anti-future, merely so the uneducated won’t feel inferior to those who are educated.

Naturally, he’s only talking about state universities.  Private universities can do whatever they want.  Too bad that the majority of people going to a university go to a state university.  Too bad that the ruling elite, from the Bushes through Clinton to Obama, all attended Ivy League (private) universities.  Of course, if you’re self-motivated enough to learn Spanish without a teacher by downloading lessons to your iPhone, then you might actually belong in a $40,000 a year private school.  If not, then don’t bother learning Spanish, there’s an app for that.

A university education is not just lectures.  Actually, attending a lecture is not a passive experience.  An education is made up of a give and take between someone wanting to learn and someone else that knows, understands, and has experience in the field being studied.  Great, go ahead and download the lecture on your iPhone.  Try getting some instantaneous feedback from that.  Why has an education, for thousands of years, been going to a master, a professor, a guru, and not just a matter of reading a book (or today reading a kindle)?  There is interaction.  The student is challenged and made to think.  An education, and especially a university education, is not only acquiring facts.  It is about producing a person who can think for themselves.  Education is not about producing people who know how to create capital by any means necessary, but rather about producing people who can create ideas for the benefit of mankind.  If those ideas make money, great!  However, if they don’t, they can still be worth something, maybe even something more than an idea that’s makes billions.  Jonas Salk, the discoverer and developer of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, never patented the vaccine.  He made no money off it.  When asked why, Salk answered: “There is no patent.  Could you patent the sun?”  The people on Wall Street would probably consider Salk a moron for not making billions from his discovery.  Yet, he’s one of the greatest and most important scientists in the history of mankind.  He saved countless lives.  J. S. Bach was a teacher, an organist, and a choir director.  He never became rich.  Is a Wall Street trader’s work more important than Bach’s music?  Probably many people would say yes.  In all probability, many of those people work on Wall Street.  They have gone to school and memorized a bunch of facts.  They’d almost certainly love the “can’t I just pull that down on my iPhone or iPad whenever the heck I feel like it?’ approach to education.  Look where that’s gotten us.  Their sole motive is to make money. They’ve memorized some stuff.  They’ve gotten an education, but they’re not educated.  Pawlenty, and other politicians like him, love these Wall Street guys as much as they love the tea baggers.  The Wall Street guys will never make waves as long as they are making money.  The biggest supporters of Hitler were Krupp, Theissen, Mercedes, and the other large German industrialists.  They didn’t care what Hitler’s policies or actual beliefs were as long as they continued to make money.  Is this what we want our children to admire?  Is this the direction we want the U.S. to head?  Striving and admiration, not for quality of life, but rather an abstract number in a bank account.

There is a fantastic attack in the United States today against education and educated people.  Two years ago, the professors at one of the California State University campuses received a memo from administration telling them to have their office hours in the student union or outside on the lawn.  The reason for this was so the students wouldn’t feel intimidated by all the books in the professors’ offices.  This is not fictional.  This memo really was sent.  Instead of opening students’ minds to books, ideas, and teaching them to think, the professors, in essence, were told to make the students comfortable and keep them entertained.  The administration that sent this memo didn’t give a damn about education or the students.  It was insulting, not only to the faculty, but especially to the students.  The administration obviously was only interested in keeping enrollment up, not education.

Someone like Sarah Palin, who is not qualified for public office in any way, is actually taken seriously as a possible candidate for president in 2012.  Why?  Because a large and growing segment of the U.S., population is anti-education.  Many people in this country today want, not to better their own knowledge, but rather to bring everyone else down to their level.  Look at the last president.  People voted for a guy they’d have a beer with, not the guy who was qualified for the office.

Another example of America’s anti-education position is the popular misconception about evolution.  Evolution is a fact.  Nevertheless, because science uses the word “theory” differently than the word is used in the vernacular, many people don’t understand that evolution is a truth.  Building a museum showing cavemen riding triceratops with saddles and bridles doesn’t change that.

For anyone reading this and wondering where there is a museum showing cavemen riding triceratops, it’s the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.  Still don’t believe me?  Here’s the website: http://creationmuseum.org/?  If this doesn’t scare you about the depths to which education in this country has sunk, just look at the banking scandal or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  People are blind to the dangers that Capitalism poses to our environment, our country, and us as individuals.  I don’t want to make this into an anti-Capitalist blog entry.  My point is that the economic system prevalent in America today, Capitalism, has taken on religious implications.  No matter what happens, people defend Capitalism blindly.  It has, like all “isms” become a religious belief.  It’s reminiscent of Marxism.  Lenin and Trotsky weren’t just Marxist, they believed in it with a religious fervor.  If confronted with the obvious contradictions in Marxist dialectical materialism, they would start shouting and brow beat the questioner.  It was not possible for either of them to have a cool, logical discussion on the subject.  This is religious fanaticism, not rational, systematic thought.  I’m reminded of Fox news and its illogical defense of the status quo.  Everything is going to hell and the answer is always cut taxes.  An educated, thinking public looks for real solutions not “black & white” bromides.

How is it possible that these things happen in America today?  Why is the majority of the population not laughing at Rush Limbaugh, but rather listening to him?  The people finding him pithy and truthful are not inquiring into what he’s saying.  Its true, inquiring minds do want to know, but an education is what leads someone to ask questions and not just accept what is intellectually fed to them.

Getting back to Pawlenty and the Daily Show, what is dangerous about his remarks?  Why should anyone care what some politician on a comedy show is saying?  Politicians, right AND left, do not want an educated populace.  Educated people are too hard to control; an uneducated public is an acquiescing public.  An educated populace is not for, or against, a policy because it was proposed by George W. Bush or Obama.  They are for it, or against it, because they’ve thought about it, done some research, and came to a conclusion.  Of course, there will be disagreement, but it won’t be vitriolic, hate-filled, gun-totting venom.  It will be disagreement that leads to compromises and solutions.  An educated public would never tolerate moronic bellows of “keep your hands off my Medicare.”  Anyone shouting that would immediately be told to get his or her facts straight and definitely not encouraged.  An educated public would not be tolerating wars with countries that have imaginary weapons of mass destruction, oil spills threatening to bring on Armageddon, and tax breaks for people who own 96% of the world‘s wealth.  In many ways the tea baggers are right.  We do need to fix things and make changes, but the basis for any change has to be logic, reason, good judgment, and common sense.  It cannot be illogical, emotional, uneducated non-answers to today’s problems.  Those are not answers at all, simply ways to avoid accountability.

It is time America grew up and took responsibility for its own actions on the world stage.  Americans need to realize that ALL actions have consequences.  You cannot let your sons and daughters die fighting for oil on the other side of the world and sit in your Hummer, while it’s running, and talk on your Blackberry (I’ve seen this many times).  This is NOT sustainable!  Only an educated thinking public can put a stop to this, not screaming, or threats to those who disagree with you.  Tolerance of intolerance is not a virtue.  An educated, thinking public which accepts diversity; which accepts new, unconventional ideas and is tolerant of everyone’s right to say the most ridiculous things, but intolerant of those that spew hatred; tolerant to the extent that no idea is too dangerous to be heard, but educated enough to show hate filled, stupid ideas for what they are; this is America’s light at the end of the tunnel.  It all begins with education.

  1. Fred Hallas
    July 3, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    I see. Cool.


  2. June 23, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Wow. Thank you Dr. Wakicki. This is a powerful blog and I agree whole heartedly that it will take calm, calculating reason to lift America from her knees and NOT over-zealous slogan spewing (a.k.a. “campaigning” by today’s standards).

    I disagree with your usage of “religious” in, “…that the economic system prevalent in America today, Capitalism, has taken on religious implications. No matter what happens, people defend Capitalism blindly.” Just because some idiots believe in capitolism for the wrong reasons doesn’t mean that capitolism is defunct. In the same way, just because some (well, many people in history) have, by their actions, connected religion to blind obedience, it doesn’t mean that all God fearing men are blind fanatics. My point is that you probably could have used a better adjective to describe the deplorable state in which our economy is now.

    Yours in Music,

    Fredric A. T. Hallas

    • June 23, 2010 at 2:50 PM

      Use of the word religious means through faith as opposed to reason.

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