Long drive open thread

After a lovely long weekend with family, we’re getting in the car today and heading home. If things go well, the drive should take about seven hours. If we get stuck in holiday traffic (as happened when we drove down), we’re looking at nine hours on the road.

I might be able to blog tonight, but there’s no possibility of doing so today. Consider this, then, your Sunday open thread.

Since my links are getting wiped out when I post on iPad, I can’t link to Michael Barone’s contention that ObamaCare, which goes fully into effect in January, will be the undoing of the Democrat party. The 50-employee cutoff for businesses (if you have 50 or more full-time employees you must provide comprehensive insurance of a type mandated by Congress) will lead to firings and to the transformation of full-time into part-time jobs.

Barone thinks the massive job loss will trigger a Republican wave vote in 2014. I say that’s true only if Americans who have been indoctrinated by 40 years of statist education and entertainment, have sufficient residual intelligence to be smarter than the French. The French, as you recall, faced economic disaster by going full socialist.

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  • Ron19

    From Breitbart Big Government:
    “The National Republican Senatorial Committee had a rotten track record in 2012. But now they’re looking to get more deeply involved in picking candidates at the state level, hoping to foreclose Tea Party primary challengers like Richard Mourdock (R-IN). “There’s always going to be fundamental dislike of the national party coming to a local or a state race and saying, ‘This is who we want to pick,” Keli Carender of Tea Party Patriots told The Hill. The NRSC pulled out of several races this cycle, dooming several candidates to less-than-full financial support.”

    In 2010 the NRSC pulled this stunt in Nevada.  As of 2009, Harry Reid was seen to be in trouble for re-election.  Sharon Angle beat the NRSC pick in the primaries, so the NRSC refused to support her (not just no money) until about a month before the general election, and then only reluctantly.  And so, thanks to the NRSC, we continued with Harry Reid as the Senate Majority Leader.
    Thanks a lot, National Republican Senatorial Committee. 

  • Caped Crusader

    “Michael Barone’s contention that ObamaCare, which goes fully into effect in January, will be the undoing of the Democrat party.”
    Dedicated to Michael Barone:

  • rick9911

    50 or more employee cutoff or any of the other cutoffs for regulations not to effect small business are designed to keep them small. Big business loves these cutoffs, they keep competition small and unable to make the jump to the big time.
    Ironic that people (voters) think these types of regulations put a burden on big business (think Wal-Mart), these big businesses can add a penny to the price of everything they sell and that will pay for their cost of complying with the regulation. The small business competitors are never able to reach the economics of scale to compete on price. Meanwhile the useful idiots think they’re putting the shaft to the fat cat big businessmen.
    Oh, you got me started, I have to go lie down!

  • Mike Devx

    Book says: Barone thinks the massive job loss will trigger a Republican wave vote in 2014. I say that’s true only if Americans who have been indoctrinated by 40 years of statist education and entertainment, have sufficient residual intelligence to be smarter than the French. The French, as you recall, faced economic disaster by going full socialist.

    The French had enough object lessons in Greece, Italy and Spain (and Purtugal and Iceland) to choose to avoid going down the same (socialist-philosophy) path.  Instead, they threw themselves headlong down that path.  ‘Nuff said.  They will see more painful object lessons from those other countries, but they will refuse to believe it applies to them, too.  They will not learn.  They will follow, and they will, a few years afterwards, end up in the same terrible place.

    And what to say – then – of America?

    Obama is not as out-and-out socialist as the current French president Hollande. That is likely only because Obama still must tread much more carefully.  “We are all in this together” is a nice-sounding phrase, but it means something totally different to Obama than it does to you or me.  

    American Exceptionalism cannot triumph over socialism, or whatever else you call Statism run amok.  The American people have also seen the object lessons of the failing European countries, and they will also receive an object lesson in France, soon.  Is there any reason to believe we will choose a different path than France?   We are not the country we were; we are not the people we once were.

    Book declares that only “sufficient residual intelligence” would allow us to take the different path, and I agree.  I don’t know whether Book is optimistic that this may happen.  I’m no longer optimistic.   “Sufficient residual intelligence” would have guaranteed an Obama defeat in 2012.  There is no longer any reason (for me) to believe in it.

    We are not the country we once were.

    We are not the people we once were.

  • http://bkivey.wordpress.com/ bkivey

    The move to turn full-time jobs into part-time jobs is already under way. The Democrats will spin this as a ‘fairness’ issue: they will paint companies that don’t hire full-time workers as ‘unfair’, particularly as those same part-time workers won’t be able to afford mandated health care insurance. So we’ll probably see the fifty worker limit pared down to 5 or 10, and the Progs will pat themselves on the back because they’ve forced the evil 40 – person company to provide insurance. That is, until those companies close their doors, or cut back on operations and lay people off. 
    I’m thinking of moving to a valley in Colorado. . .

  • JKB

    “sufficient residual intelligence” 

    That is the deep question.  Many fret over the lack of factual knowledge in many these days but the real crime is the destruction of the true value of education, namely, the training of the mind in abstract thinking.  We hear the “great” academics of today lament that the poor liberal arts student isn’t learning critical thinking anymore.  Well, why would they as it is no longer on display by said academics.  More to the shame is that if you look back past the 1930s, critical thinking was taught starting in 3rd grade.  Not long ago, yet another line of attack was started, the questioning of Algebra teaching for all.  Now, Algebra is difficult for many but not as it is math but as it is the first exposure to real abstract thinking.  You don’t deal with known values, you deal with rules for reasoning with abstract symbols.  

    So the fine ‘Progressive’ education destroyed real thought in most.  Sad really because the ones who finished off run about today lamenting that today’s youth have no critical thinking skills.  Well, what do you expect when you discourage questioning, looking to other sources, organizing ideas and judging their soundness, much less having a tentative attitude and individuality.  Oh, you can be your own individual as long as the group approves.  

    In all the “education bubble” talk, we hear lots about certain books or courses but not so much on what education really provides, i.e., abstract thinking.  I’ve come to believe, even those who are concerned about today’s education, even those in academia, don’t really understand the value of education.  They look at certain facts, courses, testable bodies of knowledge, when those are only the tools used to teach the abstract thinking.  Thinking we need if we are to have more than a “residual intelligence”

    The way pupils study, depends on what is emphasized. The methods that are best to develop a sound knowledge of geography in pupils, will, as a rule, be the best to teach them how to study geography. The reason that mechanical memorizing is the main part of study in the elementary school, high school and university, is that reproduction is the primary thing required. If boys and girls find that the teachers’ questions ask for a reproduction of the text, they will memorize before thinking and without thinking. If, however, there is a thought question, it will cause them to organize and analyze the subject matter of the book, and then mechanical memorizing can not occupy such a prominent part.

  • Charles Martel

    The deep flaw in conservative thinking is the belief that people will wake up as the Obama’s policies begin dropping ever bigger hammer blows on the U.S. economy. But I think we’re in that classic Bart Simpson moment, where he continued getting zapped by Lisa’s booby-trapped sweet treat atop the refrigerator because getting shocked over and over again taught him nothing.
    The Greeks are the object lesson here. Years of cheap money poured down on a slothful and petulant people created a resentful nation that couldn’t connect the dots when it came to wealth and what creates it. Many of our fellow citizens—perhaps a now irreversibly large percentage—are Greeks. In their universe, the American “rich” are their Germans.” So anything terrible that happens to them won’t be because of well-meaning Obama’s earnest efforts but because the evil rich won’t cough up the wherewithal.
    Remember, we now have millions of young people who, burdened with debt and useless college degrees, still live with their parents and are used to working at dead-end, low-paying jobs. The miseries that most of us here in Bookworm Room fear will become general in scope are ones that they are already enduring. For them, it’s what’s normal.
    If they begin to stir because catastrophes start to snowball, not to worry: The Democrats and MSM will stand ready with the usual list of suspects to blame, and a credulous mass of “low-information” people will ingest it.
    In our brave new world (thank you, Harvard!), wealth is created by federal printing presses. Keep those presses well oiled and their list of recipients’ addresses updated, and you’ve got yourself a tolerable situation. As long as the government can churn out welfare checks, subsidized contraception, and “free” healthcare, millions will be content to look around and smile, seeing that we are all equal in our misery.
    Just remember which party owns those presses.

  • Mike Devx

    Charles Martel #7: In our brave new world (thank you, Harvard!), wealth is created by federal printing presses. Keep those presses well oiled and their list of recipients’ addresses updated, and you’ve got yourself a tolerable situation.

     Well, they can also raise taxes.  And they can avoid pumping out trillions of pieces of paper money on those printing presses by simply calling it “debt”, and leaving it for future generations to pay.  They’re obviously going to try all three approaches at once.

    I consider it a moral evil to deliberately put future generations into debt with your own irresponsibility and recklessness, but what do I know?  The wise pontificators on the Left, such as Robert Reich and Paul Krugman, keep assuring everyone and sternly tell them to pay no attention to the debt.  Consider me one reassured little sheep!

    So our government is spending 40% more than it is taking in.  Can you raise taxes solely to cut that deficit, without the maw of government spending simply increasing to gobble up the new revenue?  History would appear to say, no.  The ravenous Big Government amoeba simply increases its appetite, and grows to consume more.

    One big problem in all of this is one of the basic facts of human nature: No one likes to be labelled a sucker, to see themselves as a sucker.  As the country is overrun by the dependents – and they are ever increasing now, with nothing to stop them – those dependents will demand more and more.   Also, every culture has a certain percentage who simply “go with the flow” of the cultural drift.  As dependency becomes the new cultural norm, that rather large percentage will simply drift into dependency themselves, for no other reason than it’s the new normal.  Those who continue to produce, and strive, will be “asked” continually to “give a little more” and “give a little more”, and “give a little more”.    My God, do I hate that word by Obama, “ask”.  There’s no asking involved here…   But at some point, the producers will come to see themselves, correctly, as the suckers in the system, and they will quit playing by the rules.  Will they give up; produce less; turn to the black market; what will they do?  But they will do *something*.

    And then what will the horde of dependents and their Democrat overlords do?  We have already seen just a few trouble signs of what lies ahead.  Due to Obamacare, we saw the leaders of Applebees crunch the numbers and declare that layoffs and reduced employee hours are looming.  The reaction from the left?  Blame Obamacare?  Hell no:  Blame Applebees, curse them for their evil, and organize a boycott to punish them!  And Applebees is still “playing the correct game!”  And still they come in for blame and retribution.  What’s going to happen when more and more people STOP playing the game?

  • MacG

    “Big business loves these cutoffs, they keep competition small and unable to make the jump to the big time.”
    Just heard about this book “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind” It seems there are alot of unfair advantages the Government give to the big guys

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Raising taxes won’t increase their revenues, but decrease it as black market economies get up to speed. Same with Prohibition and the so called war on drugs. It simply makes other things profitable that the gov can’t touch, thus removing their income source. Printing money, however, never gets old because that’s instant cash, right then there. The fact that it steals worth from every hard worker in existence, isn’t particularly important in a Leftist utopia.


    The world is full of suckers. One is born every minute. And there is always someone there, evil more times than not, to take advantage of that. 

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    JKB…it’s not only the decline in quality of education…also, arguably fewer people are having the kind of life experiences, as kids, that develop abstract thinking abilities. If you grow up on a farm, and often need to help fix farm equipment, or grow up around your father’s garage, you’re likely to internalize some of the cause-and-effect analysis, inductive/deductive thinking abilities that are involved in diagnosing problems. (Tom Wolfe has noted the high % of astronauts, space engineers, and Silicon Valley pioneers who grew up on farms)

  • JKB

    David Foster….Or suburbia these days.  How many fathers, or in general adults, fix their own lawn mower, etc.  Not to mention that on the farm you learn planning for the future/delayed gratification.  Spring requires lots of work but you don’t see the pay off for months or, in some plantings, years.  Nor do kids learn the benefits of being able to problem solve to get back to work.  These days it all grinds to a halt until the union repairman gets around to changing the light bulb.  

    The magic boxes also contribute.   Great inventions for productivity but they mask the underlying operations that needs to be understood in order not to become a cargo cult.  Many dismiss woodshop as a distraction or if they favor it, as vocational training for the less studious.  But I’d say every kid needs a year or two in woodshop with hand tools only to train their mind, expose them to taking the mental picture to useful thing and cause them to see that you must think abstractly.  I’d also say at least a semester of pen and paper mechanical drawing to train the mind to visualize and then produce that vision with precision on paper.  

    I can hear the laments that those are not directly useful in the modern world with machine tools and CAD programs. I would argue, the usefulness is not in the output but in the training of the student’s mind so that they can go beyond what others incorporated in the tools and computer systems.


     Is it just me or is “tweeting” in 140 characters a sure sign of insanity on a planet that’s spun out of control. Where are the adults? Is anybody in charge!
    US Embassy Cairo fail; Tweets ‘Glad Mubarak is gone,’ praises revolution

  • Danny Lemieux

    I am always grateful for the depth of discussion found here at Bookworm room. Every now and then I come across a true insight, such as the proper pejorative to describe the Democrat that survives on self-stroking emotions of demagoguery and entitlement (but, I repeat myself): “Greeks”. Thank you, Charles M.

    Human education began with the objective of teaching critical survival skills, such as learning how to grow food, build weapons and hunt your next meal. 
    To David Foster’s point, my teacher-spouse laments the disappearance of shop and home economics in her school district as prime culprits behind the disappearance of critical, causative thinking skills in her students…these students are largely incapable of using a screw driver much less managing their own lives as adults.

    Today’s National Review Online posts an article that addresses the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs going unfilled in the U.S. today for lack of qualified applicants, even as hundreds of thousands of deeply indebted college students scratch and claw for a shrinking job base as poorly-paid barristas and waitresses. Sadly, I would venture that the large majority of these lost young souls believe that they are too good for “manufacturing”.

    Key take-away: 

    “This mismatch embodies the best and worst of American culture. On the one hand, American manufacturers have bested their international competition, becoming even more efficient after their recent struggles. On the other, there’s been a cultural shift that denigrates the value of manufacturing work, instead pushing young people into ever more impractical fields of study.”


    Today’s education is the culmination of John Dewey’s dream: it is no longer about survival skills but about ideological conformity to the demands of “society”, as dictated by the elite few. It has become….useless. Its raw material is young minds open to the world. It’s output is…Greeks and more Greeks. 

  • JKB


    It’s not only not being able to use a screwdriver but they don’t even have the capability to figure out how on their own.  I remember a post somewhere by a mother lamenting her daughter would just find something else to eat if the food she wanted was in a can that required a can opener.

    But even in the impractical studies the lack of familiarity with the functional world impedes understanding.  How can one appreciate the descriptions in literature that involve actual physical actions.  I  wish I’d saved the link.  On one of the higher ed blogs, a literature professor wrote about finding the valve cover to an old Ford truck.  This sparked a conversation with her grandfather about the reliability of that model, etc. which gave her a better appreciation the travel across the desert in the Grapes of Wrath in a similar truck.  Nowadays, we zip across the western deserts in air conditioned comfort with nary a concern.  But in the 1930s, in an old truck, the trip had to happen at night and a breakdown was potentially lethal.  Or one of the many descriptions of using levers, inclined planes, cranks that drives the narrative of some stories about times before powered machines.  Without some exposure, the great literature remains alien.

    Exposure to the manual arts is not vocational training, it is experiencing the world so that you can better understand it and the scholarship that describes it in both science and literature.  And it certainly doesn’t help when parents prevent their children from experiencing these things in their play, either.

    Populations are now mostly urban.  Yet, more and more urban dwellers have little exposure and understanding of the natural world untamed by human endeavor.   What Explains The Partisan Divide Between Urban And Non-Urban Areas – Forbes

  • Charles Martel

    Maybe we should apply C.S. Lewis’s wonderful allegorical title, “The Great Divorce,” to the separation we’ve allowed to occur between head and hand in our culture. Some of the clearest thinkers I’ve ever run into are people who use their hands to make a living. For them, it’s the best of two worlds—thinking and doing.
    I have an architect friend who has a thriving house design business. One of his signatures is complex roof lines and gables that require immense carpentry skills. Since he’s designed many houses in my town, I’ve had ample occasion to stop and chat with carpenters who are carrying out his designs. To a man they complain that his concepts are a bitch to execute. But the twinkle in their eyes tells me they get a big kick out of building them.

  • Caped Crusader

    As a recently retired surgeon, I am sure it will come as no surprise to anyone, when I tell you the very finest surgeons are the ones who have hobbies that require abstract thought, momentary problem solving, and the ability to smoothly coordinate thoughts with hand actions. Hard to find one not rewiring a car, building a airplane, making fine furniture, repairing machinery, inventing new instruments, etc. In other words, high level shop as it was known in olden times.
    I’ll never forget a medical student in surgery clinic who said, “I’ll just be mostly observing in this clinic, because I really wanted to be a dentist, but I could not pass the manual dexterity tests”.

  • Caped Crusader

    Charles Martel #16:
    Amen brother, one of my best friends only finished HS and has been an aircraft mechanic all his life. Native smarts and well read, one of the smartest people I know. Would rather be marooned with him on a remote island, than with a 1000 Harvard grads, when my survival depended upon it! He can repair and fix anything!

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Danny…”a cultural shift that denigrates the value of manufacturing work”

    A survey by one of the on-line dating services found that “works in manufacturing” was a huge turnoff for women. 

    I wrote about changing attitudes toward manufacturing in American society: Faux Manufacturing Nostalgia 

    These social attitudes wind up being reflected in political policy, and have a lot to do with our current economic problems.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Peter Drucker, remembering his 4th-grade woodworking class in Austria:
    “…even Miss Sophie could not make a craftsman out of me…But I took from her a lifelong appreciation of craftsmanship, an enjoyment of clean honest work, and respect for the task. My fingers have never forgotten the feel of well-planed and sanded wood, cut with rather than against the grain, which Miss Sophy–her hand on mine and guiding my fingers–made me sense.”

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I mentioned before on a martial arts blog that people are too keen on allowing others to determine truths. They rely too much on experts. In the past, people relied on trial by combat, God’s divine judgment, and their own cognitive abilities to detect truth or falsehoods. Now a days, modern industrialized people are so used to doctors and electricity being controlled by engineers, that they think it requires 10-20 or more years of learning to be able to understand it all. So they give up. They give up on themselves, on God, and put all their faith in self exalted experts, who inevitably become corrupt and morph into various puppet masters of the magical world.

     As such, a population unused to thinking for themselves will inevitably seek the comforts of slavery, in order to protect themselves from the risks of freedom. And those in power are not particularly motivated or keen on training the minds of their slaves to be somehow better. Down that path, only ruin, destruction, and slave rebellion rests.