We are lucky to have Barack Obama as president. I write that even though I believe the content of his Tuesday evening speech deserved no more than a B+ / A-, for its failure to seriously address the origins of the banking crisis and for only hinting at the severe military budget cuts required to get close to his goal of reducing the federal deficit by the end of his first term.
Take this quote from our President: "... I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States does not torture." Well, gosh, Mr. President, America has been torturing and vocally condoning torture for some years now. You can't just handwave that away. If you want that declaration to be true -- which I enthusiastically support -- then you are going to have to make it true, because right now, it's not. You have to close the prisons where the torture occurred; punish the people who performed, condoned, and ordered the torture; and preferably make some kind of reparation to the victims of torture. And if you keep repeating what you said, by the time you're done with all that, then it will be true.
The rest of the dissection was capably handled by the article's author, and does a good job of pointing out where Obama comes on strong and where he doesn't.
Obama Presses Americans to Gain Higher Education
Washington - In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama challenged every American to go to college for at least one year and said dropping out of high school is "quitting on your country."
I'm all in favor of education, including higher education, but that one bill is a drop in a bucket. When people drop out of school, sometimes it's because of personal disorganization, but usually it's for one or both of two reasons: 1) to take care of a child or other dependent, or 2) to take a job. Neither of those can fairly be construed as "quitting." And sometimes it's simply because society has let them down so drastically that they don't want to contribute to it, or don't see any realistic way of achieving that. Considering the shape many of our schools are in, some of those students are right.
It used to be common to pay for a decent college education by working part-time while attending school; my parents did that. Now it's almost impossible. But there's more than that: while a college education is almost always necessary to get a good job, it doesn't guarantee you one. Good jobs are disappearing rapidly, where "good" means "pays enough to live on comfortably, with benefits; or enough that you can afford to buy your own benefits." More and more jobs are meager ones. Now here's the thing: you do not really need a college degree to work retail, answer phones, mop floors, or do most of the other slogjob tasks that are now so much of the market. The application may require one, but it's silly. And I can't blame someone for deciding that it doesn't make economic sense to pour money they don't have into a degree when they might not get a job that even pays enough to cover their basic living expenses, let alone pay back massive college loans on top of that.
The concept is good, but I'm concerned about the execution. This one just sounds too much like "let them eat cake."
It will be interesting to see how things work out.