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Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Agree With Michael Moore (On Something)

I recently read Michael Moore's Stupid White Men. For the most part, it was a jumble of sloppily-connected ideas that made little-to-no sense. Don't accuse me of lining the liberal establishment's pockets, either; my brother bought it for me at a thrift store, so as far as I know, Michael Moore didn't get one red cent out of the purchase. Still, I thought it might be useful to review the book in this blog just to show that I do, on occasion, peruse sources other than the approved conservative reading list.

The first chapter in Moore's book is a bunch of rehashed babble about how Bush stole the 2000 election. **Yawn.** I'm so tired of hearing that nonsense. If the Electoral College didn't result in the popular vote being thwarted once in a while, it would be useless. The whole purpose is to ensure that the election isn't always dominated by a few overpopulated states. It's the same principle by which the bicameral legislature operates. I don't expect liberals to comprehend all of this, so I can forgive Michael Moore's ignorance on the subject. Still, the whole first chapter is tedious. Skip it.

Moore goes on to deal with the state of education in the United States. I found myself agreeing with him much of the time in this section. My mom just gave me a fifth-grade reader from 1857--most college students would have a difficult time comprehending any of it. We're graduating a bunch of (functional) illiterates, largely because the system is geared toward pampering the underachievers. Yes, we spend very little on education compared to the rest of the industrialized world, and we aren't at the top of the heap in international measures, nor have we been for quite a while. Personally, I attribute this more to the lack of student accountability in the system than to the amount of money being spent, but I must admit that the amount of what we spend that actually makes it to the classroom is appallingly low. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, roughly 57% of what is spent in California makes it to the actual teaching of students, including teacher salaries, materials, extracurricular activities, and etc. The rest is eaten up by administrative overhead, which means that between state, county, and district bureaucracies, 43% of the money spent is not being used to educate a single child. I doubt things are much better across the country. I would contend that we are spending a decent amount, but managing that money terribly.

Michael Moore still suffers from the delusion that teachers are capable of solving every ill of society. This is nonsense. Fools seek to change lives by changing the environment. Wise men seek to change men, who will then change their own environment. This is the key difference between my views on education and those of Michael Moore. Still, I agree with quite a bit of what he has to say on the subject, which was quite surprising to me.

The rest of the book consists of diatribes about how stupid we Americans are, how we engage in wanton violence, how our support of Israel amounts to genocide, how SUVs are melting the polar ice caps, blah, blah, blah. He made some interesting points when comparing Clinton's agenda to Reagan's, arguing that Clinton actually moved the country further to the right than Reagan had, at least in terms of policy. He makes some very similar points to Michael Savage, noting that there isn't much of a divide between establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats. (He voted and campaigned for Nader in 2000.) While I felt he was blaspheming the memory of Reagan, he did demonstrate that Clinton governed largely as a conservative. Personally, I attribute that to the 1994 Republican revolution, as do most conservatives, but at least Moore got the net result right.

I still think of Moore as a moron (Moore-on?), but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. It's useful to see what passes for thinking on the Left. It's also a relief to see that their arguments are indeed as weak as we have always supposed. We'll always have a need for liberals; they're quite entertaining. As long as we keep in mind that they're a vapid bunch of troglodytes, there's no harm in hearing them out.

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