Yeah, affirmative action again. Tricky.
Personally, I'm a ruthless believer in meritocracy but, then, my own circumstances make it easy for me to believe ruthlessly in the value of meritocracy.
Yet, as a ruthless believer in meritocracy I also believe society should help each person achieve their greatest potential, because I believe that helping each person achieve their greatest potential is good for me.
Social road blocks that keep people from reaching their greatest potential are, therefore, bad for me. Personally.
Example: if racial or sexual bias keeps people from becoming great doctors or engineers, then I won't reap the benefits of having great doctors or engineers.
Again, this is about me.
Glenn introduced a bill this week that attacks a pornographic caricature of affirmative action. It is designed to appeal to our worst, rather than to our best, instincts. Pornography is best defined as something that arouses desire to no worthwhile effect. The proof that this bill is pornographic is the raw-meat-mixed-with-meta-amphetamine effect it has in satisfying the sense of victimization that characterizes its market audience.
The bill raises the difficult but important questions about whether it's appropriate to hand out government contracts and ear marks solely on the basis of race and gender (instead of on the basis of big campaign contributions, say -- the province of generally rich, mediocre, white boys).
Sadly, it also whitewashes the even more awful truth that, for generations, race and gender were precisely the basis for elbowing all sorts of people away from the American buffet: specifically,the 13% of our population with African heritage and that tiny 50% or our population who are missing an X chromosome.
All right. It's tricky. How do you justify discriminating on the basis of race and gender in order to undo the social tendency to discriminate on the basis of race and gender?
The only justification would be to help society break a bad, self-destructive habit -- maybe it would be best to think of affirmative action as a kind of nicotine patch.
Is anyone under the delusion that our society has shaken off this bad habit? Uh, no. Plenty of us still reach for that pack of unfiltered Camels.
Predictably, Glenn once again reaches under his mattress for a fix in the faux-free-market oxycontin of privatization as the solution to all social ills. His faith is sweetly naive. He hopes that removing government from the regulatory business will allow the private sector will handle discrimination more effectively -- you know, in the same way it has handled tainted meat, seat belts, Pinto gas tank explosions, and lead-soaked toy tea cups from China.
I see that our friend and neighbor Owen Robinson is serving up Glenn's gruel with the usual dollop of religious commitment. Good to know that Owen's childhood left him without any social disadvantages. Other than being an Aggie, of course.
The question is, what do we do to get our society over our tendencies to racism and sexism? Glenn's bill asks us to deny our own bad habits.
Maybe all this denial is a good sign. Denial is the first stage of grief.
And so it goes.
24 February 2008
23 February 2008
How is it that Glenn and I only seem to agree when it comes to selling beer?
JS Online: Regional News Briefs: "Saukville eatery closer to getting liquor licenseI'd love to hear the Tavern League's argument for limiting the number of licenses within any given area -- probably to make sure that the established businesses are able to stay in business.
The state Senate's Transportation and Tourism Committee on Wednesday unanimously endorsed a bill that would allow the Saukville Village Board to issue one Class B liquor license in addition to the nine Class B licenses allowed under the village's quota.
State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) has said he introduced the bill to help one business, Messina Two Inc., 151 Progress Drive, Saukville, get a license to serve liquor in addition to the wine and beer the restaurant serves.
The bill is designed to help just one business because political reality is such that the Tavern League of Wisconsin would not allow a broader-based bill to get passed, Grothman has said."
It's odd, then, for Glenn to be opposed to that kind of quota since, typically, neo-conservatives vote to maintain the economic advantage of the moneyed elites and to shut out -- or squeeze out -- small business people.
17 February 2008
Friends and relations,
In the category of unrecognized irony, Glenn thinks that getting rid of bad teachers will improve the health of an educational system he has made a career of starving.
Here's the story:
Bill to get rid of bad teachers passes committee
By Jackie Johnson
A legislative committee votes in favor of the "Every Child Deserves a Great Teacher Bill" (AB-670).
"For the first time in at least 20 years the legislature's advanced a bill making it easier to fire a bad teacher."
Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) is a sponsor of the bill. He cites an example in his district where over $200,000 was spent so far, trying to remove a teacher who watched pornography on a school computer. He's been trying for several years to make it easier to fire bad teachers.
"The teachers union, of course, will always fight to keep bad teachers, but we hope other members of the legislature will put the school children first."
Grothman says a child's academic growth can really be stunted without a quality teacher in the classroom. But it's just too hard to get rid of the bad apples.
1) Firing "bad" teachers is so obviously important that the only reason Glenn would mention it is because he's really up to something else. [Closing the schools to save the taxpayers money?]
2) To "fight" in this case doesn't mean fight to "keep" them, but "fight to give them due process so that they don't get fired simply because they piss off the principal and a few of the parents."
The reason tenure exists -- whether in universities or the K-12's -- is to make sure an educator is able to conduct the process of education. Arguably, the real task of all education is to help the individual learn to question what they believe in order to find out whether their beliefs are actually true -- a process that inevitably makes some people furious.
Teachers need to be protected from the natural resistance that arises when they expound on a truth that a majority of the local population (falsely) believes to be a lie [like discussing evolution or global warming say or, increasingly, that America is a democracy].
Democratic activity of this kind is increasingly frowned upon by people from Glenn's universe, but it works. Innocent until proven guilty is, still, what we do in the US. For the French, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't see any reason to treat our educational system like the French.
and, [and here is where the hypocrisy works its way to the surface like a splinter of glass trying to climb out of Glenn's thumb]
3) Glenn's entire career has been about draining the blood supply out of public education, draining it into the sacrificial chalice of "free market economics" and rights for the rich. He's cut funding to the educational system at every opportunity, starving it at every turn. His other latest hooha has been to try to eliminate kindergarten for 4 year olds, despite solid evidence that it gives kids a jumpstart.
Now there's a picture.
Glenn would blame the cafeteria ladies for starving the kids even though he's the one cutting off their mac & cheese.
Friends and relations,
This just in, from Kevin Fischer's This Just In, Quotes of the Week.
"I ... don't think the state should be participating in putting something out there that you wouldn't want your average fourth-grader to read."
State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) on the state banning certain vanity license plates.
Here's one I saw in California around 1976, but haven't seen in Wisconsin yet:
I wonder whether it'd go through?
TAXCUTR got past the censors and, given the context, it's infinitely more offensive.
I don't want fourth-graders thinking that TAXCUTR is a good thing when it represents a continuing assault on their ability to become fifth-graders.
The Sheboygan Press - Right to Life rally to be held on Sunday
Posted February 16, 2008
State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, will give a brief presentation, and Audrey Kolosovsky, Sheboygan County Right to Life's Chairperson, will present the 2007 "Friend of Life" Award.
How do you demand rights for the unborn while slashing the programs that will improve their lives once they are born?
-- I don't know either.
16 February 2008
There he goes again, cutting off children from programs what would help them compete in the global economy.
Maybe Glenn wants our next generation to be poor and dependent on China and India?
[I was going for sarcasm but, the more I think about it, the more that last sentence looks like a mere restatement of mundane fact.]
Anyway, I posted a note about this back in December but Glenn's still at it:
Wisconsin Radio Network: An attack on 4-year old kindergarten:
Friday, February 15, 2008, 3:46 PM
by John Colbert, WIBA
A state legislator hopes to halt new spending on what he calls a 'dubious' education program.
Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) wants to put the brakes on new spending for 4-year-old kindergarten classes. He says the state is in a fiscal crisis, yet it continues to encourage more and more districts to set up those programs. Grothman says that could cost the state an extra $13 million next year.
Grothman questions the academic justification of putting young children in those programs. He's doubtful of their effectiveness.
Academic justification? Um, so, studies by state school systems and a couple of major universities are doubtful?
Lawyers only believe what their clients pay them to believe. Maybe this applies to lawyers who become state senators.
Here's what I said last time. Follow the links for the justifications Glenn, apparently, is unwilling to examine.
It always helps when you know what you're talking about.
I just Googled up a swamp full of data and longitudinal studies by universities and the Federal Government Accounting Office.
The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has been keeping track of 5 states worth of pre-K education. They've noted good results.
The state of Tennessee thinks it's a great idea and the GAO's data from Oklahoma and Georgia suggest we might think about ramping up as well.
Maybe Glenn doesn't want our pre-schooler students to be as well prepared as they are in Tennessee, Oklahoma, or Georgia.
Maybe he wants us to be the new Oakies, migrating with our cows across the dustbowl of Midwestern manufacturing, hoping for a better life in Georgia.
It took me 5 minutes to find all that stuff. What's keeping Glenn?
Labels: 4 year old kindergarten
05 February 2008
JS Online: Proposed state law aims to help just one restaurant: "Proposed state law aims to help just one restaurant
Bill would allow Saukville to grant extra liquor license
By LAWRENCE SUSSMAN
Posted: Feb. 5, 2008
For several years, the Messina Italian restaurant owners in Saukville have unsuccessfully worked with two state legislators to change a state law that limits the number of liquor licenses that can be issued.
But last week, state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) took a more parochial approach.
He introduced a bill that would allow the Saukville Village Board to issue one Class B liquor license in addition to the nine Class B licenses allowed under the village's quota."
A bill that subverts established law in order to help a small family business provide good food? Great idea.
Why doesn't he do this all the time?
04 February 2008
Yes yes, another disingenuous headline. I know.
Here's the latest from Glenn:
An attack on affirmative action
Monday, February 4, 2008, 4:21 AM by John Colbert, WIBA
A call for a constitutional ban on affirmative action in Wisconsin. It comes from State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who plans to introduce an amendment similar to one approved in Michigan two years ago.
Grothman says Wisconsin has had a "brazen policy" of giving preference based on race or sex for too long. He says those preferences have resulted in white males not being hired in government jobs, not getting in to the University of Wisconsin, or getting passed over for state contracts.
Apparently, it doesn't keep them from getting elected though, eh?
I'm not a fan of affirmative action for affirmative action's sake -- but diversity in education makes the students' experience more excellent. Wisconsin kids need to be exposed to the rest of the world in their university lives. A student with a broader experience of all the cultures in the American gumbo will be a better American.
So, racial injustice aside for a moment, this kind of proposal is usually personal. I wonder which of Glenn's friends lost a government contract to a minority owned business?
And so it goes.