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David Brooks on Western Movies and Conservatism:

I don't read the New York Times, but my local newspaper (The Falls Church News-Press) republishes some of the columns each week (why, I don't know, but that's a topic for another day). Anyway, this means that I am usually about a week behind everyone else when it comes to NYT columns.

Most of you have probably already seen David Brooks's column this week on Republicans and western movies. I'm a Republican and a fan of western movies (although I've been much more enthusiastic about being the latter than the former in recent years). I will leave aside discussion of the quality of Brooks's appraisal of western movies, a topic that others (such as James Bowman) have discussed much better than I could.

Instead, I'll accept for the sake of argument that Brooks has correctly identified the lesson of western movies.

Instead, I'll focus on what he sees as the lessons for Republicans and conservatives:

Today, if Republicans had learned the right lessons from the Westerns, or at least John Ford Westerns, they would not be the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice. They would once again be the party of community and civic order.

They would begin every day by reminding themselves of the concrete ways people build orderly neighborhoods, and how those neighborhoods bind a nation. They would ask: What threatens Americans' efforts to build orderly places to raise their kids? The answers would produce an agenda: the disruption caused by a boom and bust economy; the fragility of the American family; the explosion of public and private debt; the wild swings in energy costs; the fraying of the health care system; the segmentation of society and the way the ladders of social mobility seem to be dissolving.

But the Republican Party has mis-learned that history. The party sometimes seems cut off from the concrete relationships of neighborhood life. Republicans are so much the party of individualism and freedom these days that they are no longer the party of community and order. This puts them out of touch with the young, who are exceptionally community-oriented. It gives them nothing to say to the lower middle class, who fear that capitalism has gone haywire. It gives them little to say to the upper middle class, who are interested in the environment and other common concerns.

Now his policy proposals don't seem to follow from the core values he claims to be recognizing such as the value of neighborhoods, orderliness, and personal responsibility. Swings in energy costs? Public debt? Health care costs? All these are surely important issues--but they are all basically economic issues, not issues about neighborhood stability and community values.

It seems more plausible that the menu of values that would follow from his diagnosis of the problem would be the very same social and cultural issues that provided the core of the traditionalist wing of the conservative movement for thirty years: crime, divorce, single-parenting, faith. Local control over schools and cultural values. National security and concerns about terrorism. Fears about the coarsening of American culture. Stricter regulations on pornography and violence. Don't all of these issues--these social and cultural issues--seem much more to be what Brooks is describing when he describes the lessons to be drawn from Western movies?

Instead, Brooks seems to have adopted what is more of a liberal interpretation of social instability and disorder--that it is caused by economic factors like inequality and energy costs. Perhaps that is a correct diagnosis of the problem--but it sure doesn't seem to me to be one that follows in any way from the lesson of Western movies.

Having said all that, I think there is a core point here that should not be lost. Charles Murray's challenging speech at the AEI banquet this year illuminated a point that I have been thinking about. For the longest time, the trump card in the ideological battles has been that free markets "deliver the goods." This utilitarian argument seemed to have won the war of ideas in favor of free markets and limited government.

But what happens now, when people lose faith that the free market really "delivers the goods"? I think that's the more profound question raised by Murray (as well as by John Allison, who I've recently heard speak on these topics). Libertarians have surrendered the moral high ground on the intrinsic value and goodness of a free society. In the days of Communism, there was a constant reminder that freedom was both a superior moral order as well as economic order to totalitarianism. Brooks does raise the point well, I think:

The Republicans talk more about the market than about society, more about income than quality of life. They celebrate capitalism, which is a means, and are inarticulate about the good life, which is the end. They take things like tax cuts, which are tactics that are good in some circumstances, and elevate them to holy principle, to be pursued in all circumstances.

Finally, there is a sense here in which the true disorderliness that really used to threaten American families is no longer as pressing. Terrorism and crime have receded as a major concern of many Americans. The very same concerns about equality and the segmentation of society that Brooks bemoans has enabled many families to escape the day-to-day concerns of safe schools and safe streets. In many ways, through technology (Tivo, dvd's, etc.) families can wall themselves off from the coarseness of modern culture better than ever before (although, of course, there are new threats such as the Internet). Neighborhoods seem to have become more homogeneous over time, enabling communities to wall themselves off from the rest of the world.

In some sense then I wonder if Brooks's ability to try to redefine orderliness and community in term of largely economic values reflects that fact that in many ways Americans have taken many of the formerly pressing concerns about orderliness off the table by essentially mooting them out through public policy and private initiative. If we were still facing regular threats of terrorism at home do we think we'd be thinking of all of these issues in the same way?

Big picture, though, what strikes me is that libertarians and conservatives need to construct an intellectual and spiritual vision of a free society that speaks to its coherence with man's nature and the conditions necessary for human flourishing. Obama seems to have tapped into this spiritual void, especially among American youth (in a way that is sort of creepy to me, to tell the truth, but that's for another day).

This vein of thought of the moral virtue of freedom has always been there, of course. It has just been subordinated for the past couple of decades. But it seems to me that it is time to revisit this well and think about an intellectual defense of freedom that is more than "it delivers the goods."

Thoughtful (mail):
"Big picture, though, what strikes me is that libertarians and conservatives need to construct an intellectual and spiritual vision of a free society that speaks to its coherence with man's nature and the conditions necessary for human flourishing."

Ironically, this is what Objectivists long have praised Rand for doing, offering a defense for the morality of capitalism. They may have a point.
5.9.2009 4:21pm
Sk (mail):
I think you are right. The culture wars are all about the concerns about community that Brooks seems to think should be the core philosophy of the Republican Party. Brooks has simply screwed up his own analogy/allegory/reading of Westerns ('community is all about income redistribution...').
Note that alot of conservative intellectuals are doing that. In the current doldrums for the Republican Party, we are constantly being bombarded with the message that focusing on the culture wars is losing the country to the Democrats. That may be true-in fact, Republicans may very well be defending a losing (i.e. long-term losing)philosophy.
But that's what makes them Republicans-the cultural issues that you have listed in this article.
If anyone thinks the path to Republican resurgence is a simple economic argument ('our maximum tax rate is 34%! The democrat's is 44%!! Vote for me!!), I'm afraid the Republicans are doomed (and frankly, its largely irrelevant whether they win or lose. Most people aren't in the top tax bracket, and most people won't be affected by tax rates in that bracket. Everyone is affected by cultural issues, however). I strongly suspect Republicans are doomed anyway: I think the culture wars are about over, and we lost. But we are not going to surge based on tax rate, or free market for Wall Street investors, arguments. Even if those arguments are right, they are not, and never will be, inspiring.
Thus, your solution is about right, too. Find a community of like-minded folks (that's what the suburbs are all about), live in a gated community, send your kids to private schools, and to hell with the common culture.

Incidently, it is possible to live this way, today, with
one exception: education. School vouchers are the obvious final step: as long as they control your kids, they control alot-they can't control your hobbies, or beliefs, or what news you get, or who your friends are, but they still control your kids.

Sk
5.9.2009 4:33pm
sbron:
I don't know what John Ford westerns Brooks has seen, but the main message of Ford's films is anathema to both the multicultural left and libertarian right. There is a clear vision in the cavalry trilogy and the fantastic "They Were Expendable.

A nation has a flag, a coherent culture (e.g. recognizable songs such as "The Girl I Left Behind Me") and borders. Both the songs and soldiers may be immigrants (usually Irish), but the troopers are clearly and proudly American. In "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon", Latinos fight side-by-side with whites (the Sergeant played by the famed Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz.) But again, all are American in the Ford assimilationist sense.

John Ford was one of the few directors to use actual American Indians as actors. His view of the Indian wars is tragic rather than romantic. Ford's sympathies for the Indians, and disgust with white prejudice is evident in Fort Apache and the lesser-known "Two Rode Together." However, Ford's vision is one of Manifest Destiny with no room for separate Indian nations.

"They Were Expendable" is literally the type of movie not made anymore. Its overt patriotism and flag-waving (the PT boat attacks with flags flying emulating cavalry charges) have no place in today's multicultural America. There is no second-guessing of America's motives in fighting the war, and the sailors are portrayed as unblemished heroes.
There are no touchy-feely encounters between American and decent-underneath Japanese officers as in later films. The enemy is the enemy, America is a great nation, and its cause is just. The vision of American decency and sacrifice is at its most affecting in the last scene involving the evacuation to Australia -- one of Ford's greatest.
5.9.2009 4:33pm
Fact Checker:
Unfortunately for you, the free market, in this context, simply doesn't deliver "the goods". If by the goods you mean clean drinking water, sewage systems, transportation infrastructure, education, food safety all the other myriad things that "big evil" government provides us with that we take for granted that those in depicted in classic Westerns considered luxuries and longed for (especially as they were ravaged by cholera or trichinosis).
5.9.2009 4:50pm
Glen Alexander (mail):
I couldn’t agree with you more. David Brooks misses the “lesson” of mid-20th century American Westerns.

I think Obama has tapped less into a “spiritual void” than simply a longing for the communitarian ideal epitomized in Western movies. We wish we could leave our technologically safe bubbles and homogeneous communities, yet we are afraid, confused, uncertain — and angry — because of the disorderliness that still threatens American families. Those concerns haven’t disappeared; we’ve simply “walled” ourselves off from this dangerous world. The post-9/11 housing boom was driven much more by our desire to “cocoon” rather than easy money or a lack of better investment alternatives (although these factors certainly enabled this societal trend).

Turbulent economic times, coupled with plunging values of those prized “cocoons” and 401(k)s, have only heightened our anxiety, and also added a sense that the system is “rigged”. Obama connects the urge for community with this growing skepticism of free-market capitalism. He’s finally solved the long-held Democratic Party frustration that people don’t vote their “economic interest” and instead turn to “religion and guns”.

Without a credible political and intellectual opposition, we’re well on our way towards a full-blown European welfare state with compulsory national service — and, ultimately, a zero-growth economy and a zero-sum society.
5.9.2009 4:55pm
Dan M.:
It's hard to defend the free market when everyone is convinced that George Bush was a great defender of the free market when he was far from it.
5.9.2009 4:56pm
Fact Checker:
Incidently, it is possible to live this way, today, with
one exception: education. School vouchers are the obvious final step


Excuse me. I don't have children. I pay for public schools. So do you. Why on earth should the government pay you to send your kids to private schools?
5.9.2009 4:59pm
MarkField (mail):
I'm not a fan of David Brooks, but I am a huge fan of Westerns and he does have a point here. The Bush Administration seems to have watched The Searchers and concluded that the moral lesson was to emulate Ethan Edwards.
5.9.2009 5:08pm
Sk (mail):
"Excuse me. I don't have children. I pay for public schools. So do you. Why on earth should the government pay you to send your kids to private schools?"

It shouldn't. It should allow me to spend the money I now spend on public schools (the government doesn't pay me, I pay), on the private school of my choice.
5.9.2009 5:10pm
zywotkowitz (mail):
To people over 40 it seems strange that there would be a movement in favor of more gov't involvement in running large industries.

But it won't take long for people to remember why it was such a bad idea.
5.9.2009 5:15pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
From Stagecoach through The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, I don't see how anyone could conclude that Ford was an unreserved fan of encroaching order.

Stagecoach ends with the doc saying "Well, they're saved from the blessings of civilization."

And the man who shot Liberty Valence, the real hero of the movie, is Tom, a guy who took the law into his own hands, who thought finally to build his own house for the girl he loved, but ended up burning it down. Ranse, the lawyer, ends up also being a bit of a fraud.
5.9.2009 5:16pm
Fact Checker:
It shouldn't. It should allow me to spend the money I now spend on public schools (the government doesn't pay me, I pay), on the private school of my choice.

And so the money I spend on public schools should be refunded to me?
5.9.2009 5:23pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
David Brooks is a "New York Times conservative," which means that he calls himself a conservative and argues that "fellow" conservatives should adopt real conservative vlaues which just happen to be perfectly aligned with liberal interests.

I give you credit for sifting through his nonsense. I can't stomach it.
5.9.2009 5:25pm
Bonze Saunders (mail):
David Brooks: "Republicans are so much the party of individualism and freedom these days..."

WOW! Did I wake up in an alternate universe?

Republicans might better take heed of the lesson of Clint Eastwood's westerns: there will come an avenger to destroy the greedy and corrupt.
5.9.2009 5:28pm
Josh644 (mail):
...Republicans had learned the right lessons from the Westerns, or at least John Ford Westerns, they would not be the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice

The Republican party was the party of freedom, somewhat, around the time of the Civil War. In the last 50 years, not so much.

So is Brooks criticizing the Republican party from when it actually was about freedom, and therefore criticizing the freeing of the slaves? Or does he think that the modern Republican party values freedom, in spite of the war on drugs, and on gays, and on immigrants, and on air travelers, and on civil liberties in general?
5.9.2009 5:31pm
geokstr (mail):

Fact Checker:

Incidently, it is possible to live this way, today, with
one exception: education. School vouchers are the obvious final step

Excuse me. I don't have children. I pay for public schools. So do you. Why on earth should the government pay you to send your kids to private schools?

Excuse me. I'm nearing social security age and I've never had children either. But I don't begrudge paying for schools because in the long run the entire country, including me and you, are better off with an educated population.

But you leftists have pretty much destroyed the public educational system in this country, turning it into an unmitigated disaster and nothing more than propaganda mills.

And you don't even understand, or are being deliberately obtuse about exactly what a universal school voucher program is. All parents would get them to send their kids to the schools of their choice, not just rich white folks.

I guarantee you that the poor would be the first to run from the joke that passes for "free education" now.
5.9.2009 5:32pm
Kazinski:
The biggest lesson I've learned from westerns over the years is the sanctity of property rights, and the value of law and order. That by far is the overwhelming theme of the American Western. From Treasure of the Sierra Madre through Shane, and and countless horse operas, the theme has always been outlaws, and cattle barons trying to take what isn't theirs.
5.9.2009 5:39pm
MarkField (mail):

And the man who shot Liberty Valence, the real hero of the movie, is Tom, a guy who took the law into his own hands, who thought finally to build his own house for the girl he loved, but ended up burning it down. Ranse, the lawyer, ends up also being a bit of a fraud.


I don't think it's quite this clear. The movie clearly approves the values Ranse advocated. It's not at all clear that Tom supported those values; he was more of a loner, an individualist. I'd say the movie celebrates the last individualist as sacrificing himself because he understands that society has to move on from his world to the one Ranse will build.
5.9.2009 5:49pm
resh (mail):
"...conservatives need to construct an intellectual and spiritual vision of a free society that speaks to its coherence with man's nature and the conditions necessary for human flourishing."

That was suitably accomplished in 1985 by J. Sobran. http://www.wildwestcycle.com/f_pensees.htm

Also, re: Westerns: Let's hear one from the Duke, himself. (Kindly visualize the half scowl, tilted shoulders, triangled red hanky, fitted Stetson and shuffling gait.) "Well lemme tell ya, pilgrim. That better be a sandwich, cause youre gonna eat it."
5.9.2009 6:03pm
Scot (mail):
The hero is only the hero if he straddles the two worlds. He sacrifices himself in service of social. The Romans knew this; military glory for one's own aggrandisement is not virtus. Virtus is *only* the sublimation of the individual to the republic. The hero fights and dies for the glory of Rome, and Rome alone. So, too, the Fordian western hero.
5.9.2009 6:16pm
MarkField (mail):

The hero is only the hero if he straddles the two worlds. He sacrifices himself in service of social. The Romans knew this; military glory for one's own aggrandisement is not virtus. Virtus is *only* the sublimation of the individual to the republic. The hero fights and dies for the glory of Rome, and Rome alone. So, too, the Fordian western hero.


And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods...?

Not Roman, but in that spirit.
5.9.2009 6:30pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
MarkField:

I agree with the idea of Tom sacrificing himself. And in the sacrifice, something is both gained and lost. At the end, when the conductor says to Ranse that nothing is too good for the man who shot Liberty Valence, Ranse's agreement is also a bit of a self-accusation.

And, yes, what Ranse brings is both good and necessary, but it lacks a bit of the beauty of Tom's cactus rose.

It's such a great movie.
5.9.2009 6:30pm
Arkady:
@MarkField


The Bush Administration seems to have watched The Searchers and concluded that the moral lesson was to emulate Ethan Edwards.


Well, if they did, they must not have contemplated the final scene: There's no longer a place for Ethan in that community and he knows it.
5.9.2009 6:40pm
Perseus (mail):
...The Republicans talk more about the market than about society, more about income than quality of life...

Shorter David Brooks: Republicans need to be more like David Cameron's Tories. But they'll have to substitute "QOL" (quality of life) or some such term for the Tory term "GWB" (general well-being).
5.9.2009 6:47pm
Thoughtful (mail):
goekstr: "I'm nearing social security age and I've never had children either. But I don't begrudge paying for schools because in the long run the entire country, including me and you, are better off with an educated population."

Surely you aren't arguing that the mere presence of a positive externality is sufficient justification for government provision of a good or service? It doesn't matter if we all benefit from a better educated population. What matters is that the primary beneficiary of an education is the person educated. That is sufficient to achieve a well-educated population through pure market mechanisms.

We all benefit from a well fed population too, but that's not an argument for socialized agriculture.

[Yes, I know this is off topic, has nothing to do with Western movies and little to do with the Republican party.]
5.9.2009 6:55pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
I can't believe Brooks ever saw a western movie. Doesn't seem the type.

Typical Brooks column, Republicans (or conservatives) should be more like liberals. Nothing to see here.
5.9.2009 6:55pm
New Pseudonym:

(e.g. recognizable songs such as "The Girl I Left Behind Me")


Sorry, the tune is the same, but the traditional song of the 7th Cavalry is Garryowen. Substantially different lyrics. But it does illustrate the Irish immigrant theme.
5.9.2009 7:27pm
pintler:

What matters is that the primary beneficiary of an education is the person educated. That is sufficient to achieve a well-educated population through pure market mechanisms.


It is sufficient for children who have good parents, but not all children have good parents. Equality of outcome is not morally required, but equality of opportunity is. Children should not suffer for the sins or omissions of their parents.
5.9.2009 7:37pm
Dan M.:
I'd rather just abolish the public school system than have vouchers. Give people education tax credits to spend on private school tuition or on home schooling materials. More people need to home school. The social conservatives would be so much more content to let the rest of the world go to hell if they had better opportunities to home school their children.

And we should get rid of child labor laws if Obama wants to force all the kids to "volunteer" during early adolescence.

Then we could home school our children and get them internships or apprenticeships in early adolescence, and they could avoid college altogether or save up enough from their own job to pay for their own school instead of getting tuition subsidies for their "volunteer" work.
5.9.2009 7:57pm
New Pseudonym:

Unfortunately for you, the free market, in this context, simply doesn't deliver "the goods". If by the goods you mean . . . food safety


I'm glad to see that you have such confidence in the government deciding what food is safe. My state is poised to prohibit trans fats in any food (it's for the children, don't you know). When I was in college, we used to laugh at medieval "sumptuary laws." They're back.
5.9.2009 7:57pm
New Pseudonym:

Surely you aren't arguing that the mere presence of a positive externality is sufficient justification for government provision of a good or service? It doesn't matter if we all benefit from a better educated population. What matters is that the primary beneficiary of an education is the person educated. That is sufficient to achieve a well-educated population through pure market mechanisms.


Surely you aren't arguing that the product of inner city government schools is an educated person.
5.9.2009 8:03pm
New Pseudonym:

Surely you aren't arguing that the mere presence of a positive externality is sufficient justification for government provision of a good or service? It doesn't matter if we all benefit from a better educated population. What matters is that the primary beneficiary of an education is the person educated. That is sufficient to achieve a well-educated population through pure market mechanisms.


Surely you aren't arguing that the product of inner city government schools is an educated person.
5.9.2009 8:04pm
New Pseudonym:
Now I know how double posts occur . . . impatience.
5.9.2009 8:05pm
MarkField (mail):

It's such a great movie.


Agreed.


Well, if they did, they must not have contemplated the final scene: There's no longer a place for Ethan in that community and he knows it.


Well, having an exit strategy didn't seem to be too high on their agenda.
5.9.2009 8:41pm
jbarntt:
I like western movies, and I especially like John Ford westerns. David Brooks seems like a decent fellow, but I think he misses some things about Ford.

He correctly picks up on the communal aspect that Ford portrayed, but he ignores the fact that when the community is threatened, the community is saved, not by themselves, but by an outsider. This is clearly the case in "My Darling Clementine", "The Searchers", and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". It is notable that in these movies the hero leaves the society that he has defended at the end of the story.

In real life such heroes do not leave, as there is no where to go. It works well in the movies, but movies are not real life. In real life Wyatt Earp, Ethan Edwards, and Tom Stoddard would not have gone away. The idea makes for a wonderful movie, or a nice op-ed piece in the NY Times, but the fact is we do have a standing Army for a reason.
5.9.2009 8:55pm
NickM (mail) (www):

The hero is only the hero if he straddles the two worlds. He sacrifices himself in service of social. The Romans knew this; military glory for one's own aggrandisement is not virtus. Virtus is *only* the sublimation of the individual to the republic. The hero fights and dies for the glory of Rome, and Rome alone. So, too, the Fordian western hero.



And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods...?

Not Roman, but in that spirit.


President Reagan had a framed parchment with that stanza hanging on a wall at his ranch.

Nick
5.9.2009 9:49pm
More about what Brooks supports ----- (mail) (www):
Brooks supports amnesty, something that would, among other things, a) reward massive illegal activity, b) encourage more illegal activity, c) give one racial group the impression that our laws don't apply to them, and d) give even more power inside the U.S. to foreign governments, far-left and racial power groups, and other bad guys.

In a Western, Brooks would be the sleazy East Coast dude who gets strapped to the back of a horse, with the final scene being someone giving the horse a slap and yelling, "giddyup!"
5.9.2009 10:24pm
Danny (mail):
My boyfriend from Italy and his dad always watch the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. When I lived in the US I used to ignore Westerns, but after they forced me to watch them I realized how profound they were, why Europeans are so obsessed with them. Even a more "socialist" sympathizing type, I think that you can see through the violence of the Westerns and see American individualism and free enterprise and libertarianism in their best sense. I say this as a liberal from the east. Now in Italy they use the term "far West" to describe anarchy or a place where there's street violence and little police. For example to describe a mafia-ridden area of Naples they might say "è un far west", it's a "far west" place, where you might be assaulted without police protection. But on the other hand the American Westerns made people dream. During the Bush years Europeans used to ask me sometimes "are you from the place where there are cowboys?" and I would insist "no, no! I'm from the east" trying to distance myself from it. Then I would detect a bit of disappointment on their faces. Despite their scorning, they wanted that voice around - how dull if America were just a copy of Europe on the other side of the Atlantic! In Europe there is so much regulation, so much bureaucracy that limits your life. While Europeans are rightly proud of the social state, many have also been deeply affected by the dream of the American Westerns as very profound, intellectual documents.
5.9.2009 10:38pm
concerned:
I guarantee you that the poor would be the first to run from the joke that passes for "free education" now.

After which I will pull my kids out of that private school. I don't want my children to be victims of some governmental "social experiment" that subsidizes a drug dealing street thug into private school--that's why my kids are there in the first place.

If the poor want to get out of public schools they should suck it up and get the second or third job it requires. This way they would have a financial investment in the kid's private education--they shouldn't get a handout.
5.9.2009 11:02pm
FredR (mail):

But the Republican Party has mis-learned that history. The party sometimes seems cut off from the concrete relationships of neighborhood life. Republicans are so much the party of individualism and freedom these days that they are no longer the party of community and order. This puts them out of touch with the young, who are exceptionally community-oriented. It gives them nothing to say to the lower middle class, who fear that capitalism has gone haywire. It gives them little to say to the upper middle class, who are interested in the environment and other common concerns.


As John Wayne was wont to say in John Ford's Western THE SEARCHERS: "That'll be the day."
5.9.2009 11:10pm
John Moore (mail) (www):

Excuse me. I don't have children. I pay for public schools. So do you. Why on earth should the government pay you to send your kids to private schools?

For the same reason thay pay to send the kid to public schools: education.

The difference is that private schools on the average are better at it.

Take the money going to public ed, put it into vouchers, and let competition sort it out. It would help if we could also nuke all the education school and credentialing bodies at the same time.

Foreign companies make automobiles that Americans want to buy. These days, foreign schools are making educated professionals that Americans want to hire. A major reason it is outsourced in both cases is the same: fossilized institutions with union and politically protected (non)workers.
5.9.2009 11:11pm
Frank Snyder (mail):
FWIW, Garryowen is a different song, with a different tune, from The Girl I Left Behind. They're both Irish folk songs that got adapted to America and popular during the Civil War. Garryowen was used in They Died With Their Boots On. The Girl I Left Behind was in Fort Apache. The third big song Ford used was She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, in the eponymous film.

Custer picked Garryowen as the theme song of the 7th Cavalry after the Civil War. Today it's the song of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. The Girl I Left Behind is the theme song of the 7th Infantry, which claims to have adopted it at the Battle of New Orleans.

Certainly more than you needed to know, but I still get chills when those songs come up in the films.
5.9.2009 11:22pm
Desiderius:
NickM,

"President Reagan had a framed parchment with that stanza hanging on a wall at his ranch."

Wow, you sure know how the hurt a guy. Hope MarkField recovers from that blow, he's good people.

Those verses do seem to speak more toward a vertical integration of identity (across generations) than the horizontal one (across society) that MarkField seems to have in mind. The former being more libertarian, the latter communitarian - not that the two are mutually exclusive.
5.10.2009 1:00am
Desiderius:
Danny,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hope there are more where those came from.
5.10.2009 1:03am
Fact Checker:
No wonder libertarians don't have a clue when they spend their time pondering how Westerns accurately depict life in the old west (they of course don't) and fret about our bold Socialist Star Trek future.

The myth of the old west (or even the new west) as a land built by rugged individualists free of government intervention is absolute nonsense. The west would not have been settled without the constant government encouragement, intervention and giveaways in the form of land grants, mineral rights, water projects, subsidies to the railroad companies, military actions to remove the former residents and protect the new ones and countless other actions.

I'm glad to see that you have such confidence in the government deciding what food is safe.

We are speaking of the fantasy world of Todd's Western Movie World where, unlike the real wild west, people are never struck down by food and water born diseases like cholera, typhus, dysentery, trichinosis, and other diseases that were common and deadly, and childbirth was an extremely risky procedure for both mother and child.

Rugged individualism means you don't connect to a public water supply so you don't know when your water is contaminated. So as you writhe in agony and die from dehydration caused by cholera, remember that it is government water treatment systems that has ended this scourge in modern societies.
5.10.2009 1:45am
Fact Checker:
For the same reason thay pay to send the kid to public schools: education.

I gladly pay for public education and would gladly pay more to improve the public schools (I was being facetious earlier). I attended excellent public schools (in the suburbs of Cleveland and Chicago). Anyone who claims that public schools can not be every bit as good as the best private school simply does not know what they are talking about and is hopelessly biased. It is also ironic and amusing to note that a good portion (a majority) of the hosts of this site, the staunch libertarians they are, teach at public institutions. Although for some reason they are blind to the irony.

If you choose to send your children to private schools, you should not expect the government to help you pay for them anymore than I should expect the government to rebate me money because I do not utilize the public schools personally.
5.10.2009 1:54am
Frank Snyder (mail):
I attended excellent public schools (in the suburbs of Cleveland and Chicago). Anyone who claims that public schools can not be every bit as good as the best private school simply does not know what they are talking about and is hopelessly biased.

I hear Beverly Hills High is really good, too. As I understand the argument, you had good public education, and therefore people who can't afford to live in really nice suburbs or pay private school tuition should have no choice but to watch their children rot away in the miserable hells that are urban public schools. That seems pretty cold, dude, but I suppose their parents should just shut up and make more money.

The myth of the old west. . . as a land built by rugged individualists free of government intervention is absolute nonsense. The west would not have been settled without the constant government encouragement, intervention and giveaways in the form of land grants, mineral rights, water projects, subsidies to the railroad companies, military actions to remove the former residents and protect the new ones and countless other actions.

The operation of government recording offices, courts, law enforcement, and armed forces were important -- but those are exactly the sorts of things libertarians agree that a limited government should supply.

You talk about "giveaways" as some valuable thing the government gave to enable settlement. But the "land grants" amounted to nothing more than getting out of the way of settlers and providing a way of proving title in the first settlers. Settlers were frequently squatting long before the government officially "opened" land to settlement. Similarly, the government recognized title to minerals in whoever found them and developed them. The first person who makes productive use of something gets to keep it. That's laissez-faire. Your view makes sense only if we assume that the government owns everything, and any time it lets you do anything it's "encouraging" or "subsidizing" you.

Actually, rail subsidies played a very small role in the process. California and Oregon were already states, Utah was already well-settled, and privately financed railroads had already reached Omaha before the first "subsidized" line started. Nevada reached statehood before the line reached it. The future big cities of the West -- Dallas, Denver, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Boise -- all were there before the railroad came.

How did that happen? Amazingly, people got there by private transport. The government's one big innovation, the Pony Express, got wiped out by competition from private telegraph and stagecoach lines. As Jim Hill showed when he built the Great Northern, a transcontinental railroad could profitably be built without any government assistance. The subsidies were simply a way of giving favored lines (i.e., those that bribed the right Senators) competitive advantages over privately built lines. To protect that advantage, the government actually tried to interfere with Hill building his own railroad.
Rugged individualism means you don't connect to a public water supply so you don't know when your water is contaminated. So as you writhe in agony and die from dehydration caused by cholera, remember that it is government water treatment systems that has ended this scourge in modern societies.

I must be a rugged individualist, because I don't connect to a public water supply. Twenty-four percent of the people in California don't, either. They get water from private companies. So far none of us have died from cholera. Do you have any data that shows that government-owned U.S. water suppliers are safer than privately owned companies? The growth in bottled water sales doesn't suggest that people are real confident about the government experts who are running their water purification systems.
5.10.2009 4:31am
Arkady:

Custer picked Garryowen as the theme song of the 7th Cavalry after the Civil War.


Garryowen was widely used in the British Army prior to its adoption by Custer. According to its wiki page,


Garryowen became the marching tune for the 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Militia, (the famed "Fighting 69th" ) in the mid-1800s. The "Fighting 69th" adopted Garry Owen before the Civil War and recently brought it back to combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.


And, interestingly:


The word garryowen is derived from Irish, the proper name Eóghan ("born of the yew tree") and the word for garden garrai - thus "Eóghan's Garden". The term refers to an area of the town of Limerick, Ireland.
5.10.2009 5:56am
Bob_R (mail):
I reject the premise that capitalism is currently failing to "deliver the goods." The whole point of capitalism is to destroy companies like GM and Chrysler. The whole point of capitalism is to destroy unions like the UAW that favor older and retired workers at the expense of younger workers and workers yet to come. The whole point of capitalism is to destroy the "smart guys" who create defective financial products. The whole point of capitalism is to punish us for electing a government that enmeshes itself with the jokers above. The "current unpleasantness" is a feature, not a bug.
5.10.2009 6:37am
Fact Checker:
The first person who makes productive use of something gets to keep it. That's laissez-faire. Your view makes sense only if we assume that the government owns everything, and any time it lets you do anything it's "encouraging" or "subsidizing" you.

Your view makes sense only if no one had a prior claim to the land. In case you didn't know, this continent was populated prior to the arrival of Europeans. And even if you dismiss Native Americans as savages who made no "productive" use of the land and therefore had no right to it, other Europeans (i.e., the British, French, and Spanish) also claimed the west. The U.S. by treaty and war acquired it. So it was not free for the taking for the first white person who killed or displaced the Indian living on it and settled on it. it belonged to the United States of America.

Taking something that isn't yours, even if it belongs to the government, isn't laissez faire, it's theft.

Actually, rail subsidies played a very small role in the process.

You're kidding right? What exactly do they teach you in private school? BTW, the great Northern Line was finished 24 years after the first transcontinental railroad and 12 years after the second.

They get water from private companies. So far none of us have died from cholera. Do you have any data that shows that government-owned U.S. water suppliers are safer than privately owned companies?

You do realize that private water companies still have to comply with safe drinking water act standards? And that even private water companies receive both direct and indirect government subsidies--both from the state and federal government.
5.10.2009 8:25am
Fact Checker:
As I understand the argument, you had good public education, and therefore people who can't afford to live in really nice suburbs or pay private school tuition should have no choice but to watch their children rot away in the miserable hells that are urban public schools.

Obviously, you don't understand the argument. I believe in improving the public schools. You want to abandon the public schools while callously throwing a few hundred dollars in vouchers to poor people knowing that such vouchers will never cover the cost of private school tuition. Consequently, they will be in worse shape than they were before you, in your libertarian kindness, offered them the false promise of vouchers.
5.10.2009 8:44am
11-B/2O.B4:
Public schools ceased to be "educational" long before I had the misfortune to attend them. In my experience, they are nothing more than day-care centers (and poorly run ones at that). Incidentally, most colleges have become the same thing.

No libertarian argues that society benefits from an educated populace, in fact, that's kind of our point. The public schools of this nation place our populace dead last among developed nations. And while "Fact Checker" seems to have all on his own discovered that our real goal is the destruction of the poor, his straw man is a bit wobbly.

As a matter of principle, I don't think the government has any business running an education monopoly. As a practical matter, I'd tolerate it with more aplomb if it weren't so horrifically inefficient, and such a complete failure.

If you think your vaunted "poor" (that would be me, in this case)benefit from shite public schools, you must have been educated in them.
5.10.2009 9:15am
William Newman (mail):
Todd Zywicki writes "Big picture, though, what strikes me is that libertarians and conservatives need to construct an intellectual and spiritual vision of a free society that speaks to its coherence with man's nature and the conditions necessary for human flourishing."

Consider freedom of religion, which seems to be an area where classical liberalism isn't particularly out of step with the mainstream. It seems to me as though the argument that has been most effective isn't that freedom of religion is a positive value, but that enforced religion doesn't accomplish what its supporters fondly imagine it will, and instead (by raising the stakes for who controls the government) makes a major contribution to the risks of civil war, corruption, and despotism. Libertarians also argue for freedom of religion as a good thing in and of itself, but my impression is that that isn't nearly as telling as the history of enforced religion and the relative success of tolerant societies.

Perhaps I'm wrong about what arguments convinced people about freedom of religion. Or perhaps freedom of religion is a special case, and other freedoms are effectively defended primarily by shining arguments about their ideal positive moral value instead of mudwrestling about how poorly central control turns out in practice. But it seems to me as though the screwups of central control in practice are a pretty important argument. If the screwups of central control in practice are off the table, the usual antilibertarian argument of angelic infallible central controllers producing a better outcome than mere humans making individual choices is pretty politically effective.

"Libertarians have surrendered the moral high ground on the intrinsic value and goodness of a free society." Possibly libertarians have lost some perception of being on moral high ground. But we never had such a perception all that solidly in the first place, and I don't know where you get "surrendered;" libertarians don't seem to have meekly given it up. As an extreme case, note screamingly indefensible things like (mostly) Communist barriers to exit, or industrial-scale mass murder. The classical liberals (and various right-ish sorts, and others) didn't shut up about that, right? But (much of) the left (including most of academia) just learned to pointedly ignore the issue, and to congratulate themselves for being the sophisticated discerning ones not overconcerned with such vulgar distractions. Che, like Robert E. Lee, didn't become cool by classical liberal forfeit, but by lalalalawecan'thearyou.
5.10.2009 10:28am
Ben P:

And you don't even understand, or are being deliberately obtuse about exactly what a universal school voucher program is. All parents would get them to send their kids to the schools of their choice, not just rich white folks.

I guarantee you that the poor would be the first to run from the joke that passes for "free education" now.



I find a very interesting problem between two arguments about schools I see repeated over and over again in comments on this site.

Argument 1 is Above - "School Vouchers would enable all parents to send kids to schools of their choice."

Argument 2 is "The publicly financed system of student loans only causes private universities to raise their tuitions in order to bilk more money out of the US government"

The way we finance University education isn't all that different from a voucher system. Some schools get heavy public subsidies and pass that on to students, others don't. Nearly All students get financial aid (in the form of subsidized loans usually, but some grants) to go to a school of their choosing.

What makes anyone think that once a voucher system is instituted, nearly every private school won't just raise their tuitions by an amount roughly equal to the amount of the voucher all the parents are receiving?

All the people who could afford to send their kids before will continue to do so, and all the new people get priced out of the game just like they were before. Except now, the public school system is being deprived of money that's being funneled to private schools.
5.10.2009 10:29am
Ben P:

No libertarian argues that society benefits from an educated populace, in fact, that's kind of our point. The public schools of this nation place our populace dead last among developed nations. And while "Fact Checker" seems to have all on his own discovered that our real goal is the destruction of the poor, his straw man is a bit wobbly.

As a matter of principle, I don't think the government has any business running an education monopoly. As a practical matter, I'd tolerate it with more aplomb if it weren't so horrifically inefficient, and such a complete failure.


And all those other developed nations that have much better schools than ours have developed some magical free market education system?

Oh wait, they all have government run education systems too. But theirs work better...hmmm.
5.10.2009 10:32am
MarkField (mail):

Wow, you sure know how the hurt a guy. Hope MarkField recovers from that blow, he's good people.


Knowing Ronnie had that quote on his wall makes me feel better about him. I guess we're both romantics at heart. That explains my love of Westerns, and of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon is a huge John Ford fan).
5.10.2009 10:34am
William Newman (mail):
Fact Checker writes "Obviously, you don't understand the argument. I believe in improving the public schools. You want to abandon the public schools while callously throwing a few hundred dollars in vouchers to poor people knowing that such vouchers will never cover the cost of private school tuition."

Checker, check thyself.

Your description of voucher proposals seems to be a gross distortion. Isn't thousands of dollars much more usual than "a few hundred dollars"? Certainly the vouchers in the current high-profile Washington DC controversy are for more than "a few hundred dollars," and I've read articles by commentators of various political biases, and none have suggested that those vouchers are abnormally large.

And your mind-reading of the callous abandonment desires of the person you're addressing seems more like a fraud than a miracle. Many voucher proponents would prefer to give a voucher roughly equal to public school per-student costs; they support a few thousand dollars, but as a second-best compromise, not a first choice. That preference is very common among voucher proponents even on Main Street, USA; among voucher proponents here and on various libertarian-ish websites elsewhere, that preference is likely to be the majority.

Note that it's not just some devious tactic whipped up to undermine the public schools. Lots of us take the position popularized by Milton Friedman that granting for the sake of argument that we want the government to subsidize something, it tends to be a good idea to more or less hand out checks and let the recipients make their own decisions. This shows up in policy as school vouchers, but another huge policy example is negative income tax, and various lesser examples (for housing and medicine, e.g.) are easy to find.
5.10.2009 10:58am
William Newman (mail):
Ben P. writes "And all those other developed nations that have much better schools than ours have developed some magical free market education system? Oh wait, they all have government run education systems too. But theirs work better...hmmm."

Google "Sweden voucher."

Now, I find international comparisons for this (and several other social) issues to be like a house of cards in a swamp built on a foundation of sand atop a great world-bearing elephant who suffers from a cartoon caricature of ADHD. We're not very good at measuring outcomes, we're not very good at controlling for differences in inputs, and there's no consensus on which inputs are important and what kinds of time lags to expect on their effect. So I'm certainly not trying to claim that Sweden settles the issue, or anything ambitious like that. But I do claim that it is dangerous to make factual assertions like "all" when you are merely working backwards from your preferred ideology to the conclusion that the world must work in a way which justifies it. (Or cocooning yourself among information sources which only inform you of facts which will make you comfortable, that works too.)
5.10.2009 11:17am
Desiderius:
University system: tops in the world

K-12: not so much, despite heroic efforts by many of my fellow teachers.

I'll go with vouchers Pell Grants, thanks.
5.10.2009 11:27am
Fact Checker:
Many voucher proponents would prefer to give a voucher roughly equal to public school per-student costs; they support a few thousand dollars, but as a second-best compromise, not a first choice.

And what is the tuition at a private school. Certainly more than a few thousand dollars. Of course most of the voucher systems assume that religious schools will be involved, in other words charity will pick up some of the slack. Besides, once you individualize school payments and base it on a per pupil basis, my (and other taxpayers who have no children of school age) become much less interested in subsidizing education and much less willing to pay for your childrens' education, driving up the cost for individual parents, who now have to bear the entire cost of their children's education, rather than have it spread out over the entire community. That is the entire point of public education--spread the cost over the entire community, even those with no children in school.
5.10.2009 11:43am
Ben P:


Now, I find international comparisons for this (and several other social) issues to be like a house of cards in a swamp built on a foundation of sand atop a great world-bearing elephant who suffers from a cartoon caricature of ADHD. We're not very good at measuring outcomes, we're not very good at controlling for differences in inputs, and there's no consensus on which inputs are important and what kinds of time lags to expect on their effect. So I'm certainly not trying to claim that Sweden settles the issue, or anything ambitious like that. But I do claim that it is dangerous to make factual assertions like "all" when you are merely working backwards from your preferred ideology to the conclusion that the world must work in a way which justifies it. (Or cocooning yourself among information sources which only inform you of facts which will make you comfortable, that works too.)


My post was short, overly snarky, and not meant as a substantive argument. You'd probably also do better to not make sweeping assumptions based on a single sentence.

But what it was arguing against was not the introduction of choice into the system, but the idea that the "solution" to a poorly functioning public education system is to eliminate the public education system. Not only that, but then pairing it with the argument that "other countries" are doing better.

Other countries are doing better (or, I'll concede to "may be doing better" because there are a lot of variables involved that are difficult to compensate for") but it's certainly not because they've eliminated the concept of public education in favor of a private system.


It is true that the "swedish system" involves an element of public choice, which I think is a good thing. But comparing that system to school vouchers as envisioned in the US is simply an apples to oranges comparison.

Any person may establish a for profit school and the state is required to fund the school directly on par with "public schools." But these schools aren't allowed to charge tuition fees to parents. There's also no substantive limits on the character of these schools. The typical independant schools are those with alternative teaching methods, but that's not all. There are, for example, "public" religious schools in Sweden, something that the first amendment would essentially make impossible here. There are schools whose primary focus is a competitive sporting event.


All in all, however, only about 8% of swedish students attend "independent" schools.

Sweden is also influenced by the German model. That is, they make a stronger division between "academic" and "vocationa' training than we see here, and at an earlier age. (although nowhere to the extent that Germany does)

Although it does more to prove your point about variables, I'll mention two others by comparison.

Testing shows finland to have some of the best educational systems in the world. They have a system that looks like Sweden's did before they allowed public choice. To the extent there are any independent schools they're required to admit students on the same basis public schools do and are not allowed to charge tuition.

Japan also has a very high scoring system. Structurally, their system is patterned after the US. Nearly all elementary education is public and free. On the other hand, in Japan, both public and private high schools charge tuition. Public education is accomplished by direct funding of the public schools so that they offer significantly reduced tuition. But somewhere between 30 and 40% of high schools in Japan are "private."

Parents have about as much choice in where to send their children for high school as US parents do for an undergraduate education. Admission is through entrance exams, and many parents have their children attend special "cram schools" in their off time to get them prepared for entrance exams.
5.10.2009 12:06pm
Federal Dog:
"As a practical matter, I'd tolerate it with more aplomb if it weren't so horrifically inefficient, and such a complete failure."

As a practical matter, it may well not be. It is in the political interest of those seeking to create and maintain a permanent client voting constituency that the public remain subeducated, dependent, and obedient. If that is the goal, a government-controlled monopoly on any potential for education is essential, and many of the products of that government monopoly are exactly what they are supposed to be. In which case, government schools are efficient and successful.
5.10.2009 1:24pm
Anononymous314:
"Republicans are so much the party of individualism and freedom..."

Lol, wut?
5.10.2009 2:06pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
Excuse me. I don't have children. I pay for public schools. So do you. Why on earth should the government pay you to send your kids to private schools?
Because the public schools are failing to provide the education you are paying for, because it’s much cheaper to send kids to private schools than to maintain the bloated union-run public school bureaucracy, because competition among schools will provide incentive to excel, because private schools will cater to what the child needs instead of the OSFA education philosophy du jour. Take your pick. You should encourage school vouchers because you get more education for the buck.

Brooks makes the typical error that the individual is the opposite of the communitarian. The lesson of the Westerns was that if a community has a problem, individuals should roll up their sleeves, get with their neighbors, and solve it. Brooks’ solution is to submit an environmental impact study, get the mainstream media to make a mountain out of your molehill, apply for Federal grants, wait five years for government contractors to finish a five-month job, then petition Congress to pass laws forcing all the communities that don’t have your problem to adopt your solution anyway.

He is right, in the Republicans have bought into the second solution.
5.10.2009 2:37pm
Fact Checker:
because it’s much cheaper to send kids to private schools than to maintain the bloated union-run public school bureaucracy

Please provide figures.
5.10.2009 3:00pm
11-B/2O.B4:

And what is the tuition at a private school. Certainly more than a few thousand dollars.


For someone with the self-imposed handle of "fact checker", you certainly don't bother to bear it out do you? After my last public school experience, I attended a private school in town (to be fair it wasn't a scholastic upgrade). Cost was just under two grand a year. Now, this wasn't exactly ivy-league prep in Manhattan, but it was the local religious alternative to public schools. Your "facts" need some checking, factchecker. You don't get to demand "figures" until you start providing some of your own.
5.10.2009 3:37pm
John Moore (mail) (www):
"Fact checker"

I believe in improving the public schools.

Experience shows that to be a mostly oxymoronic statement.

The US is last among developed nations in K-12 outcomes, but close to the to top in per-pupil expenditures.

My mother's third career was as a public school math teacher for 20 years. She made a strong family rule (one of the few she insisted on): None of her grandchildren would go to public schools.

Note that she did not teach in a "bad" public school district. Her school was in a nice university town (Lawrence, KS).
5.10.2009 4:12pm
Jeff the Baptist (mail) (www):
On the other hand, in Japan, both public and private high schools charge tuition. Public education is accomplished by direct funding of the public schools so that they offer significantly reduced tuition. But somewhere between 30 and 40% of high schools in Japan are "private."
What about the additional schooling many Asian students receive outside of the normal high school setting? Cram schools are huge in Korea and I believe in Japan as well. They're almost completely private.
5.10.2009 4:52pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

Today, if Republicans had learned the right lessons from the Westerns, or at least John Ford Westerns, they would not be the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice.


Frankly, the whole article went off the rails right there.
5.10.2009 5:51pm
Elais:
I notice that some commentors in favor of school vouchers basically tell folks without children they have to suck it up and pay for other people's children. You advocate reserving yourself the choice, but deny it to others.
5.10.2009 6:09pm
John Moore (mail) (www):

I notice that some commentors in favor of school vouchers basically tell folks without children they have to suck it up and pay for other people's children.

And that is different from those in favor of public schools?

I pay a whole lot of money each year to send other peoples' kids to really inferior schools. I'd rather have that same money go out as vouchers.
5.10.2009 6:22pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):
I'd rather fix the public schools that aren't doing well. People like to say that throwing money at a problem won't necessarily fix it, but taking it away (and that is what vouchers will do, whether you admit it or not) certainly isn't going to help fix the problems.
5.10.2009 8:22pm
Desiderius:
Owen,

Creative destruction, dude. Education is too important to be left to undead bureaucracies.
5.10.2009 9:04pm
AndrewK (mail):
Brooks has hit on the European notion of conservatism, as contrasted with "liberalism" in the American-libertarian sense.

It's the nostalgia for the Gemeinschaft of yesteryear, and I can't say I don't feel it too. Civic virtue and community matter, and the particular policies these lead to depends on circumstance, perhaps bounded by human nature, in other situations perhaps not.

I guess the point is that the Brooks-ian view here isn't concerned with "ends," and libertarians and leftists have more in common here than libertarians and conservatives.
5.10.2009 9:40pm
AndrewK (mail):
... hence the critique by Zywicki, was my point. It's an inherently ideological critique of civic virtue: a concept that is ante- or anti-ideological.
5.10.2009 9:42pm
John Moore (mail) (www):

I'd rather fix the public schools that aren't doing well. People like to say that throwing money at a problem won't necessarily fix it, but taking it away (and that is what vouchers will do, whether you admit it or not) certainly isn't going to help fix the problems.

People have been trying to "fix" the schools for decades, and the performance has simply not improved.

Taking money away certainly can help the problem, by moving students to schools that work, and by focusing the schools that don't on competition.

Besides, based on the spending of other countries, I'd say we could easily cut education budgets by 30% without hurting our already dismal performance.
5.11.2009 1:14am
Owen Hutchins (mail):
You're letting your prejudices speak there. And based on spending locally, it is interesting that the suburban districts spend dramatically more money per student than the city does, with good results.

Another issue is, should private schools that take vouchers be allowed to pick and choose who gets in, or should they, like the public schools they are trying to displace, have to accept every student that applies? We've seen that private religious schools have been permitted to refuse openly gay students, or even students whose parents are gay. What then?
5.11.2009 7:03am
Randy R. (mail):
"Public schools ceased to be "educational" long before I had the misfortune to attend them."

Nonsense. Most suburban public schools are doing very well, and I rarely ever hear any parent complaining about any of them. Urban public schools, well, that's a different matter. Some are good, many are bad, and quite a few just muddle along.

But to think that there is some mass movement afoot among suburbanites to abolish public schools is a serious misreading of the issues.

Anyway, this is a fascinating topic. I don't know too many westerns, but from the few that I recall, one theme that is constant is that people are individuals and should be left alone when they ask to be left alone. But when they need help, like in a drought, or an outside threat, people can and should come together for the good of the whole community. The person who decides to "go it alone" is often the first one killed. (But I'm not sure that is always the case).
5.11.2009 8:58am
Randy R. (mail):
Owen: "We've seen that private religious schools have been permitted to refuse openly gay students, or even students whose parents are gay. What then?:"

Then we segregate all the gay students to a "gay school" so that no one else has to deal with them, and then people like Newt and others can complain about our tax dollars being used to fund "immorality."
5.11.2009 9:01am
PQuincy1:
Brooks and Zywicki raise an important and genuine issue -- one that liberals, conservatives, and libertarians should all take seriously, which is to consider that any political value system requires a robust sense of 'the good life'. Modern American ideologies, however -- notably, modern Republican rhetoric -- seems to argue that the good life can be delivered either entirely by 'market processes' (for libertarian trending thinkers), or perhaps by tax cuts plus a dose of religion.

It's a bit startling, therefore, to see one of the first comments say: "Find a community of like-minded folks (that's what the suburbs are all about), live in a gated community, send your kids to private schools, and to hell with the common culture."

In short, the path to the 'good life' is to cut off the rest of the world? This prescription so obviously runs against trends of increasing connectivity and interaction, not to mention interlocking dependencies, that it boggles the mind. What air do the happy denizens of this supposed utopia breathe? What water do they drink? Do they happily farm, raise their own cattle for leather, and so forth? Living off the net is not easy at all, and requires rather large material sacrifices and even larger acceptance of risk of failure.

If libertarian thought is simply reduced to 'I'll take mine, and pretend that society doesn't exist', then it cannot expect to be taken seriously. Go ahead, go live in your gated community -- but know that you do so on the forbearance and toleration of the rest of us liberals and conservatives; and know that your claims to 'autonomy' are hollow because in fact, you are relying on the safety nets and the regulation of hazards taken care of (however badly) by the grownups. Or, alternatively, choose a gated community in Somalia, and see how well that works.
5.11.2009 10:07am
Desiderius:
Owen,

"You're letting your prejudices speak there. And based on spending locally, it is interesting that the suburban districts spend dramatically more money per student than the city does, with good results."

Or, you know, the data. You're at least twenty years behind the curve. Get back to us when you've done your homework.
5.11.2009 10:45am
Desiderius:
PQ,

"Brooks and Zywicki raise an important and genuine issue -- one that liberals, conservatives, and libertarians should all take seriously, which is to consider that any political value system requires a robust sense of 'the good life'. Modern American ideologies, however -- notably, modern Republican rhetoric -- seems to argue that the good life can be delivered either entirely by 'market processes' (for libertarian trending thinkers), or perhaps by tax cuts plus a dose of religion."

Any value system does, but there are value systems that, wisely, recognize that determinations of the "good life" are best left outside the (negative-sum, monopolistic) political process to allow for their great diversity.

“Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance - these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.”

- Isaiah Berlin

See also this.
5.11.2009 10:49am
rosetta's stones:
Goodness, a discussion melding Ford's magnificent western trilogy and public education, and for 3 days I scrolled right by it?!

In Fort Apache, that indian agent's "enlightened" administration of the fed government's treaty obligations left Colonel Thursday wryly requesting a cavalry sergeant to "pour me a cup of scripture".

And when the fearsome Colonel Thursday sat down to parley with the indian chiefs, their complaint was not with the US Army or the government, it was with that indian agent.

Some wish the indian agents of today to keep on keeping on, in every urban school district in this country. That is the way of poverty, spiritual bankruptcy, addiction and death.

Our treaty obligations are not with the indian agents.
5.11.2009 11:39am
Randy R. (mail):
It's really quite amusing to see so many people have absolute faith in private schools. I guess they assume that all public schools are inferior to all private schools. If there is any data that can back up this dubious assumption, I would like to see it.

My best friend is a full time piano teacher in another city, and he teaches in an affluent area. The public and private schools are all rated among the best in the state, and about one third of his students attend a private school.

Over the past 30 years of teaching, he has had many students, and wondered whether private schools really are better than public. (This took on an added interest when he started having kids about 20 years ago).

So he would randomly quiz his students on basic knowledge and what they have learned in school. Basically, he found that that public school students were slightly better than private school, but many exceptions existed. Basically, it wasn't the school that matter so much as the teacher. A good math teacher makes it easier to learn math. Since public teachers earn more money and have more benefits, the better teacher usually (but not always) gravitate towards the better pay.

But the real difference was in their ability to learn. In private schools, it's drummed into their heads that their education is far superior to that of public schools (which, as my friend noted, is clearly not true), and so a B in a private school is worth an A in a public school.

the problem is that consistently, he has found that the public school students practice piano more often and do a better job than the private school students. He believes it's because the private school students simply don't have to work as hard. Things are handed on a silver platter. In public schools, if you want to get ahead, you have to work at it, since no one is going to give you a leg up.

So ironically, public schools, with their bigger indifference to students, actually encourage students to work harder than private school students.

What to make of this? Not much, I suppose. It's merely anecdotal evidence, albeit gathered over a lifetime. But what it does mean is that anyone who merely assumes that private schools are always better than public schools hasn't really studied the issue very much.
5.11.2009 12:10pm
Randy R. (mail):
Another issue: Everyone seems to assume that once we allow vouchers for private schools, your kid will of course be admitted to the school that you choose. It never seems to dawn on people that private schools may refuse your precious little one.

My sister is a case in point. The family has money and is well educated. Her son Grant was nannied from an early age, and so by the time he was ready for school, he could already read. He consistently scored at the top of every test given him. Living in the city of Chicago, public schools was not an option (because they are terrible,something I freely admit).

She thought a Catholic school would be good, since they have a good rep, and the students are so well behaved. Grant should be a shoe-in. However, after having an interview with Grant, the school turned him down. Why? They merely explained that he would not "fit in."

My sister eventually realized what this meant -- Grant is bright, but rather independant minded. You cant' tell him 'just because' -- he doesn't accept that. He wants reasons for why things work. So the reason catholic schools have such well behaved students that sit quietly at their desks is because they screen for that.

Eventually, she enrolled Grant in a Waldorf school, which is much more free wheelling, and he is thriving there. Thank goodness he wasn't accepted to the Catholic school!

But what about those parents for whom a catholic school is really the best option for them, and they are refused? Where do they go? What if your child is refused all the schools that you want him or her to get in to? What if the tuition is more than the vouchers, or is across town?

Private schooling, even in the best of circumstances, entails a great deal of sacrifice on the parents to make it work, and I'm not sure most parents are willing to do that.

Note: Another of my best friends is a teacher at a private school. And if you think bureaucratic BS doesn't exist there, you are mistaken. Sometimes it's worse than in the public schools.
5.11.2009 12:17pm
Federal Dog:
"It's really quite amusing to see so many people have absolute faith in private schools. I guess they assume that all public schools are inferior to all private schools."

You are misunderstanding applicable logic. It's not that private school are necessarily superior to government school -- or vice versa. Rather, it's the belief that if people have the means to choose the best school available, they will be apt to do so, which will prompt less desirable schools to improve their faculty and curricula in order to attract students.
5.11.2009 1:23pm
Uh_Clem (mail):
I can't believe Brooks ever saw a western movie. Doesn't seem the type.

I have no idea whether Brooksie has ever actually seen a Western Movie, but I am absolutely certain that if he hadn't ever seen one, that mere fact would be no impediment to his writing about them as if he were an expert.
5.11.2009 1:36pm
trad and anon (mail):
But the "land grants" amounted to nothing more than getting out of the way of settlers and providing a way of proving title in the first settlers. Settlers were frequently squatting long before the government officially "opened" land to settlement. Similarly, the government recognized title to minerals in whoever found them and developed them. The first person who makes productive use of something gets to keep it. That's laissez-faire.

Well, aside from the people who were making productive use of it first. But they didn't count.
As a matter of principle, I don't think the government has any business running an education monopoly. As a practical matter, I'd tolerate it with more aplomb if it weren't so horrifically inefficient, and such a complete failure.

Depends on which public schools. Public schools in rich areas are pretty consistently good, and public schools in poor areas are consistently awful. The ones in the rich areas are consistently better-funded and consistently get better, more experienced teachers, because teachers in schools that serve poor students have to deal with worse students without being paid more. Also rich people have more political clout.

Even in cities with generally lousy schools the public schools in well-off parts of the city are still better than the ones in the poor areas. Similarly for school districts with good schools: the schools in the richest parts of the district are always the best, and the best-funded.
5.11.2009 2:57pm
LegalCookie:
I miss Milton Friedman.
5.11.2009 3:15pm
Calderon:
But what happens now, when people lose faith that the free market really "delivers the goods"? I think that's the more profound question raised by Murray (as well as by John Allison, who I've recently heard speak on these topics). Libertarians have surrendered the moral high ground on the intrinsic value and goodness of a free society.

A couple of quick points. First, I'm skeptical that any system that doesn't deliver the goods will predominate if there is some actually existing other system that delivers the goods. While one can make all the arguments one wants about the morally "right" thing, if some other system is clearly out-performing the one you have, there's going to be gravitation toward that system. To put the point differently, if communism had performed better economically than capitalism, then we'd probably all be calling each other comrade now and worshipping pictures of Lenin regardless of how much people talked about freedom and individuality.

I'm not saying that having the "moral high ground" is meaningless, but just that it's a secondary consideration. I think the better course is to look at the last few hundred years rather than the last 10 months. Free market systems are subject to booms and busts, but averaging those out over the long run they have outperformed other systems.

Second, the reason for the lack of focus on the "good life" under libertarianism is pretty clear, I think. One common (though I suppose not necessary) tenant of libertarians is to leave it to individuals to figure out what their own goals should be. Thus, it shouldn't be too surprising that those associated with free market systems are pushing their ONE TRUE VERSION of how people should live. Saying that people should develop their own goals rather than being browbeaten to adopt someone else's should be a source of strength rather than weakness. (Of course, national greatness conservatives like Brooks do have a particular version of the good life he thinks other should follow, so it's not surprising he'd miss the benefits of leaving people alone on this issue)
5.11.2009 4:45pm
senor100:
I agree with most of you all about David Brooks' cluelessness as regards John Ford. I would simply like to put in a word for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which remains, I think, the most important movie of the 1960s. It is an incredibly complex movie, full of ambiguities, but seems to center on some very important questions: identity, community, the truth (or falsity) of myth as an instrument of cohesion. It is basically the flip side of Stagecoach and Clementine, and its ending with Jimmy Stewart and Vera Miles riding off on the train realizing just how complicit they have been in perpetuating a lie and building a life on it is one of the most devastating scenes in movie history. John Ford directed his last major movie, Cheyenne Autumn in 1964, the same year Clint Eastwood made a Fistful of Dollars. I have often wondered what would have happened if they had worked together.
5.11.2009 6:20pm
traeh:
Those who assume that a voucher system will destroy the government schools are neglecting some of the evidence. Some recent studies, as I recall, showed that the threat students might use a voucher to leave a government school forced those government schools to improve. This actually helped the government schools to improve and expand or maintain enrollment.

A problem with vouchers is that he who pays the piper too often calls the tune. That means that vouchers, depending on how they are set up, can be a sort of trojan horse to turn all schools into government schools, since governments will then pay for independent schools and will more and more set rules and take over. A study of a Canadian voucher system argued that something like that is precisely what happened there.

Also, it should be noted that it's not just Sweden that permits an element of choice in k-12 education. Holland too has some sort of a choice system, and I believe a number of other European countries do, too.

Those who, like me, believe in educational freedom and would prefer a system of independent schools over a system of government schools might ask themselves whether it makes anymore sense to give everyone vouchers than it would to give everyone food stamps? Perhaps vouchers would be best restricted to the poor, while others should receive tax credits.

But the question about funding is in a way secondary. The more serious question is about whether education is properly controlled by political majorities (as in your local school board or other political authority, which selects which books will be in your school library, and decides what the curriculum for your child will be, and in effect censors all other curricula). Is it fitting for a liberal democratic society to let majorities control the development of minds, and to hell with educational minorities? In many respects our society is organized around the protection of dissent and minority opinion, and against the tyranny of majorities.

You don't have to be a conservative to support educational freedom and independent schools. Stephen Arons is one example of a liberal scholar of constitutional law (teaching at the U. of Amherst, last I checked) who argues for a separation of school and state, for constitutional reasons. One of his arguments is that the freedom of expression of belief protected by the First Amendment is to some extent made a sham if the State controls the formation of belief. He argues that the choice of schools belongs with individual families, not state school boards. He also argues that every child has a right to education, but that the State, even if it does pay, must not call the tune.

That doesn't mean that a government voucher could support absolutely any kind of education. Even freedom of expression is limited by the law, as in the cliche example of yelling fire (when there is no fire) in a crowded theater. Arons uses the legal term "compelling justification," and says that the State must show it has a compelling justification to limit a family's choice, or else the State must stick its nose out of what is not its business. Arons argues that one such compelling justification would be teaching racism being taught in a school.

In any event, what we have right now is educational choice for the well-off, while anyone else is more or less compelled to accept majoritarian-style education.

A while back, there were some legal challenges to public schools with regard to the values taught in them. In the case I'm recalling, the judge concluded that public education had to be "value-neutral" in order to be constitutional. Well, value-neutrality is not only impossible, it's utterly undesirable for children.

What we need to work toward over the long term is an educational system that is simultaneously independent of the State, yet available to all children regardless of their families' income level. More generally, culture as a whole should grow independent, to whatever extent possible, both of economic interests and powers and political powers. Society should be increasingly threefold, with culture (including education, religion, the press, the arts, science, media), economy, and polity relatively independent of each other, precisely so the three can continually correct each other.
5.11.2009 9:16pm
George Smith:
Frank, Arkady - I was in the Seventh Cav. Its still our song.

Mr. Meacham now works at the DoE.

The Republicans need to heed Victor McLaglen's (sp)Irish Seargent: "Well, boys, we've a man's work ahead of us this day."
5.11.2009 10:07pm
George Smith:
All those years and I misspelled Sergeant.
5.11.2009 10:08pm
Desiderius:
traeh,

Beautiful.
5.11.2009 10:37pm
Desiderius:
Legal Cookie,

"I miss Milton Friedman."

I believe that his spirit has paid us a visit under the moniker "treah".
5.11.2009 10:48pm
markm (mail):
Owen: No, many big city public school systems have budgets exceeding $15,000 per student, with dismal results. That's more than most suburban schools, and more than many good private schools. Not that very much of that money trickles down past the bloated administration to the classrooms...

But it's pointless to try to compare results with such different student bodies.
5.12.2009 6:03am
Owen Hutchins (mail):
SEPA School Spending

School spending per student in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Philadelphia ranks 60th of 64 districts in the region, spending $10,000 less per student than the top-spending school district and $2,100 less than the median.

Lower Merion School District$21,399 (the highest spending district)

Median spending for the area$13,205

School District of Philadelphia$11,078

Upper Darby School District$ 9,727 (the lowest spending district)

Data are total per pupil spending in 2005-06 for school districts in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education.
5.12.2009 7:15am
klp85 (mail):
markm:

No, many big city public school systems have budgets exceeding $15,000 per student, with dismal results.

Aside from the problem of comparing student bodies, do you (or does anyone) know whether someone has compared spending controlling for cost of living? (Maybe I should Desiderius' link.) It wouldn't be surprising if NYC, the CA metropolitan areas, et al. had higher spending than, say, suburban Kansas, but to the extent that expenses reflect a higher cost of living rather than "real" spending, they might be less than helpful.

Thanks.
5.12.2009 8:47am
klp85 (mail):
"they" in the last clause being "comparisons not controlling for cost of living."
5.12.2009 8:48am
traeh:
Desiderius, thanks.

What I wrote in my comment above no doubt has some things in common with Milton Friedman's proposals, but did not come from them. The view I expressed comes mainly from three sources: 1) The book Toward Social Renewal, (about social threefolding) by Rudolf Steiner, 2) a chapter or two in Michael Novak's book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, and 3) Stephen Arons' Compelling Belief.

The social threefolding idea, at least as first fully proposed, in Steiner's book, has some things in common with libertarianism, but differs in that threefolding recognizes three main social principles, not just the one, of liberty. Steiner held that liberty should apply primarily to cultural life (education, religion, media, etc.). In the political system, however, equality should be the primary value (all are equal before the law, all are entitled to basic human rights and some sort of social safety net, all are entitled to live under a democratic system.) And in the economic system, the primary value should be, Steiner argues, uncoerced cooperation, a trend toward an increasingly cooperative economic system that is not controlled by the state and that is not centralized. The view that uncoerced, uncentralized cooperation should be the goal of the economic system is not based on some sort of altruism. The point is that uncoerced cooperation in the economic system would tend to keep the three systems (economy, polity, culture) more independent of each other, enabling them to correct one another ongoingly. The current overemphasis on a kind anarchic competition in economic life arguably tends to lead powerful actors in economic life to start to dominate and merge with political powers, destroying or undermining legislators' impartiality. Politicians are bought and paid for. But that amalgamation of political and economic power also then works the other way: the government then finds reason to start taking over economic life, supposedly in order to level income differences that become "too" huge, or for other reasons of alleged economic justice, but in reality the state often takes over economic life simply as a way to aggrandize state power. By contrast, an economic system based increasingly on uncoerced cooperation (an example of this trend is shown in a rudimentary way when corporations turn employees into owners or part owners, so that there is increased cooperation between management and workers) would allow for a bit less manipulation, by economic powers, of political and cultural systems. Also, with gradual movement toward a voluntarily more cooperative style economic system, the State would be increasingly deprived of more and more excuses to intervene in and take over the economy. Thus, the most sustainable way to maintain a threefold social life, i.e., the independence of state, economy, and culture from one another, precisely so they can continually correct each other -- the most sustainable way to maintain and enhance social threefoldness is to strive for more cooperative forms of economics, a more brotherly and sisterly economic life. Also essential, an uncentralized pluralistic education system independent of the State, yet available to all children regardless of family income level, would increase the independence of the cultural sphere from special political and economic interests. And the State would be better informed and better staffed by people educated in schools not dominated by the narrow political power interests of the State.
5.12.2009 9:31am
Dan F (mail):
First of all, the idea of Duke Wayne as a "Community Organizer" is ludicrous, isnt' it?
Second of all, if we can't trust big unions to make cars people want to drive, why would we trust them to educate tomorrow's leaders and producers?
Third,would Matt Dillon let the bad guys out of Gitmo? Would Paladin read a Somali terrorist his rights before blasting him to kingdom come? And weren't all those ranchers, sheep men, gold miners, saloon keepers, and women of PG-rated easy virtue of all the classic westerns individualists and entrepreneurs?
It is Brooks who has drawn the wrong lesson from the Western, not Republicans. It is the same wrong lesson that the people who did the remake of "Wild, Wild West" with Will Smith mislearned--it wasn't the gadgets and rudimentary FX that mattered in the original--it was Jim and Arte's friendship and the fact that it was them against the world fighting for truth, justice, and, yes, the AMERICAN way, not some metrosexual-transnationalist way that only leads to being drygulched (I was almost gonna type "bushwhacked" but I know how they obsess and would twist that, too.)
5.12.2009 9:46am
Owen Hutchins (mail):
Dan, do you imagine that the union designed the cars?

I'm still amused by the assertion that the Republicans are supposedly the party of freedom, while they turn around and try to limit it to only those they approve of.
5.12.2009 1:53pm
traeh:
Owen,
Ironically, the Republicans are the party of freedom mostly when they are out of power and in the opposition. Then they often restrain the growth of government admirably. But when they get into power, then small government philosophy suddenly becomes all talk. I think that is part of the reason that the corporate world has sometimes been polled against Republican candidates for president and in favor of Democratic candidates -- the business people know what happens when the fox who guards the hen house is allowed to go inside.
5.12.2009 2:17pm
traeh:
(cont. from above) On the other hand, if the Democrats are in opposition, no one cares about keeping government as small as is reasonable. So the irony is that to achieve certain Republican goals, one may often need to keep the Republicans out of power and in the opposition.
5.12.2009 2:23pm
Desiderius:
treah,

The combination of a Democrat in the White House (thus keeping the bureaucracies with the real power sub-mutinous) and relatively fastidious Republicans in the Congress minding the purse strings seemed to work reasonably well in the 90's, at least compared to what has followed up to the present.

Given the behavior of the present Congress, I have difficulty sharing your sanguinity.

Owen,

I used to sell GM cars. My uncle was once a Pontiac dealer, and is now a very happy Kia dealer - he got out while the getting was good. It wasn't the design that sucked, although to be fair, it also wasn't arresting enough to make up for the poor workmanship and uncompetitive prices on offer from the UAW cartel.
5.12.2009 9:53pm
Desiderius:
treah,

"What I wrote in my comment above no doubt has some things in common with Milton Friedman's proposals, but did not come from them."

Nor would I imagine that he would offer the identical proposals today that he did in his prime, but the spirit of your approach reminds me of his in that prime.

I would agree with all that you say (paragraphs, maybe?), with the minor caveat that cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they can be considered mutually reinforcing.
5.12.2009 9:58pm
traeh:
Desiderius,
I probably should not have permitted myself to sound so sanguine. I was too interested in pointing out the paradox.

Paragraphs and much else I neglected are useful, though sometimes one lacks time to avail oneself of them.

Very true that cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive, but they are of course distinguishable. Maybe they are poles of a continuous spectrum, but they are still at opposite ends of that spectrum.

And competition has, of course great importance in economic life, but it's a question of finding the best boundaries for it.

For example, in this day and age, few people would say that economic competition should be so laissez-faire as to permit people to sell themselves as literal slaves, divested of all human rights, to the most competitive bidder. Nor would many think it right that someone should be able to sell his vote to the most competitive bidder. But there are aspects of current economic life that are somewhat analogous. A more cooperative form of capitalism, if voluntary, would gradually tend to eliminate those aspects of competition that involve the exploitation, by one human being, of other human beings as mere objects.

Capitalism has made huge progress since the days of slavery and serfdom, but still in its current organization contains vestiges of those. It is ironic that people assume pure economic competition is antithetical to socialism. In reality, the greatest bulwark against socialism is a voluntarily cooperative, uncentralized economy.
5.13.2009 8:08am
Desiderius:
treah,

"In reality, the greatest bulwark against socialism is a voluntarily cooperative, uncentralized economy."

There are some who would argue that that is what true socialism is. Would that they had won the argument. They may yet.

"Maybe they are poles of a continuous spectrum, but they are still at opposite ends of that spectrum."

This is the one point I would contest. The opposite of competition is not cooperation, but decay. It is a perhaps unhappy (I would argue otherwise) feature of human nature that nothing spurs cooperation more surely than a common threat, enemy, or rival. Competition provides such a spur, often in a less lethal manner than it would naturally arise.

"And competition has, of course great importance in economic life, but it's a question of finding the best boundaries for it."

I can agree there, but I don't think that exploitation is inherent to competition any more than its inherent to getting out of bed in the morning. If everyone stayed in bed, there would indeed be less exploitation, but that's no argument for doing so.
5.13.2009 12:22pm
ray_g:
" the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice."

Neither the Republican or Democrat party has fit that description, at least not in my lifetime.

"..lower middle class, who fear that capitalism has gone haywire..."

Does this guy actually know any of those people? I was born and raised in the 'lower middle class', still have lots of contacts there, and they are far, far more suspicious of the government than of capitalism. Or more likely, it is a far more diverse group than either he or I realize.
5.14.2009 7:08pm
traeh:
Desiderius:
Your reply has made me think, and you have my gratitude for that. I agree with you at least partly. I hope to answer you later.
5.15.2009 7:46pm
David H Brooks (mail) (www):
This is indeed something to think about. Nice posting I must say.
5.22.2009 11:38am

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