Theories of Government and a Plug for Academic Prostitution

Blog neighbor Mr Schraub tosses up on the wall two notions, that there are basically few, if any, useless “medical” studies that one might sponsor and that mocking the historical speciality near and dear to him, notably “Black Studies”, is unwarranted. For the both in part, that opinion depends on your what you think the role of government might be. If you think government is basically limited (see 10th Amendment) to the role of keeping my fist from your nose and vice versa, settling disputes, guarding our borders, and then getting out of the way so we can be about our business pursuing life , liberty and all. Then these measures as instituted by the state makes little sense. If on the other hand, the role of government is to supply happiness, life and liberty to everyone … then government has a tall order to fulfill and has to employ  plethora (see Das Scholss -> The Keep/Castle) of fellows xyz-ocrats making sure everyone is maximally happy-in-ated, all in a very Kafkaseque fashion.

So, you go to school and major in this Black Studies thing, and as Mr Schraub suggests, do some useful writing in the field. What the heck do you do with that? I guess you write papers in academia read by other academics. Or you become a Castle senschal? Is Exxon going to hire you? To do what? Do you become a better barista in Starbucks competing with out-of-work actors? What?

But what in general are we to make of Academic pursuits? For this has begged a serious question, what role do history, literature, and other “soft” studies have in our academic and general pursuits? What is the point of this Academic research. Academics themselves have noted (and I’m not finding the link where this was posted, it was months and months ago) that lots of their papers are read by a select few. We are in an age of hyper-specialization in parts of academia and as this is the result. For academic teaching of those “hard” topics, maths, engineering, medicine, and for that matter, carpentry the pay off is obvious. Kids trained in those subjects have careers outside of academia awaiting them. So here’s some unsolicited advice to “fix” the problem of hyper-specialization in increasing irrelevance of so much of the academic world. Here’s one solution, less considered. Prostitution.

Academics are used to publish or perish driving their existence in their department and as a measure of their worth. It is their carrot and their stick. How about If  instead of having specialized journals be the norm, that those were the exception, That schools began to demand “publish” mean “publish” in a general market and make money at it? That in turn to the general audience and more importantly make a profit selling those works … then they’d be forced to confront and to embrace some level of relevance. In the historical field, a David Hackett Fisher can make a good buck selling good history … well, get the rest of the historians to do the same thing. If you can’t make a return selling your speciality (hence the second part of the title) then … perish.

Repost: King for a Day — Education K-12

In 2005 I had a short series, “King for a Day”, in which I pompously pronounced what the Imperial Highness (which would be me (us?)) would do if I (we) had complete dictatorial powers and could set and establish law and policy in given venues. I invite  (and had invited) commenters to either comment on my policy (or give me trackbacks or comments relating to what they would do in the same place. In the following with slight editing changes, I re-post that now.

The “public” educational system in this country is in disarray. Waste of resources combined with poor results demands some action. Acountability as proposed by Mr Bush & Mr Obama  is/are a first step, but does not go far enough. Some of these ideas I’ve proposed before, but I’ll re-iterate here, now that We’ve been proclaimed King.
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A Modest Proposal for Palestine

The world has long awaited and long needed, a final realistic solution to the Palestinian/Israeli Middle East problem. And at long last, I’ll offer it to y’all for free. Just because … I’m that kind of guy.

The problem itself goes back some years, generations in fact. To the creation of Israel. The UN in either its folly or its evil intent, depending on your point of view on that matter, created this whole disaster by its intentional act. In the movement of Israel to a free Jewish state they moved the Palestinians out. Where? Into “permanent refugee camps”. Now in the rest of the world, and in saner moments of reflection, it will occur to any rational observer that the words “permanent” and “refugee camp” should not be connected in any way shape or form. Refugee camps, well suck just a little less than the terror of war, famine, or other disaster from which the refugee is fleeing. The slogan might be, “refugee camps, where life sucks just a little less than being dead.” The purpose of such camps is to either wait the short time until the disaster has passed to return home, or in case of civil war and the possibilities of return are not realistic … a place to survive until one can make oneself a way to find a home elsewhere.

Well, guess what. The time for waiting for Israel to be returned to the Palestinian people has passed its time. It’s well overripe. The refugees need to find a home … outside of that refugee camp. The time for the Palestinian diaspora is now. These people need to be integrated into society. Those people need to be bussed out of those camps, split up, separated and integrated into legal stable societies all over the world. They need jobs, they need a quiet surrounding filled with law abiding people to raise their children in, they a fresh start.

Decades ago if not sooner.

(one final remark, note the title, “A Modest Proposal” … you all know what that means right?)

Requirements to Vote

As the democrats famously (infamously) noted in their platform that they wish that “no law requiring identification” for voting or registration be required, I’d offer a counter proposal.

To register to vote every four years, in Presidential election years, I’d suggest that in order to vote that the prospective voter pass the written exam required that those with green cards seeking US citizenship applicants pass. Only those applicants who can pass that exam be allowed to vote.

King for a Day: Women, Men, and Marriage

Distaff pseudonymous commenter “tilts_at_windmills” asks on my short essay on value and heirarchy (reformatted slightly, i.e., enumerated for clarity):

  1. To be a bit reductive, in your ideal world, would I have the right to vote?
  2. To live alone?
  3. To walk around without a male escort?
  4. To be a doctor or lawyer?
  5. To own property?
  6. To initiate divorce?
  7. To choose any husband, or none?

My attempt at a reply, below the dreaded fold. And it should be noted, my thoughts on this are somewhat plastic, which is why they are interesting for me to try to put into shape by writing. I just hope its both interesting for y’all and isn’t off-putting. Continue reading →

King for a Day: Torture

The torture question is up in the blogosphere recurring on irregular intervals driven by currents of popular events or internal blog-driven waves. Long ago, I had a short series entitled “King for a Day” in which, irrespective of anybody elses (obviously inferior opinion), I opine on what I would do if granted absolute autocractic control over this land of ours. I return to this method for the question of torture. Continue reading →

King for a Day: Passover and 9/11

David Schraub asks:

Slavery/Jim Crow: Black Americans :: 9/11 : Americans generally

The tragedy is still remembered because the harm and concurrent ideology is still being fought. Surely, you don’t think that America should start finding more positive ways to remember September 11th, rather than this whole “war on terror/occupation of Iraq” thing (talk about negativity!)?

Which is a challenge for me to lay details in another setting, besides Black racial issues and the Holocaust on my claim that we should be careful with our remembrances. A long time ago, I ran a short series, “King for a Day”, in which I pronounced imperiously what policies I would enact on a variety of issues. So, after 9/11, if I were King (or anyone would listen to me) …
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Two Sides of Roe

While waiting in the airport for my flight recently, I was reflecting on the two sides in the abortion debate. A phrase that kept coming to my mind was “the right of a woman to control her body”. this phrase is … well … a little confusing to me, so I thought I’d examine it a little further and my confusion I think may shed some light on the gulf separating the two sides. Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to understand the gulf dividing our society. In this regard, I’m going to make an effort to explain … in my words … my understanding of the point of view of the “other side” in this debate as well as the one I have more affinity for, and in such a way that makes it more clear why dialog between the two camps often consists of two (angry) opponents shouting past each other but not actually talking to each other. I begin with statement explaining in brief the two sides, and then some discussion.
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King for a Day: Homeland Security

Continuing the King for a Day theme, in which I (we) assume that any policies suggested, might be implemented without considering the political feasibility of actually getting them through the checks and balances our government has in place.

Today, as promised on Friday, I will take a stab and TSA, the Patriot Act, the 9/11 commission recommendations, and all that. The question at hand actually comes down to two questions, how to best stop terrorist or other covert enemy attacks within our borders and at the same time keep our essential freedoms. The essential difficulty of course is that to find out if a person is preparing to engage in such activities it would seem that an violation of our privacy is automatically inferred.
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King for a Day: Tackling Entitlements

I’ve been lax (as King?). I started my King for a day posts, did a few, and slacked off. Well, now relax, you don’t have to say TGIF, just TGMIK (Thank God Mark is King). 🙂

We’re going to tackle one of the biggies tonight, entitlements. We think that Mr Kuznicki, who writes better then we do, said it exactly right on Thursday, or at least if I got the gist of what he was saying correct. To whit

To my mind, the root problem is that Social Security is trying to be two different things at once, and to do so, it must make two contradictory moral claims. Not only is it supposedly a (very poor and inconsistent) form of guaranteed minimum income, it is also purportedly a national retirement fund. The two should never be confused.

And that goes for the Medical entitlement programs as well. We decree that we as a people should always be careful to distinguish between retirement and insurance and our safety nets.
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King for a Day: HealthCare

This is the second entry in my “King for a Day” series. This is the series in which I pompously pronounce what the Imperial Highness (which would be me (us?)) would do if I (we) had complete dictatorial powers and could set and establish law and policy in given venues. I invite commenters to either comment on my policy (or give me trackbacks or comments relating to what they would do in the same place.

Today, we tackle health care. Health care is generally agreed to be in a mess. Ms Clinton attempted to round up a group of (self proclaimed?) experts on health care and “fix it”, but was hindered by ideology and the fact that she didn’t have quite the same broad, far reaching powers that We do as King.
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King for a Day: Primary Education (K-12)

I think I’m going to start a short new series, “King for a Day”, in which I pompously pronounce what the Imperial Highness (which would be me (us?)) would do if I (we) had complete dictatorial powers and could set and establish law and policy in given venues. I invite commenters to either comment on my policy (or give me trackbacks or comments relating to what they would do in the same place.

The “public” educational system in this country is in disarray. Waste of resources combined with poor results demands some action. Acountability as proposed by Mr Bush is a first step, but does not go far enough. Some of these ideas I’ve proposed before, but I’ll re-iterate here, now that We’ve been proclaimed King.
Continue reading →