Make America Smart Again.

by Pitt Griffin on September 26, 2016 · 0 comments

in Election 2016, Politics, Religion

When did we decide it was cool to be dumb? America used to rank first in high school achievement. Now we are wallowing among the also-rans. Science has been sacrificed to politics. Intellectual achievement is seen as ‘elitist’. Donald Trump, who knows little and shows no desire to learn more, is the Republican presidential candidate. And he has a shot to win.

The Republicans have made a virtue of ignorance and science-denialism. Take the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology. Here the GOP line on climate change is to deny it exists – and even if it did, it’s just part of the natural order. There is no debate among climatologists. Controversy exists only in the committee’s uncritical closed minds.

Religion has a vested interest in keeping the masses moronic. The Catholic Church ran schools that taught enough to produce productive citizens – while staying a safe distant from teaching critical thinking. Evangelicals made ignorance a virtue – even respectable in their community.

photoEvolution is their bugbear. The Bible their lodestar. It’s an imperfect guide. If you choose to use the Bible as an instruction manual on how and who to worship, so be it. But to treat it as law book or science text is dumb. We have already rejected it as an authority on medicine, military technology, architecture, and civil engineering. To think that the wisdom of iron age sheepherders has any bearing on modern society is asinine.

But that doesn’t stop the evangelicals from claiming that evolution is a hoax and that God created plants and animals in their current form. Some don’t stop there, but also argue that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Which doesn’t just deny evolutionary biology, but also physics, astrophysics, geology, astronomy, and anthropology.

Let’s turn to practical matters. What Americans don’t know could fill an ark – many times over. It is a rare citizen who can name all eight Supreme Court Justices. And a disappointingly low number can name any. There are Americans who cannot identify the sitting Vice-President, the Secretary of State nor the Speaker of the House. And although it has been in the news for four years, most people don’t know what country Benghazi is in.

Politicians aren’t just consumers of ignorance they promote it too. Hysterical talk has many thinking that terrorism is our number one threat. But so few Americans will die of terrorism it’s not worth worrying about. If we really cared about violence we would pass comprehensive background checks for gun purchases.

Poor critical thinking promotes the idea that abstinence-only sex ed is effective. That abortion restrictions will reduce abortions (they only reduce legal abortions). And that vaccination causes autism. This is when ignorance starts to hurt kids and women.

A failure to learn from history allows Republicans to propose that cutting taxes on the rich will increase tax revenues. And that we can increase the Pentagon’s budget while still slashing the deficit.

“But Kennedy cut taxes on the rich and we prospered” is a typical refrain from the armchair economists. Quite right – but look where he started – 91%, and where he ended – 77%. So let’s emulate Kennedy and fix the top rate at 77% instead of the current 39.6%. The fact is that there is a Goldilocks tax rate. Lower isn’t always better.

The human body prospers breathing air with 21% oxygen. Too much and the lungs suffer mucus buildup. Too little …. you know that one.

Before 1970 there was no EPA in the US. We were polluted. We are much cleaner now. But big business’s poodles want us to ignore that and repeal the EPA. And the Republican voter brays that it is a great idea.

The financial system periodically collapses. The Glass-Stegall Act of 1933 did much to stabilize the system. But over time, it and other financial restrictions were watered down and removed. And unsurprisingly the financial system collapsed in 2007.

Bill Clinton did sign the repeal of Glass-Stegall, but it is the Republican voter who is now being seduced into repealing new financial regulations. Including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – an agency wose mission is to give the little guy a voice against the financial behemoths who think nothing of ripping off their customers. Dumb.

I could go on. But let me make one final point. Half the electorate is so weak at critical thinking that a pathological liar is potentially our next President.

 

 

 

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