On tax reform, middle class and education

Stan Luke’s well-written opinion (TGI, Nov. 26) invites comment.

In many respects it supports Maureen Dowd’s of The New York Times, who writes, “If Republicans cannot pass tax reform, they are not Republicans and deserve to be fired,” (NYT, Nov. 23). In other words, those whose dollars underwrite politicians need a return on their investment or serious changes should take place.

Luke writes, “The top 20 percent pay over 67 percent of all taxes, so those that pay the most stand to gain the most from across-the-board, fair tax reforms.”

What he doesn’t note is that “post-tax corporate profits as a share of GDP have hovered at a record high level for the last seven years, and the top 1 percent’s share of total income is higher than any time in the second half of the 20th century.” (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, Nov. 27, citing information from the Federal Reserve).

What is to be gained by passage of a tax reform bill as proposed? It would ensure that the gap between the wealthy and the poor would widen even further, exacerbating divisions among the classes, hardly a benefit to a democratic society.

As I see it, the need is for the middle and lower classes to gain a larger share of the national wealth and thereby become even more able to support the economy and enjoy benefits that society has to offer its citizens. Then all classes win.

Luke’s particular pique seems to be about education: too many dollars for too few results, in his opinion. Even those who graduate from college, he writes, “have useless degrees with no marketable skills.” Further, “Many people may not have been around in the ‘50s and ‘60s as I was, but education used to work, and it worked well.”

He forgets that education in those days was unexpectedly and dramatically challenged by Sputnik, the Russian satellite that called into question the effectiveness and competitiveness of America’s educational programs. A decade later America put a man on the moon, no accident.

I, too, was around during those days and, unlike Mr. Luke, spent six decades in education as a teacher and administrator. Consider differences over this period: technical advances unimagined earlier with far-reaching effects, especially in communications, business, education and medicine; a world order that has seen the demise of Communism and the rise of new nations, influences of multi-culturalism and the impact of religious fervor; economies that transcend national boundaries; effects on the present and future well-being of life as we know it — e.g., with nuclear power, climate changes, population growth, biological discoveries and the like. The world is far different now than it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and educational systems and programs have been at the center of many of these changes. Even a good student of the ‘60s would be hard-pressed to compete with graduates of the 21st century.

Finally, as we don’t know what the future will be like, any more than we could have predicted our current lives during the ‘60s, college majors must allow for possibilities that to some critics may seem useless, to borrow Mr. Luke’s term, but may someday provide enlightenment for succeeding generations even while serving the interests of the individuals involved.

After all, promoting diversity and the discovery of new ways of thinking and acting is as much a function of education as providing some continuity with the past and practicality for the present. Today’s educational programs are certainly not perfect, but they are anything but stagnant as they continue to cope with ever-changing situations of an increasingly complex and uncanny world.

•••

Robert Springer is a resident of Koloa.

11 Comments
  1. Stephen Eldridge December 4, 2017 3:48 am Reply

    Essentially, Mr. Springer argues that the more equal redistrtribution of wealth in America should be our national goal. He employs the superficial Progressive rhetoric that with MORE wealth redistribution, the poor and middle classes would “become even more able to support the economy and enjoy benefits that society has to offer its citizens. Then all classes win.”

    Mr. Springer, our Republic does NOT have to offer its citizens a variety of “benefits.” According to our Constitution, we are (were) guaranteed that the fed gov would npot interfere with our natural freedoms.

    It is Socialist Constituions (like the Communist Manifesto) that seek to redistribute wealth, thereby manipulating the freely obtained results of the freedom of the private sector. The US’ traditional private sector, unleashed by the our Constitution’s greatly LIMITING the powers of the fed gov, that has produced more welath for more people than any Progresssive/Socialist system has ever accomplished.

    Perhaps Mr. Springer will twist the realities of history in an attempt to rationalize why distributing wealth is somehow beneficial, but the realities of history tell the simople truth that esccapes Mr. Springer.


  2. Stan Lake December 4, 2017 8:29 am Reply

    Six decades is a long time to spend in education and it allows one to personally engage in and experience a lot of change in what has been a period with more change than any other time in history. It used to take knowledge hundreds of years to double. Today the Knowledge Doubling Curve is less than a year but it is heavily weighted in science and technology, very little in the humanities and that’s a shame. We are able to peer into the deepest reaches of space, tweet to people we’ve never met around the world at light speed yet we don’t know who our neighbors are or how to figure out the opposite sex or which bathroom to use.

    With all of the advances in computers, with more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before we are graduating surprisingly ignorant masses of students. The bar to qualify as a high school graduate has gradually been lowered and we are now at the point where at least one high school, Ballou in Southeast Washington, graduates everyone even if they are absent more than they attend and of course grades don’t matter. This is not only a failure on the student’s part to attend classes and learn, it is an abject, colossal failure of the teachers and administration to allow this to happen.

    The changes that Mr. Springer has overseen in his decades of service have not been for the better. To compare and contrast, when I went to school the male teachers wore suits and ties and the female teachers wore dresses. They were respected, their word was the law and being sent to the principal’s office was akin to being labeled a juvenile delinquent. The bad kids were not the cool kids. We had plenty of homework but also most of us had two parents that cared about our success in school and helped us when needed. I haven’t seen the inside of a classroom in decades, I only know what I have seen reported. Teachers are dressed casually, suits and dresses are not sex dependent, they don’t demand or have respect, kids are slouched in their chairs texting on their smart phones and who cares if they get kicked out of class? Their single parent is too busy working two jobs to worry about them and anyway, isn’t it the school’s job to make sure they are well taught? If the kids are a discipline problem these days it’s too easy to prescribe them Prozac. Millions of kids are on anti-depressants. A lethargic kid won’t give you trouble. He or she won’t learn much either. The liberal idea of kids having so many “rights” that they can no longer be guided or properly controlled or disciplined has not helped the educational system. Teachers unions that care nothing about the kids and everything about their own power have not helped either. Throwing more and more money into a failed system has not helped.

    If we looked at students as a product and measured them objectively by any standards; if education were a business would it be a successful or a failing business? If you had a business that consistently turned out worse products year after year, how long do you think that would last until you were out of business? In the case of government run schools the answer is beyond decades. In business the only thing that ensures good products at fair prices is competition. When someone has a monopoly the probability of them delivering fast, fair, effective products and service are nil. One way to crack the educational problem is to allow competition in the form of vouchers for kids to attend the schools they want to. The best schools would be fully attended with waiting lists of eager students who really want to learn. The poorly performing schools might finally have to let bad teachers go and up their game to be competitive.

    Of course having parents interested in their children’s education would help, as would discipline, as would removing personal electronic devices from classes, as would reinstituting physical education, as would getting back to the basics in education, as would not drugging children with anti-depressants. I’m sure there are a few bright spots here and there but overall, our modern liberal educational system is a failure. I think we would do well to go back to what worked.


  3. Pete Antonson December 5, 2017 2:59 am Reply

    So Stan Lake admits that Robert Springer has six decades in education and that he hasn’t “…seen the inside of a classroom in decades…” but such as that never stopped an aging curmudgeon or your crazy uncle at the party from telling everyone what’s up!

    Stan Lake uses one high school’s decision in Washington State to base a holistic pronouncement that the education bar has been lowered. This is exactly like the climate change denier who waves one study in the face of thousands and says: “But my study is a beautiful study; it’s really beautiful, and China likes me!”

    The real reason Stan doesn’t like teacher’s unions is that they usually win and they usually beat his little conservative tribe when they do! Like the time here on Kauai last decade when they took on anti-education Republican Governor Lingle and drop kicked her unworthyness right into the sea.

    Now Stan Lake likes vouchers and he gives a reason. The trouble is, vouchers are the primary vanguard of our old friends the racist segregationists who have never really given up since 1954! You see, private schools can do all sorts of discrimination. Now, even if you’re not supporting vouchers so your grandchildren do not have to rub shoulders with people of color, you are still in an ironclad link with those racists who are depending on vouchers to save the white race! It’s just like when you support trump, you’re also part of his unrefined vulgarity, racism, misogyny, and religious bigotry

    Those students leaving today’s graduate schools are the best and brightest there have ever been! At best, this comment is simply nothing more than enormous disrespect for Robert Springer, Kauai’s educators (some of the hardest working people you will ever meet!), and educational professionals everywhere! It’s also an indicator of how much Stan Lake will write about his personal memories of the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High!”


  4. Sunrise_blue December 5, 2017 1:29 pm Reply

    Topic on health and taxes are among the most talked about topics. But if you add demographics and income, it gets worse. How are we to live when everyday lives are hectic enough, let alone family, leisure, and hobbies are present. When do I get my free time off to build my caddyshack, so I can make my dream pyrotechnician company a reality? So true. Do we spend our time 80% hard work labor, 20% intelligence, as a formula? This might be the best formula for 20 years outlook. But what if we need money now? There is a shortage of jobs, and high demand of it. Who will be the money getter in the family? Some people are lucky, some are not. Dead. As for others, where do we look for the second job? Family issues are at the front concerns. Financially, it is harder work on democrats. We need better leaders of today, tomorrow, and future time.


  5. Stan Lake December 5, 2017 1:35 pm Reply

    The real reason Stan doesn’t like the teacher’s unions is that they are solely dedicated to increasing and retaining their power and care nothing about the children who are the ones that really suffer. If we were leading the world in education standards and the unions had anything to do with it, Stan would cheer them right along.

    A study done in 2002 confirmed that high school graduates of the 1950’s did approximately the same on a general information test as college seniors did today (Zogby Poll International conducted for the Princeton, NY-based National Association of Scholars).

    Average SAT Scores of college-Bound Seniors taken from the SAT 1941-1942 scale
    Total SAT verbal score 1967: 466 Total SAT verbal score 2016: 428 a drop of 8 percentage points.
    Total SAT Mathematics score 1967: 492 Total SAT Mathematics score 2016: 482 a drop of 2 percentage points.

    Today most all colleges have remedial English and language arts classes for incoming freshman. Books have been written – Why Johnny Can’t Read, Why Johnny Still Can’t Read, etc. – detailing the failure of public education in teaching the rudiments and offering numerous reasons for the dismal results – the John Dewey revolution, outcome based education, multiculturalism, and so on. It wouldn’t be difficult to fix or at least improve upon our current education system but you must first admit there is a problem.


    1. Pete Antonson December 5, 2017 2:47 pm Reply

      Still waiting for the Hannity spin on racist vouchers — google faster Stan!


  6. Pete Antonson December 5, 2017 2:44 pm Reply

    I’ll admit there’s a problem all right. The problem is named Stan Lake, a mailman with a high school education fresh off the plane from Fresno where nobody ever argued with his stereotypical San Francisco liberal denigration. You should get the lay of the land here first, Stan. On Kauai, liberals I know hike and hunt every month. On Kauai, liberals I know ride Harleys and 20 foot waves in their sixties. On Kauai, liberals I know have graduate degrees from MIT or operate in the Wilcox ER. We’re Vietnam Veterans and veterans of a lot of other stuff chicken hawk conservatives put us through. We don’t need some googleing hick from the Central Valley to come here and tell us what’s wrong with our thinking!
    One of Kauai’s best schools is right under Stan’s nose in Kalaheo. Why don’t you volunteer some of your google time there? The following will occur: You’ll learn something real about education for the first time since 1973, they’ll point out where my office was for fourteen years, and you’ll learn something about fitting in on this island (Don’t wear a tie!).


  7. Stan Lake December 5, 2017 9:47 pm Reply

    Pete Antonson- You mean you were part of the mis-education of our youth for 14 years? No wonder you’re angry, you were part of the problem! Can you refute my assertion that the overall quality of education in the USA has deteriorated over the decades? Tell us how unions that make it near impossible to fire the worst performing teachers is good for our kids? Please provide facts sans bluster.


    1. Pete Antonson December 6, 2017 3:25 pm Reply

      Stan Lake,
      I was a therapist that eventually spent time in every Kauai school along with working at Wilcox Hospital and in private practice. I was in an evidence based, research heavy. medical profession. I’ve done my own studies. If I asked you what research model your posted studies used, you would say: “Huh?” If I asked you what effect there has been on consensus or what the consensus was; I’d hear the same. That’s because you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t know what you’re talking about. What you know is based on clickbait and confirmation bias! Now Stan Lake can get together with fellow tribe members, carefully selected to agree, and have celebrations of ignorance like: “These kids today! They need to walk through 5 foot snowdrifts. They need teachers that wear ties. Teachers don’t demand respect. The kids are drugged. Parents don’t care!” Stan Lake went to high school from 1969-1973. Did you know that aging crazy uncles just like him were saying the EXACT SAME THINGS about him and his peers? I was an air traffic controller back in those days; a non-college profession. Granted, we were a confident sort of tribe; but, everyone was quite certain that they could do a better than teachers at disciplining the no good kids of the early 70’s!
      This is just a part of the life long resentment towards the “elite” and the “experts” by non-college working and middle class we are hearing so much about these days and that may even have decided recent elections. This is nothing more than a Dunning Kruger Effect confounded by the dark place resentment always leads! Stan Lake wouldn’t last 10 minutes in a classroom and neither would any of the others that think they can! Teaching is hard, exasperating work made a little easier through knowledge and experience and not from ignorant geezer blather with it’s hurtful disrespect!


  8. Stan Lake December 6, 2017 8:08 pm Reply

    Try to focus Pete. I asked you two simple, straightforward questions, neither of which you answered. I asked you for facts without bluster and you failed at that too. You could not effectively argue against my assertions because they are true but instead of acknowledging those facts and moving on you attempt to attack me or “argumentum ad hominem” for my learned friend. Your disparaging statements concerning me and my character are as wrong as they are irrelevant. I’m not baffled by your brilliance. Stay on point Pete, answer the questions or be gone.


  9. Pete Antonson December 7, 2017 2:33 pm Reply

    Oh my! Our Dunning Kruger Effect poster boy ìs demanding answers after avoiding all the questions I raised, on this page and others, like his school voucher bedmates who are reviving racist segregation.
    I don’t really expect those answers. I simply want your narrow mind on record disrespecting teachers on an island that holds them in high regard! I just want to expose your preposterous notions that a dress code is the panacea we crave or even that you can sum up an incredibly complex subject like education I in a couple paragraphs and then declare yourself holder of the great truth!
    I don’t have to do a thing. You’re doing all the heavy lifting for me!


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