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.