Ask Not What Your Education Can Do for You...

While researching this week's column, I was struck by this passage about education in President Obama's recent speech to Congress (emphasis added):

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country—and this country needs and values the talents of every American

The collectivism implicit in this rhetoric is pretty creepy. Evidently all of us have a duty to optimize our educations so we can maximize our earnings and give our country the full benefit of our talents. "Every American will need to get more than a high school diploma," Obama decrees. But why stop there? If someone with strong mathematical and spatial reasoning abilities majors in sociology instead of engineering, it's plain that he will not be giving his country as much value (and tax revenue) as he could. What about the potential doctor who decides to play the violin or the writer who could have been a software developer? Given Obama's premise, it's hard to see why such choices should be permitted, especially when the country is so generously subsidizing higher education.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Elemenope||

    Hey, here's a fun game! Let's take a statement, and then imply that it is an absolute statement, and then run to the obvious absurd logical conclusions that would result from taking the statement as absolute!

    Wow!

    Hey, here's another fun game! Let's take a statement of rhetorical flourish and take it as if it were a policy prescription! Then make fun of that imaginary prescription is if it were real!

    Wow, that was really fun!
    ------------

    I usually don't go here, but seriously. I expect better than this crap.

  • ||

    From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.

    Where have I heard that before?

  • ||

    LMNOP, would you reconsider if I revealed to you that Obama's actual middle name is "Locutus"?

  • ed||

    I just goose-stepped a little.

  • stuartl||

    "...it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training."

    LMNOP, in what way is this NOT an absolute statement?

  • creech||

    Work! Fight! Obey!

  • ||

    Elemenope-

    You are overreacting. The very thing of which you accuse Jacob of doing, you are doing.

  • ||

    "LMNOP, in what way is this NOT an absolute statement?"


    In socialism you are not allowed to work for yourself. Instead, you have to work for the collective. You don't do work out of greed. Work is not your personal choice. It is your patriotic duty.

  • Socialism||

    I've been turned into a totally meaningless buzzword.

  • ||

    Some of the implicit collectivism is already explicit. For example, in Massachusetts, if a doctor wants to become a violinist, he better be prepared to continue to pay the same alimony to his parasite ex-wife as the law will not allow a doctor to become a violinist and thereby reduce the amount of alimony, assuming his income would decline.

  • ||

    Putting aside the whole idea that for some people sitting in a classroom for a year is a waste of time and money, if only because they'd have more fun doing something else.

  • ||

    Socialism,

    Tell me about it, buddy.

  • ||

    It's better than being a red herring.

  • ||

    Elemenope,
    The problem is that a lot of the absurd logical conclusions you speak of are actually becoming reality, so you can't blame us for running this one up the flag pole, too.

  • Racism||

    Liberal, Socialsim & Communism,
    We need to get together. You guys may be on to something.

  • ||

    No, socialism is socialism is socialism.

    Income taxes, progressive income taxes, collective bargaining, compulsory union membership, susidies and industrial policy are all constructs of socialism/communism.

  • Kolohe||

    "in what way is this NOT an absolute statement?"

    where it says 'ask'

    as long as you can tell the person who's asking to pack sand, i'll put my fascism detector back on standard scan.

    (the next sentences are of a more directive tone, but I agree with the 'rhetorical flourish' school on it)

  • Kolohe||

    And really, people shouldn't drop of of high school. Sorry to get all judgemental and stuff.

  • ||

    LMNOP,

    The sooner scary ideas like, "You don't go to school to improve your own life, but to improve the respublica/reich/commonweal," are nipped in the bud, the better. It's like people bitching about the possibility of a revived Fairness Doctrine or compulsory national service even though there are no concrete plans for them yet; we gotta strangle these monsters in the cradle.

  • Vines & Cattle||

    "Ask not what you can do for your country, let me tell you what you can do for your country."

    Eek.

  • ||

    Shall we examine this line?

    It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work.


    With responsibility comes accountability. Does the NEA, AFT or Democratic politicians want to be held accountable for the schools in D.C. or my hometown? Will the congress or state legislature hold Detroit Public Schools accountable by taking the funding away from the dysfunctional, corruption riddled bureaucratic fuck story and give the long suffering poor families in Detroit or D.C. vouchers so their kids could get educated in a safer, more enriching environment?

    Stupid questions, I know. Democratic politicians care far more for teachers unions than they do for the poor.

  • Dead Horse||

    Liberal, Socialism, Communism, & Racism,

    You guys heard any good jokes lately?

  • ||

    I love it when a leader says "We're going to need everyone to get behind our new plan". I can reply "I am not behind your new plan. I promise you I'm going to work against it as best I'm able. So if you really need everyone's support, then you shouldn't implement this plan because I can guarantee it's failure."

  • Jennifer||

    Why stop at one year of college? If every American got a Ph.D., we would all be wealthy scientific researchers and the economy would improve because we could supplement our household spending with that sweet Nobel Prize money. Let's all work together to make a mere high school diploma even more useless than it already is.

  • ||

    LMNOP, ever told a cop no when he "asks" you to do something?

    Try it sometimes, it's instructive about the governmental agent definition of ask.

  • Ska||

    I'm with LMNOP. Anyone can pretty much shrug their shoulders and say fuck off. It's rhetorical bullshit, and the more the president says stuff like this the less people will listen to it (I hope).

  • ||

    No one has yet raised the point that WHAT THE FUCK GOOD IS ONE YEAR OF COLLEGE?

    What, you take Intro to Spanish? WTF?

  • Burst Thought Bubble||

    If everyone received a B.A., then wouldn't a B.A. be reduced to the current value of a high school education?

  • ||

    Elemenope-

    You are overreacting.


    He's one of the most intelligent and consistently insightful posters here, but he does this thing you are talking about sometimes. But only sometimes.

    Barack "Locutus" Hussein Token Obama is going to talk like this for at least the next four years, so a Hit&Run filled with examples of collectivist-sounding rhetoric from Obama (especially if he happens to be preaching to the choir) is going to be a crowded place.

    But yeah, I sort of see LMNOP's point.

  • ||

    WHAT THE FUCK GOOD IS ONE YEAR OF COLLEGE?


    I dunno, a person could introduce himself to binge drinking and gonorrhea.

  • fyodor||

    No, it's not a policy prescription, and there's no telling if the sentiment will go further or not, but the point is that we are responsible for the economic optimization of our society, a collectivist notion, and that additional education is necessarily the means to this end, a dubious notion. And the statement is made by the highest office holder of our government, which has the means to enforce collecitivism, which, yeah, makes it a little creepy.

    Luckily, I think most likely this will be ignored as universally and have as little consequence as asking what you can do for your country! :-)

  • ||

    BTB,

    B.A.s aren't all that valuable anyway, at least relative to a science degree.

  • ||

    Why stop at one year of college? If every American got a Ph.D., we would all be wealthy scientific researchers and the economy would improve because we could supplement our household spending with that sweet Nobel Prize money. Let's all work together to make a mere high school diploma even more useless than it already is.

    If everybody can graduate from high school, does that not imply that a high school diploma is worthless?

    People exist that are not smart enough to graduate from a high school that has only middling standards. The push to raise graduation rates has resulted in lower hurdles, not students jumping higher.

  • ..||

    He's one of the most intelligent and consistently insightful posters here

    Don't you mean "persistent"? As in 200 comments a day? Some might call it "obsessive."

  • ||

    Shoot, I'm done. The rest of you without post-graduate degrees need to go out and do good for America.

  • ||

    Don't you mean "persistent"? As in 200 comments a day? Some might call it "obsessive."


    No, I mean he's a smart guy and I'm glad he posts here. Probably works at a computer or doesn't need to work or whatever. Who cares?

  • ||

    I dunno, a person could introduce himself to binge drinking and gonorrhea.

    "Yeah, they usually just give me a bunch of antibiotics, the sores go away, and I walk out."

    Don't you mean "persistent"? As in 200 comments a day? Some might call it "obsessive."

    Are you talking about joe or LMNOP?

  • Jennifer||

    If everybody can graduate from high school, does that not imply that a high school diploma is worthless?

    Of course. But surely you don't expect mere logic to sway people infected with Lake Wobegon syndrome? If we all work hard, every single person in America can be above average.

  • ||

    Kolohe-

    On this one, Elemenope is far more off the mark than Jacob. First, Jacob is not off the mark. Second, the "I ask" is contradicted by "every american will need" and "dropping out of high school is no longer an option". The latter two are commands. Given Obama's training, campaign rhetoric, policy prescriptions to date and common sense, i.e., democrat party politicians love to DFK collectivist principles, Jacob is on solid ground.

  • libertarian democrat||

    If everybody can graduate from high school, does that not imply that a high school diploma is worthless?

    Can value not rest in the education something provides instead of just serving to weed out people?

  • Paul||

    Hey, here's another fun game! Let's take a statement of rhetorical flourish and take it as if it were a policy prescription! Then make fun of that imaginary prescription is if it were real!

    Ok, so we can't pick on the guy for what he says. Because what he says is, you know, just something he said. We get it.

    Welcome to the ever confusing world of "political discussion". Sorry, what he fucking says is on the table. And will remain so.

  • T||

    People exist that are not smart enough to graduate from a high school that has only middling standards.

    I have to think of my workplace when people make suggestions like "everybody needs a year of college". We have guys out back that I know for a fact have not graduated from high school. Some, I question whether or not they even went. But I work in a steel mill where we pay $10 an hour for somebody with a pulse and all 4 limbs. These guys don't need a high school diploma for what they do. So what good is a year of college going to do them? Yeah, some of them might be able to get a better job. Some won't. Some of my guys are flat just not smart enough to benefit from additional schooling. Why waste everybody's time trying to force it on them?

  • Paul||

    Of course. But surely you don't expect mere logic to sway people infected with Lake Wobegon syndrome? If we all work hard, every single person in America can be above average.

    Everyone's special, Dash.

  • Rimfax||

    "You will become a member of the Street Sweepers' Guild."

    I'm a bit with the great horned LMNope on this one. Bitching over someone's rhetoric is a like searching for shit to bitch about. Though, I am with Jacob that this is some insidiously foul rhetoric.

    There's a reason why I don't listen when politicians and clergymen speak. I often extend that to even Unitarian clergy.

  • Astroglide||

    Obama's next book?

    The Last Black President

  • Reinmoose||

    So why not just add another year on to high school?

    (I'm not actually proposing this, standard libertarian disclaimer # whatever it is)

  • Dello||

    Epi,
    "No one has yet raised the point that WHAT THE FUCK GOOD IS ONE YEAR OF COLLEGE?

    What, you take Intro to Spanish? WTF?"

    You can get famous:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngRq82c8Baw

  • Joshua Holmes||

    My grandfather dropped out of high school to fight in WWII. He became an airplane mechanic, and by all accounts, did a fine job. He was honorably discharged.

    He went to work in the local chemical plant (still without a high school diploma). Eventually, he worked his way up to being a clerk. He worked for 40 years, raised 5 sons including my father, and retired to Florida. My grandmother never worked.

    Today, he would be called an Executive Director of Human Resources, or something equally ridiculous, and would have to have 6 years of college, including a master's degree in some sort of HR-something-or-other from some rinky-dink college no one had ever heard of.

    Clearly, something is broken in our society when you need 6 years of writing humanities essays to prepare you for the jobs my grandfather did without a high school diploma just 30 years ago. Credentialism instead of ability, style over substance. But isn't that the economy that just crashed?

  • Kyle Jordan||

    Aren't joe and LMNOP married? And isn't LMNOP a woman? Or is my mind just really going out for walks several times a day?

    No snark here. Thought I read it in a thread before. Could have been sarcasm though. Just asking.

    As to the article...

    No sir, I don't like it. Let me be a bum if I want to be a bum.

  • Paul||

    I'm with LMNOP. Anyone can pretty much shrug their shoulders and say fuck off. It's rhetorical bullshit, and the more the president says stuff like this the less people will listen to it (I hope).

    Exactly. I mean, it's not like they're going after fatty foods or anything.

  • ObaMao||

    "LMNOP, ever told a cop no when he "asks" you to do something?

    Try it sometimes, it's instructive about the governmental agent definition of ask."

    That cop "asked" that girl to take her shoes off and what did he do to her when she complied?

    imagine if she refused

  • ||

    Yes, Elemenope is one of the brightest and smartest posters at Hit & Run. I, too, am glad that he posts here.

    Today, on this thread, he is attributing qualities to Jacob's piece that just are not there.

  • Kolohe||

    libertymike-
    fair enough.

    But's it that kind of OMGBBQ type responses that made it so it took 4 years before the American people came to the conclusion that the Iraq war may have been a bad idea.

    When many were going around saying "BU$H is a HilterFascist that's going to draft you to steal oil!", it, like most inflation, devalued honest criticism.

  • ||

    My HOPE (drink) here is that he's speaking directly to the idiots who voted for him that have no education and mooch off the rest of the American people and think he's going to give them a house and car because he knows they need to rise up to a better level or the people that already have an education and/or do real productive work are going to just stop paying their way entirely, and his, and the fit hits the shan PDQ. Not that any real CHANGE (drink) could or would ever possibly occur for those schlubs without His direction.

    Nah, that can't be it. Empty rhetoric. That is all.

  • tarran||

    Hey Joshua,

    When is No Treason coming back? Seeing that red X on my RSS feed for the past few months has been a bit of a downer.

  • Paul||

    Bitching over someone's rhetoric is a like searching for shit to bitch about.

    Word. Rhetoric should be totally off the table.

  • ||

    Well, the way I see it, people aren't going to go get more education just because Obama says to. He needs to use the army, which can act outside the Constitution, to round up the undereducated and to place them in camps. Camps for concentrating. You know, on education and stuff.

    Also, even those with advanced degrees may need some re-education, to correct certain types of unmutual thinking. Fortunately, the army can act again. And again. And again.

  • ||

    Exactly. I mean, it's not like they're going after fatty foods or anything.

    Suck it up fatties. You were warned numerous times on these very pages that you were next.

  • Kolohe||

    So why not just add another year on to high school?

    Because it's what Canadian socialists do.

    Seriously, yes a year of college is pretty much a waste. But a year of votech or an aprenticeship program - the other thing he mentions - is not. For instance, the pipeline for a high school graduate to start operating a nuclear power plant in the navy is around 1 year. (full qualification is normally at least two.)

  • ||

    Kolohe,

    Of course, why not just make all of the people needing an additional year of education join the armed services!? Brilliant! We could set up some sort of, what do you call it? Drift? Druft?

  • Paul||

    Obama's next book?

    The Last Black President


    Obama's going to write a book about Bill Clinton?

  • Pedantic Savant||

    Ontario's Grade 13 is no longer around.

  • Kolohe||

    You know, on education and stuff.

    And you can get gold stars when you do good!

  • Astroglide||

    "Seriously, yes a year of college is pretty much a waste. But a year of votech or an aprenticeship program - the other thing he mentions - is not. For instance, the pipeline for a high school graduate to start operating a nuclear power plant in the navy is around 1 year. (full qualification is normally at least two.)"

    It takes less than a year to become an Electric Lineman (the people who keep the power lines working). With overtime, they can easily make six figures. And right now, there is a an industry-wide shortage of Lineman.

  • Reinmoose||

    Pro Yoobertate brings up a good point.

    If we're constantly being reminded how much better those in the armed services are better than the rest of us, why isn't there a bigger push for kids to go into the armed services?

    But ah ha! That's where the concept of other sorts of national service comes from, and that's precisely where Obama is headed.

  • ||

    Smiley faces are better than stars. Smiley faces reflect a classless society; stars are bourgeois tokens of the oppressor.

  • Kolohe||

    Ontario's Grade 13 is no longer around.

    I was not aware of that, thanks. Damn Mulrooney-Harper Thatcherreaganites.

  • ||

    What about the potential doctor who decides to play the violin or the writer who could have been a software developer?

    Govt supported violinist positions are reserved for BHO supporters. They guy who could have been a SW developer has to pay for them.

  • Astroglide||

    "Obama's going to write a book about Bill Clinton?"

    No, I mean that he is on track to completely destroy this country to the point where if another black person were to run for the presidency, people would say, "Oh no, we tried that once already."

  • Kolohe||

    stars are bourgeois tokens of the oppressor.

    Not if everyone gets a gold star and gets to sew it on his or her shirt.

  • nicole||

    Ontario's Grade 13 is no longer around.

    Quebec does still have 3-year high schools followed by (optional) 2-year CEGEP or tech/vocational school, though. Which I always thought was a relatively good system.

  • ||

    Educators always seem to think "more education" is the answer, but I'm left to wonder how happy all those folks with PhDs are going to be when they're working at a gas station. They won't feel like they got screwed, or anything. Or are we planning to do away with all the crappy jobs once everyone's edjumicated?

  • Reinmoose||

    I think it would be apt to have smiley face stickers that had were at least more realistic in the message they were sending. There should be a collection like...

    "YOU TRIED!"
    "You Completed the Assignment!"
    "SO Completely and Totally Wrong! But Good Effort!"
    "It's Not Your Fault You Failed!"

  • Elemenope||

    Maybe I was a little too aflame with "pissed off" this morning (on another site, someone tried to shut down a conversation by calling a No True Scotsman *on the second post*, thus proving for all time that there are in fact No True Scotsman anywhere anymore)...

    But, I guess I am more used to the "libertarian tone under King Bush the Lesser" than the "libertarian tone under Dear Leader Obama". I don't see them as equivalent in any way. Sure, from a dogmatic perspective, both suck, but from out in the real world and people's every day lives, a marginal tax rate increase is different in every way than plunging into wars of empire.

    LMNOP, ever told a cop no when he "asks" you to do something?

    Yes. He was very polite. It went like this:

    -- Do you know how fast you were going? No.
    -- Can I search your vehicle? No.
    -- Ah well.

    But I know what you mean.

    But Obama isn't talking about abolishing posse comitatus and using the marines to go after high school truants, and so I really don't get why everyone is freaking the hell out over his airy "wouldn't it be nice if everyone finished school" pronouncements. They call it a bully pulpit because he gets to stand up with lots of cameras and make subjective judgments about whether or not it would be better for the country if everyone could fucking read and right. Doesn't mean he's going start shooting people who skip class, or make people take only subjects they are good at, and it's, shall I say, slightly nutty to glean that implication.

    Probably works at a computer...

    Yup, in a job I might add, that during the winter is boring as hell.

  • Jennifer||

    Educators always seem to think "more education" is the answer, but I'm left to wonder how happy all those folks with PhDs are going to be when they're working at a gas station. They won't feel like they got screwed, or anything. Or are we planning to do away with all the crappy jobs once everyone's edjumicated?

    It's like a game of musical chairs, and they don't want to admit that someone will be left standing when the music stops. So instead of adding more chairs to the circle, they just offer classes in how to grab a chair for yourself.

  • ||

    Yeah, because every American needs a mostly responsibility-free drinking bringe, subsidized by the tax payers.

  • ||

    In the alternative, instead of educating the undereducated, we could just hit the overeducated on the head with a truncheon. Once for each year of education beyond 12th grade.

  • Jennifer||

    I really don't get why everyone is freaking the hell out over his airy "wouldn't it be nice if everyone finished school" pronouncements.

    Because that is not what he said; he said every American has a "Responsibility" to spend at least one year in school beyond high school. This sucks for multiple reasons, the main ones being the idea that education is a "responsibility" rather than a "personal benefit," and the continued degree inflation that makes a modern Master's degree worth about as much as a high-school diploma was 50 years ago. (Also, that one year of extra education we all have a "responsibility" to get is not free; apparently we all have the "responsibility" to scrape together a year's overpriced tuition at another bullshit school.

  • James Doohan||

    there are in fact No True Scotsman anywhere anymore

    Aye, laddie.

  • Reinmoose||

    judgments about whether or not it would be better for the country if everyone could fucking read and right.

    Beautiful

  • Sean Connery||

    Damned lies!

  • Art||

    "Yup, in a job I might add, that during the winter is boring as hell."

    Only in winter? How I envy you.

  • ||

    I am the last one!

  • Xeones||

    Fook off, ye manky git. Ah'm th' last!

  • libertarian democrat||

    LMNOP, on purpose or not, that was a win.

  • Elemenope||

    judgments about whether or not it would be better for the country if everyone could fucking read and right.

    Beautiful


    [Facepalm]. Would it make a difference if I told you I was being distracted by a conversation with the IT guy while I was typing?

  • ||

    Not only am I a True Scotsman, I also claim the throne.

    So there!

  • ||

    [Facepalm]. Would it make a difference if I told you I was being distracted by a conversation with the IT guy while I was typing?

    Fucking homophones bite me in the ass as well.
    However, if you had written "reed and right" you'd be hailed as a humorist.

  • Ska||

    Exactly. I mean, it's not like they're going after fatty foods or anything.

    You're really comparing these two topics? What the fuck does one have to do with the other?

    Changing high school from a four year institution to a 5 year institution - yeah maybe I can see people discussing that. But it's not going to happen immediately because the president made some rhetorical speech about it. Don't people drop out of school and cut class now? Is that suddenly going to stop?

    Seriously, when did a politician talking out of his ass become so much more than that?

  • Elemenope||

    Jennifer,

    That's an excellent point re:degree inflation.

    For the record, I never said I agreed with Obama's saying that it would help the country if everyone went back to school. Only that he was saying that and not some super-secret liberal code for "let's take 'er freedoms, matey!"

    I think in the past I've commented along the lines of:

    1. College is not for everyone
    2. Public school programs are wasteful and ineffective
    3. Where the hell have all the trade schools gone?

    And re:your point about the use of "responsibility", honestly it is much easier to read it as a co-opting of the GOP's favorite rhetorical bludgeon (i.e. "It's about personal responsibility, folks!") and smacking them around with it. Back when Frank Luntz was busy cooking up his super-awesome linguistic weapons for use by the GOP in '92, I don't think they sufficiently appreciated that the sword is sharp no matter who is holding it.

  • ||

    Seriously, when did a politician talking out of his ass become so much more than that?

    When he has a filibuster proof majority and the media in his pocket.

  • Reinmoose||

    Would it make a difference if I told you I was being distracted by a conversation with the IT guy while I was typing?

    Are you saying that his illiterateness rubbed off on you temporarily?

  • ||

    As someone with more than two graduate degrees, can I chime in from personal experience and state that most education is merely learning how to jump through Authority's hoops?

    I wonder why BHO would support _that_?

  • Reinmoose||

    And re:your point about the use of "responsibility", honestly it is much easier to read it as a co-opting of the GOP's favorite rhetorical bludgeon (i.e. "It's about personal responsibility, folks!") and smacking them around with it. Back when Frank Luntz was busy cooking up his super-awesome linguistic weapons for use by the GOP in '92, I don't think they sufficiently appreciated that the sword is sharp no matter who is holding it.

    Aye - but the democrats have their own linguistic weapons lately and they are working very very well. I don't think the word "responsibility" is such a GOP thing as it is a national greatness thing (the GOP stopped using that word around a decade ago).

    The dems use "philosophy" and "ideology" like it's nobody's business, and they use them effectively. They have successfully taken back and framed the "debate"

  • ||

    I don't think a single one of you got my reference. You all disgust me.

    Would it make a difference if I told you I was being distracted by a conversation with the IT guy while I was typing?

    So who is your "it" guy this week? You're such a whore.

  • JB||

    Fuck Obama. That fool and all you suckers can work and send me money. I'm done being a producer.

  • Reinmoose||

    So who is your "it" guy this week?

    I thought it was Dan Carter

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I thought you might be doing a Highlander bit, but I wasn't paying any attention. You're not educated enough for me and Obama.

  • JB||

    Anyone see Obama's new plan to give free money to people with $700,000 mortgages?

    I am more than angry.

  • ||

    I knew that I should've bought a million dollar home and defaulted on it. Dammit!

  • ||

    Take a look at all the HS dropouts on this list and then think about this ask for a commitment:
    http://www.millionairedropouts.com/millionaire.php/The_Millionaire_Dropout_List/

  • Xeones||

    Are you saying that his illiterateness rubbed off on you temporarily?

    As a well-bred and literate man who yet toils in the swampy morass that is Information Technology, i take exception to your slanderous aspersions, and demand satisfaction. Pistols at dawn, sir!

  • ||

    erf,

    I'm just going to look at your syntax and agree with BO...

    That list is heavily padded with actors/actresses/musicians. Casey Stengel? Charles Dickens? Hans Christian Anderson? They could also be on a website called millionaireatriskforpolio.com. Times have changed a little.

  • gmatts||

    Perhaps Obama is forgetting Judge Smail's words of wisdom that "The world needs ditchdiggers, too.". I don't see why ditchdiggers need higher education, or when they'll have the time for homework anyway considering all the work that Obama has for them "repairing our crumbling bridges and schools".

  • Art||

    "Take a look at all the HS dropouts on this list and then think about this ask for a commitment:
    http://www.millionairedropouts.com/millionaire.php/The_Millionaire_Dropout_List/"

    Well maybe if they had gratuated from high school, they'd all be BILLIONAIRES!

  • ||

    Ok, this is my first time posting so we'll see if my html works the way I think.

    All you guys talking about the worthlessness of 1 year of college, did you not read the whole passage?

    And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training.

    Sure there are plenty of people who won't benefit from a short academic stint. But what Obama is saying is that they might still benefit from some sort of training. In addition to formal schooling, apprenticeships and vocational schools were also advocated.

  • Paul||

    [Facepalm]. Would it make a difference if I told you I was being distracted by a conversation with the IT guy while I was typing?

    You fuckwads always blame your goddamn 1D10t errors on the IT people. Oscar Echo, son, Oscar Echo.

  • Paul||

    Seriously, when did a politician talking out of his ass become so much more than that

    Bah, the President just said some shit, that's all. Get off his back, already!

    No further comment necessary.

  • ||

    Elemenope and Kolohe-

    Yeah, I am the first one to nitpick statements, observations, conclusions, etc., that are too broad and/or do not account for all of the facts and nuances of the subject matter. Where I might differ with the two of you is how one should then assess, consider, evaluate and weigh whateverelse the speaker who is guilty of brushing too broadly has to say. IMO, legitimate criticism is no less legitimate because the person who is doing the criticizing also engages in hyperbole.

  • ||

    Episiarch! Sorry I'm late: was I the only one who liked Dragonheart?

  • Paul||

    And re:your point about the use of "responsibility", honestly it is much easier to read it as a co-opting of the GOP's favorite rhetorical bludgeon (i.e. "It's about personal responsibility, folks!") and smacking them around with it.

    That's why we don't like the GOP either.

  • Paul||

    I don't see why this is so hard.

    The President said some shit.

    That shit the President said was...creepy.

    Jacob Sullum felt it was creepy and made a blog post on it. Successful by blogpost standards, 103 comments and counting.

    Sullum described why he felt it was creepy. Fairly succinctly, I might add.

    Obamatrons are pissed because someone made some comments on said shit said President said.

    That's how this fucking political new multi-media world works folks. The president says shit, we comment on it.

  • Paul||

    I'm doing some thinking about past Presidents sayin' shit that got commented on...usually along the lines of WTF?!111LOLZ?!!11

    Someone help me guide the WayBack machine here. Didn't President Bush, during a state of the Union address throw some random comments about Steroid use in Baseball* which pretty much caused everyone to look at eachother in amazement and ask what in hades he was talking about?

    *obviously this was long before any senate immbestigations on steroid use in baseball.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I fully support LMNOP's first comment.

    JS writes propaganda, poorly.

  • grammar||

    Evidently each of us has a duty to optimize our educations so we can maximize our earnings and give our country the full benefit of our talents.

    JS is just scared they are gonna make him start doing something he is actually good at.

  • Paul||

    I fully support LMNOP's first comment.

    Of course you do. We get it. Presidential Rhetoric is now off-limits. Check.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Paul,

    No.

    That was not LMNOP's point...at all.

    It was a comment on the lack of substance in JS's critique, NOT a call to avoid criticism of the president.

  • Neu Mejican||

    For Paul,

    The way it works is this.

    JS writes something that means something about something the president said.

    Someone comments that the SUBSTANCE of that comment is pretty stupid.

    Paul jumps in with defense of the PROCESS of commenting on the presidents words.

    Avoiding the SUBSTANCE of both the original comment and the SUBSTANCE of the comment calling that SUBSTANCE stupid.

  • ||

    Sorry, but I found Obama's rhetoric a little disturbing, too. It's not much more than "ask not what your country can do for you", but I'm concerned with the tone. The guy's got about zero checks on his power, which makes anything he says scary.

  • ChrisO||

    That statement is creepy and totalitarian-sounding. Period.

    My version of this would read: "In today's world, you're probably wise to get some kind of post-secondary education or training. If you choose not to, don't come knockin' on the taxpayers' door for help down the road."

  • T||

    Avoiding the SUBSTANCE of both the original comment and the SUBSTANCE of the comment calling that SUBSTANCE stupid.

    You're verging perilously close to SUBSTANCE abuse here, NM. Don't make us send a SWAT team to shoot your dog.

  • Paul||

    Paul jumps in with defense of the PROCESS of commenting on the presidents words.

    Avoiding the SUBSTANCE of both the original comment and the SUBSTANCE of the comment calling that SUBSTANCE stupid.


    Interesting but not quite. But I ain't mad at ya, because I don't reall all the comments on all the threads either.

    Sullum wrote a blogpost about the substance of some rhetoric spewed by Dear Leader. LMNOP didn't like Sullum's conclusions, going further to complain that Sullum was complaining about "Rhetorical Flourish". Others jumped in and defended LMNOP SPECIFICALLY espousing their distaste of taking Politicians to task on their rhetoric. (lmnop: Let's take a statement of rhetorical flourish and take it as if it were a policy prescription! Then make fun of that imaginary prescription is if it were real!)

    Dumbfounded that anyone would find fault with even the discussion about Presidential rhetorical flourishes (LMNOP's own words) I felt I had to respond. So, nice try, but the line between the PROCESS and the SUBSTANCE is too blurred in this case.

  • Craig||

    Okay.... I earned my MBA 8 years ago, for the good of the country and society, and it helped my income go up, so why is the government taking MORE from me? Shouldn't they be taking LESS, in appreciation for my service to others?

  • Craig||

    No one has yet raised the point that WHAT... GOOD IS ONE YEAR OF COLLEGE?

    If you're a basketball prodigy, it can qualify you for the NBA draft, since they no longer take 18-year-olds....

  • Fascism||

    Communism, liberal, racism, and socialism:

    At least people recognize you when they see you. They call me things like "public-private partnerships" or "bailouts" or "stimulus plans".....

  • ||

    A great tyrant, one who really was committed to an educated population, would've said, "You have three years to acquire at least an associates degree, if you don't have one already. At the end of the three years, if you haven't achieved that national goal, you die."

  • Sgt Mom||

    Well, then - OK, fall in the obedient peasants. I've got a degree in English, a lot of military professional education, and everything but the final and the thesis on a Masters (in public administration and about thirty years ago so I hardly feel that I should include that on my CV)
    So, where do I have to go to let the One and his merry band of non-taxpaying cronies bleed off about a third to a half of my income?

  • ||

    Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly color. I'm so glad I'm a Beta

  • ||

    It is another of Obama asinine speeches which sound "wonderful" for a second but then on further examination is actually as stupid as dirt.

    Commit to ONE more year of college? One?

    First year of college is a waste until you actually get to the real classes unless you are in anything that ends with "studies" then you are on a path which is always going to be a drain on this nation.

    H*ll look at Barry himself, Obama went to school for years but failed in producing any worth in the private sector and resorted to a life of appropriating other people's tax money to enrich himself, his wife and his friends.

    How sad is that a large number of liberals were awestruck with a 45 year old man who ran on his college degrees as his primary qualification for the Presidency?

  • Elemenope||

    Paul, you completely missed the thrust of what I was saying; New Mejican is correct.

    What I was complaining about *most specifically* was the tendency of some to pass off criticism of rhetoric as criticism of policy, through eliding the difference between the two.

    Criticizing presidents and other politicians for their use of rhetoric is awesome, great, and all that stuff. It is also, for the most part highly subjective and inside-baseball besides. What affects most Americans is not the way in which a politician phrases their vales but rather what policies they implement or end.

    If this were Jacob Sullum's personal blog, to talk about his personal feelings and aesthetic priorities, it would have made a great deal of sense for him to talk about his feelings of Obama's creepiness for using rhetoric which might suggest a certain mindset (if we didn't all know better in that addresses like this are tweaked within an inch of their lives to be calculated for maximum rhetorical and populist impact, and whose rhetorical content reflects very little but the aggregation of poll group results).

    But it ain't Sullum's blog. It's Hit & Run. And while reason.com is absolutely free to give whoever whatever microphone to say whatever, they do bill themselves as a fairly respectable policy criticism and analysis shop, and so here his bellyaching seems utterly out of place.

    And the fact that this particular set of bellyaching feeds into a more general gestalt of paranoia about Obama the likes of which I have seen little parallel here when the subject was *Bush*, I am unimpressed by the relevance of the post beyond a general continuing emotion reaction to the "other half" winning control. It reduces Hit & Run to the level of The Daily Show, but, y'know, less funny.

    And that last is not meant as a dig; there are experts for making fun of rhetorical flourishes, and they are somebody else. What we need are folk who are willing to analyze actual *policy* prescriptions to see what their objectionable content and failings are, so we can be more informed. So long as folk go after the low-hanging fruit, that important part will continue to be obscured under a miasma of emotional appeals and insubstantial shots.

  • ||

    Oh get real people.

    This is Obama telling black kids to stay in school and do something with their lives while avoiding the scourge of telling them to be just like whitey.

    Classic Obama; trying to have his waffle and eat it too.

    Yes it's creepy, because it's Obama trying to say one thing but revealing his trueself.

    A lot like his off the cuff remarks to a certain Ohio handyman.

  • ||

    I guess this is Dear Leader's best adaption of Lombardi - if you drop out, you're off the welfare rolls.

    Pretty lame, just like his 2 trillion dollar advocacy-group payoff...er..."emergency stimulus."

  • ||

    It reduces Hit & Run to the level of The Daily Show, but, y'know, less funny.

    I'm sorry, but the Daily Show hasn't been funny since Craig Kilborn hosted it.

    Just deal.

  • Kent G. Budge||

    Collectivism, shmollectivism.

    What bothers me more is the dumbing down of standards implicit in the belief that everyone can profitably make use post-secondary education. Or can earn a high school diploma, for that matter.

  • ||

    Obama's remarks about education? Gee, they sounded vaguely familiar. Oh yeah, now I remember....

    "Your body belongs to the nation! Your body belongs to the Führer! You have a duty to be healthy! Food is not a private matter!"

    (1930's Nazi health slogan)

  • ||

    The crazy factor has been turned up on this site in the last few weeks. So much impotent rage.

    Good news, when you get laid off you can say you are "Going Galt".

  • ||

    " Elemenope | March 4, 2009, 12:39pm | #
    Hey, here's a fun game! Let's take a statement, and then imply that it is an absolute statement, and then run to the obvious absurd logical conclusions that would result from taking the statement as absolute!

    Wow!

    Hey, here's another fun game! Let's take a statement of rhetorical flourish and take it as if it were a policy prescription! Then make fun of that imaginary prescription is if it were real!

    Wow, that was really fun!
    ------------

    I usually don't go here, but seriously. I expect better than this crap."

    I expect better than this crap from a President of The United States.
    This communist clown has done what was once thought impossible; in less than two months he has made W look like a wise man and rocket scientist. Who knew?

  • dhex||

    "And the fact that this particular set of bellyaching feeds into a more general gestalt of paranoia about Obama the likes of which I have seen little parallel here when the subject was *Bush*"

    well, i'd largely disagree, but i think you're noticing that due to pedigree. many posters here came from the right, and so carry some of that cultural baggage. you came from the left and carry some of that cultural baggage, so picking on chocolate jesus is more noticeable, perhaps, than picking on bush the younger was.

    'cause i don't know about you but bush the younger made me hells of paranoid. hell, any time anyone invokes the ideology of "your soul belongs to the state, motherfucker" i get paranoid.

    (needless to say i spend most of my time paranoid as all hell.)

  • ||

    Having a competitive, educated populace isn't something that happens by magic. Same with having a healthy populace. Or one protected from foreign invasion.

    If you guys want to have any relevance at all then you really have to stop equating every social service with evil communism. It's juvenile.

  • ||

    I guess Obama would disagree with Aristotle that the state exists for the sake of the individual, and not the other way round. But then Obama is obviously so much smarter . . . .

  • ||

    In return for total submission to this socialist state, what do I get? A complete washing away of my sins? Eternal life in Paradise? Seventy-two virgins? What? All of those and lots more? Throw in a Tesla(US model) and it's a deal.

  • ||

    Of the people, by the people and for the people...

    Has Obama heard that old polemic?

  • jaafar||

    Has it ever occurred to you that half of the people in America have below-average intelligence?

  • ||

    This interpretation seems ideological in the negative sense of that term: made by one wearing blinders, oblivious to context and nuance. Remember who Obama's audience is: those who drop out of high school or never make anything of their lives, most of whom are African-Americans. Like it or not, the President is seen not only as a political but also as a moral leader, especially by African-Americans. His words were meant to, and most likely will, inspire many of them to make something of their lives. As for the last sentence, "It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country--and this country needs and values the talents of every American": well, aren't we libertarians concerned about our country - and not only because how our country fares affects us and those we know and care about personally? No doubt, unlike Obama, we think of our country and our contribution to it in entirely voluntaristic terms. But there is an overlap in his and our outlooks and concerns. Hence to interpret his words as simply a call to abject self-sacrifice is to misinterpret them rather blatantly. Such misinterpretations are not only unfair, they are harmful to the cause of libertarians, supporting as they do the charge that we are "just ideologues". That said, I cannot help noting that the first sentence, "It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work," is the truly creepy collectivist one. This is the kind of sentiment we expect from the LEADERS of a PLANNED economy, not from an American President.

  • Duane Phinney||

    "Why stop at one year of college? If every American got a Ph.D., we would all be wealthy scientific researchers and the economy would improve because we could supplement our household spending with that sweet Nobel Prize money. Let's all work together to make a mere high school diploma even more useless than it already is."

    No, we would all be working for $10 per hour.

  • Objectivism||

    Communism, Socialism, Liberal, and Fascism,
    At least people understand you fully. Everyone just assumes I'm another name for libertarianism. No one even cares about my set of metaphysics!

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement