A Middle-School Lesson for Obama and the Democrats

This is an entry I’ve been meaning to post for quite some time, and feel a strong need to get done while there’s still time before the election, especially with Barack Obama wanting to “spread [America’s] wealth.”  If that statement hasn’t made your alarm bells start clanging, read on:  the following is for you!

Although I was teaching English/Language Arts in the small, rural, impoverished district where I was employed before I moved to the state capitol, at some point during the year, there would arise an occasion to give this small lecture about how Communism/Socialism only works on paper.  I never got to complete the lesson, because someone would indignantly shout out the “moral of the story” before I could finish.  That’s ok–that’s how I wanted it.  I wanted them to realize the lesson on their own and they did.  Every time.

To make my illustration, I would begin by writing on the board that famous one-sentence summary of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto:

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

I would then lead a brief discussion of the meaning of that sentence, to ensure that everyone understood what it meant.  I’d then ask the students “Sounds good, doesn’t it?”  The students would agree.  I would leave that quote on the board throughout this mini-lesson.

At this point, I would choose two students to come to the front of the classroom and stand beneath the quote.  I was always careful to choose two students who loved being the center of attention and who could take a good-hearted ribbing.  For the sake of this illustration, I’ll call them “Chris” and “Tyler.”

“Chris,” I’d tell the students, “is a model student.”  Chris is always on time to class, prepared with pencil, paper, and textbook.  Chris takes notes in class, and asks questions in order to ensure understanding of what is being taught.  Chris’ work is always turned in on time, neat and legible.  If there is something Chris still doesn’t understand when class is done, Chris will come in before school to meet with me.  When it’s time for the big test, Chris has kept up with the chapter reading, so on the night before, all Chris has to do is review the things that need reviewing.  Chris gets a good night’s sleep and eats a good breakfast the next morning.  Chris uses the test-taking skills taught in class and takes his/her time.  When I grade the test, Chris’ hard work has paid off, for (s)he has earned a “100” on the test.  I then write a large “100” above “Chris'” head.

Then there’s “Tyler.”  Poor, poor, Tyler.  Tyler is always the last one in class and the first one out.  Tyler’s attendance record has more “no shows” than Harry Houdini at Halloween seances.  When Tyler DOES show up to class, don’t expect to see pencil or paper.  Tyler couldn’t locate the textbook if his/her life depended on it.  Tyler’s idea of taking notes?  Writing a snarky comment on a piece of paper and passing it to a classmate.   The only question Tyler has ever asked in class is “How much longer, Miss?”  The night before the test, Tyler stayed up all night IM’ing someone from MySpace.  Tyler overslept on test day, skipped breakfast, and missed the bus.  Tyler stumbles loudly into class halfway through the period, and announces loudly enough to disrupt everyone:  “We had a test today?”  Of couse Tyler “Christmas tree”‘s the test, marking random answers here and there.  Still, Tyler beat the law of averages and scores a 40 on the test.  I write a large 40 above “Tyler”‘s head.

At this point, I stop to remind the class that 70 is the minimum passing grade, and write a large 70 between “Chris” and “Tyler.” I then remind them of the quotation written on the board above both of them:

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Next, I tell the students that since, according to the principles of Communism/Socialism, “Chris” has 30 points more than (s)he needs, I am going to take those points and give them to “Tyler,” who needs 30 points to pass.

I turn around and, with a different color marker, begin to cross out the “100” above “Chris”‘ head, and draw an arrow toward “Tyler”‘s “40” which I also cross out, replacing each score with a “70.”

Funny thing is, though, I never get to finish.  As I illustrate Communist/Socialist theory on the board, some student–usually one of the more vocal ones, rather than one of the highest-scoring ones–invariably shouts out “But Miss, that’s not fair!”

At that point, I stop.  I cap my marker and put it on the tray.  I turn to the class and benignly smile.  I say quietly and calmly, “And that’s why Communism doesn’t work.”

Middle school students have a super-heightened sense of what is or isn’t “fair.”  They pick up in five minutes what tweed-clad graying Economics professors haven’t learned in over 100 years:  Socialism doesn’t work.  It goes against all of human nature.  If we work hard to earn something and play by the rules, dammit, it’s ours.  Keep your grubby hands off it.  Conversely, if you want to be lazy, that’s your perogative.  If you choose to do so, however, don’t expect someone else to take up your slack.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I know the system fails from time to time and people who DO play by the rules occasionally lose.  I’m there now myself.  For the first (and hopefully, the last) time in my life, I’m drawing Unemployment.  What I need is a short-term stop-gap measure until I’m back on my feet.  I don’t need some overprotective government entity doing everything for me and making us all pay out the wazoo for it.

The thing we’ve forgotten all too quickly is that whenever liberals attempt to “stick it to the rich,” it’s us average Joes who really get the shaft.  Back in 1991, Congress imposed a “Luxury Tax” on high-ticket items such as jewelry, cars, and boats with a selling price of over $30,000.  What happened was that rich people STILL got the luxury items they wanted–they just bought “gently-used” items instead of new ones in order to avoid paying the tax.  It was the middle- and lower-class wage-earning workers who MADE these big ticket items who wound up paying–by losing their jobs.  No demand means no employment.  The rich stayed rich (hell, they SAVED money in the long run), and the poor workers lost everything.  This “luxury tax” wound up costing the Federal Government money in lost income and sales taxes and increased unemployment and other assistance payouts.  The next Congress couldn’t repeal the “luxury tax” fast enough.

You’d have thought the Democrats would have learned their lesson.  Sadly, they haven’t, else Obama wouldn’t be preaching “sharing the wealth.”  You’d have thought America would have learned its lesson as well when it comes to a “sore loser” tax.  Judging by the number of people who are swallowing Obama’s proposal hook, line, and sinker, I think it’s safe to say that we as a nation haven’t.

Those of you who haven’t yet taken advantage of early voting, it’s not too late.  Let Obama and the Democrats know that you are not falling for this sucker play.  Show them that you’re smarter than that.  My middle school students were.


Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with this Tale to tell.  Waiting for me in my Inbox when I finished was the following link on the same subject.  It’s well worth the read.  I just hope that by using the name “Gator,” he doesn’t mean that he pledges allegiance to the Florida Philistines.  The Dawgs are going to kick some serious Gator tail in Jax on Saturday, then blacken it and serve it on rice, Cajun-style (in remembrance of our sweet victory over LSU this past Saturday)!

8 Responses to “A Middle-School Lesson for Obama and the Democrats”

  1. 1 Terra October 27, 2008 at 9:29 am

    You seem to be quite intelligent on a whole. However, surely in all those classes you realize that is what tax dollars are right? Essentially tax dollars are a redistribution of the wealth, that is what our government does. We elect people that we believe will use that money for our benefit?

    It isn’t fully socialism as we don’t take it to the levels that some countries have, but it doesn’t change the fact that is what government does. We also embrace it and love socialism in some aspects; public schools, US mail, libraries, and so on…

  2. 2 evylrobot October 27, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Very, very nicely done! I would have done very well with a teacher like you. I had a couple of teachers that were probably about your caliber, but they were few and far between. In those classes, I excelled. The saddest part is that the model for public education was not intended to elicit thought from students. I’m just so hard-headed that I didn’t do well in the model. But I digress – I tip my hat and salute you!

  3. 3 gatakitty October 27, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Terra, we learned the hard way under the Articles of Confederation that in order to survive as a nation we need a strong, but not omnipotent central government. The current Constitution has, for the most part, successfully provided the greatest good for the greatest number for 219 years now. Is it perfect? No, but the crafters of our government realized that as America changed and grew, parts of our Constitution would have to as well. And it has.

    The biggest problem America had under the Articles was that it lacked the power to raise capital to pay for such necessities as a national defense. No one likes paying taxes, myself included, but I like anarchy and ignorance less.

    Free access to public education was unheard of before there was a United States of America. Before that, education was a privilege of the wealthy and high-born. The public library system is an innovation of that arch-Socialist fiend Benjamin Franklin. Odd, in all my time in Political Science classes and serving in the Cold War military, I never noticed a statue to Franklin on Red Square, in Beijing, Pyongyang, Saigon, or Havana. Strange, isn’t it?

    History has proven that we need a government strong enough to provide a level playing field, but flexible enough to allow each of us to reach our full potential (if we choose to do so). The pragmatist in me realizes that we have to pay for it somehow. History has also proven, though, that if we aren’t vigilant, government will become greedy, overbearing, and oppressive. We are well in that “red zone” now. Obama’s socialist ideas would push us over the edge.

  4. 4 Terra October 27, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Can you site any specific socialist ideas that are not already in play? It still sounds to me like it is rhetoric, not independent thought. (Which I can accept even if I don’t agree.)

    Say he is more liberal than conservative and I will give you that. Say he is a socialist, and I disagree. He is in fact giving the truth about the government in general. This is what the government does. Also really as a teacher you have to know that he doesn’t have the power to turn the US into some socialist society?

    Both Obama’s plan and McCain’s plans for medical care (for instance) are socialist. One creates the opportunity for everyone to enjoy the same coverage IF THEY CHOOSE, the other gives everyone a tax credit so they can buy coverage IF THEY CHOOSE. The both “redistribute the wealth” granted in a different way, but the premise is the same.

  5. 5 gatakitty October 27, 2008 at 11:14 am

    The President sets the agenda, but only Congress can implement/amend spending. I will grant you that. HOWEVER, if (God forbid!) Obama is elected and a Democrat majority is maintained in Congress, you better believe that we’ll be dealing with two years of Socialist agenda just like we did with the 103rd Congress in 1993-1994. The only thing that stopped HillaryCare in its socialist tracks was the enormous public outcry. Isn’t it interesting that when wealthy people in countries with socialized medicine have serious health problems, they come to the US for treatment? (Just off the top of my head, I can list the Shah of Iran and King Hussein of Jordan. Given time, I could list a lot more.)

    Our health care system is badly broken. My husband and I pay so much in premiums that we cannot afford co-pays. We can’t get assistance for it, because we have insurance. Not having insurance is not an option (see my blogs on my daughter’s automobile accident @ https://catoninetales.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/dont-tell-me-miracles-dont-happen-today/ ). Since Big Business WON’T do the right thing, Government HAS to get involved.

    Still, what is your angle, Terra? If you have a better idea, I’m all ears.

  6. 6 Terra October 27, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I really don’t like either idea on health care, minus one aspect, Obama is for not allowing pre existing conditions to make it so you can’t get coverage. This is an issue in my house. I can also say that I can’t afford not to be without coverage, although I have none. My children do (thank goodness). My daughter was diagnosed this year with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia and well lets just say it has played a major role in my thoughts.

    I don’t have a better idea, I wish I did. I just don’t believe that either are socialist (McCain nor Obama – although many people are suggesting one or both of those.) I don’t want a totally one sided view in congress, and that is the truth. However, in my opinion that would be better then the alternative. Also I am really hoping that on a state level that will be addressed (and some republican nominees are actually using that to their advantage).

    Anyway, I give you that I don’t want a one sided congress. If I could I would choose Biden president and McCain vice (really), but we don’t get to vote that way.


    PS/ I am glad that everything is OK with your daughter, and I feel for you that is a horrific thing to endure.

  7. 7 gator October 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    “Socialists disagree over how much wealth should be left in private hands and how to deprive the rich of their excess property. Many socialists call for redistribution of wealth through taxation.”

    This certainly isn’t a new idea. I got the quote from my 1976 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia.

    The concept of taxes in general doesn’t bother me. Reasonable and fair taxes to pay for infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, waterways, national defense, law enforcement and emergency services, county hospitals and trauma centers, disaster relief, temporary public assistance, student loans and grants, national parks and forests, etc. are one thing.

    “Redistributing the wealth” is something entirely different.

    I’m all for temporary assistance for folks who work and pay their taxes and somehow find themselves in a bad situation through no fault of their own.

    Unfortunately, we’ve raised – perhaps enabled – a generation of people who feel entitled to someone else’s “wealth”. Some will actively pursue it. In fact, they’ll invade your home and shoot you in the head to get it. Others will sit quietly and wait for the government to dole it out.

    Thanks for the link, btw. I wondered if anyone would read my post. I can hardly complain. I spend much more time reading other blogs than I do posting on mine.

  1. 1 In Jennifer’s Head » Blog Archive » Whoa Nancy! Again Trackback on October 29, 2008 at 7:34 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

October 2008
« Sep   Nov »

Top Clicks

  • None
i am a geek

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?

%d bloggers like this: