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Episode 153 Who Made that Rule, Anyway?

Remember the Janet Jackson malfunction at the Super Bowl a few years ago. The country got so excited by her baring a breast while performing at half-time. “What was that all about?”  He asked. “Why can’t women bear their breasts just like men. I mean when women used those ol’ wringer washing machines I can understand why they might need to keep their breast bound or covered some way, but no one does that today. Who made that rule anyway’, he asked. We had been talking about how easily discussion of real important issues are ignored and topics of little importance take over the airways.

This is Retirement Talk. This is Del Lowery.

What a good question. "Who made the rule, anyway?" We retired folks need to asked that question about a lot of things. We have a life time of experiences to guide us in decision  making. Some questions require lots of examination and experiences. Perhaps we are best suited to make rules or changes in rules. “We’ve been around’, so to speak.

 

Sarah, a daughter of a friend of ours, asked us to donate to a fund raiser at her school. She would do some service work in exchange for the money. “What will the money be used for?” we asked. “Art supplies like paper, paints and stuff like that”, she replied. “Musical instruments for the band and sheet music’, she went on, “And then for after school activities like soccer and other sports. And some of it will be used for some more modern computers for some class rooms.” We gave her twenty bucks.

What has happened to education? I always thought that art, music, and athletics were part of the educational experience. Computers are a relative recent addition, but none-the-less basic to learning in today’s world. You would think these sorts of things would be budgeted for by the district. But, I guess they are being either left out or short changed. Students have to go out and request donations to supply them. What happened? Public education is basic to the American Way. When did we quit supporting it?

When the Russians launched Sputnik the space race began. Most of we retired people remember that.  Math and science became the American mantra. Teachers were encouraged to take summer classes in those subjects. The more academic inclined students were encouraged with scholar ships to major in those subjects. Students of English, humanities and the arts became marginal scholars. “What kind of a job can you get with a degree in that?” was the universal question. Students were encouraged to think of education as providing a door into the world of work. Attending college to become learned became antiquated at best.

Capitalism and corporate culture were officially enthroned not only in our economy but in our educational institutions.  Arts and humanities were neglected and often abandoned.

I never liked it or thought it was a wise thing. We might win the space race, but what about all of the other things in life. What about deciding what kind of political system is the best? How should money be distributed throughout the world? What kinds of laws should our community have? Is marijuana really bad for you; like worse than whisky? Is capital punishment necessary? Do we need to help one another through social programs: like social security, public policing, fire departments, health care, and public education? These are all governmental institutions - at least some of them - does that make us socialist? And if so, is that bad?

I don't want to be misinterpreted. Math and science answer many question that make for better living. But math and science don't answer all questions. I recall a statement from my son when he was a student at Stanford. He was majoring in geophysics and also taking all of the premed classes. Then he decided to add an additional major in anthropology. He said that the “soft” classes were by far the more difficult. “The problem is that there are no hard and fast answers in those”, he said. In math and science it is all just pretty much cut and dry. “You’re either right or wrong. But in the humanities the answers are not so easily determined”.

The only other legitimate or popular area of study became business. Students were encouraged to prepare themselves for the world of work or making money. Their universal answer to every question proposed by the business departments was: “Let the market decide”. What kind of an answer is this? Who made that rule? Where do the words caring, loving, sharing, empathy, or compassion fit into this objective solution to all universal questions? Where's the ethics? I understand the acceptance of letting the market decide when one is 20 years old and first introduced to Ann Ryan. Some times I think the last book read by people was "Atlas Shrugged". They never moved past it.

We retired people need to speak up. We need to take a good look at whose making the rules.

 

This is Retirement Talk.