Feb 29 2012

Repeating an atrocity with “preventive” care

If you read this when it was first posted, check out the three UPDATES made to it since.  Just scroll on down.

As Mrs. Miner wrote in Hey, What About MY Choice?, there is enormous pressure from the medical establishment to do invasive “prenatal testing” (including amniocentesis) under the guise of “preventive care,”  as if killing a disabled child before it’s born is treatment of a medical condition, instead of simply murder of the helpless.

Mark Leach writes in the Washington Examiner about Repeating an atrocity with “preventive care”

President Obama signed “Rosa’s Law,” sponsored by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and named for one of her constituents, a little girl with Down syndrome, in 2010.

The law eliminates the phrase “mental retardation” from federal laws and regulations, replacing it with “intellectual disability.” Another law sponsored by Mikulski threatens to eliminate girls like Rosa and my daughter, Juliet, from future generations.

Rick Santorum recently attacked President Obama for the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate requiring no-cost prenatal testing. This mandate is part of Mikulski’s amendment to Obamacare requiring preventive care services for women.

Genetic conditions like my Juliet’s Down syndrome and Santorum’s daughter Bella’s Trisomy 18 can be prenatally diagnosed, but not treated prenatally. The HHS mandate begs the question: How does prenatal testing for genetic conditions that cannot be treated prenatally qualify as “preventive” care?

Obama’s campaign spokeswoman responded to Santorum’s concerns by saying prenatal testing is for the health of the mother and baby and to bring about safer deliveries.

Not so in the case of prenatal testing for genetic conditions. Instead, most women terminate following a positive test result — a decidedly unhealthy and unsafe delivery for the baby.

Indeed, this is the effect of prenatal testing for genetic conditions. Last summer, a report from Denmark predicted the country would be “Down syndrome-free” by 2030, due to its prenatal testing program.

Isn’t that nice.  Europe seems to have learned little of moral worth from its experience with German eugenics programs in the Nazi era.

In Switzerland, 87 percent of all Down syndrome pregnancies are terminated. In France, 96 percent of fetuses with Down syndrome are aborted following a prenatal diagnosis.

This effect is not limited to other countries. California has had a prenatal testing program for Down syndrome since the 1980s. Researchers found that 47 percent fewer children with Down syndrome were born than would have naturally occurred.

They flatly admitted that California’s prenatal testing program’s purpose is to reduce the number of children born with Down syndrome through earlier abortions.

As if we didn’t know that already.  It’s made pretty explicit by the “medical providers” who pressure women to have amniocentesis.  ”Could you live with a Down’s child?” they say.  This is exactly what Mrs. Miner experienced in the glorious people’s republic of California.

Did Mikulski intend for her preventive care services amendment to eliminate children like Rosa, Juliet, Bella and others with genetic conditions from future generations?

Well, yes.  The believers in using abortion to filter out the unfit defend it on a variety of grounds, from financial burden on society to pretended concern about the “poor quality of life” the soon-to-be murdered unborn child would have without the beneficently performed therapeutic dismemberment.

We are left to wonder because, unlike Santorum, Mikulski has not spoken out on this issue. Other voices have so far been silent, too.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton recently stormed out of a hearing on the HHS mandate for birth control. Norton is a co-chair of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and a mother to a young lady with Down syndrome.

Perhaps she’ll express the same indignation about Obamacare’s policy to prevent children like her daughter from being born in future generations? Likewise, the CDSC lists more than 50 members, including Norton’s co-chairs and fellow parents, Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.

Perhaps, they, too, and many others, regardless of political party, will wonder why a regulation expresses the view that unborn children with genetic conditions should be prevented from being born.

Last century, people who thought themselves upstanding citizens stood by silently while a segment of their society was targeted for elimination based solely on their fundamental nature.

Civilized nations said “never again.” Yet, here we are at the turn of this century dealing with the next challenge to whether we believe our creed that we are all created equal.

Voices are needed to call for the rescinding of the HHS’ mandate for no-cost prenatal testing for genetic conditions as “preventive” care, before we repeat a historic atrocity.

It was always the intent of the Margaret Sangers of the world, and their ideological kin such as Planned Parenthood, to eliminate the unfit from society, hopefully by keeping them from being born in the first place, even if that involved killing them in the womb….  or out of it, for that matter.

UPDATE:

The day has brought an embarrassment of riches from the point of view of pro-life bloggers, but an embarrassment of moral poverty on the part of some “medical ethicists,” who seem to have stood on its ear the meaning of the word “ethics.”  This just in:

Killing babies no different from abortion, experts say

Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.

The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. The academics also argue that parents should be able to have their baby killed if it turns out to be disabled when it is born.

The journal’s editor, Prof Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said the article’s authors had received death threats since publishing the article. He said those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were “fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society”.

The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’.

“We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

As such they argued it was “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.

The authors therefore concluded that “what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”.

They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that “only the 64 per cent of Down’s syndrome cases” in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.

Once such children were born there was “no choice for the parents but to keep the child”, they wrote.

“To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

However, they did not argue that some baby killings were more justifiable than others – their fundamental point was that, morally, there was no difference to abortion as already practised.

They preferred to use the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus”.

You have to give these infanticide enablers this: they’re very logical in proceeding from the starting point of abortion-on-demand. It was bound to come to this. And it has.

UPDATE #2:

I would blame this on Britain’s apparent desire to self-destruct, but we have our own apologist for the appalling, right here in the good ‘ole US of A, in the form of Peter Singer.  Of course, he’s really Australian, so maybe he doesn’t count as an American.  He came from the Commonwealth, after all, which may soon be commonly Islamic.  Maybe there’s something in the water that people drink in Australia.

UPDATE #3:

At this link, an Australian “ethicist” argues on a radio show in Iowa that

 after-birth abortions should be permitted if parents decide that they want to prevent their child from having a difficult or painful life. One of the reasons many people abort fetuses, she notes, is due to diseases or other deformities. But, some of these disorders are not detected while the child is in the womb. In cases such as this, Minerva and Giubilini argue in their paper, termination of the newborn should be allowed. This sentiment should also apply then to healthy newborns, she says, because some people abort perfectly health fetuses for a variety of personal reasons as well.

Again, this is the logical conclusion of permitting and encouraging abortion-on-demand for any reason at all, or none.  So on the one hand, these “ethicists” are just being reasonable.

Reasonably monstrous, of course….  along with the rest of the pro-abort crowd.


Feb 03 2012

Hey, What About MY Choice? Part 3

In the beginning post of this series, I told the story of how California doctors and medical providers just couldn’t get it through their heads that even though I was a 35 yr old soon-to-be-mom, I did NOT want amniocentesis, because of the risk of miscarriage and the fact that it could not reveal any information I would actually be able to use.  But the medical types were really determined.  In the second post of this series, I told of how a doctor threatened to withhold care from me, and a necessary examination, if I didn’t submit to his attempt to coerce me into “genetic counseling,”  at a minimum, with the obvious agenda of getting me to agree to amniocentesis.

How DARE the doctors make me defend my refusal to have a test that could have resulted in my child’s death!  Imagine the news if “just” one percent of school buses on a given day crashed.  Out of ten thousand school buses, that means that one hundred buses crashed.  Now, imagine the public’s reaction if every child on those hundred buses died.  It’s incomprehensible to imagine such a thing.  When a SINGLE bus crashes and ANY children are killed, the tragedy makes national news.  Yet the medical establishment displays a remarkably cavalier attitude toward the fact that given the prevalence of amniocentesis, undoubtedly many healthy, “wanted” children die every year or are born prematurely.

I have since come to understand another disturbing fact surrounding the aggressive push for prenatal testing: many parents demand these tests.  We live in an age where, as Mark Steyn has stated, parents often put off childbearing until later in life and then have “one designer baby.”  And only one.  As fertility invariably decreases with age, some turn to fertility drugs and/or in vitro fertilization, which can result in multiple fetuses.  No worries, though.  Through a process known as “selective reduction,” the mother can have the “extra” babies killed, leaving her with only one child.  And boy, that kid better be perfect.  If the child fails to meet the consumers’ (aka parents’) expectations, the doctor might well find himself slapped with a “wrongful birth” lawsuit.  The heart-breaking fact is that around 90% of children identified with Down syndrome are aborted.  (It’s worth noting, however, that amniocentesis is not completely accurate, which means that a number of “healthy” children are mistakenly thought to have a genetic defect and are then aborted.)  Given the fact that prenatal life is valued so little, I suppose it’s no wonder I was sometimes treated as a socially irresponsible freak for refusing genetic testing.

My next several visits to the obstetrician were uneventful, except that he kept looking at my chart and saying, “Oh, yeah.  You refused amnio.”  Was my choice really that unusual?  Perhaps so.   During that time, I ran into several women, mostly strangers, pregnant women who would say, “I had to have amniocentesis.”  One even said to me (both of us standing there, pregnant, in Burlington Coat Factory’s baby section), “I’m scheduled for amniocentesis tomorrow.  I really don’t want to do it, but I have to.”  How many women are made to feel that they have no choice?

About nine weeks shy of my due date, I began having painful contractions.  It didn’t appear to be labor, but with my doctor’s recommendation, I decided to take a break from my job as a special education teacher at a local junior high.  A short time later, I went into full-blown preterm labor.  My baby wasn’t handling my contractions very well, so the doctor said they were probably going to have to deliver her early.  Thankfully, labor was stopped by a combination of three different medications.  I was confined mostly to bed for the remainder of my pregnancy and continued taking medication.  Given this precarious situation, I couldn’t help but wonder if an earlier decision to have amniocentesis might have resulted in an extremely premature baby – or even a stillbirth.  I’ll never know, but I shudder when I consider the possibilities.

Finally, the day I had been longing for arrived, and I gave birth to a beautiful full-term baby girl.  Shortly before being discharged, a clerical worker from the hospital came to my room and asked me to sign a form.  By signing, I would be acknowledging that I had received certain types of care in the hospital, as well as during my pregnancy.  I noticed three number codes and asked that each be explained.  When she reached the third code, she said that its numbers stood for amniocentesis.   “I didn’t have amniocentesis,” I sighed.  She looked surprised and then asked, “Are you sure?”

Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh.


Jan 29 2012

Hey, What About MY Choice? Part 2

The previous post in this three part series is here.

In the beginning post of this series, I told the story of how California doctors and medical providers just couldn’t get it through their heads that even though I was a 35 yr old soon-to-be-mom, I did NOT want amniocentesis, because of the risk of miscarriage and the fact that it could not reveal any information I would actually be able to use.  But the medical types were really determined.  Read on.

I agreed to have a high-resolution sonogram referred to by my doctor as “Level 4” (L4), to be performed by a different doctor when I was about four months pregnant.  When I called to set up the appointment for this procedure, the nurse on the line began discussing the preparations for amniocentesis.  I patiently explained that I had declined this procedure and would be having the sonogram only.  She seemed quite surprised, but finally said that she would put a notation on my chart so that I would not be “hassled” any further.  (But wait, it was ALREADY on my chart.)  About two weeks later, another nurse called to confirm my appointment for the next day and began giving me instructions regarding amniocentesis.  I told her, a bit less patiently this time, that I had declined amniocentesis and would only be having the sonogram.  She told me that I was scheduled for amniocentesis.  I said, “Read my chart.”  She said, “Come prepared for amnio anyway!”

My husband (aka Harmonicminer) and I arrived at the clinic for my L4 sonogram the next day.  I tried to put all thoughts of large needles near babies’ heads, prenatal child kil …. er, I mean “pregnancy terminations,” etc., out of my head.  I just wanted to see my baby.  I was, of course, hoping the exam would bring good news but was prepared to accept whatever the test might reveal.

The clinic’s high-risk specialist, Dr. Shah, entered the room, glanced at his notes and said, “You’re here for an L4 and an amniocentesis.”  Feeling like a broken record, I explained – AGAIN – that I had thoroughly discussed my options with my obstetrician and had signed the form refusing amniocentesis and genetic counseling.  I had only agreed, on my doctor’s advice, to have the L4 sonogram.

Dr. Shah snapped, “You should not have been ALLOWED to sign that refusal without first undergoing genetic counseling!”  He then said, nonsensically, that amniocentesis was “for my own safety.”  Furthermore, he refused to even do the sonogram until, at a minimum, I subjected myself to “counseling.”  Seriously?!?    Was he actually threatening to withhold medical care unless I submitted to his authority?

I was too upset to endure the heated exchange between Mr. Miner and the doctor, so I agreed to see the genetic counselor down the hall.  I walked in her office in a very unhappy frame of mind, and I let her know that I was there under duress.  To her credit, she was very kind, but the questions were truly useless.  To paraphrase one of the more sophisticated queries,  “So, is there any chance you and your husband are biologically related?”

After signing yet ANOTHER refusal of amniocentesis, I returned to the exam room where the doctor, somewhat begrudgingly, finally did the sonogram.

And there she was, my little SOMEBODY…  not “potential life,” but undeniably a miniature human being with unfathomable potential.  Stretching, moving, kicking, growing, EXISTING.  I may have even seen her make a rude gesture to the doctor.  Way to go, kid.

Part three (the last part of this series) is here.


May 13 2009

Is the real problem “White Male Privilege,” lack of “Diversity,” and discrimination against “people of color”?

It has become common to berate institutions of all kinds that are deemed to be insufficiently “diverse,” as if there is automatically some institutional barrier preventing “people of color” from associating with them, and is if some kind of unfair “white male privilege” is the problem.   While there were significant institutional barriers in previous decades, those barriers are now largely gone, and civil-rights activists are busily fighting a war they’ve already won, almost in a manner reminiscent of Civil War re-enactments.   Nevertheless, the removal of those barriers isn’t enough for diversity activists, who now insist that institutions pursue essentially quota-based strategies to “diversify.”  The latest set of institutions engaged in self-flagellation for perceived failures of diversity are Christian colleges and universities, many of whom are scrambling just as fast as they can to “get diverse.” It is as if these institutions believe that if only they are more diverse, then the problems of minorities in American society will go away, or at least be ameliorated.  Or perhaps, if they are more diverse, they can at least feel less guilty about it.

The two biggest problems of injustice in black — and, increasingly, Hispanic — America are abortion and the epidemic of fatherless children.
Blacks abort their babies at a rate five times that of whites.  Nearly 70% of black children are born into fatherless households.  The first of these issues is directly traceable to the national legalization of abortion in 1973, an act of a left-leaning, activist court.   The second of these issues is directly traceable to the creation of LBJ’s Great Society programs in 1965, the act of a left-leaning congress and president.  These two problems cannot be primarily attributed to racism, for the historical reason that abortions were far less common before it was legalized, and the “illegitimacy rate” of blacks in 1960 was about 25%, not 70%.  What changed was government policy, in legalizing the murder of the unborn for essentially any reason at any time in the pregnancy, and in providing incentives to make babies out of wedlock by paying more for each one.  It is arguable that left-leaning governmental policies did more harm to black America than Jim Crow.  And it’s worth noting that blacks were climbing out of poverty rather steadily in the period from 1940-1960 (Thomas Sowell writes very clearly on this), while Jim Crow was still the norm.  Progress slowed dramatically with the beginning of the Great Society, proving that you can indeed offer someone too much help.

“Social justice” activists are fond of pointing to the disproportionately high representation of black men in prison as evidence of white injustice in law enforcement, the judicial system, the economy, etc.  But when the statistics are controlled for the presence of a father in the home, blacks raised with a married father in the home are no more likely than whites to be in jail.   So the “justice” problem is a society that discourages black families from forming, let alone failing.  The Left will say that “there are all kinds of families” and imply it is prejudice to promote the traditional understanding, but the sociologists and criminologists know better, if they have the courage to look at their own data.

The third biggest social justice problem for blacks is the state of the schools, but that cannot be fixed without addressing the issue of black families at the same time.   All too often, the family values are missing that will produce children with whom schools can work effectively.  Schools, no matter how well intentioned and well funded, can’t replace successful parents.  Churches can certainly help, but not when they are basically apologists for the status quo, and are used as platforms for leftist politics as much or more than for faithful transformation of inner-city culture along Godly lines.  None of this means the schools can’t be better, and various experimental schools have shown that typical inner-city black children can benefit greatly from improved schools, provided those schools don’t have to keep the most troublesome students enrolled, and are allowed to pursue educational techniques and policies of their own choosing.  But no one believes that schools alone can make up for deficits in parenting, even in experimental schools that shuck the usual pieties of the education lobby, even when the schools simply do what works, without trying to be social laboratories and places to park troubled children.

The real “white male privilege” with which we should concern ourselves most is that of white doctors killing black babies in the womb, or just barely out of it, for profit, in abortion clinics placed conveniently near inner city neighborhoods to encourage repeat business.  We would submit that the apparent nature of “black male privilege” does more damage to blacks than anything white males are doing, or saying.  Finally, there is the “white male privilege” of mostly white politicians who depend on the black vote, and buy it with government benefits and promises of more, the new form of sharecropper oppression, because by taking the deal, blacks have crippled themselves as a group in being able to improve their own circumstances by their own efforts, though there are obviously many individual exceptions.

These problems will not be solved by whites.  They will not be solved by a black president, leading a government made up mostly of whites, unless that black president is determined to undo the government incentives that encourage bad behavior.  That seems unlikely in this case, doesn’t it?  These problems will only be solved by black leaders “on the ground,” who must spend more time challenging their own communities, straightforwardly demanding better behavior, teaching skills and values for successful living, than they spend twisting the arms of “white” institutions to be more “diverse.”   They need to be teaching their people to reject government handouts that weaken their motivation to lift themselves up, tempting them to lower standards for personal and public behavior.  We need ten thousand people like Jesse Peterson, Clenard Childress and Johnny Hunter for every Jackson/Sharpton shakedown artist and/or community organizer whose idea of service is to take a young woman who shouldn’t be pregnant to city hall to apply for benefits (to “find her voice”), or, even worse, to provide rides to the local abortion mill, and in either case protecting from any responsibility the man or boy who made her pregnant, and in many cases the parent or guardian (usually only one) who failed to provide her with adequate supervision.

Inner-city black America is suffering not from being non-diverse, not primarily because some colleges and universities are not diverse, but because it is killing itself. We have just inaugurated a president who will encourage much, much more of the same, judging by his record, his public statements, his political commitments to his supporters, and his chosen advisers.

In the meantime, those Christian colleges and universities that are in a headlong rush to “diversify” are learning that it is very difficult to avoid all the Leftist influences that accompany diversity activism.  Some of these schools, which were once unabashedly pro-life, pro-traditional-family and pro-American, are now finding that with diversity comes the choice between promoting life or lionizing Obama-as-symbol, between being pro-traditional-family or endorsing all kinds of other arrangements as being “just as good,” and between acknowledging the strong Judeo-Christian ethic in the American founding and social ethos, or seeing America as “just another nation” with no uniquely important religious elements shaping its heritage, values and behavior.

It’s a choice these institutions are making, this decade.  The faculty they’re hiring now will be the ones who decide the directions of those institutions in the next decade, not today’s adminstrators and board members, who may make policy statements attempting to “hold the line,” etc.  Adminstrators and trustees come and go, but faculty have tenure.  Unfortunately, it seems no more possible in the current environment for prospective faculty to be asked, “Are you anti-abortion?” than it is to ask a prospective supreme court judge about future rulings.  That’s because, somehow, abortion has been relegated to being a “political question” instead of the frankly moral one that it is.  Somehow, it has become acceptable in some quarters for Christians to vote for pro-abortion politicians, and for that choice, and campaiging for such, to be seen as a valid “political choice.”  Yet I’m quite sure that most Christians would consider it a sin to vote for a pro-slavery candidate.

We are in a grim place, and those of us who see it that way need to be deep in prayer over it, and then we need to work within our institutions to improve the situation.

UPDATE: Walter E. Williams on Race Talk

Race talk often portrays black Americans as downtrodden and deserving of white people’s help and sympathy. That vision is an insult of major proportions. As a group, black Americans have made some of the greatest gains, over the highest hurdles, in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind’s history. This unprecedented progress can be seen through several measures. If one were to total black earnings, and consider black Americans a separate nation, he would find that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world’s 16th richest nation — that is just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans are, and have been, chief executives of some of the world’s largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, who headed the world’s mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black American. Black Americans are among the world’s most famous personalities and a few are among the richest. Most blacks are not poor but middle class.

On the eve of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed these gains possible in less than a mere century and a half, if ever. That progress speaks well not only of the sacrifices and intestinal fortitude of a people; it also speaks well of a nation in which these gains were possible. These gains would not have been possible anywhere else.


May 07 2009

Deceased Diversity Defenses

In his review of the current state of minority preferences, diversity/affirmative action agendas, merit testing — including very serious, concerted attempts to remove any kind of prejudice from the testing — and the left/right wars in hiring practices at public agencies, John Derbyshire picks as his starting point the utter inability of the New Haven Fire Department to find a way to promote firefighters without being sued.

There is nothing new here, of course. Given the history of this subject, the really surprising thing is that as late as 2003 a fire department was still giving formal examinations for promotions. The New York City Police Department was fighting lawsuits over “discriminatory” test results 30 years ago. Police, fire, and other municipal departments all over the country have been similarly affected across an entire generation.

Attempted solutions have included every kind of rigging and “race norming” of results, the dumbing-down of the tests to a point where well-nigh everyone passes (candidates then being promoted by lottery or straightforward race quotas), the hiring of expensive consultants to devise bias-free tests, and just giving up on tests altogether, as New Haven has now done.

None of it helped, though dumbing down the tests has proved fairly effective for litigation avoidance. (In 1991 the New York City Sanitation Department gave a test on which 23,078 applicants out of 24,000 got perfect scores — try spotting a race gap there!) The careful concocting of scrupulously bias-free tests is now a profitable specialty within the management-consulting field. New Haven hired the Houston firm of Jeanneret & Associates, Inc., who called in a contractor named I/O Solutions to devise firefighter tests, and the city spent over $100,000 in fees to these firms.

It did no good, of course. It never does. The New York Police Department spent ten years trying to write tests for promotion to sergeant that would pass court approval. They brought in minority representatives to help design the 1988 tests, and included video portions. It didn’t help: A quarter of the 12,000 police officers who took the test were minorities, but of the 377 test-based promotions, only 20 went to minorities.

The unhappy fact is that different ethnic groups exhibit different profiles of results on tests. Attempts to devise a test on which this does not happen have all failed, across decades of effort, criticism, and analysis.

Nobody knows why this is so; but the fact that it invariably, repeatedly, and intractably is so, makes testing hazardous — and ultimately pointless — under current employment law. Yet still employees must be selected somehow from applicant pools, and there must be some clear, fair criteria for their subsequent promotion. The state of the law now is that almost anything an organization does in this area will open it to litigation.

Ricci v. DeStefano takes place in a time of general public exhaustion over racial inequalities. We’d really rather just not think about it. Fifty years ago it all seemed cut and dried. Just strike down old unjust laws, give the minority a helping hand, give the non-minority some education about civil rights and past disgraces, and in a few years things will come right.

We coasted along under those assumptions for a generation. When it became obvious that things were not coming right in the matter of test results, scholars and jurists got to work on the problem.

Liberals, with their usual coarse stupidity, naturally assumed it was just a matter of spending more money on schools. This theory was tested to destruction in several places, most sensationally in Kansas City from 1985 to 1997. Under a judge’s order, the school district spent $2 billion over twelve years, pretty much rebuilding the school system — and the actual schools themselves — from the ground up. The new, lavish facilities included “an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal.” The experiment was a complete failure. Drop-out rates rose and test scores fell across the entire twelve years. Here are current test scores for the school that got the Olympic-sized swimming pool. (I could not find any published results for achievement in aquatic sports.)

Conservatives, thoroughly race-whipped by the liberal media elites, preferred to go along with whatever liberals said, except that they made, and still make, mild throat-clearing noises about school vouchers. It has turned out in practice, however, that the only people keen on school vouchers are the striving poor, a small (and dwindling) demographic with no political weight, and whom nobody in the media or academic elites gives a fig about. The non-striving underclass has zero interest in education; middle-class suburbanites like their schools the way they are, thanks all the same; and teachers’ unions see vouchers as threats to the public-education gravy train their members ride to well-padded retirement.

As test gaps persisted and lawsuits multiplied, the scholars retreated into metaphysics. The word “culture” was wafted around a lot. It seemed to denote a sort of phlogiston or luminiferous aether, pervading and determining everything, but via mechanisms nobody could explain. We heard about self-esteem issues, “the burden of ‘acting white,’ ” “stereotype threat,” and a whole raft of other sunbeams-from-cucumbers hypotheses. Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, two distinguished scholars in the field, produced a much-praised book about test-score gaps with a conclusion in which nothing was concluded. “Choice [of where to live] should not be a class-based privilege.” Where, in a free society, has it ever not been? How will you stop people moving, if they can afford to? “Families must help their children to the best of their ability.” Oh. “Vouchers are a matter of basic equity.” See above. “Big-city superintendents and principals operate in a bureacratic and political straitjacket.” True, no doubt; but test-score gaps are in plain sight even out in the ’burbs. John Ogbu wrote a book about it. Six years ago.

And the test-score gaps just sat there, and sat there, and sat there, grinning back at us impudently.

At last, we just stopped thinking about the whole disagreeable business. Unfortunately, by that time a great body of law had been built on the theories and pseudo-theories of the preceding decades, and couldn’t be wished away. Hence Ricci v. DeStefano.

You can deduce our state of exhaustion from booksellers’ lists. I just spent half an hour trawling through the bibliographies and references in my own modest collection of social-science literature to come up with the following list of 50 published books, most by accredited scholars, relevant to Ricci v. DeStefano and the issues underlying the case. I offer it to the Supremes as a reading list, if they’d like to get up to speed on the necessary sociology.

Derbyshire’s article goes into a very complete recounting of the state of “diversity scholarship” (for lack of a better term).

What he demonstrates, pretty convincingly, is that anyone who has bothered to study all the attempts at “race norming” in testing, at finding ways to make tests “nondiscriminatory,” etc., can’t fail to come away from it believing that it’s essentially impossible to construct a test on which all sectors of society will do equally well, and that includes deliberately TRYING to slant the test in a direction that will be easier for minorities.

What does it mean that we keep on keeping on, pretending that there is any way to make equal outcomes for every sector of society?  Well, it means we’re blind and stupid, maybe.  It means that all cultures are not created equal, will not become equal, and will not produce people of equal ability.  It means that differences between individuals matter HUGELY more than differences between ethnic groups, of whatever description.  It means that our systems of education, certification, hiring and promotion should be “color blind,” and allow excellence to come to the top, from whatever source.  It means that we need to study what is different in the cultures and family lives of the people who succeed more often, of whatever ethnicity, and use that information to teach others how to arrange their lives for the success of their children.

There is a curious phenomena in sociology/global studies departments in universities.  They often have a program of requiring students to spend a semester living in “the inner city” or some minority community so they can get past their “whiteness” and learn how life really is in those communities.  There’s probably nothing wrong with this (absent the inevitable “white bashing”), but imagine the opposite.

What if we had a program for bringing entire minority families into the homes of “typical middle class” families of whatever race, with the stipulation that they will live, for a few months, like the host family lives?  If they came to my house, they’d have to make sure their kids did their homework before anything else.  They’d learn that the parents demand, and the kids give, respect, and that the respect flows both ways.  They’d see TWO parents, working hard to teach their children values that will help them succeed.  (This may seem unfair;  what can a single mother do about it NOW?  Answer:  teach your kids not to repeat your mistakes,  show them what raising kids in a two parent home can be like, and build the ambition in them to seek that stability for their own adult lives.)  They would learn that the parents ALWAYS know where their kids are, who they’re with, what they’re doing, and when they’re coming home.  They’d see kids who actually care what their parents opinions are about matters large and small, at least partly because the parents have respected the kids’ abilities to think and reason.  They would rarely hear a raised voice, or out-of-control expression of negative emotion, from parents or children.

They would see people living within their means, not asking the government for anything much, looking over the shoulders of the teachers and schools, going to church and participating in the church’s life, and taking it seriously at home.  They would see parents seriously discussing current events with their children, explaining issues, giving them books to read on various topics, discussing the values underlying what they see on TV and in movies, etc.  They would see parents seriously discussing the future with their children, suggesting possibilities for the kids, based on realistic appraisals of their ability and personality (not fake “esteem building” that isn’t based on anything real in the child), and they would see parents who make sure their kids have plenty of opportunities to discover things at which they can succeed.

In other words, kids and parents of the hosted family would be learning how to be middle class Americans.

Even if this could be done, if the resources and organization existed to put families together, and the minority families were willing to do it, and even if it could be shown to succeed as a method of teaching successful living strategies and child rearing, objections would be raised, woudn’t they?  Let’s see:

Michelle Obama’s advice.

And, of course, we all recall Jeremiah Wright’s ringing condemnation of “middle class values.”

But what I am advocating is exactly an embrace of “middleclassness” as way of life for people who want to BE in the middle class, with middle class options in education, career, etc.  I’m suggesting that we make “learning to be a member of the middle class,” with all that implies, a goal for our entire approach to helping people get out of poverty.

What we shouldn’t do is create a system of testing, evaluation and rewards that pretends that people have achieved things that they have not.  Yet that this is exactly what we’ve already done, and so our problem is even bigger.

I’m not a dreamer.  I know it’s unlikely that we can get large numbers of those now in poverty to take the trouble to learn how to be “middle class” in the broad sense, which is a whole set of values and orientations that are simply different from typical behavior/attitudes among the chronically poor and “disadvantaged.”  But for way too many of them, their disadvantage is being raised by a single mother (or grandmother!) who did not herself make good life decisions, and is unlikely to be able to help her children do differently.  Learning to “be middle class” would be the best thing that could happen to them all.

We won’t be able to do this effectively, as a society, until we get over the multi-cultural pieties that have made it impossible for enough people to say that one way of life is better than another.


Jan 27 2009

Madness Pelosi-style

Category: abortion,freedom,government,parenthoodamuzikman @ 2:44 am

Yesterday Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, announced that birth control (read as “abortion”) funding would be a part of the Obama economic stimulus package.

Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

So, according to Pelosi, the birth rate should be controlled for financial reasons.  Too many new babies could overwhelm our already stretched state budgets.

Well, I spent some time thinking about her comments and I think I may be able to go one better. Perhaps a lottery system could be put into place.  Those individuals (we don’t really say “families” any more) wishing to have a baby would have to register with the State of California Birth Lottery.  In fact, as another cost-saving measure we can have the California State Lottery run the birth lottery as well.  A scratcher could be included with each pregnancy test sold.  Scratch off to reveal 3 matching pictures of Pelosi and win the right to have a baby.

Of course there is also the Big Spin – but with the Birth Lottery we can call it the Big Insemination.  There will even be three “Twins” slots. But don’t let the ball land in a N.O.W. slot or you’ll have to get an abortion, paid for by the California Birth Lottery, of course!

Think of how easy it will be to control the state population – simply alter the odds of winning by changing the rules as needed.  And think of how much more lottery money will come in as those young couples purchase tickets by the thousands hoping for one of the lucky few birth licenses available.

Of course this is just the beginning.  If Pelosi thinks economic stimulus should include birth control, how much longer do you suppose we’ll have to wait before we see on-line Euthanasia Poker.  After all, if we’re doing this to reduce the financial burden for states then by all means let’s help keep those Medical and Medicare budgets in line by simply killing old people, terminal patients, and the mentally ill.  Most of the health care money is spent ion those types of patients and the action should result in considerable savings.  Remember – It’s about money, not life.

Yesiree, Euthanasia Poker should come shortly after nationalized health care.  When the government starts paying for health care then you know they’ll have to start making decisions about who should get care and who shouldn’t.  After all, the states are in a “terrible fiscal budget crisis now”.  One can’t expect EVERYONE to get the care they need – it’s just not realistic!  So brush up on your Texas Hold Em, if you don’t have a pair of jacks or better you might just be forced to “fold” and proceed directly to the Soylent Green line.

Do you think this sounds far fetched?  Me too. Except after hearing Pelosi yesterday you must admit it’s not out of the question.  NOTHING is out of the question these days.

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Oct 01 2008

The Rewards(?) Of Parenthood

Category: parenthoodamuzikman @ 10:00 pm

My oldest daughter graduated from college this spring.  She finished a B.A. in Psychology in 4 years – no small feat these days.  She then proceeded to find a full-time job, locate an apartment, and move out on her own.  She is happy, motivated, focused and determined.  She lives a life of Christian faith. She has a boyfriend who, near as I can tell, is a salt-of-the-earth young man who adores and respects her very much.  In short she has officially cut the apron strings and has embarked on a life of her own.

I already miss her more than words can describe.

Someone once told me that from the day a child is born, a parent’s task is to prepare them to leave the home.

…….Success is indeed bittersweet.

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