In praise of success in the context of politics
Reading the paper this morning I found the shock of my life. Three letters defending and celebrating success and achievement.
The letters I mention all refer to Johanna Bowen’s diatribe complaining about the “super-rich and entitled” behavior of Paul Allen and friends, displaying their over the top riches and pushing their envied lifestyle in our faces. Could it be there are people in our community who see the triumph of success as a goal worth reaching?
Allen is a huge philanthropist who donated nearly $400 million in 2011 alone. Among other things, his family foundation supports arts and culture, social service programs, a Seattle food bank, and training programs for jobless, homeless adults. Seventy million went to the Institute for Brain Science. He funds schools to foster learning in science technology, engineering and math programs.
Let’s compare: President Obama (certainly among the elite and set for life financially) will again visit Oahu for 20 days over the Christmas holidays and cost taxpayers and the City and County of Honolulu nearly $4 million.
You can bet he has his helicopters, too, and it will take a C-17 to fly in more than 22 official vehicles for his stay. Beach access will be restricted, streets blocked and traffic snarled everywhere he goes.
The Honolulu Police Department will suffer an estimated deficit of $10,000 for required security detail. The tab for the on-call 24/7 ambulance service, paid by Honolulu City and County is nearly the same.
OK, what can we realistically expect in return? More pitiful tax-and -spend rhetoric damning achievement and success (as Bowen does) and absolutely nothing to encourage self- reliance, responsibility or greatness in anything that may make someone else appear less than great for doing nothing.
Obama can think of nothing more inventive to create jobs or prosperity than to tax the very individuals like Paul Allen to make life more fair for the underachievers he so proudly claims to care for most.
A thinking person would surely choose Allen over the opposite wouldn’t they? And sadly, what does this say about the voting public?
Hawaii vs. teachers
Two years ago, the Hawaii Department of Education was awarded a $75 million grant by the federal government. The grant came via President Obama’s Race To The Top initiative, which raises expectations for teachers and students.
The year the state was given $75 million to improve the quality of education in Hawaii, its educators were working on an expiring contract. The current contract was not created through negotiation with the state. It was, more or less, imposed upon teachers. The agreement teachers now honor pays them less, and provides them with less planning time than the previous contract.
Race To The Top, however, requires teachers to plan more. They have to capture and analyze more student data than they did two years ago. They have to learn a new (and more demanding) curriculum too, and devise effective strategies to teach this new curriculum. And they will be held more accountable for student performance than ever before.
Two days ago, I thought of a statement teachers could wear to communicate all of the above: “The state of Hawaii got $75 million, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”