The ABC's of 2008

>     After following the Romney win in Michigan and the dialog on the Democrat side as of late, I am concerned that despite identifying the challenges we face there is still a lack of understanding and unwillingness to prioritize the “how” of how we meet these challenges. 
    In the last week or two the economy has become the number one issue…as it frequently does in election years. This fact is an indication that we continue to focus on what I would call the “quantity” of our lives rather than the “quality” of them.
    The stock market is getting shaky and so Mitt Romney, successful Governor and CEO, is rising to the top because of his record of fiscal responsibility, not to mention turning around an Olympic Committee mess. Not to take anything away from him, he also seems to be a decent and ethical man (although I still can’t get over that “tying the family dog to the top of the SUV for a fun vacation” thing). On the Democrat side, the major players are now talking about “stimulus packages” (a.k.a. more taxes)as their proffered solution to what looks like a pending recession.
    OK. The wheel turns. The days of the unbridled stock and housing markets are winding down to a slow crawl. This is life and this is how it happens. Everything changes.
    The issue is not how we address it in the short run…how we bail out the greedy banks, mortgage and insurance companies as well as the unrealistic homeowners who grabbed for the brass ring and fell flat on their faces…but how we address the deeper and extended challenge of making our future work force, the children of today, more able to be part of both a national and a global economy by being educated to contribute to both with needed and marketable skills.
    Yesterday I was listening to a special report on National Public Radio. It was an interview with a man in Massachusetts who sells typewriters. Yes, that’s right. Typewriters. Not computers. What he said was that there is a certain percentage of his business that is the 16-24 year olds who want a typewriter. What he is hearing from these young people is that while they enjoy the slowed pace, the sound of the keys striking the page and even the bell at the end of each line…it’s the absence of temptation when at the keyboard to access the internet that allows them more focused attention and less stress.
    We have to educate and prepare our children, not stress and brow-beat them into thinking that more is never enough and faster is never fast enough.
    I remember in 1992 when James Carville, political strategist for then Presidential candidate Bill Clinton, coined the phrase “Its’ the economy, stupid” to underscore then President George H. W. Bush’s lack of understanding for fiscal issues. Well, it’s not the economy. It’s the type of society we continue to create by thinking and acting as if the future doesn’t matter in pursuit of short-term satisfaction.
    Our very creative and bright 14-year-old daughter is a whiz on the computer, cell phone, and ipod. And she has a required $150 Casio calculator for 9th grade Algebra. She also has a tutor for math. It’s not her strongest subject. Recently, we realized that while she can perform some very advanced technological tasks, she doesn’t know her multiplication tables 1 through 12. Now, you may not think that’s a big thing in today’s world but I can assure you that “the building blocks of a foundation” are always important…although that’s never really apparent until things start to collapse.
    Which brings me back to the election of 2008.
    I am not interested in quick fixes, magic formulas, bailing out stupidity and greed or any other superficial panaceas that address symptoms, not root causes. I’m looking for a candidate who is schooled in the fundamental building blocks of Life and Responsibility and has the courage not only to speak to them but to apply them and ask that we apply them as well.
    Until such a candidate appears, I’ll be practicing times tables with my 14-year-old.

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