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Abler-Minded: A rose by any other name

Yes, you might notice the title of the column has changed; the content of the column has not. I never felt comfortable with “Abler-Minded.” It seemed rather pretentious and I’ve been thinking of an alternative for some time and finally settled upon what you see today. This always has been an opinion column and since it is my opinion, “As I see it” seems to fit.

In the case of my column, I try to make it more than just my opinion. I would hope that some of the readers would do more than simply agree or disagree with my opinions. I want people to think about what they read and not accept or reject it out of hand. I hope they will occasionally ponder some of the points and rationales. And I hope they would do that with other news sources that they watch, hear, or read.

The most heartening feedback I get from people is when they tell me one of my columns caused them to rethink an issue. To hear someone say they never thought about an issue in the way I presented it means I have succeeded. I know I’m not going to persuade too many people to change their minds about the thorny issues. But I’m not going to stop trying. So let’s get started.

Most news today is no longer simply news. The Echo is the closest thing you’re going to find to a pure newspaper. The articles report what happened – who, what, when, where, how, and sometimes why when it’s appropriate. The larger newspapers and their reporters have much more of an agenda that is easily identifiable from their work. And virtually all of the national news comes from the wire services and is chock full of opinion, bias, and propaganda.

Item in point, the death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. The actions of George Zimmerman were highly questionable and his judgment can certainly be called into question. But it would take someone deaf and blind to not realize the press, the professional race baiters, and many others all the way up to the president had already convicted him of murder. You couldn’t turn on a news program this past weekend without being inundated with opinions on every aspect of the trial and predictions of mass hysteria.

Now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in Florida, the drumbeat for federal charges is being heard from any number of sources – most of them totally predictable. I doubt Attorney General Holder will be as deaf to them as he was to those calling for some meaningful action against the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia who were outside a polling location with clubs on election day in 2008. It’s interesting to ponder the accepted attitude of the press that in our country blacks cannot be racist, whites are always racist and Hispanics can be racist sometimes.

We have a whole host of problems and issues in our nation that are not being addressed in any meaningful way. The reasons for that are many, but they boil down to several. We are simply unable to understand the basic problems, such as racism. Until we understand and accept that nearly everyone has prejudices that will sometimes reach the point of racist actions we will be unable to move to the next step. Enough about racism for today.

The first step in solving a problem is to identify the basic problem itself. The press, politicians, the unions and other special interests are all major obstacles to this first step as they try to please their constituencies. We often fail at this first, crucial step because we identify and treat symptoms instead of causes.

After you come to an understanding of a basic problem, you have to develop alternatives for fixing the problem. The press, politicians, the unions and other special interests are all major obstacles to this second step. Are you noticing a pattern here?

Then you have to analyze all the alternatives and pick what appears to be the best solution. The press, politicians, the unions, and other special interests are all major obstacles to this third step. If the best solution ends up in one or more groups feeling slighted, you have a real fight on your hands.

And finally, if you get to the point where you can implement a solution, you get a government program that creates or perpetuates another burgeoning bureaucratic organization that eats up a significant portion of the allocated funds and tries to spend the other portions to satisfy the ranting of the press, politicians, the unions and other special interests. This is where the treatment of symptoms is most evident and ineffectual.

In the end, a program should have definable, measureable metrics to determine if a program is successful or a failure. Yes, the press, the politicians, the unions and other special interests are all major obstacles to measuring success. At this point, if our intentions were good we all hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and pat our collective selves on the back for a job well done.

Your homework this week is to think about the nation’s public education system in light of the five previous paragraphs and then figure out how we are going to prosper as a nation in the next 100 years. Good luck.

And that’s the way I see it.