Monday, February 28, 2011

Lincoln in Wisconsin | "capital is the fruit of labor"

Abraham Lincoln gave a great speech to farmers at the Wisconsin State Agricultural Fair on September 30, 1859. The address builds beat after beat to make a big point about the nobility of work and the value of workers. 

Here then, a substantial excerpt drawn from pages 499-502 in Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings. Roy P. Basler - editor, World Publishing, Cleveland, OH, 1946. A new edition, apparently printed from the same plates, is available from Amazon.

Mr. Lincoln's reference to the "mud-sill theory" represents a  challenge to his contemporary, South Carolina's James Henry Hammond, and the notion that progress demands a lower class of workers — the mudsill on which the foundations is laid — to support the advancement of people in the upper class. 
Mr. Lincoln jokes:
According to that theory, the educating of laborers is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all. Those same heads are regarded as explosive materials, only to be safely kept in damp places, as far as possible from that peculiar sort of fire which ignites them. A Yankee who could invent a strong-handed man, without a head, would secure the everlasting gratitude of the "mud-sill" advocates. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker a mudsill advocate? Not in so many words, I'm sure. But what about underneath the rhetoric? The excerpt from Mr. Lincoln's speech after the jump...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow the Money: What's a Teacher's Worth?

OK, First:

In the same time frame as the screen above, the average salary in Wisconsin for:
Gaming Managers was $65,760
Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents was $72,550
Art Directors was $72,840
Fashion Designers was $77,780
Broadcast News Analysts was $79,610
Public Relations Managers was $84,900
Athletes and Sports Competitors was $97,250
Marketing Managers was $103,150
I don't begrudge the salary of anyone doing honorable work — certainly not teachers. On average, I don't think practitioners in any of these categories add more value to Wisconsin's (or the U.S.) economy than teachers.

Second: Aren't some of the people moaning about teacher salaries today the same ones who steadfastly argued two years ago that $250,000 a year is barely a living wage? You know who you are; pick a side.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Joseph + the Amazing Technicolor Tax Plan*

“Okay, everybody, gather round; it’s time for a story!” Mr. Shepherd said with a big grin.

“What kind of story?” asked Miss Dollar, pretending she didn’t know.

“A Bible story!” Mr. Shepherd exclaimed.

And all the the children cried, “YAY!”

When everyone was still, Mr. Shepherd said, “Today’s story is about Joseph. How many of you remember him?”

“I do! I do!” said the children, raising their hands.

“Of course you do!” Mr. Shepherd said. “Joseph is a Bible hero! Does anyone remember why?”

“He’s a Bible hero because he loved his family!” said Ben.

“That’s right; Joseph loved his father and brothers very much, Ben. And what else?”

“Joseph refused to have premarital sex,” said Chastity. “He ran away naked when his boss's wife tried to…um…what do you call it?”

Monday, February 14, 2011

E.B. White | 1952 | This is Bad

We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny. This is bad. I think the most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oaths and witchhunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a communist.
—E.B. White, April 27, 1952, Letters of E.B. White,  p 328

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

William Barclay | Everything Matters

Nothing has done the church more harm than the repeated statement that the things of this world do not matter. In the middle thirties of this century unemployment invaded many respectable and decent homes. The father's skill was rusting in idleness; the mother was trying to make a shilling do what a pound ought to do; children could not understand what was going on except that they were hungry. Men grew bitter or broken. To go and tell such people that material things make no difference was unforgivable, especially if the teller was in reasonable comfort himself.
— William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (9:1-9), Daily Study Bible Series, Revised Edition, Edinburgh, Saint Andrews Press, 1975