Grassroot Perspective – Jan. 8, 2003

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Dick Rowland Image ‘Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)’ – The Second Amendment’s ratifiers supported the right to keep and bear arms because they believe, in essence, that gun rights support human rights. Firearm ownership, they believed, acted as individual’s insurance against despotic government. And although we are grateful for their foresight, we also owe a debt to older traditions from which they derived wise counsel. Similar views, for example, were reflected in the English legal tradition, the precursor to the American legal system. As far back as the rule of Alfred (871-899), the English common law presumed that an armed populace was desirable for ensuring security. So entrenched was this belief that the bearing of arms was made a citizen’s legal duty. However, as Englishmen sought greater political freedom, the monarchy came to feel threatened by an armed populace and sought to curtail private ownership of weapons. Both the Magna Carta (1215) and the English Declaration of Rights (1688) grew out of the struggle of armed Englishmen. This theme can be heard even in western antiquity. Cicero, for example, warned that replacing the private ownership of weapons with standing armies was contributing to the fall of the Roman Empire. Earlier still, Plato and Aristotle, despite their profound differences, shared the belief that an armed populace was essential for preventing the imposition of tyranny. For Human Rights Day to retain meaning, it should also embrace the tradition that has helped safeguard human rights — a tradition enshrined in the individual right protected by the Second Amendment. See That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, by Stephen Halbrook (The Independent Institute) – “the countries of the Third World are poor because they do not know how to create wealth. Wealth is a pie that you produce, not a pie that you distribute. This needs to be said forcefully and clearly.” – Father Piro Gheddo, Translated by Fr. Robert A. Sirrio GRIH comment: Are you listening, Senators: Ron Menor, Roz Baker; Reps: Marilyn Lee, Dennis Arakaki, Hermina Morita, Dwight Takamine, Helene Hale? ‘Roots (Food for Thought)’ Education Reform By Lynn Harsh State-sponsored schooling is not a uniquely American invention. Historically, many countries and city-states have mandated and paid for the education of children (that is, unless they were girls or slaves). Usually, the parents of these children were called subjects, and the reason for state sponsorship was to educate citizens who would serve the interests of the state. Ancient Sparta is an excellent example. Our forbears endeavored to do something different in America since they believed the state existed to serve its citizens, not the other way around. The proper education of children was deemed indispensable for personal development and prosperity, which our Founders knew would translate into growth and security for our young nation. Early proponents of publicly run and financed education worried, irrationally as it turns out, that the numerous privately run education institutions would fail to provide access to children whose families were poor. They dreamed of bringing literacy to the masses and unfettered opportunity to children of low income or family standing. They envisioned an America full of citizens participating in a democratic way of life. A few unintended consequences have arisen from these noble ideals. It can be argued that our modern-day public education system is doing the opposite of what those early education activists envisioned-that it is, in fact, trapping millions of poor children in the jail of illiteracy. The deeply held desires of most educators today is unrealized: that children from every walk of life will not only have the opportunity to receive an excellent education, but that they will yearn to do so. Instead, as we demand our public schools provide equality of condition rather than equality of opportunity, American society is becoming increasingly stratified. The horrifying results are played out in living color, daily. Much of the blame for this can be laid on the doorstep of the very institution that is promising equality to every child-our massive, bureaucratically bound, public education system. How can such a rash statement be supported? Well, consider for a moment what creates stratification in society. Stratification occurs when society grades people based on their social or economic position. In the free society America’s founders envisioned, the opportunity to succeed is a citizen’s birthright, and it is an opportunity not trumped by lowly familial or economic beginnings. In practical terms, 50 years ago, the son of a poor Cuban family gained access to education and, in the year 2002, is America’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. That’s a one-generation move straight to the top, with corresponding wage increases. But in the last 50 years, many things have changed to prevent that type of one-generation move for the same Cuban immigrant, and the monolith that is public education has not kept pace with this change. How could it? The American economy today is starkly different. To a large degree, productivity used to be measured in tonnage; wealth was created from material goods; information borders came close to matching geographical borders; employees were American citizens; and people lived and worked in more stable families and communities. Today information is capital and it crosses borders as quickly as electronic transmission allows. Wealth creation depends more and more upon mental invention and imagination. The fall of communist or military dictatorships has opened up new pools of potential employees all around the world willing to work for a fraction of American-based salaries. At the same time, family structure has eroded, as have most big American cities where millions of poor children live. Who does this economy leave behind? Those who do not possess excellent cognitive abilities are left in the dust-and in poverty. A person who does not know the fundamentals of subject matter and who cannot reason well, solve problems and communicate effectively is at a distinct disadvantage. This has always been the case, but in previous economic conditions, a decent wage could be earned performing manual labor in numerous ways and settings. Not only do fewer of those jobs exist, but the wage differentials are increasing quickly between those who are mentally prepared and those who are not. When we force millions of children to accept a low-quality education, we doom most of them to a life of frustration and poverty. This stratifying process is a sure-fire formula for large-scale social conflict, and we have it. The Democrat Leadership Council (DLC) made the following statement in a 1999 publication: Today, America is a tale of two public school systems: one that could certainly be better, and one that is by almost any standard a disaster. The one that is failing is found in impoverished communities. Test scores are absolutely abysmal-worse than almost any other developed country. Satisfied parents are almost non-existent. Even in the face of widespread failure to provide meaningful educational opportunities for the most vulnerable and needy among us, the grown-ups in charge of K-12 education keep fighting each other over their respective turf. In the process, some of our country’s best assets-high-quality teachers-are frustrated beyond measure. They, too, feel like victims. The same DLC publication included the following quote regarding the battle for public education’s future: We struggle with two competing definitions of public education. The first is that public education is a commitment to specific political bargains, programs, job rights, and bureaucratic oversight. The second is that public education is a commitment to use any means necessary to ensure that every child learns enough to be able to participate fully as a citizen, earner and parent. Several particular truths underpin any legitimate education reform endeavor. One is that the cost and quality of education will not improve as long as the majority of students and their families must depend on a single supply source. Today, the majority of students, their families and their teachers are now beholden to a public-financed monopoly that filters every key decision about how and where children will be educated and what they will learn-even down to what they will eat or not eat for lunch. To be sure, the vigorous battle that must be waged to restructure the definition and delivery of K-12 education is about improving literacy. But the end result is a good trade-off: the exchange of angry bands of citizens roving our communities with revengeful hunger in their eyes for roving bands of literate citizens working hard to get their piece of the American Dream. Until we trade our preoccupation with defending a “system” and its bricks and mortar for defending literacy for children whenever and however it is delivered, our very liberty is at stake. ”Lynn Harsh is Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s Executive Director and senior education analyst.” The above article is quoted from the September 2002 issue of Evergreen Freedom Foundation ‘Evergreen (Today’s Quote)’ – “The state is and ought to be nothing whatever but community force organized, not to be an instrument of oppression and mutual plunder among citizens, but, on the contrary, to guarantee to each his own, and to cause justice and security to reign.” – Frederic Bastiat ”See Web site” ”for further information. Join its efforts at “Nurturing the rights and responsibilities of the individual in a civil society. …” or email or call Grassroot of Hawaii Institute President Richard O. Rowland at or (808) 487-4959.”