Education is a Matter of National Security

Governments are often criticized for working towards the goal of keeping their citizens ignorant. “We will tell you all you need to know.” Or, “It’s a matter of national security. We cannot tell you why. Its on a need-to-know basis.”

In Russia, the Putin regime essentially controls the media. Russia is one of the least safe places in the world for journalists to operate. North Korea has one TV station controlled by the government, and one newspaper controlled by the government.

Governments which do not support education only damage their populations, promoting and actively supporting ignorance.

Furthermore, people who support politicians who support the promulgation of ignorance deserve the government they get. However, as I am also a part of society occupied by people who support ignorance and those who support ignorance, I have something to say about that.

Take for example the words of Paul Broun (R-Georgia).

All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try and keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

Paul Broun is a member of the Senate’s Science and Technology Committee. He goes on to say,

You see, there’s a lot of scientific data that I’ve found as a scientist that this really is a young earth,’ Broun told the crow. ‘I don’t believe that the earth is but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was made in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible tells us.”

Here is a perfect example of someone who does not need to be on a science committee and someone who advocates ignorance. By the same token, he should also support slavery, as God also tells slaves to obey their master.

Todd Akin (R-Missouri) has gained notoriety based on his belief woman who get pregnant from a rape must have actually wanted to be raped.

Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) says he will "..will do anything short of shooting them” with regards to illegal or undocumented people living in the United States. He also condemns military cuts. Obviously, protecting our ignorance is of prime importance to him.

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has this to say about climate change:

I personally believe that the solar flares are more responsible for climatic cycles than anything that human beings do and our lunar, our rovers on Mars have indicated that there has been a slight warming in the atmosphere of Mars and that certainly was not caused by the internal combustion engine.”

Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) even has an entire page on his House web site devoted to denial of climate science.

Too often, when congress is asked to pass environmental legislation, the legislation is based on emotional junk science rather than data based on reproducible, rigorous, tested, peer-reviewed results.”

To which I say, stop cutting Education. See, one of the downstream effects of cutting Education, is that you make a limited resource even more scarce. When scarcity is increased you run the risk of actually encouraging people to cheat, cut corners, or be disingenuous in order for them to get things they need, like funding.

I ran across legislation on Rep. Ralph Hall’s (R-Texas) web site which he appeared very prideful of, yet it was completely stupid. On the one hand, he doubts climate change because of the lack of good science and argues his doubt of climate change was supported by what has become known as “Climategate.” So, how does one go about getting “good science?” Well, one way is to make sure you have different parties working on the same or similar problems. Doing so builds a knowledge base, a resume of work and expertise. However, on his own site, he argues for offering “amendments to minimize duplicative research.” [link]

How he thinks science works is beyond me. Besides, all his proposed amendments to current or proposed legislation regarding science and the funding of science initiatives is completely bonkers. Republicans are notorious for harping on how Democrats are so fond of bureaucracy they seem to be ignorant of their own desire for their own flavor of bureaucracy.

The fallacy behind the comments of these individuals and those like them is that they use one data point to either prove their case, or disprove someone else’s. Dana Rohrabacher, on his own web site, states

“I do not believe that CO2 is a cause of global warming.” [link]

This should come as no surprise as Rep. Rohrabacher was a former speechwriter in the Reagan White House, and has been tied to one of President Reagan’s gafs, “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”

Rohrabacher told POLITICO in an interview [link]:

“needs to be used as a bully pulpit because many of the issues brought up by the Democrats is based on phony science,” Rohrabacher told POLITICO. This especially is true of global warming, “which is a total fraud,” he said. “We need to make sure that the Science Committee has a debate which both sides can equally present their sides.”

Rohrabacher once joked that dinosaur gas might be the cause behind global warming.

“We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past,” he said at a February 2007 hearing. “Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?”

To my point; people elected into positions of authority need to have more of an open-mind and need to be more technically literate than these examples of poor leadership.

You can read my post on Why Conservatism Is Doomed To Fail for my thoughts on why. Furthermore, I would argue If Conservatism Wins, We All Lose, whereas if Liberalism Wins, Only Conservatives Lose, But Actually Win, Too.

Which brings me to this article from Technology Spectator [link]. Now, its not the article per se which has my hackles up. No, it’s the backstage of the article which is the problem. Like the problem of climate change, doing something now because later its too late, this article represents why our educational system and our business and intellectual climate need to change.

See, for the last 30 years or so, the United States has been happily moving its manufacturing capacity overseas. People bitch and moan about this without really understanding how they have benefitted from the lower prices. I would guess U.S. citizens have saved over $1 trillion dollars since 1980 simple as a result of the movement of manufacturing abroad.

The problem, though is manifold. How can we technologically secure ourselves with technology made outside our country? Yes, it was designed here. The router, switch, server, desktop and tablet were designed here (maybe) and the company has its international headquarters in the United States, but the actual physical product is made in Vietnam, or Singapore, or Malaysia, or China. How can a company maintain physical security of a physical device not within its own borders. Actually, its hard enough even then.

The governments of many countries invest in private enterprise. One reason is to compensate for the the inequity in labor costs, particularly if the technology is needed in-country. In the United States, if someone mentions government investment in private enterprise, they are labeled as a “Socialist,” a “European Democrat,” or a “Communist.”

China is already the world leader in solar cell technology and wind turbine technology. Why? Because the government in Beijing invested $1 billion dollars to make themselves the world leader. Now, they sell the technology around the world. When governments invest that kind of money into a nascent capitalist market, considerable headway is made.

China is also now a world’s leader in Green Technology because of their heavy investment in solar energy, wind turbines, and high-speed rail.

That a top Chinese electronics company, Huawei, wants inside the United States is of no surprise. This is the second high-profile technology incidence in which the United States government has had to play an active role. Not long ago, a Chinese maker of wind turbines, Ralls Corp, was banned from fulfilling a contract to build a wind farm in Oregon.

Actually, that was a good choice, to ban the wind farm. The wind farm was beside a sensitive military base which develops and tests unmanned drones. If I were the Chinese, I would have loaded those turbines with all sort of spy devices the blades would barely turn. And, if it were the United States selling turbines to China, you know we would have done the same thing. We do it all the time when we build an embassy for some country, load the place with every sensor known to Humankind.

The rub, though, is this; politicians within our own government refuse to support technology and Education, as if both are forms of Elitism. Politicians are caught in old Cold War mentalities which hold that any government involvement is a form of “Socialism” or “Communism” and is not simply bad but against our way of life.

I am not advocating for Socialism.

I am advocating for sound, rational, and realistic approaches to commerce, industry, manufacturing, and education.

Why is a U.S. company not building a wind farm in Oregon? Or, Texas? Or, Missouri? Why is our best option a Chinese company?

Why are we worried about a Chinese technology company selling technology inside the United States? My own D-Link wireless router was assembled in China. I would wager most of Cisco’s gear, Belkins, and LinkSys gear is also all either manufactured or assembled in China.

Why are we not producing some of these devices inside the United States if we are so worried about a potential Chinese espionage threat?

Our own governance philosophy is at the root of the problem. Politicians do not want to support or invest in domestic business for fear of being labeled as a “Socialist.” Politicians, particularly Republicans, advocate for letting the Free Market decide. So, the Free Market decides the best place to build and assemble is China, and then politicians, again mostly Republicans, cry foul.

I would argue Lawyers, and those with Political Science degrees – wow, that’s an oxymoron – make the worst politicians. We don’t need lawyers and people gerrymandering politics around religious bigotry and non-science, like Intelligent Design or Creationism.

Creating, supporting, and nurturing Education is fundamental to national security. The added benefit is that we also have a robust industrial and manufacturing climate where we don’t necessarily need to rely on outside contractors, because we have had the foresight to invest ourselves in those technologies, and invest in ourselves.

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