Much has been made about Barack Obama's speech today to school-aged kids. Those of us who are suspicious of Obama are certain that the speech was inspired by a desire by Obama to gain back some of the face he's lost trying to push socialism on America through his people's haphazard, hurried "healthcare reform" scam.
Last Friday, my wife and I took our three-year-old to tour American Heritage School in American Fork, Utah. We're considering sending our children there, because we've heard good things about the religion-centered education they provide. While touring the school with one of the assistant principals, we were discussing the principles the school ascribes to. The discussion led me to ask whether Obama's speech would be broadcast at the school. The answer didn't surprise me as much as the certainty with which it was given. "We won't be showing it here!" The school doesn't accept ANY government funding, so it has no gratuitous obligations to the federal government. Needless to say, I'm sold on their product.
Back to the speech by Obama. Like many other conservatives who are concerned about the direction of our country and the persistent abandonment by our leaders of the values upon which this country was founded, I thought the timing of the speech was strange at the least. Granted, it is the beginning of a new school year, and there are plenty of students who need encouragement to get back into the books after a long summer. However, motivation of grade school students towards educational pursuits is best left to parents and other family first, teachers second.
As with most communication, the predominant value of a speech is embodied in the speaker himself, his character, reputation, and value system. I do have to give credit to Barack Obama and his wife for their educational pursuits. Apparently they both grew up in environments that weren't the most conducive to education, and they both beat the odds to graduate from Ivy League law schools. The question I have centers on whether either of them learned anything from their educations and post-college experiences that's worth passing on to the youth of America.
Obama's chat with the children emphasized their need to take responsibility for themselves, regardless of whether they consider themselves disadvantaged. His policies towards wealth redistribution and government welfare-like healthcare among others systematically remove the sense of responsibility from Americans. He encouraged students to work hard, develop their talents, skills, and intellect so they can contribute to their country. The problem is that his party's socialist agenda discourages achievement, penalizing those who work hard and become too successful. Ultimately this grounding influence negatively affects all of our society, including those doleful citizens whose ignorant support puts people like Obama in such a powerful position in the first place. I have a very real story that illustrates this example well.
My wife and I started a sporting goods business five years ago. We worked hard to make it successful. Compared with the typical welfare recipient, I'd dare say we worked five to ten times as hard, maybe more. We were successful, ultimately too successful. As we considered our tax burden during the last year we owned our business, a year in which we were blessed with profits close to $250,000 (one of Obama's magic thresholds), we saw a steep decline in the marginal benefit of each additional dollar we made. Putting in a certain amount of effort for a dollar is one thing. When that dollar is gradually reduced, people like me find it less and less appealing to use our ingenuity, to put our talents, skills, and intellect on the line to provide for a wasteful, arrogant, usurping government. Fearful of what we might be taxed on the gain of our business if we waited until Obama had enough time to fully implement the "change" he intends, we sold the business and started over.
While it is useful to have advocates who sincerely intend to build America by encouraging education, Obama's speech was hollow, his intentions transparent, his message void of motivation. Mr. Obama, when you have stopped smoking and drinking alcohol, then you can remind the kids to wash their hands and take care of themselves. When you've overcome your desire for all-consuming power, you can convince the youth of the need to empower themselves through education. Until then, feel free to leave the motivation of our kids to us parents.