Wednesday, November 07, 2018


One of the theories being thrown around right now is that it's unfair for coastal people to have more senators per citizen than the mid-continentals  have.  This goes with the idea that the people in the middle country, mostly "red," are Trump fans because they have no education and they hate educated people.  (Trump is educated???  He thinks he is.)

The nature of the two houses of Congress are modeled on the two houses of England where there has always been special status for "peers of the realm"  (A Peer of the Realm is a member of the highest aristocratic social order, outside the ruling dynasty of the kingdom.)  They would just as soon be the only big shots, but the British citizens have a lot of love for commoners and now even the ruling dynasty does, too.  So the House of Representatives is full of commoners.  They are not called that because they ARE "common" in the sense of undistinguished, rough and crude, but because they share the commonwealth; their work is done in common,  It's an old argument.

There are parallels between the theoretical peers of the coastal cities who are reputedly wealthy and smart and therefore the Peers of the Realm.  Also, there is a constant assumption that people from the middle of the continent are people are of the land, sort of grubby and not dressed up.  With luck, their kids go to college and leave for the "realm" that has beaches.

There's just enough truth to it -- in the most outrageously stretched versions -- to keep the idea alive.  One major trouble is that I would argue that NEITHER "culture" is educated, that they have very little idea what education is and that both are unrealistic about the state of the nation anyway, or even what a nation IS.  

It is NOT a realm.  Two internet definitions:  "A realm is a community or party over which a dictator rules."  That's the mid-continent agriculturalist view.  It translates to "don't bother me -- I'm plowing* unless money must be borrowed.  The other is "an open-source object database management system, initially for mobile."  That is, techie to the point of being unintelligible.

These are distortions.  The mid-continent cities and the coastal boonies are estranged from each other, partly because the Internet -- even with Skype -- is STILL not being used as it will be to bring us into dialogue and relationship.  What can you expect from people who still believe Facebook is innocent and a safe place to post fotos of their children in the bathtub?  Who elect big shots who look like elves and turtles?  Who still look at naughty things in the middle of the night and think no one knows?

Locally, I push the theory that people in the village of several hundred have had hard jobs in small businesses or farming, so they push their children to go to the state universities to have "safe" and prosperous lives.  The youngsters end up salarymen in the mid-cities (no city in Montana is bigger than 100,000 people).  They don't come home except for holidays and reunions.  But the people who ranch, the ones who really do have a lot of money and major borrowing capacity, send their kids off to high prestige universities, even the Ivy Leagues.  Oddly, these are often the kids who come back to live on the ranch because they love the life.  They bring "high-born" partners who put energy into the project.

This puts a kink in the services of the village who are paid for by the taxes of the village, like the streets and library.  Since this is dry land farming country and some people can't even sink a well so come to town to fill a tank mounted on an old truck, maybe it would be better to go to a shares or subscription model.

Other structural loops have been analyzed recently.  One is the practice of giving the descendants of previous university students some preference at admissions, which is covertly thought to create a kind of peer of the realm elite cadre, but in fact is probably more likely to create something like the inbred royalty of Europeans and Brits.  When the quality of the actual admission applications was analyzed and put against the actual students accepted, it turned out that Asians were being hard-weighed like horses given handicaps to keep them from crowding out everyone else.  The first thought is always "race" rather than culture: families who put priority on learning achievement ahead of everything else.

In short, we don't know much about what we know and who knows it.  Worse, what we know is not necessarily what we really need to know.  And schools are not necessarily a good way to learn it.  In fact, part of the reason I gave up on teaching is that the conditions were almost guaranteed to prevent learning because what was learned threatened the status quo, including state-prescribed curricula and testing, much less administrators who were only old football coaches who had gotten excused from classes so long as the team was winning.

The really powerful and innovative "people of the land" are often very well-educated, sometimes auto-didacts who asked questions in the scientific manner about the crops they raised, and sometimes social innovators who developed new ways for farmers and ranchers to share issues.  Timeless Seeds in Ulm, Montana (pop.573), is founded and run by Dave Oien who learned to think about innovations, organics, and ancient ag while attending the U of Chicago.  Shop by mail plus timeless Mediterranean recipes.

We are wary and resentful of other people getting ahead and tend to attribute it -- without investigation -- to the advantage from better or more education.  We think "higher" education means "better, more prestigious, earning more money."  In fact, it only means that we observe the old Germanic idea of "grading" and numbering our classes.  "Higher" just means higher than the twelfth grade.  After someone finishes a doctorate, we call their studying "post-graduate," as though they were through learning, but one is never "post" learning.

We think of success while struggling with survival and not realizing that these things are not as individual as we assume.  It takes a commonwealth to get rich.

No comments: