November 08, 2008

Disgrace

It's the History Eraser button!

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, they would frequently edit photos by erasing people that had fallen from favor. A lineup of generals viewing a parade would suddenly have a gap in it. And that gap had always been there, according to them. George Orwell referenced this in 1984 in the main character's job at the Ministry of Truth. Usually, these erasures were clumsy, and many people had the original publications to compare to.

These days, Photoshop makes it easier to erase, but it's still not perfect.

For every skilled pixel-pusher trying to edit history, there are ten more ready to analyze every artifact, jaggy, and color blend. But on a website?
For every skilled pixel-pusher trying to edit history, there are ten more ready to analyze every artifact, jaggy, and color blend. But on a website?

I direct your attention, Gentle Reader, to change.gov, a fast rename of the original Obama campaign site. Now it appears to be an official statement on the process of transition, and the plans of the incoming administration. Let us not quibble over the use of the .gov domain for what is not an "official government agency," nor over the "Office of the President-Elect." Instead, let's visit the "America Serves" section.

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

Sounds quite laudable, doesn't it? "encourage community service." Thing is, that's the second draft. Here's the original wording, emphasis is mine.

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.

Now, drafting kids out of middle school and putting them to work is a separate topic unto itself, but suffice it to say, is not a good idea. Striking it out and saying "ok, that one isn't a good idea. How about volunteer instead?" would be a good approach.

Instead, President-elect Obama (or, rather, his team) erases it completely from the record. We never said any such thing! This is not a good way to build trust with the people you are supposed to lead.
It's the Same Old Thing we've seen before, not "Change."
It's the Same Old Thing we've seen before, not "Change." What else will get swept down the memory hole over time?

Remember this proclivity to whitewash mistakes, and when your memory disagrees with "official history"...well, you'll have to decide who you trust more, won't you?

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at 10:53 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Posted to category: Disgrace

1

What do you expect? He's the candidate of "change"

Maybe he should be called the candidate of "quick change"

Posted by: thecomputerguy at November 18, 2008 05:47 PM (IzwS+)

2 Hmmm... I tried to post this before but it wouldn't let me because I had no account. I'm feeling off today, so this will probably come out far less eloquent than the last attempt but please don't take it as an argument. It's a serious question... First of all, where does he talk about drafting kids out of middle school to put them to work? Do you refer to the statement about students doing community service? I don't actually think that's a horrible idea -- kids these days? so totally wrapped up in themselves it's frightening. Seriously. They don't get that there are other people out there in the world who may need help. My school requires students to do 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. I don't think instituting a mandatory service in middle school is such a bad idea. It doesn't have to be working at a soup kitchen or entertaining nursing home residents.... As for the fact that he changed his statement. Um. I'm a little confused. Was it some official policy that he mandated into law and then changed? He's refining his platforms. I would think you'd PREFER to have someone willing to revise based on careful thought and advice rather than someone who sticks hard-line to his policies, regardless of how well they may or may not work. There was nothing set in stone at all. I just don't see why this is a problem for you. He's not revising history, to my mind. He's merely revising his ideas. Now again, it's possible I'm missing something. If I am, I'd love to hear. You know I'm a huge Obama supporter but I hope you also know that I'm always open to hearing what people have to say.

Posted by: B at November 19, 2008 05:22 AM (BmSw7)

3

The differences are between 'encouragement' and 'requirement', and 'local' and 'national.'

Your local school has 40 hours of Community Service as a requirement to graduate.  That's a local decision to make it part of the curriculum, and if you don't like it you have the choice of lobbying your School Board or enrolling your children in a different school.  Service which will satisfy the requirement is determined by the local school, based on what is relevant to the local community.

A National Program which encourages community service is a slight contradiction of scale and therefore a bad precedent, but still it's just a Media Campaign.  It's like "Just Say No" or "Only You Can Prevent Forsest Fires" or "Don't Drink and Drive." Maybe it's a good idea, or maybe it's bunk, but ultimately they're just suggestions, and implementation is left to the Individual's choice to self-regulate their behavior.

A National Program which Requires...  is called 'a draft.'  Call the Rose by any other name you want, and discuss all manner of irrelevancies about what the program will be used for, it doesn't change the basic fact: draft one of this proposal was no less than an attempt to grab hold of a large, available easily impressed and impressionable pool of labour who are already Required to serve twelve years of Public School Indoctrination, and make it a further Condition of Servitude that they Do The Bidding of The Federal Government's Office Of National Community Service.  Services which satisfy the requirement are set, by definition, at the National level, to serve the National agenda, and are therefore going to be just as "locally relevant" as any other National Government Program, which is to say not at all.   Or, from another perspective, they'll be just as "locally relevant" as Welfare -- which is exactly what this becomes when FedGov Resources (your tax dollars) are used to pay for the college tuition (Benefits Payout) of a People's Community Service Worker (Serf.)  You also get all the complete beaurocracy of the Federal Governement (all authority, no individual accountability) emplaced between you, your community, and the "local community service" your children are required to perform.  That beaurocracy is composed of many workers in their new entrenched Government jobs, whose paychecks must be funded by your tax dollars.

That was 'draft one', at any rate.  Draft two is a compromise, in that it doens't have the initial 'requirement' at either level, but it still spends Federal Dollars at the college level, which will be enough to get the beaurocratic departments set up and thus the camel's nose is under the tent.

 My (admittedly rambling) point here is that a local program for community service is a fantastic idea which gets the job done.   A National Campaign to popularize local programs of community service is a fantastic idea which helps motivate more people locally, and gets the job done.  As soon as it becomes a Federal Program (which is HAS to be if there will be Federal Benefits and/or Requirements) you lose all your 'local' benefit, and gain only Federal Waste.

Posted by: LWO at November 19, 2008 09:47 AM (h26op)

4 "B", I pretty clearly stated my gripe with the revision was that it was done with the broad PaintShop "neverthere" tool, instead of saying something like "ok, that won't fly, how about..."  

It's important to remember the FIRST things that get said...because those will track most closely with actual internalized beliefs.  Much like when the teleprompter breaks or isn't there, and we get a gem about "redistribution of wealth."

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at November 19, 2008 10:29 AM (04Ay+)

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