The Cost of Illiteracy

Without literacy, we are left vulnerable to manipulative charlatans like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, as well as their doppelgangers in Philadelphia's big dailies. Just check out the unhinged debate over health care reform.

By Brendan Skwire
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 6 | Posted Nov. 22, 2009

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I am not defending the person with the sign...what I am defending is the fact that national socialism in germany caused those bodies in the picture to be dead. jesus christ..it isn't deep, its rather freaking simple...national socialism = nazi = dead people...what about that is incorrect? please school me...just because some people don't want to put 2 and 2 together about socialism..don't try rewriting history.

Here's some schooling: "national socialism" is not the same as the "National Socialist German Workers Party" and their platform. Yes, both include the word "socialist," much as dogs and cats have tails and fur -- and nothing else in common.

Here's Wikipedia on socialism:

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended...

Socialism is not a concrete philosophy of fixed doctrine and programme; its branches advocate a degree of social interventionism and economic rationalisation (usually in the form of economic planning), sometimes opposing each other.

And here's Wiki on the National Socialist German Workers' Party:

Nazi ideology stressed the failure of both laissez-faire capitalism[citation needed] and communism, the failure of democracy, and "racial purity of the German people", as well as Northwestern Europeans and persecuted those it perceived either as race enemies or Lebensunwertes Leben, that is "life unworthy of living". This included Jews, Slavs, and Roma along with homosexuals, the mentally and physically disabled, Communists and others...

Hitler was less interested in the "socialist" aspect of "national socialism" beyond moving Social Welfare administration from the Church to the State. [H]e disliked the mass working class of the big cities, and had no sympathy with the notions of attacking private property or the business class...

But more important than this is HOW the Nazis defined "national" and "socialism." For the Nazis, "nation" was synonymous with "race", as you can see by reviewing the 25 points of the Nazi platform:

4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race...

7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.

In other words, the "socialism" of the Nazis is highly qualified, and was only open to Germans of Pure Aryan Blood, and that's it.

That is fundamentally different from socialism. Calling national health care a form of socialism is certainly debatable, much as our interstate highway system could be called socialist. But making the leap that socialism, even on the national scale, is the same as Nazism makes no sense. In fact, it's a false comparison, something which would only be claimed by someone deliberately trying to confuse the ignorant, or by someone who is him or herself ignorant.

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1. Anonymous said... on Nov 24, 2009 at 08:32PM

“Right, because if there's one thing that concerns me about Philadelphia's sky-high illiteracy rate, it's that black children in the inner city will grow to become followers of the far right.

Brendan, do you have anything new to add to discussions, or are you just here to remind us that the right wing still sucks? Because I can go pretty much anywhere else for that.”

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2. So where are we now? said... on Nov 24, 2009 at 09:58PM

“What an absolute crock! Check your statistics. The large majority of the illiterate live in urban areas and follow the progressive march. Much like the old parable about the carrot on the stick, and its one huge carrot full of maggots paid for by those who can read. While at the same time the "elite", which you know doubt aspire to please, look down on anyone foolish enough to actually stand up for their individual rights. How many books does Mr. Beck have on the best seller lists? Are his followers simply buying the books to use them as booster seats? Beyond that why was Mr. Beck called (although sardonically) the "new Oprah"? Mr. Beck happens to suggest over and over gain that those who want to learn for themselves read many books (not authored by him) to come to their own conclusion. If anything sir, you are guilty of the charges you so loudly flatulate.”

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3. Deep said... on Nov 25, 2009 at 12:02PM

“I think you are missing a link in this article. You go from a very important point about illiteracy among adults in Philadelphia. Then you go on to the moronic teabaggers. I am lost here.

Anyways, we need to address the issue of the undereducation of Philadelphians. The life outcome for a child in the Philly school system is highly dependent on the parent. If the parent is aware enough and savvy enoug, their child will get into the right charter schools and eventually the right high school. Then that child will be just as equiped for the real world as their suburban counterparts. If the parent is undereducated themself, chances are they don't know what are the better options are, they won't be able to take a bigger part in the their child's education. Thus their child will be just as doomed as they are. Thus continuing the downward spiral.

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4. Anonymous said... on Nov 26, 2009 at 04:01AM

“Im glad "Deep" pointed out the obvious to the author (since the obvious tends to escape him regularly). Many, if not most social issues start with the parents. Parents need to be held responsible for their own children and need to take an interest in their education. This author without fail expects the rest of society and the government to take on the burden of irresponsible citizens of this country. People make their own personal choices in life. It is high time people start taking responsibility for those choices. Unfortuantely the progressive liberals in this country are responsible for this type of "Not my problem, let someone else take care of it" attitude.”

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5. Seth said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 09:55AM

“To Anonymous #1, the author in my mind makes a direct connection between illiteracy and the inability to participate fully in a constructive debate about substantive issues that affect our society. That said, So where are we now? the author is pointing out the fact that those of us who are illiterate won't be able to follow Mr. Beck's advice to read a book and form our own conclusions. Which then will leave those same illiterate people hanging on his (and Olbermann's, and Matthew's and O'Reilly's) every word, counting it as truth, unable to compare what they say to other sources. Lastly, Deep and Anonymous #4, I agree with you that success starts in the home. However, how is it that you suggest we hold parents responsible for their children, and their disinterest in the education of such children? Remember, we are talking about children. We live in a society where the marginalized, poor, and most easily harmed tend to be children whose parent's don't care. Innocent children.”

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6. Seth said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 10:02AM

“...Are we to allow them to fall by the wayside because of the failures of their parents? Or will we do the best to make sure what they are offered is the best education available, regardless of location, economic status, race, so on and so forth?

Now for some action...
Join the Philadelphia Young Democrats on Thursday, December 3rd at 7:00pm for a thought provoking forum on literacy and education. There are an estimated 400,000 adults living in Philadelphia with low literacy skills. In addition, there are tens of thousands of out-of-school youths without the necessary literacy skills needed to function fully in society. Let's discuss the politics of education by addressing questions of culture and race, access, policy.
We'll be at Sweeten Alumni House (UPENN) 3533 Locust Walk. Entrance at 34th and Walnut.”

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