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Thoughts on President Obama’s jaunt through New York

So President Obama came to New York State. For all the hype and press that goes with a presidential visit, what did New York and America get?

Predictably, in fact I surmised as much on Monday August 19, 2013 in my appearance on Bob Joseph Show (WNBF Talk Radio), President Obama avoided like the plague the key issues facing New York State. Fracking? Not a word. Jobs? Far on the horizon. This was about higher education, first last, and only.

wrong track
But did the new proposals do anything to improve the education system? No. If anything, a very sound argument can be made that the net result will be that colleges will lower the bar and standards will be eased. The purpose of higher learning has been even more obscured by a potential hurdle of even more red tape and gaming the numbers to score federal dollars.

President Obama, without intending to do so, has placed a directive in front of college administrations – dumb down the courses so more kids pass and you will get boatloads of taxpayer dollars. At the same time, cherry-pick the best students, and steer them to careers that make big money – business and lawyers, ect – and the Government will reward you.

How can I conclude this?

Well the criteria laid out by President Obama is to emphasize the number of students graduating. There are only 2 ways to do that, either kids will be smarter and more focused entering college or the requirements to pass will be lowered. The first option isn’t happening, nor is such an outcome even on the horizon. Yet President Obama has almost mandated that to have any hope of even a mediocre career some form of college is required and every child in America must attain that. So a bigger demand for college, and a threat of funding losses without high graduation percentages, yet no improvement in quality of students equates to turning a bachelor’s degree into a high school diploma.

On the other end, there is the money component. If a college has a huge number of graduates, who are incompetent or unprepared for the real world due to a need for large class exit numbers, then the other grading factor of how much graduates make becomes another game that bodes poorly for the masses. The best students, those that have the greatest potential must be steered from things like teaching, philosophy, science (other than engineering), English, and other cash-poor positions.

Teachers have been screaming (rightly to a degree) that they are underpaid for decades. What job is perfect for a philosophy degree? What’s the demand industry that requires a history degree? On the other hand though, 1 MBA or lawyer can make the same money as 5 other occupations. So the trade-off is a dozen basket weaving degrees for every MBA or lawyer or engineer. The net result? Reinforcing an elitist and economically segregated class of individuals at the expense of the masses.

But let’s just drop that issue where it is. Plenty of others will debate the merits and Government red tape that has been proposed.

Why did President Obama pick New York? Why did he pick Binghamton?

New York is blue. It’s one of the largest and most secure Democrat safe havens in the nation. Coming here ensures that most of the press coverage will be positive, no matter how many prominent issues are left by the wayside. It also means that most politicians will be given a boost in upcoming State and local elections, a sure way to rally the base and generate donations. As for the NY-22, well it’s not like the Republican incumbent will say anything or even attempt a public outcry. Lastly, it makes a convenient road trip to what really matters – setting VP Biden on the road to his own Presidential ambitions.

There are 131 colleges in New York State, 36 community colleges, and a horde of vocational and technical institutes. Comparatively, New York is one of the most accessible and cost-effective States to get a higher education at in the nation. What has been proposed will not make New York any more accessible, though it could make a degree from here less desirable.

President Obama could have come to New York to discuss natural gas, a major issue that he spoke about in at least 2 State of the Union Addresses. It’s green, and benefits the nation. It’s topical, and a major economic concern for a nation wallowing in debt. It’s a source of jobs, which can be used to pay for the higher education that President Obama ranks as an absolute necessity.

President Obama could have talked about jobs that would provide a means to pay for college. Broome County alone exceeds the national average of unemployment, and the day that temporary construction stops it will be massively higher. But the president was silent.

President Obama could have also spoken about encouraging new business growth from these college graduates – except New York is the least business friendly State in the nation (followed closely by the other pillar of blue States, California). Of course the fact that there continues to be a mass exodus of people and business from New York was another issue that was both without solution or concern.

Obviously President Obama didn’t even pause to consider the topics. Which seems to indicate that this tour wasn’t about a benefit to the nation, but a way to safely avoid bigger issues he didn’t want to address at the time. Good for VP Biden, not so much for everyone else.

New York State should be insulted. President Obama presented half thought out ideas with negative consequences that are very real and apparent to anyone not insulated in a bubble of ideological snobs and political panderers. He thumbed his nose at the concerns of the State, with an impact on the lives of every American.

Higher education is a great goal, but without the backbone of strong leadership and the foundation of the integral fundamentals of jobs, K-12 education, debt reduction, and population retention it’s just hype.

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