Archive for the ‘Capitalism or socialism’ Category

As of Oct. 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began administering its revised naturalization test to citizenship applicants.

The 100 possible questions and their answers focus on U.S. history and government. Question 98 points out our national anthem is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” not anything else. Question 100 asks for two national holidays. Acceptable answers include Memorial Day, Christmas and Independence Day but not Cinco de Mayo.

Question 11 is particularly interesting given the current state of affairs on Wall Street and the government’s bailout efforts with increased governmental regulations. It simply asks: “What is the economic system of the United States?”

The only two answers the USCIS accepts as correct are: “capitalist economy” and “market economy.”

That’s reassuring for now, but how long will that be the case? Unless our children actually learn capitalism, they won’t know what capitalism is. I discussed the issue with Tom Schiola, a fourth grade teacher at Birch Elementary where he conducts the Mini Society program.

Depending on the school in the Boulder Valley School District, Mini Society gives students in the third, fourth and fifth grades one or more years of experience with an economic market. The students get quite involved in deciding who gets paid, what they get paid for and how. They pay rent, create a product, conduct market research and receive profits and sustain losses.

Many good things can be said about Mini Society and Schiola’s efforts, including his discussing the issues honestly and openly with me on record. Nevertheless, changes to the acceptable sources of resources, the lack of diversity in products and the rationality behind the changes raise questions.

Several years ago, students looked around home or elsewhere for their own resources. The school set a limit of $5 on purchased materials and anything obtained from Mom and Dad was to be paid for with Mimi Society money the parents could use. Products were diverse and showed creativity and individuality.

Now, as Schiola explained, parents donate to a class store where students purchase resources. The rationality is kids that cannot afford resources are provided them this way as “an equal opportunity.” However, products do show less diversity since they come from the same materials.

Capitalism nurtures creativity and individuality. Lessening those is a real strike against it. Now, put the Mini Society’s economic model in national context and you’ve got government owning all the resources and selling them to businesses. Though it seems like a small thing in a classroom setting, these students are not being exposed to true capitalism.

Schiola agreed. “In that regard, it isn’t,” he said. “You’re right. It’s more of a socialist view actually because everybody has the same opportunity.”

Not quite the same reason for my concern, but we’re now more accurately defining Mini Society.

Schiola added, “But, I think, on the other hand, we have to look at the differences in economic levels that we are dealing with that are different than before.”

Now, isn’t the same rationale with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? We’ve got to be compassionate Robin Hoods for those who cannot afford it. Let the economically disadvantaged who cannot afford homes have them anyway and let those who cannot afford bigger, more expensive homes have them, too.

I know about being disadvantaged from several angles and demonstrate my personal compassion in more than one way directly with those in need. However, our country cannot afford to replace capitalism in the classroom or the country with socialism, communism, Marxism or any other -ism.

When are we going to teach our own country’s economic system to school children? The sooner the better would be wise.

Source: Daily Camera Sept. 21, 2008, under “Civics and economy in school”

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