QFT

AFT

AFT
“When I was a boy on the Mississipi River there was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped building the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was closed a jail had to be built.”

That Mark Twain was a smart fella.

Comments

  1. Alverant says

    But since privatized jails are more profitable for businesses, isn’t that quote more of an incentive to close schools?

  2. says

    Behind that curmudgeonly exterior was a very wise and thoughtful man. We could really use someone like him or Will Rogers but, alas, they would be entirely shut out in today’s political environment.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    You mean like Tom Lehrer?

    I’m not tempted to write a song about George W.Bush. I couldn’t figure out what sort of song I would write. That’s the problem: I don’t want to satirise George Bush and his puppeteers, I want to vaporise them.”

    Yeah, there’s the issue of quantity, but damn if his quality wasn’t good until he ran out of satire…

  4. says

    But since privatized jails are more profitable for businesses, isn’t that quote more of an incentive to close schools?

    To paraphrase The Judean People’s Front, What have the schools ever done for us!
    Apart from the education that produces biologists and engineers who understand the source of disease and the practical means of sanitation. Apart from the psychologists who understand human nature and the lawyers who draft the laws that keep us from tearing each other apart. Apart from the physicists who under stand the nature of reality itself.
    What have schools done for us! Show me the MONEY!

  5. says

    Even more insightful is that ‘Old Farmer’ that Mark Twain (b. 1835) is quoting. What is sad is that even afar 175 years, that farmer’s wisdom is lacking among many so called conservatives.

  6. Randomfactor says

    I believe Lehrer didn’t run out of satire, he just deemed it irrelevant when Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Real life had overtaken and supplanted satire.

  7. says

    [Scene opens on a rainy day. Porky, Owl, Churchy and Pogo are sitting in the shelter of a hollow tree.]

    Porky: Well, ever’body talks ’bout the weather but nob’dy does nothin’ ’bout it…as the feller says…

    Pogo: Yep.

    Churchy: Yep, Mr. Twain said it.

    Owl: Mr. Clemens said it!

    Churchy: Mister Twain!

    Owl: Mister Clemens!

    Churchy: Twain!

    Owl: Clemens!

    [Owl and Churchy wrassle down the hill]

    Pogo: Who did say it?

    Porky: You was here… You heared it… I said it.

  8. says

    alas, they would be entirely shut out in today’s political environment.

    Toward the end of his career, he was. Twain spoke out (well, and loudly) on an anti-imperialist position, which made him a bit more unpopular in some circles and considerably reduced his ability to publish. Suddenly an article by Mark Twain was something a newspaper would think about before publishing, and his circulation dropped as a result.

    (BTW, I wanted to say “his web site traffic dropped” but then someone might not take it seriously. If I had a few wishes to spend one of them would be that Twain were alive and blogging about the culture wars, with his blog co-hosts Voltaire and Hume)

  9. carlie says

    That hits me hard today: my mother told me yesterday that the school district in which I grew up has its new budget proposal out, which through cuts from the city contains the following:

    Teacher cuts – 3 PE, 2 music, 2 band, 1 jr high band, 1 reading, 1 drafting, 1 Spanish
    Staff cuts – 2 truancy, 1 athletic trainer
    (These cuts all put the number in each category to half or less of what they were previously)

    Also – all jr high athletics cut or charged $50 per sport per player, and having the daily schedule cut down by one entire period with elimination of all study halls and some electives

    All I can say is at least they understand athletics needs to be cut too, but still. And this is on top of several years of continued cuts.

  10. Artor says

    Marcus, you have just hit on an insanely good idea for a blog; Twain, Voltaire & Hume on current events, written in their particular…idiom. I would absolutely read every damned post!

  11. rpjohnston says

    I have a feeling that the sentiment (of the farmer, at least) was that delinquent kids who had nothing to do outside of harvest time would have to be locked up in either jail or school. Though Twain may have co opted it into a statement on the expanded economic opportunities provided by education.

  12. says

    Marcus, you have just hit on an insanely good idea for a blog; Twain, Voltaire & Hume on current events, written in their particular…idiom. I would absolutely read every damned post!

    The problem would be that those characters were incomparable writers. It would be literally impossible for someone alive today to adequately pretend to be them. I’d read every damned post, as well. Can you imagine how finely edged Voltaire’s dissection of the republican party would be? Picture Hume’s bubble-bursting comments about hyperskeptics and libertarians! And Twain’s “The Many Mendacities of Mitt” during the previous election, would still be as funny as his body-slamming Fenimore Cooper.

    I would read every damned post, too! TWICE!

  13. says

    Twain was way ahead of his time. I think of the following quote from his essay “What is Man?” whenever I hear libertarians rant about the inevitability and virtue of selfish behavior:

    “Diligently train your ideals upward, and still upward, toward a summit where you will find your chiefest pleasure in conduct which, while contenting you, will be sure to confer benefits upon your neighbor and the community.”

  14. moarscienceplz says

    that farmer’s wisdom is lacking among many so called conservatives.

    From what I can tell of the little town I grew up in, many of its current conservative voters were the ones who sat in the back of the classroom making spitwads, so it’s not a big surprise they view schools as a waste of money.

  15. says

    Twain would make mincemeat out of the flea brains who are up in arms over Apple paying attention to things other than profit.

  16. says

    Indeed JasonTD, it must be quite difficult for anyone using screen-reading software to understand the point of the Mark Twain image without any readable context, so here’s a transcript of the text in the image-macro for the benefit of those with visual challenges.

    “When I was a boy on the Mississipi River there was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped building the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was cloased a jail had to be built.” – Mark Twain

  17. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    tigtog, i love you. Ive been looking for instances of images missing accompanying text but totes failed to note this one.

    of course, i’m glad you comment for other reasons as well, but had to give you recognition here.

  18. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Also this gives you the context. Brilliant speech, and still relevant in many ways.

  19. stevem says

    What does Mark Twain have to do with Quantum Field Theory?

    To be Capt. Obvious: QFT is short for Quoted For Truth.

  20. peterh says

    @#22, et.al.:

    Here’s the full text that quote comes from:

    PUBLIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

    ADDRESS AT A MEETING OF THE BERKELEY LYCEUM, NEW YORK,
    NOVEMBER 23, 1900

    I don’t suppose that I am called here as an expert on education, for that would show a lack of foresight on your part and a deliberate intention to remind me of my shortcomings.

    As I sat here looking around for an idea it struck me that I was called for two reasons. One was to do good to me, a poor unfortunate traveller on the world’s wide ocean, by giving me a knowledge of the nature and scope of your society and letting me know that others beside myself have been of some use in the world. The other reason that I can see is that you have called me to show by way of contrast what education can accomplish if administered in the right sort of doses.

    Your worthy president said that the school pictures, which have received the admiration of the world at the Paris Exposition, have been sent to Russia, and this was a compliment from that Government—which is very surprising to me. Why, it is only an hour since I read a cablegram in the newspapers beginning “Russia Proposes to Retrench.” I was not expecting such a thunderbolt, and I thought what a happy thing it will be for Russians when the retrenchment will bring home the thirty thousand Russian troops now in Manchuria, to live in peaceful pursuits. I thought this was what Germany should do also without delay, and that France and all the other nations in China should follow suit.

    Why should not China be free from the foreigners, who are only making trouble on her soil? If they would only all go home, what a pleasant place China would be for the Chinese! We do not allow Chinamen to come here, and I say in all seriousness that it would be a graceful thing to let China decide who shall go there.

    China never wanted foreigners any more than foreigners wanted Chinamen, and on this question I am with the Boxers every time. The Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the countries of other people. I wish him success. The Boxer believes in driving us out of his country. I am a Boxer too, for I believe in driving him out of our country.

    When I read the Russian despatch further my dream of world peace vanished. It said that the vast expense of maintaining the army had made it necessary to retrench, and so the Government had decided that to support the army it would be necessary to withdraw the appropriation from the public schools. This is a monstrous idea to us.

    We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.

    It is curious to reflect how history repeats itself the world over. Why, I remember the same thing was done when I was a boy on the Mississippi River. There was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was closed a jail had to be built.

    It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. He’ll never get fat. I believe it is better to support schools than jails.

    The work of your association is better and shows more wisdom than the Czar of Russia and all his people. This is not much of a compliment, but it’s the best I’ve got in stock.

  21. RobertL says

    Tom Lehrer said that he retired from satire, defeated, after they awarded Henry Kissinger with the Nobel Peace Prize for bombing Cambodia.

  22. randay says

    Recently, Bill Maher suggested a maximum income along with the minimum. Andrew Carnegie preceded him a little:

    “I propose to take an income no greater than $50,000 per annum! Beyond this I need ever earn, make no effort to increase my fortune, but spend the surplus each year for benevolent purposes! Let us cast aside business forever, except for others. Let us settle in Oxford and I shall get a thorough education, making the acquaintance of literary men. I figure that this will take three years active work. I shall pay especial attention to speaking in public. We can settle in London and I can purchase a controlling interest in some newspaper or live review and give the general management of it attention, taking part in public matters, especially those connected with education and improvement of the poorer classes. Man must have no idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry! No idol is more debasing than the worship of money!”

    Carnegie also supposedly had the dictum:
    To spend the first third of one’s life getting all the education one can.
    To spend the next third making all the money one can.
    To spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes.

  23. says

    In that vein -

    Capitalism – The idea that everyone should fight over the same stick, on the theory that once someone has it, they might improve it, rent (or, if that goes over badly, made cheap, and easily broken, to sell) copies, and, in doing so, have all of the sticks, as well as all of the money, and worse, that this right to rob everyone else must be legally protected, to the extent of making those stolen from the criminals.

    Communism – The proposition, made correctly, that people are more productive, if you give them food, shelter, and the minimum necessary to be comfortable, to which is attached the absurd idea that none of these people will look around, get an idea for a better stick, and think, “Heh, if I sell/rent some of these to people, I might be able to buy the new sort of animal skin my neighbor has come up with.”, and, worse, that having such ideas, or pursuing them, should be somehow illegal, unless you bring enough, from the start, for everyone.

    That an attempt has been, more or less successfully, made in many counties now, to get the first part of the second one right, and throw out the rest of it, while still allowing some form of the former, is deemed, by certain “experts” to be the end of progress, and a bane on a free society. After all, someone, other than themselves, might be allowed to own both a better stick, and an better animal skin, without also having most of the money.

    Hmm. Need a bit of a rework, but it pretty much describes, I think, the outcome of pure forms of either one, and the absurd notion that nothing in either is compatible, so we have to, somehow, “pick one or the other.:, least the result be, somehow, impure, and thus non-functional. Or, at least un-American, in the case of those denying that there not just should be, but must be, a minimum standard, and that this standard must also change, as society, and the economy does, which is imho, pretty much the whole entirely argument being made by the right, and libertarians, when talking about markets fixing problems, and the lack of need for anyone to provide things like infrastructure, (non-dogma driven, functional) schools, safety regulations, etc. Its even one of the single most common arguments I hear at work, some times, from, sadly, not just the right wingers – “How dare they be allowed to use **any** money from the government to buy something, like an energy drink, that isn’t on a special, idiotically limited, ‘approved’ list of things, needed to barely keep them alive!” Yeah, they work 5 jobs, trying to raise one or more kids, paying rent, because they own nothing, possibly including their car, and the jobs are all minimum wage, 10-15 hours a week, and stacked one after the other, but.. they shouldn’t be allowed to buy something to help them stay awake, even of the only thing they have easy access to, due to corporate ownership of everything in sight, is Starbucks, or Red Bull.

    I just want to slap some people, some times…