Page 16 THE VILLADOM TIMES IV • December 16, 2009 Korea, 58,000 American dead in Indochina, and thousands killed in military-related accidents, the nation in general prospered as never before. Meanwhile, we shifted from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy in the 19th century and much of the 20th century. Now, in the 21st century, we’re shifting into a post-industrial economy where government is becoming the only safe industry. China just had to bail us out to the tune of $800 billion to keep things perking along, and the Chinese don’t loan money that they don’t expect back. They have already asked us to give back their pandas. Most light manufacturing – clothing, toys, electronics -now takes place outside the United States. The auto industry is still struggling to deal with the fact that people whose kids have left home no longer want huge cars that break down all the time when they aren’t transporting us to vacations we no longer take because we can’t afford them in terms of money or energy. Detroit may be saved if they can develop hybrids and electric cars that save money and the atmosphere at the same time. If they don’t, whoever builds and sells these cars will capture the market once the Earth Day generation gets too old for bicycles. Here is what people who support school spending that is over the top don’t understand: Education that used to train a certain social class for national and world administrators – The Ivy League – may not be the education that is needed to cope with the new economy of the future, when almost everything smaller than an aircraft carrier is made somewhere else. The War on Islam may keep the military spending viable, but as awful as the Sept. 11 attacks were, you have to know these wretched people aren’t about to conquer the United States and probably don’t want to. They want us out of their part of the world so they can go on murdering one another in tribal feuds that are none of our business and won’t be prevented by trying to export our culture. We’re not going to stop that at any affordable cost, and it’s none of our business in any case. I think, also, that we are not needed or wanted to export our executive or technical ability to Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, or Singapore. The people who regularly trounce us in math and science, and who generally learn our languages when we never seem to bother to learn theirs, don’t need us to run their lives anymore, not that they ever did. American education has to re-focus, not on running the world, but on running America, or perhaps the Americas. There is still a need for some managerial skills in Central America and South America. Above all, there is a need for Americans who know how to make or fix things rather than trumping one another with our multiple diplomas – and tripping over our monolingualism. I’ve met many people who have a number of degrees. I’ve met few born here who could understand any languages other than English or a little bit of Spanish, knew anything about the cultures and histories of the countries they want to do business with, or could be made to understand that, during an economic crunch which could go on indefinitely, it’s more important to work at a job that actually exists, or cause one to exist, and live on what you earn, than it is to “go back to school” and get some degree that only qualifies you to work for the government in a nonfunctional job and help run up the deficit. Good schools are important even to people who don’t need them for their own kids because the kind of kids drawn to a school that offers classical string orchestra and four full years of German, Chinese, and Latin are the kind of kids who are civil and intelligent and, in the greatest number of cases, are no threat to anyone but themselves, even when their age and the expense of their upkeep prevents them from being much of an asset to the community for the time being. Many of them will be major assets in the future, once they get their hands out of our pockets. When I see them and talk to them, I’m almost always favorably impressed. They deserve good schools, and they don’t deserve to be blamed for the fact that some of their parents equate the big spending of everybody else’s money, along with their own, as the ticket to a future that no longer exists. Multiple degrees without professional licensing may no longer buy a secure economical future. Parents who know their kids are not eager readers or gifted mathematicians might be better served if they have the kid learn a skilled trade and gave him or her the $120,000 for four years of college as the down payment on a modest house. One way or another, let’s not blame the kids for what some people greeted with a sigh of relief and a near-equal number met with a sigh of despair. The kids didn’t ask for this, unless they were prompted to. The real message of this referendum – as in some of the school budget votes last April – was a cliché coming true. Once in awhile, every vote really does count. In the teeth of the economic gale, the taxpayers of Ridgewood, very slightly more than half of those who voted, just approved a $48 million school bond to renovate, and in some cases expand, all 10 of Ridgewood’s public schools. This was a very close vote: the yes voters came in at 2,119, the no voters at 2,057, which one resident calculated as a school expansion and renovation endorsement of seven-tenths of one per cent – a near miss or a close call depending on the voter’s point of view. Turnout was just over 25 percent, which indicates, among other things, that a lot of people still have trouble understanding that school budgets account for anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of their local property taxes. I know this because some of these same people show up at municipal government meetings and ask the people they vote for in the November election to do something about school spending. People are so fixated on the idea that “we live in a democracy” -- actually it’s a republic -- that they think the November election ought to settle everything, when as far as school spending goes, it doesn’t settle anything at all. The school elections in April might settle something, but since the people who vote in them are generally strong supporters of the school system and partisans of one candidate or another, they don’t settle anything, either. The school vote shows a few glimmers of hope on the horizon. People still care about their children, and they still believe in education. That’s good twice: Love of family is a strong component of mental health and social stability, and the fact that people believe in and trust education means they have the intelligence and the adaptability to try to cope with whatever happens. So assuming that we are all part of the same community, the news is actually okay whether people voted for or against the $48 million bond. There is, however, a hidden problem. The reliance we place on education may be postulated on a misunderstanding not only of the present economic situation but also of the world’s long-range economic future. The generation that decided that all youngsters should finish high school and that all reasonably bright youngsters should finish college was the one that saw the Depression of the 1930s verge into World War II, then into the Cold War. Within the lifetime of a child born, let us say, in time to qualify for Social Security today while the program is still around, the German and Japanese industrial plants shifted from heavyduty military production to bomb-cratered unemployment. Britain, once the world’s largest financial power, essentially went broke. Meanwhile, Russia and China were economically marginalized by the wasteful economic bungling of their own obtuse Marxism and the hostility of the NATO alliance and Japan and South Korea. The United States became the big player in the world economy even before the collapse of the Soviet Union left us as the world’s only superpower. We were stuck, it is true, with a peacetime draft that lasted from the Korean War to the end of the Vietnam War, but we were also enabled to produce weapons, heavy equipment, and food that the whole world wanted and needed. At the expense of 32,000 dead Americans in Ridgewood’s bond vote: The 0.7 percent solution? Letters to the Editor Dear Editor: I am writing on behalf of Ramsey Responds to thank everyone who made our Coats and Comforter Drive on Nov. 7, and Thanksgiving Food Collection and Distribution on Nov. 20 a success. Special thanks to the Ramsey Public Schools, Don Bosco, the Ramsey churches, and all those individuals and families who generously donated the more than 500 coats, 25 comforters, and other items, that we distributed as part of our drive. We would also like to publicly thank the Knights of Columbus who again so generously allowed us to use their facilities, and all those Ramsey students who got up early and gave up their Saturday to assist us in collecting, organizing, and distributing the donated items. We would also like to thank all those who contributed and assisted in the Thanksgiving Food Collection and Distribution Drive. Special thanks to the Junior Woman’s Club, the Dater and Hubard schools’ PTOs, Ramsey High School, the high school’s Spanish Club, the borough clerk, Advantage Sales & Marketing of Ramsey, and the more than 50 families/individuals who donated food and/or money. As always, special thanks to Larry Inserra and Shop-Rite, who have always been there to assist us throughout the years in providing food and gift cards to support our residents in need. As a result, we were able to provide at least two bags of food, a turkey, and Shop-Rite gift cards to 37 families in town. Adding in the 15 families Tisdale School directly helped and the food directly distributed by the Center for Food Action, more than 50 Ramsey families were able to receive food and monetary assistance this Thanksgiving. We would also like to thank everyone who has signed up to participate in our Adopt-A-Family Holiday Gift Project which works to match families with donors. Each of our families provides a list of the ages and sizes of family members, along with a “Needs List” (necessary items) and a “Wish List.” We are in need of additional individuals willing to Adopt a Family, or one or more family members, in order to make sure everyone can receive a gift this holiday season. Call Community responds with generosity Ramsey Responds at (201) 312-4843. We are also accepting, as we do throughout the year, monetary donations that further our mission to provide assistance to Ramsey residents in need. Checks may be mailed to Ramsey Responds, P.O. Box 724, Ramsey, New Jersey 07446. Again, our thanks to everyone who supported Ramsey Responds throughout the years and our best wishes for a happy holiday season. Harris Recht Ramsey Responds Dear Editor: I would like to thank the students, parents, teachers, and staff of the Mahwah school district for their overwhelming support of the Veterans’ Day fundraiser to support “Homes for Our Troops.” Homes for Our Troops is an organization dedicated to building handicapped accessible housing for our severely injured servicemen and women at no cost to them. Together with the amazing efforts of 35 other Bergen County school districts that joined the effort, we were able to raise $59,472 for this cause. A special thanks to all of the school and district administrators and their staff throughout the county for promoting the drive and facilitating the collection of the donations making this event possible. “Homes for Our Troops” completed its 44th home and presented it to Corporal Visnu Gonzalez in Hillsdale on Nov. 10. It’s very gratifying to know that we played a small part in making life a little easier for this Marine who was paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet in Fallujah, Iraq nearly five years ago. Forty more homes are currently under construction, and many more deserving veterans are on a waiting list. For more information about “Homes for Our Troops “ or to make a donation, visit www, homesforourtroops. org. The goal for next year is to enlist the help of every district in Bergen County. To join, contact kristinHFOT@bergenb Kristin Kosch Mahwah Thankful for community’s support