Ignorance and anti intellectualism are threatening our future

Back in 1972 I was a high school science teacher at a semi rural school district in northwestern Ohio. One of my students, call him Bob, came up to me after class and said to me that he didn’t need to learn “all that boring stuff” because his father was going to get him in at a local Ford plant when he turned 18 years old. Bob was 15 then, in the 9th grade and failing my class as well as his other classes. He also said that his father didn’t even get that far in school and was making more money at the Ford plant than our high school Principal.

I told Bob that Ford wouldn’t even look at him for any job there unless he had a high school diploma and that his father was lucky because when he was hired there were a lot of low skilled jobs available that just weren’t available in 1972.

Fast forward 45 years to 2017. “Bob” would be 60 years old. That Ford plant where Bob’s father worked closed long ago and all those workers lost their jobs. Technology has virtually eliminated many of those low skilled jobs in manufacturing plants. Many of those assembly line jobs that men did back in 1972 are now done by computerized robots. Workers have to know how to program and work those computers and robots. Unless he had a major change in his attitude, “Bob” would be either unemployed or working for low wages and very upset with things.  

There is a very dangerous belief in the United States right now that one’s ignorance of something is just as credible as another’s knowledge of that same subject. When more than 90% of climate scientists agree that human activity is accelerating the warming of the earth; as an educated nation, we should take heed of that finding and take steps to reduce the cause of that global warming. But a sizable number of people in the United States including our current President believe that climate change is a hoax. They cite no studies and offer no proof of their belief other than snow in their backyard last winter.

The United States used to be a beacon for science, research and invention. This country gave the world the electric light, the television, atomic energy, rockets to the moon and beyond and many more inventions that make 21st century life much easier. In addition science and research gave us vaccines that conquered dreaded diseases that killed or crippled millions. When I was growing up, I knew many people in my high school who were crippled by polio. We even had a President who was crippled by polio. But thanks to a vaccine developed in the United States, polio is a rare disease in most of the world.

While vaccines have saved millions of lives and certainly made us much healthier, there are millions of Americans who are refusing to vaccinate their children because of some wrong belief that vaccines cause autism or that one will get sick from a vaccine. Reactions to vaccines do happen, but they are rare. Yet I am amazed at how many adults in the United States refuse to get a flu shot based on the mistaken idea that it will give them the flu.

I am also old enough to be awed and amazed by the space flights of John Glenn and the other astronauts. I remember back in the summer of 1969 when Neil Armstrong from Wapakoneta Ohio set foot on the surface of the moon and it was broadcast all over the world as it was happening. Less than a year later, the nation and world was holding its breath as a crippled Apollo 13 space craft was brought safely back to earth. After the successful moon landing, we were confident that we could land a man on Mars by the end of the century.

Yet there have been no moon landings since 1972. We have abandoned any thought of further scientific study on the surface of the moon. There is talk about a manned mission to Mars and several unmanned space craft have explored the surface of Mars, but landing a man on Mars is now being talked about maybe in 2030 or later, if ever.

Then last week I read a column in the newspaper that stated that 7% of American adults or more than 17 million Americans believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

Back when I was growing up, when the United States was “great”; teachers were respected and admired. Education was valued and I seldom saw a school levy being defeated. As a former teacher and having known many teachers, our schools are not failing our citizens. Rather it is our citizens who are failing to take advantage of what is available to them in education.

Instead of revering knowledge and wisdom; in the United States we worship money. Perhaps our President Donald Trump best epitomizes this belief. Because he made a lot of money in New York real estate, he believes that he “is smarter than the generals” and knows how to run the country better than a well educated woman who served as a Senator and Secretary of State, despite never holding any previous elected office or serving in the military.

But the 21st century is a global community. Many Asian cultures revere knowledge and wisdom. They also have 12 month school years and send to this country many scientists and engineers. Unless the United States gets over this cult of anti intellectualism and the belief that one’s ignorance of a subject is just as valid as another’s knowledge; the United States days as a leading world power are numbered. 

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 9, Issue 6, Posted 6:24 PM, 07.09.2017