On Some Issues of Current Interest

“Monday Musings” for Monday April 28, 2014

Volume IV. No.16/173

the constitution

Reflection on Some Current Issues

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*


Re: Governor McCrory-Professor Gene Nichol controversy: I suggest that our governor whom I like and support, do with Gene Nichol whose intellect I adore, what King Fredrick of Prussia did with Voltaire in the 1750’s. Voltaire was the quintessential philosopher of the 18th century, the age of enlightenment. He penned more than 18 million words in all genres of literature from philosophy, epistemology, politics, religion, Newtonian physics, to poetry and theater. His volumes of Les Lettres Philosophiques continue to be on the best sellers list along with the Bible and Qur’an. Fredrick invited Voltaire to his palace to be the king’s resident savant and adviser. Gene would fit that role beautifully in McCrory’s administration, which desperately needs a person in that role—a resident savant–. Gene’s wisdom and lessons ought to be encouraged and promulgated, not tarnished and tamed.



In general, I fully agree with the content of your draft.  Basically, I believe it is true of most of those who are Americans by choice and not by birth are most generous with their possessions and are happy to making contributions through both taxes and philanthropy. The government must be kept solvent. I personally am more than happy to pay taxes and do all I can to embolden the principles of our government and our Republic which to me are sacred. You and I are doing very little in comparison to the Founding Fathers who gave their ALL. They gave their possessions, their wealth, their honour, while their necks were in the George III’s noose. I feel very fortunate and humble to compare what little contribution I can make to this country to what Adams, Carter Braxton of Virginia, Thomas McKeem, Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge, Middleton, etc., did for their country and the succeeding generations.

So, I am not averse to paying taxes. What I am concerned about and believe the Founding Fathers were also, is the issue of waste.  It concerns me to see so many school buildings with lights on, air conditioners whirring day and night, while they stay vacant.  I am concerned to see edifices of palatial proportion with a cast of administrators and clipboard carrying buttoned down bureaucrats not having anything to do with a teacher teaching, a student learning and sparks of educational virtuosity spreading…what is spread is the arcane language of being politically correct.

It is mindboggling, if not an abomination, to look at the cost of “administering” education in our country (US) and our county (Wake).  It concerns me to see little boys and girls in the dark and cold winter mornings have to wait for a bus and be transported (at enormous cost) to another school far from their neighborhood.  It concerns me that our efforts in the 70’s with Senate Bills sponsored by the late California Senator Sam Hayakawa, the gifted semanticist, and Jesse Helms, the NC Senator, failed to make the English Language the official language of this nation.  We are paying dearly for that failure 40 years later.  The costs of having bilingual classes, bilingual instructions, bilingual health care in our overburdened emergency rooms and hospitals are breaking the backs of the hard working middle class Americans. I am concerned about the way education is run in Wake County, where waste of space is interpreted as necessity, and profligacy and expansion of bureaucracy are presented as progress. Faithful readers of this space recall the review of a book by Derek Bok on the miserable state of underachieving American education. As you know Dr. Bok was President of Harvard from 1971-1991. He resumed the post as Interim President on July 1, 2006, when Lawrence Summers retired.  Incidentally, Derek Bok, is married to Sissela Bok (she is the daughter of Swedish Gunnar Myrdal and Alva Myrdal, both Nobel Laureates) who was Professor of Philosophy at Harvard) and their daughter, Hilary Bok, professor of philosophy at Johns Hopkins. The entire family has made impressive contribution to education here and abroad.  And the entire family is fearful for the future of education in America and the state of American education in general.

Getting back to the main topic, my thoughts and vote lie in the arena of careful examination of preventing waste before additional expenditures are authorized.  I am willing and happy to vote for extra taxes if I can be assured that the money does not get wasted on bureaucracy and “administration”. I will gladly pay for teaching, instruction, learning and exchange of knowledge.



NYT Columnist Gail Collins in a recent piece identified Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as the new face of the Republican Party. She gives their average age, 45, and average tenure in Washington, 1.9 years. But she doesn’t give us their average IQ.  America deserves and can do better.



My early morning walks take me by our neighborhood elementary school. On the side of the school, there is a steep bank with a sharp precipice which was washed away by the recent rain.  The roots of many trees were exposed, and some of them were leaning dangerously in the direction of the sidewalk.  I was delighted to see the city cordoning the area quickly. I was sure that they were going to repair the bank and save the beautiful growing and young elm and oak trees. However, it was sheer disappointment, sadness and disbelief when the next morning I saw the workers came and cut all trees down. There are 19 stumps left of that beautiful grove of hardwood trees. They killed 19 beautiful trees. The stumps look like markers in a grave yard. It is an outrage for people to be allowed to cut down trees so nonchalantly. I have spoken to some of my neighbours. We would have been happy to have paid for repair of the bank, saving the trees and making the area safe. Trees are living things. They benefit us. It takes a long time to grow an oak or an elm tree. The City of Raleigh ought to have more respect for trees, open spaces and parks.



*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.


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