Search This Blog

Saturday, July 30, 2011


From teachers' point of view, working for the state has many financial advantages; a good retirement system, a decent wage that can be supplemented during the summer, good benefits such as free health care insurance, and, in some states, a strong union movement that protects all, even the incompetent ones. Public schools teachers are opposed, obviously, to the voucher idea which would allow parents to place their children in private schools. They (the parents) are often unaware that private schools don't have the same stringent requirements compared to public schools, and that the so-called government vouchers will not afford the high-end establishments which sometimes have annual fees between $15,000 and $30,000.

Experts in education generally agree that the best private K-12 schools are those run by a religious order. Among these, the Jesuits have become famous the world over as very strict and efficient school mentors. Or course, non-catholic families will shun such learning centers which promote a specific religion. The rest of the private schools, the non-denominational ones, have the reputation of forming elite mentalities in their students. Some are well-known as diploma mills, where the academic requirements are less rigorous to say the least.

As a parent of K-12 kids, I would seriously consider public rather than private schools. There are are excellent public schools, as there are excellent private ones. The main difference is that the first is free, as they are funded by our taxes and government grants. Music and athletic programs are also much larger in public schools, allowing children to chose among a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. The other consideration often mentioned by concerned mothers is personal safety. Some people say that public schools are not as safe as private ones. While it is true that students may face some unsavory characters in their schools, it is a fact that school districts are giving close attention to the matter. District police and school monitors constantly roam the halls to ensure students' safety. Cameras are placed at strategic locations to detect any unwanted behavior.

It is also a fact that public schools' teachers receive better pay and benefits than those in private ones. This allows them to attract better candidates and suffer a lower rate of rotation. Public schools' teachers' training touches on all fields of education during the whole academic year. We know that bad teachers are found in all areas, whether private or public. School districts are making a decisive effort to root out those mentors who haven't shown the dedication and vocation needed to motivate students. Another caveat for private schools is the fact that they don't have to accept children with special needs unlike public schools. If your child requires special help and treatment, such as speech impediment, loss of hearing, or learning disability, chances are that the private school will not accept him/her.

Some studies show that private schools outperform public ones in standardized tests. Remember however that private institutions select the best students, while public ones take any child whatever their skills or intelligence levels. However, other studies confirm that public schools do very well, taking into account that they serve the general population and not a specific privileged segment. If I want my child to be prepared to confront life after high school, public education is by far the best tool to do so. Let's not forget that reality does not consist of academic standardized tests; we must be ready to face any challenge and adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Public education does an excellent job in that regard.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Anders Behring Breivik is a name that will be remembered in infamy in Norway's future history. The deranged killer with a face worthy of a Hollywood's leading man murdered more than 70 completely innocent people, from teens to older adults. He is supposedly a member of the far right in the political spectrum of his country, reminding us of another crazed killer, Jared Lee Loughner, who attacked Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona last January. Breivik claims that he acted to defend Christendom, though no sane mind can understand how killing Norwegians can help this religion.

Norway has been voted the nation with the highest standard of living in the world; if one had to choose where to live, this kingdom is the favorite. The discovery of large gas and oil deposits in offshore exploration has made Norway a rich nation, where citizens are protected from birth to the grave by a generous government. With less than 5 million inhabitants, Sweden's main neighbor has undergone several invasions throughout its history, the last one during WWII when it suffered under Nazi occupation. Its high standard of living allows us to understand why Norway refused to join the EU (European Union) on two occasions, a decision that seems prescient given the financial turmoil now occurring in Greece and other countries. In that regard, the comparison with Switzerland is inevitable, as the Swiss also enjoy prosperous economic times outside the EU (The Swiss franc is now the strongest currency in Europe).

One wonders how this crazy killing machine obtained his weapons; Norway's gun laws are generous, as they allow almost anything outside of automatic weapons. It is a nation of hunters and most families own some kind of rifle and/or handgun. Breivik  and Loughner had no trouble purchasing a handgun despite their obvious checkered past. In the U.S. we've had our share of deranged killers: Virginia Tech comes to mind. Do these tragic events mean that we should demand a psychological test for anybody who wants to own a firearm? Unfortunately, these mind probes are totally unreliable since even experts in psychiatry squabble in open court as to what constitutes madness. We would be better off asking for a complete personal history for every candidate or, even better, prohibiting the sale of handguns. They are, after all, much easier to conceal.

We will never prevent senseless killings completely, but at least we can make an effort to establish much stricter controls on those who purchase a weapon. The NRA (National Rifle Association) in our country has a very effective lobby that has stymied all efforts to prevent the sale of powerful rifles and handguns, pretexting the need to observe the Bill of Rights. They forget that 250 years ago, citizens had more primitive firearms and needed them to repel aggression by invading enemies. Nowadays, it simply does not make sense to allow the sale of a 50 caliber sniper rifle, a weapon so powerful that it can kill anything at a thousand years. Where is the hunting fairness in that? There is even a 50 caliber handgun that can penetrate the body armor worn by police. And they are completely legal. What kind of society have we become? We make it possible for bad guys to kill cops from more than a thousand yards and justify its legal approval by using the nauseating argument that the Founders of this country allowed its citizens to wear arms. When will we see a politician with the courage to ban these types of weapons once and for all?

Monday, July 25, 2011


A friend once told me that the human world is composed of sheep and shepherds; 99% of the former and 1% of the second.Though he is perhaps exaggerating, his point is well taken. The concept can easily be applied to religion, of course, and even more to politics, although both may fuse into one area in some cases. Thomas Jefferson famously said that he preferred to make up his own mind in all matters, and in particular in politics. Luckily for us, he and his colleagues became the shepherds of a new nation.

In today's society, some modern technologies contribute heavily to the "sheep" factor. Think advertising through television and through the web. Selling merchandise and ideas has suddenly become a lot easier since one can reach hundreds of millions of viewers, read "sheep", in a few seconds. Rare is the human being who can resist the "free gift", the "last opportunity", the "unique item", the "incredible offer", the "absolutely free" pitch, or the "become rich like me" method. The incredibly vast world of publicity and propaganda relies on most people's natural tendency to believe what they see and hear, because it is much easier to go along with other people than to forge one's own path.

In politics the same "do what they do" attitude prevails. Few congressmen (women) take the initiative to present new bills that may improve our lives as citizens. They are severely manacled by their leaders, thus limiting their field of activities. They go along or, as a fellow teacher once told me, they don't stick their heads above the water for fear of losing it. We could easily reduce the number of representatives by 50% and the country would not only save a bundle in benefits, but also in the time it takes to get intelligent ideas through the maze. Perpetual reelection is also a taboo subject, sometimes known as "term limits". Politicians prefer to follow the herd, knowing that they will be rewarded eventually by "special favors" from the all-powerful lobbies. Only the occasional sexual misbehavior can put an end to their hallowed careers in Washington.

Science does not escape the "sheep" factor. As a scientist friend once confided, 90% of people working in some scientific field or other are content to go through the motions. Any new idea that does not meet with the approval of the respective community is derided and shot down. "The Earth is not flat" assertion cost some good people their lives during the Dark Ages. Einstein met with ridicule when he first posited his revolutionary theory. Psychic and reincarnation books were an important part of Edison's personal library and, of course, he was mocked for stating that atoms possessed some kind of intelligence. The "sheep" tend to make fun of anything they don't understand, trying to bring down to their limited level any mind that dares present novel ideas.

Now that the feverish back-and-forth negotiations take place at the last minute to raise the debt ceiling, we again witness the "follow the others" behavior. Do not speak against your party members, as Newt Gingrich did recently, or forgo the opportunity to get reelected. The result is one party against the other, Republicans against Democrats, a possible stalemate that will gravely damage the ability of the United States to pay its debt. Limiting representatives to two years means that the minute they step into the Capitol they already plotting how to get reelected. Why not increase the time they serve (?) our nation to four years and limit reelection to three consecutive terms? Same for the Senate; we sometimes witness doddering members well past the age of reason still sitting in their chairs while enjoying a much needed nap. Establish the maximum age at 75 and thus avoid important votes from going astray. Isn't our nation's future more important than the ego of a few senior citizens?

Let's face reality: Modern society needs "sheep", just as the most prestigious universities need the help of the most ordinary people. Nature is reluctant to create geniuses, one in a million may be too much, just as it is reluctant to create very low functioning humans. The Gaussian distribution places 90% of people in the middle within one standard deviation. Balance is the key in all natural fields until Man messes everything up.

Friday, July 15, 2011


The fan who returned the ball to Jeter is everything our society  is not: selfless (For foreign readers, this is baseball talk). He could have made a bundle by selling the baseball; instead, he gets recognition and a photo-op with Jeter, a great guy indeed. Yes, I do mind the insane amount of money made by top athletes, whether in baseball, football, basketball, or soccer. There is absolutely no comparison with a teacher's salary, a good mason's, or a policeman's (or firefighter's). Yet all of these make huge contributions to our world, a capitalist world which places the god of money ahead of everything we hold dear.

From Athens to Madrid, from Dublin to Washington, the main topic of discussion is the national debt. If they were struggling families, bankruptcy would be knocking at their doors. But of course nations cannot go bankrupt; there is no sheriff outside the home ready to seize their assets. The main difference is that politicians are spending money that is not theirs in the first place. Things would change if Congress' salaries were docked in proportion to the national debt. But since they vote their own pay increase (never a decrease), they go ahead and include all that pork without a twinge of conscience. After all, the only thing that counts is the next election.

There is nothing more irritating than a stubborn old dictator; Muammar Gaddafi (one of many spellings) clings to what is left of his former power with a handful of followers. Most people agree that he is not "all there". What could possibly motivate him to risk life and limbs for a lost cause? Pride, insanity, or greed? I believe that none of the above is correct. Maybe he refuses to go because he has nowhere to go. He probably believes in his paranoia that no matter what safe-conduct pass they give him he will end up in some court facing a stern European judge. Look at Mubarak denying that he had ordered his troops to fire on unarmed protesters. Just remember what they say: Even paranoid people are sometimes right.

Will the Google miracle business model end soon? Not according to recent profits topping $2.5B. Larry Page, the very young CEO, shows delight at the success of the new social network Google+ which threatens Facebook, the behemoth of of human interaction. Chrome, the new web browser, is also growing rapidly, as is Android, the favorite OS for smartphones for millions of young people. It seems that both Apple and Google possess the Midas touch: everything they create turns to gold. But while Apple apparently depends on the genius of one man, Steve Jobs, the Google youthful group of engineers and whiz kids don't show any sign of fatigue. Looks like a smart investment, even at today's high prices.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The Constitution clearly states that educating children is the exclusive domain of each individual state. I would add an important phrase:"and of the parents." A friend of many years recently complained to me that he was afraid that if he reprimanded his children the state would intervene and punish him. Such nonsense is the result of bureaucrats encroaching on our privacy and absolute right to punish our children as and when we see fit; the unwritten but well-understood rule is "without harming them."

Today's children know very well that CPS is ready to pounce on "unfit" parents and some of them blackmail their progenitors in order to obtain their wish. The problem is compounded by the laissez-faire attitude of many parents and the fact that so many kids come to an empty home after school.  Without a guide and a moral example at home, boys and girls tend to be influenced by older confused children and misguided peers. The television fare to which they suscribe for at least 4  hours a day certainly doesn't help them form a healthy criteria.

Many of today's successful and model citizens felt the caress of their dad's belt occasionally as children or the good spanking given by their loving mom. Fifty years ago, the corporeal punishment was routinely administered even in schools without any interference from the government. Nowadays, young people, with some notable exceptions, feel that they are entitled without having done the work to deserve it. "Give me" is a common phrase heard in many families rich or poor. In order to have peace at home, parents give in and satisfy the material request.

"Punish with love" is a phrase my mother often repeated as she metered out my well-deserved slap. That is the key that parents would do well to remember. A child is fully aware that he or she has misbehaved and that consequences must follow. That is just! Nothing riles up kids more than injustice; they complain loudly when their siblings seem to receive a more favorable treatment. A wise parent talks to all of them frequently and patiently, explaining the circumstances and the decision. Many teachers try to help parents in instilling moral values to their students. Only one big problem: They have between 25 and 150 kids to take care of every day. Nevertheless, their role as surrogate parents is essential in making a difference while there is a chance to mold a young mind.

Interference by the state government in family affairs should be limited to serious cases of criminal behavior such as leaving kids in a hot car, physical violence between parents, drug use, prostitution, sexual abuse and neglect. A simple phone call by an 11-year old claiming abuse should not result in a show of force by law enforcement and CPS. It should be handled discreetly, so as not to publicly humiliate innocent parents. We often forget that the media sometimes contributes to the public condemnation of innocent people by publishing their photos on the front page. Let us work with local agencies and law enforcement to determine whether a child has been criminally mistreated before we splash the case on the local television channel.

We have become a complacent nation with regard to education; we forget that kids need strict guidance and superior role models. We are limiting the power of parents and teachers to enforce discipline, a value that is essential in a successful adult life. It is natural for kids to test their boundaries, to explore, to talk back, to disobey their elders, to misbehave. We have to show them, with love and care, that there are limits and that society expects them to follow certain rules. Parents, teachers and local agencies should all work together to make sure the message is understood.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the infamous ex-president of the International Monetary Fund, is now free to roam the best restaurants in New York, as he has not yet received permission to return to France. A opinion poll conducted in his country - let's remember that he was favored to win the presidential election in 2012, revealed the following mood of the French voters (survey conducted on July 4 and 5, 2011): Do you favor the candidacy of DSK on the presidential ballot next year was the question answered by approximately 1,000 persons. A remarkable 35% of the people as a whole answered "yes", while a more surprising 55% of the members of the Socialist Party approved the idea. Clearly, the accusations of sexual assault against DSK have not dampened support among his followers to the point where he simply has to give up his political ambitions. Even more surprising is the fact that 36% of French women expressed the desire to see him compete. Do you think John Edwards could post such high numbers in a similar poll in the United States? (Rhetorical question, obviously, with a strong taste of vinegar)

As a native born European (French part of Switzerland), I delight in studying the major cultural differences between the "Puritan" atmosphere in American politics and the laissez-faire among French voters. We have had our exciting share of philandering politicians; the uncontrolled and immature sexual impulses of ex-Congressman Weiner, the out-of-wedlock fathering by Schwarzenegger, the infamous Clinton affair, the roving eye of John F. Kennedy, Senator Ensign's chest baring, the mysterious trip of Governor Sanford, Congressman Mark Foley and his fondness for young pages, the list can go on and on; in every case, except for President Kennedy, the politician was disgraced in the public eye. Had these men been French, they would have elicited an amused smirk and continued their career as if nothing had happened.

While Americans thoroughly enjoy sex scandals, especially those involving politicians, the French prefer to focus their attention on other more important (in their opinion) matters. The political class in France is fed up with the continuous tabloid-like coverage of the Dominique Strauss affair. They strongly resent the humiliation brought by the New York District Attorney when he ordered DSK's public arrest and parade in handcuffs from the airport to jail. They feel, not without reason, that DSK was not a flight risk due to the preeminence of his high position. Discretion should have prevailed argue well-known French politicians. To which American law enforcement argue that DSK was treated the way any other common person, foreign or local, would have been dealt with. Democracy at its best!

The French don't have to go very far to signal the preferential way the rich and famous have been handled in the U.S. American courts have shown leniency time and again when movie stars or famous singers were involved, even in serious cases. Lindsey Lohan's name comes to mind. From battery charges to physical assault, from drug use to driving under the influence, there is little doubt that money and a good lawyer can make a huge difference. Why wasn't DSK treated with more deference? After all, in our country a person is deemed innocent until proven otherwise, unlike the judicial system in France where the accused must prove his/her innocence.

I don't want to present Mr. Strauss-Kahn as a white, innocent dove. He apparently has quite a reputation for seducing much younger women, despite being "happily" married. Until recently, however, he had not being accused of actual rape and his accusers seem to be looking for a big payday rather than for justice. We will find out within the next year and a half whether these alleged crimes have actually taken place and whether DSK could, just could, end up being the President of France.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Newton Leroy Gingrich is a fascinating character. He is currently a candidate for the Presidency, even though he knows quite well that his chances of success equal those of the Cubs going to the World Series. Extremely intelligent, a college professor and historian, the former Speaker of the House (why do journalists keep addressing him as Mr. Speaker?), entered the fray for two reasons: First, he knows that this is his last chance at his age; he just turned 68 on June 17th. Whatever the odds, he feels that the slimmest possibility of success still gives him a sense of entitlement. In his mind, his political experience gives him the right to become President and go away in a blaze of glory like Reagan. But the real reason, in my learned opinion, is his secret hope that he will be chosen as Vice-President and then, who knows, anything can happen.

He has written more than 17 non-fiction books since 1982, most of them covering politics and U.S. History. Gingrich without a doubt dominates all the other candidates in intelligence and political experience. His main problem however is that he has become famous for his gaffes when speaking publicly; he is also known for his interest in other women even while married. Given the present forgiving mood of most of the electorate nowadays,  the former Speaker believes that his peccadilloes will not affect his chances of becoming Vice-President or, at the very least, of occupying a large role in the new Cabinet of 2013. Assuming of course that Obama is defeated, which is by no means certain.

Mr. Gingrich possesses the usual disdain for those who do not share his brilliant intellect; he of course tries to hide that feeling in public, although, as stated above, he sometimes lets his tongue get the better of him. When his staff resigned en masse on June 9, 2011, he vowed to continue the campaign: “I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring,” he wrote a few days later. It appears that again his intellectual prowess convinced him that he knew better than anybody else how to run his candidacy. Again, there is little doubt that the fireworks inside Gingrich's team must have spooked his helpers to the point of convincing them that Newt would never listen to reason.

Again, the ex-Speaker understands all that and probably regrets that his impetuous character has left him to fight the campaign alone or with whomever is willing to put up with him. Why does he continue? Because he is a superb debater and because his real goal is not to win the Republican primaries. He believes that by the end of the process, his name and face will be so well-known that the victor (Mr. Romney?) will have no choice but to select him as his running mate.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Mexico's problems with Zetas and Cartel henchmen didn't suddenly appear. They were in gestation ever since the country shook off the oppressive political, economic, and social control of the PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party) after 70 years of party dictatorship. The change took place in the year 2000 with the election of Vicente Fox, leading member of the opposition party, the PAN (National Action Party), a right wing faction that has always been supported by the private sector and by the Catholic Church. The PRI nevertheless remained one of the strongest political parties thanks to the support by unions and the lower economic level of the population; nothing can be done in Congress without their support.

     Felipe Calderon, the current President and also a member of the PAN, decided early in his term (6 years) to confront drug traffickers head-on by deploying the military all over the country. This tragic mistake ignited the present war between all factions involved in the lucrative drug business. Why he didn't strengthen the existing police force instead is every Mexican citizen's acute question. Granted, the population at large trusts the military much more than the local police, but they certainly don't like to feel that they live in occupied territory. Wherever you drive in Mexico you are going to see heavily armed soldiers guarding highways and strategic points in the cities. Instead of making people feel more secure, the uniforms and weapons give the impression that a fight may start at any time. Many unfortunate citizens have been caught in the crossfire! So many innocent victims have fallen under the bullets of both the army and the bandits that common graves are still being uncovered regularly. In spite of the hardships, citizens still go about their business normally and try to shake off their fears. It's all about being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

       When the country decided to remove the PRI from power, they also removed the linchpin that held conflicting criminal groups in check. Only the PRI had total control of national security. Every provincial governor owed his (no female governor at that time) position to the central committee located in Mexico city, the capital. Elections were rigged to favor the party in power and important positions were given to selected cronies or even to opposition members to give the appearance of democracy. Needless to say, corruption was a big factor at all levels of government, starting with the then President who was always a member of the PRI. Secret alliances were formed between various sectors of  society and there was a mutual understanding that peace benefited everybody. Repression was of course an important tool of the authoritarian government. The infamous Tlatelolco massacre in 1968 revealed the extent of the federal government's fear of a revolution. Hundreds of students and innocent bystanders were massacred by soldiers sent to put out the democratic fire initiated by the new well-educated generation.

     In a few words, the strict controls and  the special arrangements that were in place during the PRI era disappeared in part with the opening of the democratic process. Yes, corruption is still endemic at all levels of government, but a sincere effort has been made to root out government officials who take bribes from criminal organizations. Ordinary citizens still don't trust their elected officials nor do they trust the various police forces, whether local or federal. However, by making the army the main tool to combat crime, President Calderon has painted himself into a corner: He knows that he cannot win this war and yet has done little to improve local law enforcement (mainly with  subsidies). How long will the soldiers remain in position? What will happen when they leave? His quandary is very similar to our situation in Iraq or Afghanistan. The local military and police force are woefully inadequate to protect the population and yet we cannot stay there forever.

     The next Mexican President will surely come from the PRI as all polls indicate. The population has concluded that Calderon has made the situation worse, not better than 6 years ago. They hope that by giving the PRI control of the country, relative peace will return and give them a chance of building a better Mexico, though the price to pay may be steep indeed.

Friday, July 8, 2011


When I was in 5th grade, a long, long time ago (in Switzerland), our teacher sported a Hitlerian moustache and acted the same way; he wanted absolute silence, he forbade any kind of spontaneous reaction (including laughter), and demanded perfect posture in our extremely uncomfortable school desks. Needless to say, my grades and my learning suffered greatly, as I came to the conclusion that school was worse than a root canal. Luckily for me, my next year improved greatly with a teacher who cared and who established immediate communication with my parents.

Various editorials comment acerbically on the poor quality of American Education; according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), we rank in the middle of the table when it comes to reading, math and science. As a teacher for more than 20 years, I have seen my share of mediocrity and excellence in the classroom. We don't have, as a nation, the remarkable scores of Finland, the number 1 in international education, or compare to Japan, one of the top 5. The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, figuratively pulled his hairs from his cranium and said that this ranking was a wake-up call for America. President Obama exclaimed that serious reforms were needed in education. I say "Phooey!", politicians have always decried our failing public learning system and some even raved about the "absolute" need to privatize all schools.
As I signalled in the first paragraph, a caring teacher is worth a lot more than an erudite uncaring one. We have a lot of compassionate mentors in the public school system and the results are much better than what cold statistics show. If half a year is dedicated to studying to the test, much will be lost in maths, in reading comprehension, and in science, areas that usually fare worse than social studies. We must go back to the concept that the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts. We teach most of the year to the test instead of to the student; that has to stop. A student must of course reach a basic level of skills in the three Rs, but once this is accomplished, education in high school should be tailored to individuals needs and natural talents. Music, drawing, auto repair, hair styling, carpentry and manual vocations in general, singing, dancing, acting (too little of this wonderful art), painting, and so on, are just as important as reading and adding.
Our public system is not a failure simply because of some limited statistics by OECD. We are the most powerful nation on earth, we have the most productive workers, we lead the world in technology, in scientific research, we have the best universities, the most democratic system among the most important nations, our military has no equal, we invented Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, HP, Twitter, the light bulb, the radio, the transistor, we walked on the moon and we give more money to poor developing nations than anybody else.
All of this was done with a "mediocre" public education??

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Our judicial system, sad to say, simply doesn't work, as illustrated by the Casey Anthony tragic case. There is however no better option, unless we give access to quality defense lawyers to every person accused of a crime, irrespective of their financial condition. We could do it by applying the enormous sums of money misspent in foreign wars; imagine how much help we could give destitute people with a trillion dollars already wasted.
While I keep wondering why this little girl's death has drawn so much attention by the media over the last 2 years, my focus today points toward the ever changing role and importance of mass media. True, modern technology allows everybody to keep abreast of the latest news instantly; from the laptop to the smart phone, from traditional means to modern blogs, one can be informed on every topic. That's the beauty of the Internet where the past and the present meet every second of every day. The Web never sleeps and, according to some studies, neither do many teens and adults (O.K., they do sleep a couple of hours).
How is this modern explosion of data changing our society, our world? As in the above criminal trial of Casey Anthony, I suspect that the daily coverage and histrionics of some commentators helped form a sinister image of this young mother. Was the jury influenced by the media in spite of the judge's orders not to read on the subject? Of course they were; after so many months, they could not help being bombarded by opinions on the Net, on TV or on the radio. By the same token, many accused people are "prejudged" by the media, thus strengthening existing prejudices among those who eventually will decide their fate. I am not excluding judges from the media's influence; they are humans as well.
On the good side, the multiple tools created on the Internet, whether Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, e-mails, and of course blogs, have all contributed significantly to the spread of democracy. The Arab Spring is in full bloom, as the masses in these countries can witness the freedom and prosperity enjoyed in the West through their own Internet tools. Tyrants and dictators have in vain tried to block the data. Pictures and videos from cell phones continue to reveal the horrors committed by these totalitarian regimes. More powerful than bullets and tanks, political blogs in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and Libia have demonstrated to their rulers that the truth cannot be hidden or killed.
As usual, whenever a new tool is created, some people will try to use it to their own advantage; there are however so many pros to the Internet that the cons are simply not able to compete. We will become a better society, a more informed society , and a society better able to separate the good from the bad. I am all in favor of technological progress, but, as Thomas Jefferson wisely stated:"I never submitted the whole of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself".