Novel Characters — Exploring Education and Freedom

Bob Mayer had gone to an almost Ivy League college, one where liberal arts was the theme and secular progressivism the religion. Determined to get into medical school right after graduation Bob made a number of sacrifices and compromises so that the doors to medical school could welcome him unconditionally.   Fifteen years before he found himself the subject of a massive federal fugitive hunt, Bob was dutifully absorbing everything that his elite college told him.

Wait, you may ask,  who is Bob Mayer?   Years from the time of this writing, which describe his formative college years he will become the chief virologist at the NIH(National Institutes of Health) in charge of creating the annual flew vaccine.  At the moment though, he is just a senior in college.  He is in the process of applying to medical schools.  Through the last 4 years he had been diligent, studying to the exclusion of the vast number of activities available on campus. The only exception to this was that he had managed to maintain his taekwondo training.   He had not been able to improve on his skills, but he had not lost them.  The trade off was a 4.0 average.

During his time in school, beyond the science, for which he had a passion, several courses had made a significant impression on him.  These were, Reproductive Health 202, Philosophy 101, Russia Studies 303. and Constitutional Law 425.  Since, as a 21 year old senior his goals were clear, he had a great desire to please his instructors.  Doing so meant, not thinking for oneself, but absorbing the tenor and conceptual framework presented by their classes.  How he later came to hold views that were in conflict with those that were taught was a mystery to many of his colleagues.   As Bob reflected on those courses, his recollection of their tenor and approach amazed him.

Reproductive Health was a BIO 200 course where the study of the male and female reproductive tracts was taught.  As you might expect a lot of attention was given to the physical anatomy of these systems and to the hormonal cycles.   In this course, the time and effort spent covering female reproductive systems was about 5 times the time and effort spent to cover male reproductive systems.   Since those systems had to be able to carry a baby, this was not that surprising.    The process of fertilization and gestation was also covered.   Among the things that were abundantly clear from the course, was the message that as a zygote went through its stages from zygote, to morula, to blastocyst, to embryo and ultimately to fetus, it was no more than a mass of tissue.    The fact that this was a baby that was developing was consciously overlooked.  In addition,  the course worked in details about the coming population explosion and how if people kept reproducing we would run out of resources.  Actually, if you got the message you would marvel that a single meal ever made it to the table before all those starving people lapped it up.  The other message that was delivered in unambiguous terms was that humans were no different than any other animal when it came to reproduction.   The course made the act of reproduction simply an animal function.

Philosophy 101 was an eye opener.  The class read the more rudimentary and well known works from Kant, Descartes,  Locke, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche,  and Marx.   Thinking back on it Bob wondered if Karl Marx really belonged with the prior group.  Whether he belonged to the group or not the instructor, Dr.  Brubaker was enamored with Karl Marx.   His two great works, the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital argued for the downfall of capitalism and its ultimate replacement by socialism.    In order to get an A in the class, all a student had to do was propound on the virtues of Communism and use Karl Marx as their source.   As dutifully as he could, Bob made the case for communism in the United States.  Suddenly he was in the professor’s inner circle.  Years later , even though he worked for the government Bob saw how the government with a significant part of the system socialized through Medicare and Medicaid had destroyed much of what was best about being a doctor.  The communist radicalization of students at the most elite schools was a hard process to reverse.  Kids with no business experience and no way to see how communism impacted everyone were being fed this Utopian scheme.  Bob had seen through that after many years in the real world.  Even so that course had touched his life immeasurably.

Offsetting the Utopian view of communism taught by professor Brubaker, was a course in Soviet-Western bloc politics.  The instructor, Martha Olcott, though as liberal as the other instructors was a realist about Soviet life.  Ten years prior to the fall of the Berlin wall she was predicting the collapse of Soviet communism.   She blamed it on its corruption and implementation as much as on the inability of the Soviets to control a population that was made of so many unassimilated minorities.  She had predicted that the Poles, the Bulgarians, the Czechs, the Romanians and more would rebel and bring down the USSR.    She never really blamed communism for its faults.  Bob however noticed that centrally run governments seem ill prepared to help their own people.    It was much later that this idea of poor central planning would take hold in his mind.

The last course that Bob remembered from his college days that had made a huge impact was the constitutional law course.  In 1990, this course presented the Supreme Court as an all knowing self correcting protector of American freedom.    The constitution itself was this solid document whose tenets and principles were upheld by the highest court in the land.  It was a world where evils against the minority could be corrected and where freedom was protected most of all.  The idea that the constitution itself was a living document, where its basic guarantees could be discarded for higher moral ideals was never presented.  The people that wanted to disband the constitution in order to promote an unlimited governmental power were never mentioned as part of constitutional law.  Looking back, Bob thought that perhaps their view was much more prevalent than anyone had ever thought.  The justices had been portrayed as people of the highest character dedicated to protecting freedom first.  Witnessing many of today’s rulings, Bob had come to believe they had been compromised.

In any case, much of Bob’s formative thought process had been formed by these classes and experiences.   As he went to work and diligently sought to create vaccines that protected the populace from misery and death he had a warm opinion of this country.   He believe the work he did was a tremendous medical benefit to the populace.  How was he to know that opinion was about the be shattered and  that everything he thought of government was a lie and one that might cost him his life.  Nevertheless, I get ahead on myself.  For now Bob is working to identify and contain the next potential flu pandemic.

Childhood and The President — I will do what I want.

Growing up, I was always in trouble.  Whenever mom or dad would tell me to do something I would announce my intention to either do the thing or not do the thing.  I not only announced my intention but would announce it with attitude.   They always knew where I stood and should I refuse to do what they asked I would get into big trouble.   Often a power struggle ensued.  As a kid however, you have no power so I lost most if not all of those battles.

My brother however had a different strategy.  Whenever he was told to do something he would just agree to do it.  Now before you think he was being compliant and obedient, note that verbal agreement is not action.   He would agree whether or not he had any intention of carrying out the task.   Often the request itself would get lost to time and the task would never be completed.   The result was that there were almost no power struggles between him and my parents.  His approach seldom resulted in conflict.    

Most of us would say that if you agree to something then you should do that thing.  Whole philosophies are built on that concept.  The basis of honor, honesty, commitment and contracts are all based on the concept that someone’s word can be depended upon.  For me, the convenience of just agreeing never sat very well.   I did not see commitment as a fuzzy concept.  To his credit, as my brother got older he was one of the most dependable people I ever knew.   His word was something you could depend with absolute assurance.  He was still incredible at maintaining peace, but did so with a commitment to his word.  Not so, President Obama.

Our president has demonstrated much the same approach to commitment as did my brother as a child.  Saying what is expedient to get the most mileage has become one of his trademarks.  It is as if his intentions or words of the moment are reality and we are supposed to believe that reality from moment to moment.   Of course he said that, “If you like your insurance you can keep it.”  He knows it was false, but it was what he wanted people to believe.  My brother wanted my parents to believe that he would do his chores.  He did not want to do the chores only to convince them of his good intentions.   My brother, unlike President Obama grew up to be a man of his word and the “I will do what I want philosophy” no longer dominated his actions. 

Unfortunately, the “I will do what I want” approach to governing is not a good model for a democratic society.  Recently Obama announced that he would double gas mileage standards by 2024 and save each person $8,000 per year.    Whether or not there was any science to make that promise was not relevant. Whether or not it is possible was not relevant.  The announcement also assumed that he knows what the price of gas will be in 10 years.  The only basis he had for the announcement is that it is something he wants.  Sadly, most of the news goes along with announcing this without ever challenging the announcement’s factual underpinnings.   According to the President, his announcing the thing is the same as its becoming reality.  Facts do not matter.

With the Healthcare law and immigration law the President has told the nation what parts of the law were valid and what parts were not valid even when those decrees were completely antithetical to the actual wording of the law.  The penalties that are part of not complying with the law as written are still due even if the President decided not to “implement” them.  Beyond the fact that he has no actual power to change a law that is already passed, just because he says that he is changing the law does not actually change it.  Those that cross our borders and live here without going through formal channels are still illegal aliens under the law.   The President can call it what he likes and violate his oath of office by not enforcing the law, but they are still illegal under the law. 

Just like with my brother, If Mom and Dad did not come back to him and challenged him on the fact that he did not do as he said he would, then he would never have done what was expected.  If Congress does not go back to the President and force him to follow the constitution he will continue to do what he wants with no check on his power.  He has been clear in action and deed that this is an “I will do what I want.” presidency.  Perhaps, while a child is learning responsibility, a short venture into the ”I will do what I want lifestyle”,  it is not so bad.  It is also what you would expect of a dictator.  It is not a good approach for the democratically elected leader of the United States.