I was surprised and gratified by the response to yesterday's post (The Things You Remember), in which I asked what the earliest historical event was that you remembered. The Challenger disaster and the assassination of JFK were mentioned several times, and it was very interesting to see the things that make an impression on people and ground them in a particular time and place. I didn't get a record number of responses, but I got quite a few and all were great - thanks to everyone for replying!
I have another question today, this one brought on by a very interesting series of short essays in yesterday's Washington Post Op-Ed section: 10 Things We Should Toss. In this two-page spread, ten commentators suggested ten things we ought to get rid of to improve the nation. The ten things (and their authors) were:
The Nobel Prize in Literature (Marie Arana);
The Prom (John Green);
The NAACP (Jonetta Rose Barras);
Vice Presidents (Jeremy Lott);
West Point (Thomas Ricks);
The White House Press Corps (Ana Marie Cox);
Larry Summers (Naomi Klein);
Tenure (Francis Fukuyama);
The Term "Muslim World" (Parag Khanna); and,
Television (Farhad Manjoo)
In my humble and biased opinion, this is a great list. Each essay is well-written and thought through. Having read them, I can agree with most, although not necessarily for the same reasons put forward by the authors. For instance, John Green hates the expense vs the perceived return on investment of the high school prom...but it does show young people the value of dressing well and acting civil, if only for a night. Jeremy Lott doesn't think we need Vice Presidents, but I think it's not bad to have an understudy (although, having just finished Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, by Barton Gellman, I think we need to keep an eye on them). Farhad Manjoo wants to dump television, although I love the diversity of shows that keep things interesting. I must say, though, that I agree with Thomas Ricks, a military affairs commentator for whom I have great respect, that we should close West Point...as an ROTC graduate, I see all his arguments and agree with him pretty much across the board.
Take a few minutes, read the 10 short essays, and then suggest something you think we should toss. To start things off, I suggest we get rid of the Department of Homeland Security, which I don't think has made us any more secure, and has contributed to an unnecessary and expensive ballooning of the federal bureaucracy.
What do you think?
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.