Pyramids, the next US Secretary of Education and other crazy things..

It has been a while since I managed to get around to writing here. A long while...

The world has turned on its head, turning into a basket case in just a few weeks with the US election. And I am still trying to get my head around it. 
The best comment I have heard yet on the US election so far:

"Maybe the USA is not yet ready for a real democracy"

It was issued in a statement by the government of Iraq.
So what next? There are leaks out on who may be pulled in to form Trump's new team in government. Scarily one of the names on that list is in fact none other than Sarah Palin, the ex Governor of Alaska, 'Tea Party' campaigner and paid Fox news commentator..who has now launched the 'Sarah Palin News Network'.

Fittingly Palin as one of the only female appointees in the Trump's team. Straight conservative, an ex-beauty pageant winner, creationist, NRA life member, climate change sceptic, and pro-lifer who also supports capital punishment. But do not be fooled, she at least is actually a serious political force to reckon with and unlike many of the old white rich men in Trump's team, she is able to connect with people in the USA...But yeah, she is also crazy.

So then the only other non-white and non-male candidate is the guy pegged to be next Secretary of Education (or Health) - Ben Carson. What has he got to say for himself, particularly as an Afro American male?

Well I thought I'd have a look.
In an October 2015 interview, Carson stated: 
"I actually have something I would use the Department of Education to do. It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding on that basis." 
This controversial suggestion was criticized by various commentators, who questioned its constitutionality and practicality.
Carson also asserted that the AP U.S. History overemphasizes wrongdoing (such as slavery, Japanese internment, and atrocities against American Indians) by the United States, saying:
 "I think most people, when they finish that course, they'd be ready to go sign up for ISIS."
In February 2015, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Carson said:
 "I've found that homeschoolers do the best, private schoolers next best, charter schoolers next best, and public schoolers worst." 
On that basis, he advocated school choice. Carson is also critic of the Common Core State Standards.
Oh yes, and he does not believe in evolution either..and he has some interesting theories about a bunch of stuff, like the Pyramids:
Ben Carson also has his own website: https://www.bencarson.com/issues/education/
The thing is that Carson was never a straight Republican per se, before he joined the mission to 'Make Merica Grate Again' officially in 2014. Basically he is conservative independent but kind of stuck in the age of the Pyramids..
However, Ben Carson's philanthropic education foundation appears to be a serious intervention. It does run a scholarship program and funds reading rooms in schools. Since 1996, the fund has distributed more than 7,300 scholarships, it has installed 138 reading rooms in low-income schools. Scholarship recipients are rewarded for academic achievement between grade 4-11, and students receive a $1000 cash scholarship. As the website makes clear: 
'Each school is eligible to nominate one student to compete for a Carson Scholarship. Carson Scholars must have a minimum 3.75 GPA. Scholarships are awarded solely on the basis of academic achievement and humanitarian qualities – without regard to financial need or ethnicity'
Pity about the lack of regard for equity in the targeting of the beneficiaries..but then it matters a lot less when you are leveraging that philanthropy for political goals, doesn't it?

I mean what if said beneficiaries already have the money to pay for a college education? Doesn't that just tend to benefit those who are able to use their comparative advantage, good parents and networks to develop the disposition to become 'humanitarians'. Basically won't those with such kinds of backgrounds tend to get to reach for the carrot earlier and with greater ease?
And how does Ben make money? Well now basically the more speeches he gives and more books he sells, the more money he raises for the foundation and for himself. But then large corporations who wish to donate money give the rest. In short, the foundation gave Carson an opening to mind-meld with corporate America.
Ben Carson in effect gets paid to put his face on issues for the Republican party. He endorses, basically getting paid to say the politically ultra-right things outlined in those proposals for education listed above, and he is not in the least disturbed by saying these crazy things. He is as cool with them as he is with his Pyramids. In short the trade off seems pretty explicit, he was pulled in by the GOP who saw how he could be leveraged, or as he puts it:
"I need to do what is best for my family and my country,". "If somebody dislikes me for that, that's okay with me."
Yep - and I think by 'family' he means for his house in Florida, his wife and kids etc... Which for many other people would be better translated as 'best for my pocket'. So frankly Ben you are a very convenient ally for the GOP. Ben's dilemma seems like a fairly broken compensatory refrain now in US politics, as altruistic as it may sound if you are even fooled bor a second..No just believe me, he is fighting for 'family (pocket) and country (GOP)' with bible and rifle. 
This probably has not been an easy ride for Ben Carson, being basically the only black GOP candidate in a vehemently white conservative party. But it doesn't seem like a bad financial deal either on the flip side. In financial disclosure forms, Carson and his wife reported income of between $8.9 million and $27 million from January 2014 to May 3, 2015, when he announced his presidential campaign. Over that period, Carson received over $4 million from 141 paid speeches; between $1.1 million and $6 million in book royalties; between $200,000 to $2 million as a contributor to the Washington Times and Fox News. (wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Carson)
He is also paid to sit on the boards of companies. So between $2 million and $10 million as a member of the boards of Kellogg Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. However, he resigned from Costco's board in mid-2015, after serving on it for more than 16 years. Carson also was Chairman of the Baltimore-based biotechnology company Vaccinogen from August 2014 until the announcement of his US presidential bid in May 2015. Carson had previously served on Vaccinogen's Medical Advisory Board.
So the question I wondered at the end of this is what in fact does Ben Carson think he is doing?
Having come from a fairly poor family apparently himself, how do you reconcile slowly selling out in this totally existential way?
He is either doing exactly what some unscrupulous highly paid surgeons and doctors appear to do particularly in the USA, by endorsing drug companies and 'selling their respectable face' at the highest premium - so just selling his credentials and support network of voters (via the foundation) to the GOP conservative lobbying machine rather than to a big pharma company.
Or Ben Carson really is going to stand by his comments above and has a radical agenda for education in the USA.

Or maybe neither is really true - or at least each is conveniently true until it isn't. In fact possibly Ben possibly lives in some kind of halfway state in which both realities have to remain conveniently true to a point..

I would like to think that somewhere out there in the void is a windswept camel standing thoughtfully, wondering deeply about space in four dimensions, while trying to resolve such philosophical questions. 
Either way, I think Ben Carson will be just fine, he moved from his house in Maryland with 48 acres of land to West palm Beach, Florida. It is not, for all that I know built in a three dimensional triangular way.

But I think it is better put by a far more talented inhabitant of that place, who as he wandered alongside the beautiful seashore wrote in 'The Idea of Order at Key West':

 It was her voice that made   
The sky acutest at its vanishing.   
She measured to the hour its solitude.   
She was the single artificer of the world 
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,   
Whatever self it had, became the self 
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,   
As we beheld her striding there alone, 
Knew that there never was a world for her   
Except the one she sang and, singing, made. 

(Wallace Stevens)

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