Monday, August 14, 2017

Declining Education in America should not be a surprise

No one disagrees that America's educational system is losing ground to the rest of the world at an increasing rate.  But there seems to be little agreement on why...or what to do to reverse this.

Like everyone else, I have some ideas that might bear consideration and discussion.

Let's start with some presumptions:
-the purpose of education is a function of a societies view, which is not a constant;
-the importance of education is determined by both the home and society;
-how effective education reaches defined goals is NOT defined by students.

Today, our society had become so sensitive and delicate that our history is being "sanitized" and revised so as to not "offend" anyone's sensibilities.  Discussion of the cause as well as the proofs of climate change is seen as no longer legitimate, despite many instances that cast doubt on both data and reasoning.  Can a country where facts can be distorted, history be re-written and challenge disallowed ever successfully "educate?"  Do we WANT to educate?  Define that term...

Our K-12 educational system was based on the Prussian model which had two goals: 1. indoctrinating youth to act in concert as commanded, and 2., providing reading, writing and mathematical skills sufficient to make the graduate employable and to be a worthwhile citizen of the country.  For many years, it accomplished this, but with reduced indoctrination results due to American family values and demands that insisted on independent problems solving skills, and questioning of authority due to the lessons carried over from the War for Independence and needs for survival.

As the Industrial Age developed, increased skills were needed, yet problem solving became an even more important skill.  With time,  and increased security, family interest in History lessened but continuing knowledge of History continued in schools as a "habit."  Also increased security allowed the luxury of also lessening the need to be productive in order to survive, as government began to promote a need to "support" those who could not support themselves.

Today, advancement through the grades does NOT require successfully acquiring proficiency in reading or math, and many schools are now eliminating the need to know how to write (I have no idea how these individuals will be able to record anything or communicate over any distance should our power distribution system be disabled for an extended period).  Now "social" promotion is the norm and a High School Diploma is virtually useless as a qualification for a reasonably well-paying job.

K-12 Schools no longer are places where discipline is instilled, education to facts, or the art of problem solving is the norm.  The inmates are running the institution.  Immature children are not being trained, they are being coddled.  Learning is no longer being demanded.  Those interfering with the learning process are no longer being removed from classrooms or the schools, resulting in students who wish to learn being deprived of the right to accomplish that goal.

Money is not the answer; legislation is needed to provide the authority to control our youth in schools so that they can be taught the basics needed to survive in a real world.  The "individual rights" concepts focuses on single trees as all around our forests are dying by our own hand.

Universities and Colleges are no better.  They used to be places where an aspiring individual went to develop their ability to compete, argue, convince even as they learned more about the world around them, both present and past.  They acquired advanced ability to communicate, question, and solve problems...often in intense disagreement with both classmates and Professors.  Such disagreements were valued as "teaching" be able to argue and defend a position or point even as you learned some often very valuable things from your opposition...and you respected your opponent and the opposition, knowing that it broadened your understanding of your own point of view even as it was amended in light of newly learned strengths and weaknesses.  There used to be competition to be admitted to such place.  And, of course, you needed to pay for it.  Some graduated from High School and worked for years to put away enough money so they could take college courses and ultimately gain greater security for their was a privilege to be able to achieve this, demanding dedication purpose, and hard work.

Today, attendance at a University and/or college is touted as a "right" instead of a "privilege."  But today's University is not the one that I enjoyed more than a half century ago.  Why?  While there are probably many answers, one can be sure that with the failure of High Schools to graduate youth with the skills needed to hold ordinary jobs, the Universities and Colleges now serve to do that.  However careful examination proves that such is not the case; math, writing and problem solving are no longer of any obvious interest today.  Today Universities are also, like K-12, run by the inmates; "safe spaces", "nonaggression" and "being offended" are the focus of today.  Administrators are dedicated to making their students "comfortable" and Professors are (apparently willingly) advised to not offend their students or require them to do anything with which those students disagree.  How disgustingly plebeian are the majority of today's College and University graduates.  One strongly suspects that the reason that the government makes student loans so easy to acquire is that these institutions of "learning" are great for parking a lot of our youth so they don't appear on unemployment rolls for at least 4 years...  The government apparently cares little for the low probability that a majority of recipients of these loans will get an "education" that qualifies them for a job that will enable them to live and pay off those loans...

Do we want Universities that train, rather than coddle and indoctrinate?  If so, restore competition in admittance, in grading, in performance, including a guarantee of open and challenging dialog between both students and faculty, and require students to come with a life plan, knowing why they are in a college setting (other than to please their parents).  The least desirable element should be comfort.  Learning, advancement, challenge are uncomfortable.  They require ongoing effort of a lifetime, and University should be where one learns the habits that make success possible...not an artificial comfort zone that increases the likelihood of failure in a real world.

Maybe...just maybe...if we consider honoring what used to work, once again our educational "systems" can revert to successfully preparing our putative students to not only survive but achieve success in the real world.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Will Mueller turn out to be our modern day Torquemada?

The voters of the United States of America, under the impression that they had the right, elected Donald Trump to be President of the country.  He did not come from a long line of politicians.  He was not a politician.  He was not active in any political activities, other than as they affected his businesses, until disgust with politics motivated him to run for President, which led to his subsequent election.  Evidently a lot of people agreed with him.

The political establishment was neither amused or content; they were horrified..  For politicians, the "game" of politics takes on the aura of religion; it is a way of life and they believe that being "called" to be a politician establishes a common bond that transcends ideological differences.  They become "family."  So, while they can fight between themselves, when an outsider appears and disagrees with their family "habits" of behavior and activity, they stop fighting and combine to defeat the newcomer.

Ah...but how to accomplish this?

The "people" have spoken.  Clearly a multiple pronged attack is clearly in order.  First, mount a campaign of both falsehoods and half-truths that, if pursued constantly and loudly, will cause a diminution of President Trump's support. Secondly, do all that is possible to prevent any accomplishments reach the eyes and ears of the public, hoping that the public will conclude that no Presidential promises are being kept or being effective.  Third, work across ideological boundaries (but cautiously, so the public does not become aware) to defeat bills that would enable actions desired by President Trump.

However, there is a chance that these efforts will not be enough to defeat President Trump's support or prevent his accomplishing some of his declared goals.  What more can be done?

It is unclear who actually triggered the concept (one suspects that all would take credit if asked "off the record"), but the appointment of a "Special Prosecutor" took place.  Usually, this is in response to evidence that a crime has been committed and the goal is document it and determine the responsible party(ies) to be sent to in "Watergate."

Curiously, after more than 9 months there is no evidence of a crime.  With the porous nature our nation's capitol, if there were such evidence it is inconceivable that it would not by now have been leaked to press corp proven ravenously anxious to publicize any illegal act by President Trump or his supporters. Yet...we have a Special Prosecutor.  Not only do we have one, but he is one ideologically oriented to the Democrat party which is the lead ideological group seeking President Trump's removal from office.  Certainly a good number of Republican Congressmen and women would cheer the event also...but oh so quietly, while giving lip service to President Trump.

The power granted to a Special Prosecutor is immense.  It is reminiscent of the power granted to the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th century, Tomas de Torquemada.  And there are more similarities:  t
wo prominent leaders, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Queen Isabella I of Castile (you may substitute "Sen. Schumer: and "Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi" if you wish) appointed Torquemada to "cleanse" Spain of "non-believers" ( you may substitute "non-politicians" if you wish) in 1483 and he remained in office for the next 15 years.  There is no "expiration date" for the office of Special Prosecutor.

Both the Special Prosecutor and Torquemada enjoyed virtually unlimited power authorized by the government with no over-ruling element (while the Special Prosecutor may in theory have some of his actions subject to challenge, the political price is so enormous that it rarely happens).

The various forms of Inquisition lasted in the Hispanic Americas until 1825, in Portugal until 1820,  and in Spain until 1846.  In Italy, it ceased in 1870.  But the office, renamed twice, remains to this day: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.This particular enumeration of "Special Prosecutor" is the first that was clearly established as a "fishing expedition" and lacks a specific law-breaking event to investigate.  Much as was the Spanish Inquisition, the Special Prosecutor may do and investigate whatever he chooses with little if any legal, political or Sense of Justice; Justice will be what Mr. Mueller declares.

Not sure that any of us should be comfortable with that.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Is it about Health Insurance...or Health Care?

Even as "Obamacare" is imploding from costs that are not covered, young people who are not signing up, and premiums that are sky-rocketing, the Media, Ideological Right and Ideological Left point fingers at each other, and talk past each other.  And it is so obvious that one cannot escape the strong suspicion, if not certainty, that they are doing it on purpose to mislead the vast majority of the public.

First, a review of the facts shows that Obamacare has apparently increased the number that is covered by healthcare of some kind.

The difficulty with this claim arises when we ask ourselves if it is insurance, regardless of scope, that we want to extend to people...or is it increased paid-for actual medical coverage that all of us see as the goal.

Healthcare Insurance comes in various least it used come in many forms.  You could chose to select catastrophic insurance plans, where the costs were low because you had no benefit until medical costs exceeded a selected limit...often more than $5,000 for an illness...because you budgeted for normal and ordinary Doctor's visits and accidents.

Then there were the normal, what I used to think of as the Blue Cross/Blue Shield, plans.  These covered normal costs of doctors and hospitals in a variety of ways.  You could chose a network of doctors and hospitals, out of network providers and select any number of co-pay limits and/or drug coverage.

The point of these offerings was to enable any person or family unit to balance cost of premiums against their medical coverage preferences.  Those who had the choice of insurance provided by their employers usually benefited from the employer's negotiating good premium terms, and often had portions of those premiums actually paid by the employer.  But if you left that job, every person had the option of continuing that coverage, albeit at a higher rate.  But you wanted to continue coverage so that you didn't trigger a non-covered period (usually a year or 18 months) for any discovered pre-existing condition.

The motivation for getting, paying for, and continuing Medical Insurance coverage was to protect against preexisting conditions which might or might not develop.  It wasn't enough to have just any policy; you needed to have coverage that was useful.

Obamacare was and remains the equivalent of a con, because it claims to offer a benefit that turns out to be non-existent; the premiums are increasingly exorbitant while the deductibles are so high as to turn the policies into catastrophic only coverage that isn't what most purchasers had before and expected to continue under the promises made by President Obama regarding Obamacare.

And now the Congress is repeating the same mistake.  The only motivation that will cause younger people (and families) to chose to purchase Medical-care Insurance is the fear of discovery of preexisting conditions.  Obamacare proved that a financial penalty wasn't enough if there were no prohibition of coverage due to preexisting conditions.  Besides, without that exception of coverage, what you are trying to provide is NOT insurance at all, but socialized medical coverage.  Without making citizens responsible for the consequences of their planning and their actions, you are socializing the medical costs of everyone.  And that is exorbitantly expensive.

If the government wants to provide ability and incentive for all citizens to have USEFUL medical coverage, provide a limited period (perhaps 18 months) for everyone to select, sign up for, and begin to pay for medical coverage of their choice with coverage for preexisting conditions.  But upon expiration of that period, reinstate the preexisting condition exclusion.

Additionally, for the poor (and there needs to be a certain definition of what that is) set up a means for catastrophic coverage costs to be reimbursed to the purchaser by the government, with the government also picking up any intervening hospital and practitioners' costs upon their supplying factual and audited data.

The key, though, is to mandate that the people themselves have to be responsible for selecting, and processing the necessary applications for coverage and, where appropriate, reimbursement.  If that is done, truly everyone will have the opportunity to access meaningful medical insurance coverage.  But it is opportunity that needs to be provided...not a guarantee.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Are the "Hate Crime" statutes attempts to by-pass the Constitutional guarantee of free Speech?

For three quarters of a century I have been angered by many events that centered around the exercise of free speech as guaranteed by the American Constitution.  Most were personal events that occurred after I had gotten to voting age and had to endure what I considered bad language that not only was often physically impossible but also un-civil.  These offended my perception of what communication should be in any civilized society.

Then there were general public exercises of offensive behavior and speech that seemed to violate existing social norms.  Included in this list, was the burning of the American Flag and the behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church, of Topeka, Kansas, at the funerals of fallen servicemen.

I admit to a visceral anger at such behavior, and the wish for the power to put such activities to an end.

On reflection, while there was great danger in any preemptive prohibition on speech and/or action that did not encourage actual physical harm to others, it seemed that in cases where a case could clearly be made for damage being inflicted on innocents or others those who were injured should have the right to restitution.

Logic suggests that the courts, SCOTUS included, have wrongly and carelessly expanded the definition of "free" in free speech to include freedom from consequences of that exercise.  A careful consideration of the concept of free speech seems to clearly mean that the founding fathers wished to prevent the preemptive prohibition of any person from stating a case on any subject that they found compelling.

There is no action in this world that does not have consequences for those committing actions...or speaking words.  ONLY in America are people allowed to insult others, call them vile names and, in the case of politics, actually lie about accusations and behavior.

In any moral sense, this is wrong.  Certainly any person can comment or accuse, but isn't it just common sense that there needs to be truthfulness in the comment or accusation?  Absent truthfulness, shouldn't any, famous, poor, able to call any such commenter or accuser to make the victim whole?  What social, moral or governmental purpose is served by allowing reprehensible language.

Note that I see such action as being in civil courts, and never as being based on statutory laws.  This should never be in the criminal realm.  Why?  Because then the government is given control of determining what is acceptable or not.

I abhor the passing of "Hate Crime" and "Hate Speech" legislation.  The activities specified are already against the law and the courts have jurisdiction and those engaging in such actions can be punished for their actions.  Frankly, the motivation for abhorrent behavior is not of importance and certainly should not the subject of governmental definition and intuition.  As far as speech is concerned, the Constitution is clear on it being allowed.  I certainly would allow action to recover provable injury from such long as it was in civil court and the judgment made by a jury.

Hate Speech statutes seem only to be a means for the Federal Government to "pile on" for largely political purposes when some crimes are committed.  That is not reason to create more power and put it in the hands of the level of government most removed from the people.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Possible Solution to our Education deficit

The degradation of the educational system in America is the result of many factors: the erosion of the family unit, the unionization of teachers that focuses on protecting the welfare of teachers instead of the education of children, and the Prussian Model used as a basis of our educational system through twelfth grade which is better designed for indoctrination than for learning and independent problem solving, among others.  The focus on the family cannot be recreated by any government.  It must come from the people.  Likewise, a desire to change our educational system from one of standardization to one of maximizing individual learning must also develop from the people and the teaching community working together.

But perhaps if the educational professionals themselves considered a radical change in their way of organizing, they might lead the way to improvements in the other two areas.  Here is one possible approach for consideration.

This involves a great deal of spending up front and that will turn many people off.  But if we look at how much money has already been appropriated only to fail to improve education in this country, perhaps we could at least try something a bit different.

How much more respectful and empowering would it be if all educators ruled themselves through a Professional Association matrix instead of a union matrix?  If administrators and teachers ruled their own membership in a manor designed to mandate good teaching methods as well as results, with awards and raises given by their own judgment and standards based on the achievements of their students, they would achieve three things:
     1, They would insure that all of them were dedicated to educational achievement, with the ability to set and demand high standards of each of their members based on their own self-interest;
     2.  they would have professional respect from parents as well as the general public; and
     3.  they would have the self-satisfaction of knowing that their students would be productive citizens. to implement this?  One idea would be to approach the teachers and their unions with the concept that ALL salaries for three years would be tripled.  Yes, tripled!  In return, the teachers would create their own Professional Organization empowered to rule itself, set minimum requirements and methods for self-evaluation based on student achievement as well as the teachers' Organization evaluations, and give up all tenure.

During those three years the teachers would themselves select those who's performance on behalf of the students qualified them for terms of tenure...which would be for a set number of years (perhaps 8 years), upon the expiration of which the Teachers Professional Association would do a review evaluation, the satisfactory finding of which would provide for an additional 8 year tenure.  At the same time, the Teachers Professional Association would be tasked with reviewing the educational program for learning efficacy, seeking improvement in the learning matrix and experimenting to improve the educational system with the goal of enabling and insuring that all students reach a certain minimum standard of reading, math and general knowledge while those with exceptional or advanced abilities are nurtured to maximize their educational growth.  But the key would be to put the responsibility AND the rewards for achieving that goal in the hands of the teachers themselves.

When Teachers and the general public come to see that Teachers are dedicated professionals exercising professional ability to regulate themselves to excel every bit as much as Doctors and other professionals and demonstrably requiring that all their members perform at the same high standards, they will:
   a. receive the admiration of the public and parents;
   b. which will give them greater authority to enable changes in education that will provide better results for all students;
   c. which in turn will demonstrate value that will provide for remuneration that all excellent teachers deserve; and
   d. the increased status will draw highly motivated and able new recruits into the profession.

At the end of the three year period of adjustment, re-selection of teachers deserving tenure and the creation of the basis for self-regulation and self-evaluation, the salary level would initially go to double the original (or, decrease one-third from the then effective level).  As time passes, the Teachers Professional Association can develop payment rates.  Perhaps they will decide to create a hierarchy of teaching ability (level 1, 2,3, Masters) either generally or by subject that would stay with the teacher and set the level of pay regardless of where or at what school he or she worked.  And/or there might be set adjustments based on cost of living when a teacher moved from one area of the country to another.  And, if a teacher moved during a tenure period, that tenure would continue until the expiration of the current term, with the usual re-evaluation to be conducted by representatives of the Teachers' Professional Association.

Just one idea to consider.  It seems wrong to criticize without attempting to come up with a way of improving or changing what seems currently not to be working.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Were the Russians Really helping Trump win?

I have not seen one argument or suggestion that Russia or those directed by Russia were not trying to help Trump win the election.  But I would suggest that in fact they had no idea that Trump might win, regardless of any Russian-backed activities.

Consider that there were no countries, residents, governments or leaders throughout the world that expected Mr. Trump to be elected.  You can safely bet that that was the view throughout Russia too...including Mr. Putin and the leadership of Russia.

So...what was really going on?  I suggest that it not only possible but probable that, with the success they had in hacking into various American sources a year or more earlier, that they decided to test the American Public's reaction to some of the politically indefensible and embarrassing information they had acquired.  It is likely that they discovered far more than was leaked during the campaign season.  To reveal what they did release was arguably a signal of proof that they had "stuff" that the DNC AND Ms. Hillary would find not only embarrassing, but possibly grounds for impeachment; that not-so-subtle message would have made influencing a President Hillary Clinton easier and perhaps even more effective.Governments usually go to great lengths to hide their hacking operations...and do so quite effectively.  The DNC hacks were not particularly well hidden, as known cut-outs were employed.  Arguably, they wanted the government, expected to be headed by a President Clinton, to know.

Whether all of this is true or only true in part is not something I can prove.  But when you consider that the entire world, in addition to the Democrat party and its adherents, expected the election of Ms. Hillary Clinton to the American Presidency, what other use did the leaks serve?  Most of America knew about the leaked data and that didn't move the polls...and  neither did Trump's other promises and claims.

Think about it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tracking "differences" prevents operation of America's "Melting Pot" heritage

Our Government, at every level, has stopped America from continuing to operate as what we used to refer to as "the great melting pot."  When our country was "discovered" by the Italians, the Scandinavians and the Irish, among many others, as holding out the opportunity for attaining success, they ran into opposition.  Much of it was oriented around Race and discrimination.  But over time, that passed and today they and their offspring are seen as "American" as anyone else.

Today, we have arguments about "racism" all to often, regarding Color of Skin, and Religion...and there seems little hope that it will be resolved anytime soon.

Why did the first groups go beyond it in relatively short order while others cannot seem to get beyond the perceived challenge?

I hear comments that America has a problem with "white" privilege, that a significant portion of our residents are racist and act punitively against anyone who is not considered "white."  Others posit that skin color never fades and is always a sign that is interpreted as being "different."  And the argument regarding religious practices and beliefs adds fuel to the flame of perceived negativity.  All of these positions are offered as reasons (or excuses) for the failure of groups being assimilated into American Life.

These reasons (or "excuses") don't hold up to close scrutiny.

Those who came to this country voluntarily wanted to become Americans.  They had not found opportunity in the country of their birth and wanted the chance to attain more.  They knew there was no guarantee of success, or even of survival, but they appreciated that America provided opportunity to try to achieve something more than was afforded them in their birth country.  Many failed.  Significant numbers died.  But those who survived became full-fledged Americans thankful for the opportunity to succeed or fail on the basis of their own abilities, rather than a caste or other system in the country of their birth that denied them the chance to prove themselves.  They saw the obstacles, including the racial opinions of those already here and established, as challenges to be overcome.  There were no guarantees or gifts of success, but they accepted that as only fair.

African-Americans did not come by choice.  And until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation few had the chance to succeed on their own abilities and merits.  But freed they were, and declared to be citizens of the United States of America.  Did they have challenges due to lack of education?  Yes...but so did those who came from the Mediterranean and Asian countries.  Did they face organized resistance and fear from those already established?  Of course they did, just as did the other groups that had chosen to come here.  The big difference was not the color of their skin; those of Mediterranean and Asian Heritage had the same obstacles. Their big difference was choice!   What was the solution to that challenge?   They could have actively petitioned for funds to travel back to their home country.  Of course, history tends to ignore the fact that African-Americans were sold into slavery by their own countrymen for profit and to eliminate competition for power. Going back to those countries would allow them to look the same as others of their race, but they were unlikely to survive for long...and they had become used to living in America.  So the clear choice for the vast majority was to stay here and strive for a successful free life.

And that struggle was severe in the Southern States of America due to the ingrained attitude of non-African-Americans to see African-Americans as less than equal.  And the North, despite their self-serving claims, wasn't much better;  they simply hid their opinions a bit more effectively.  The Civil Rights Laws passed in the mid-twentieth century as well as the Supreme Court decisions of that ere were needed to provide legal protection for some semblance of equal treatment.  But equal treatment in America as well as throughout the world has always been an illusion rather than a reality.  It hasn't, doesn't and never will exist.  America tries harder than most, but it is an impossible goal because the human race is not equal at all.  We all have different abilities and traits and no one and no government can or should promise equality of anything.  All that can be promised is to allow each person the right to take a chance.  No guarantees of success or any level of result.  People don't grow up equally.  Someone born to well-educated and financially secure parents has a better shot at success than someone born in poverty to parents with no appreciable education.  That is the way of life.  But even a casual study of achievements reveal that a fair number of children born in poverty achieve greater success than those born into wealth and privilege.

The reason that a perception of racism remains so strong today is that our governments' decisions to trace and classify Americans today by Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation and Religion tells us that such differences are important.  It says that even if you are a third generation American, the background of your great grandparents matters...officially.

It shouldn't.  Yes, the laws of this country can provide a legal remedy if one is discriminated against...and they do.  But that should be a private action by one citizen against another...not a basis for tracking by and the interest of the entire Federal Government.  Leaving the government out of tracking such differences would send the clear signal to all of us that such differences do not matter, that we are all Americans and we have that common identity.

Every immigrant group that has come to America has had to comply with the requirements of our immigration laws, has had to adjust to American Society.  In most cases, those coming here would gravitate to hold to themselves for emotional and financial security, even as they encouraged their children to learn English and become "American."  Later generations increasingly became assimilated with the enthusiastic encouragement of the first arrivals...the "melting pot" worked.

Currently there are only two groups where this hasn't taken place;  African-Americans, and those of the Islamic faith.

African-Americans that have failed to escape poverty can look to the Federal Government as the real cause.  By taking the attitude that there needs to be virtually eternal financial support in a variety of forms, the Federal Government has essentially declared that African-Americans cannot succeed on their own efforts and merit.  By so doing they invite and encourage all but the most dedicated and inspired member of that community to just take the offerings of the Federal Government and remain dependent thereon.  They take it...but they are not stupid and do recognize that they are being disrespected and ultimately resent it mightily...and quite correctly start to "cop and attitude."  Any human being would. Want to see a happy community? Provide limits to government support, but provide plenty of job training and guidance.

The other group that has not assimilated is that of the Islamic Faith.  They show no sign of wanting to assimilate.  Apparently, they want to re-create their country of origin here in America.  That includes Sharia Law and a way of living that is contrary to the inherent freedoms of American culture.  Such "separateness" should not be permitted...certainly not the legal attitude.  In America, American Law applies and no area of the United States should be allowed to apply any other standards.  If immigrants fail to follow our laws, they should be deported back to their country of origin.  If already a citizen, they need to be prosecuted and jailed.

But our Federal Government would go a long way to recognizing the equality of every American by applying the policy of benign neglect to any and all attempts to track any racial, gender, ethnic or religious elements of its citizens.  As the populace realizes that it isn't important to the government, they will cease to see it as important to them.