June 24, 2009

Learn Something Today

Some things bother me. I worry about them.

For instance, this morning I am determined to discover who invented the toaster. It was Charles B. Strite who invented the modern, timer operated pop-up toaster -- according to WikiAnswers.

My head is filled with useless information like this. Dates, names, part numbers all echo in a meaningless jumble through my brain matter. Do you know the last time the Isle of Great Britain was successfully invaded by a foreign army? Who commanded the Union Fourteenth Corps at the Battle of Chicamauga? What is the largest city in American without a navigable waterway?

Last night at dinner I was asked by my future son-in-law "Why would you know that?" in reference to some trivia I added to the general conversation. I cannot even remember what was said now, but his comment struck me. Why, indeed, do I want to know this stuff? It is not like it will ever earn me money or fame, unless I luck upon a stint on Jeopardy.

Why do I research the Constitution, the value of currency, the Laffer Curve? Why do I care about the historical references and the events that shaped our Nation? Why is the first decade of the 1800s important to modern political thought? What does the policies of the Lincoln Administration and Reconstruction have to do with the Stimulus Plan and the takeover of GM? How did the Presidency of George Bush (I) lead to the election of Obama? Why should every college economics course focus on the Japanese and German economies of the 1990s?

If we do not study history we fail to recognize the mistakes made by those who came before us. If we do not study the 1920 Prohibition era, we might think banning cigarettes was a good idea. If we do not study the economic effects of the Depression and the New Deal, we might believe the Government can actually spend the way out of an economic slowdown. If we do not do a little research we might think unemployment is at a level unseen since the Great Depression. With a little work you will see the early Reagan years were tougher than our current times, thanks to the genius of Jimmah Carter.

If one were to actually make an effort to learn something, to read, to think, to research, in the future you will take decisions based on reason. Then, not only will you pull the voting lever based on thought rather than emotion, but your head will be filled with useless fun facts, like the identity of the last Julio-Claudian Emperor of Rome.

here are some of the answers:
1066, Gen. George Thomas, Indianapolis, Nero

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