Senator Goedde Go Galt- Please!

Goedde The Idaho Legislature is filled with fools. Fortunately most have little or no power. Not true when it comes to the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, John Goedde. Education is the biggest item in the state budget and Goedde is sure he knows how to spend that money. Like Tom Luna, Goedde believes that Public Education ought to be privatized. Short of that, he favors “market solutions” when it comes to education reform.

It should surprise no one that Goedde is a big fan of Tea Party ideology. In fact, he has a great idea- force every high school student to read Ayn Rand’s Tea Party bible, Atlas Shrugged.


According to The Spokesman Review:

Coeur d’Alene Sen. John Goedde, chairman of the Idaho Senate’s Education Committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to require every Idaho high school student to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” and pass a test on it to graduate from high school.

When Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, asked Goedde why he chose that particular book, Goedde said to laughter, “That book made my son a Republican.”

Goedde said he doesn’t plan to press forward with the bill, but it was formally introduced in his committee Tuesday on a voice vote. He said he was sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

Ed Kilgore points out an awkward fact about Rand that Goedde’s constituents might not be entirely happy with,

I don’t normally think it useful to focus on the random utterances or actions of random wingnuts, particularly at the state legislative level. But occasionally you just have to call them on distinctive forms of folly or hypocrisy.

Idaho solon allowed as how he wasn’t serious about pursuing this legislation. But he needs to be held accountable for it, anyway, and by that I mean his constituents should be abundantly aware their senator is robustly endorsing for consumption by children a book that preaches atheism as relentlessly (and no one in the history of literature has been more relentless than Ayn Rand) as capitalism—indeed, the author thought the two were indivisible.

I don’t have a copy of Atlas handy (like most people, I read it as an adolescent, though not as a school requirement), but here’s one quote from John Galt’s famous radio address:

[I]f devotion to truth is the hallmark of morality, then there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking…. the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind.

“Faith is a short-circuit destroying the mind” is probably not a motto Goedde’s going to put on his bumper stickers next time he runs for re-election. But if you know any God-fearing conservative folk in Coeur d’Alene, be sure to share with them the news their senator thinks that’s an important lesson for their kids.

As knowledge of Goedde’s bill spread throughout the internet, blog comments grew increasingly entertaining. Here are a couple from Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire.

drzaius says,

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life:
The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy
that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes,
leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable
to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Northcountry gives us the lowdown on Ms Rand.

Why are we still calling Alice (or Alicia) Rosenbaum by that ridiculous name? Rosenbaum was the only child of upper middle class Jewish Muscuvites who were rabid backers of the Czar. When all was lost they sent little Alice off to America where, like Jethro in the Beverly Hillbillies not being able to decide whether to become a neurosurgeon or a fry cook, she couldn’t decide between a future as a Hollywood movie star or a famous philosopher. Her ‘philosophy’ was her love of the Russion Czar and a burning hatred for communism. She grew up on the silent movies of German actress Leni Reivenstahl. Reivenstahl went on to be an inner circle member Hitler’s party and director of Triumph of the Will. Alice Rosenbaum loved the Fascist movement and those adorable black uniforms worn by the Italian military. These are the roots from which her novels sprung. The writing itself is just plain awful and the plots are worse than silly. She was put into play by the panicked one percenters of the day when Wall Street crashed during the Great Depression and their successors over at the Rand Institute have kept this cult barely alive ever since.

No surprise the GOP teaparty bunch would think she represents intellectual maturity.

Wonkette points out the hypocrisy of the bill.

Goedde also explained that he doesn’t really intend to move the bill forward through the Senate; rather, he wanted to send a message to the State Board of Education that he was very, very displeased with the board’s decision to repeal a rule requiring students to take two online classes in order to graduate.

“It was a shot over their bow just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements,” Goedde said after the meeting. “I don’t intend to schedule a hearing on it.”

So if the board doesn’t keep an arbitrary graduation rule that was widely opposed by voters, the legislature can respond by passing arbitrary graduation requirements of its own. That’s a heck of a good message, and an excellent lesson to students about how state government really works.

Goedde, who is just a middle initial away from having a wicked cool name (we checked — it’s W, not B), responded to another senator’s concern that Atlas Shrugged might be a poor choice to impose on all students by saying, “I don’t plan on moving this forward – it was a statement.” He did, however, praise the novel for its influence on his own worldview:

“When I read Atlas Shrugged, and it’s been probably 30 years since I read it, but it certainly gives one a sense of personal responsibility,” Goedde said.

Efforts to tease out whether “personal responsibility” normally includes introducing dickish bills to make a passive-aggressive “statement,” or whether proposing a state mandate to read a novel about the evils of “statism” might irreparably harm kids’ sense of irony, were ultimately unsuccessful. We will keep Sen. Goedde in mind for Wonkette’s coveted Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year Award, but must point out that several other state legislators have already been far bigger assholes this year, so he’ll need to step up his game.

Goedde has already won my Dim Bulb award, but in the running for the “Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year Award”? That is a whole different league. I am impressed.

Now if only Goedde would follow John Galt’s advice and drop out of society. At least he could go back to the only occupation he is actually trained for, Hotel & Restaurant Administration.


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