Here’s the answer: NOTHING! I teach an accounting class at a private university. In fact, it’s the last required accounting class they must take before they graduate as accounting majors. So my students are not fresh out of high school. They are at least 20, maybe 22 years old. These kids made it through all the difficult weed-out courses before they got to me.
On Thursday, I casually asked them what they thought of Rand Paul’s filibuster. They did not know who Rand Paul was (even though a couple knew who Ron Paul was). They did not know what a filibuster was. They did not know that the fifth amendment of the constitution protects citizens against abuses of the government in a legal proceeding. I had to explain that citizens have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. A citizen is innocent until judged guilty by his peers (not by the prosecutor).
I was flabbergasted. What I thought would be a small 2-3 minute class discussion before we got to our exciting topic of auditing financial statements turned into a 30 minute talk (mostly me talking to them). I told them about Rand’s questions of John Brennan (they did not know that Brennan was the nominee for CIA director). Then I explained that Brennan’s evasive responses to Rand’s questions prompted Rand to write a letter to Eric Holder (they didn’t know who he was either, and I also had to explain what the office of attorney general was).
I did get their attention when I mentioned drones and explained Rand’s simple question to Brennan and Holder. Now that’s exciting video-game type stuff! Can the US President order a drone to drop a bomb on the head of a US citizen, sitting at a café IN AN AMERICAN CITY drinking coffee (even if he’s a bad guy and suspected of all kinds of terrorist activities)? Here’s the worst part, dear reader: some of them thought the answer was “yes”. OMG. That’s when I went into the bill of rights, the “we the people” speech, our rights come from our creator, not government, etc.
After that, some of them said “no, the President doesn’t have that right”. But for some, I had to further explain that if we give THIS president that right then we’ve given that right to the office of the presidency no matter who the future occupant of that office is. Finally, I got the rest of them to agree that the answer was “definitely no”. Wow. America, we are in big trouble.
I can tell you one thing: this particular class had no home-schooled students. Whenever I have home-schooled students, they are LIGHT-YEARS beyond the others in all skills, including critical thinking. So I lay the fault at the K-12 education system. As I mentioned, the issue of drones dropping bombs was interesting to them. But the only other thing that grabbed them was when someone asked why Rand Paul stopped his filibuster. The answer: he had to pee. LOL. America, we are in trouble, IMHO. TTYL.
Follow Gail on Twitter: @AcctgProfTX