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At the heart of much of what's wrong in America is the decades-long process of replacing things that worked with what sounds good. Take arithmetic. During the early 1940s, when I was in elementary school, we learned our numbers by rote. The teacher would call on different students to recite parts of the multiplication table. That kind of "oppression" was replaced by the new math. Its result: If stores didn't have cash registers that automatically compute the customer's change, they'd be out of business.

How about crime? When criminals were seen as wicked people, as opposed to sick, and we responded by punishing them and locking up habitual offenders (three-time losers) for life, there was less crime. But the psychobabblists convinced us to switch our emphasis from punishment to rehabilitation. As a result, criminals control the streets, and law-abiding citizens must be ever watchful of their lives and property.In the process of civilizing children, a well-justified spanking was seen as a valuable tool. Summers were the worst time for a spanking. Windows were open, and all of your playmates could hear you pleading, "I'll be good. I won't do it anymore." The next day, you'd face their taunts and ridicule. The psychobabblists got us again. We were told that children ought to be allowed to express themselves and that spanking is child abuse. Now many children have no reservation about using the foulest of language to adults; often that adult is the parent. In a fashion, my mother went along with that expression business. We had expression sessions: I expressed myself, and she picked up a strap and expressed herself.

How about welfare? In the north Philadelphia housing project, where I grew up, most were poor. But just about all of my neighborhood playmates lived with two parents with either one or both working. Today's Richard Allen project is different. Most kids live in female-headed households. Instead of work, welfare has become the way of life. Years ago, being on welfare was considered a disgrace. Today, welfare has become a "right" somewhat like those guaranteed by our Constitution. For many, employment is a trek down to the mailbox for a "paycheck." As a result, we've immunized many poor people to the traditional cure for poverty - opportunities and a robust expanding economy.

Few politicians have the courage to say that we've made many mistakes over the past several decades and that we have to return to the common-sense basics of our elders. Instead, they and the "experts" try to continue in their attempt to convince us that it's external factors that explain the anti-social behavior so prev-a-lent today rather than gross individual character flaws. But as Abraham Lincoln warned, "You can't fool all the people all the time." Increasing numbers of Americans are wising up to the fact the liberals have sold us a rotten bill of goods.

Some of this recognition is seen in the popularity of calls for truth-in-sentencing, our increased willingness to build more prisons and put criminals away for a longer time. Americans are developing increased resistance to educationist demands to dig deeper into our pocket to fund government schools. More are interested in school choice plans. There's building public resentment against people who choose laziness, excuses and welfare as a way of life.

We don't have to become excessively punitive to restore some of the common sense of yesteryear. We simply must stop believing those half-baked theories that only academics can believe and understand and get back to practices that work.