“You mean influenza, don’t you?”rn”No, aflluenza, flic disease of afiluentrnAmerica. Always more. Glut. The shortsightedrnview that things will get betterrnand better, bigger and bigger. Buy now,rnpa later. Forget what we’ve alvaysrnknown: Things that go up alwas comerndown. Those who forget history are condemnedrnto repeat it, with all the bumpsrnand bruises.”rn”Do I have to wait for another war orrndepression to regain m status and self-respect?”rnSanta asked.rn”Not if we can insist that we’re masterrnof our technolog)-—not vice versa. It’s therndifference between technology andrntechnopoly.”rn”WHiafs technopoK?”rn”A w ord which tries to restore Socrates’rnwisdom to todav’s world. He knew thernunexamined life is not worth living.rnTechnopoly warns us that unexaminedrntechnolog’ is not worth having. Emersonrnput it differentlv. He wrote thatrn”Things are in the saddle and ridernmankind.’ The same thought comesrndown to our dav’ through thinkers likernLewis Mumford, George Orwell, andrnNeil Poshnan. We’ve got to get back inrnthe saddle, bridle the horse, and decidernwhere we want to go.”rn’T.merson’s out of date,” Santa said.rn”iI- brighter elves read books b- JohnrnPfeiffer and John Kemeny, who forecast arn’s mbiotic evolution’ of the hiunan andrncomputer species. Humans are out,rncomputers are in. We’ve been turnedrnfrom names into numbers. Computersrnare not only smarter but more durablernHian us. Sooner or later, Kemeny says,rnthev will dominate ‘life’ on Earth.”rn”Trendy nonsense. Homo sapiensrnhasn’t evolved over two million years,rnproducing a Homer, Jesus, Shakespeare,rnMozart, Jefferson, and Mother Teresa tornbe sent into obli’ion by IBM, Intel, orrnsquavk-talk. Our patriots didn’t die to setrnBill Gates free. Prancer will be prancingrnand L^ancer will be dancing when therntos of the 19’^()’s have gone into m’ atticrnor to the local Goodwifl Shop. You canrncount on it, Santa.”rnThe old man was laughing now. Hernhad a broad face and a little round bellyrnthat shook when he laughed like a bowlrnfull of )cll-. .pparenfly, I had helped tornput his worst fears to rest. A wink of hisrne c and a hvist of his head assured me atrnonce I had nofliing to dread.rn”I can’t wait to explain all this to myrneKes,” he beamed. “How many reruns ofrn/ Love l.ucv and Gimsmoke do you havernto see before you’re read to move on?rnSpeaking of moving on, that’s just whatrnI’ve got to do. I’ve still got lots of real surprisesrnin my bag—ones that don’t talk,rnsqueak, or comment on Clinton’s impeachment.”rnWe both laughed now. Herngot up from the chair.rn”I’m going back to tell my wife everything’srnO.K.” I said. “Like lots of people,rnshe’s forgotten what the clatter of reindeerrnhooves means on Christmas Eve.”rn”You do that,” Santa said, “while I findrnan extra stocking and leave her a goodrnold-fashioned sugar plum.”rnBack I went, with more Chrishiias spiritrnthan I’d had since hearing Bob Hoperntalk to the troops during World War II.rnSanta laid his finger aside of his nose, andrngiving a nod, up tlie chimney he rose.rnI knew what was happening. He wasrnback on his sleigh, giving his team a whisfle.rnI even heard Santa talking to his reindeer:rnNow Dasher! Now DancerrnNow Prancer and Vixen!rnWlio says we all diedrnIn the Age of Dick Nixon?rn”Is everything all right?” my anxiousrnwife asked.rn”Fine,” 1 said. “I’ve just had a goodrnconversation with Santa.”rnShe stared at me in disbelief—until wernboth heard him exclaim ere he drive outrnof sight:rnHappy Christmas to allrnAnd to all a good night!rnMarshall Fishwick is a professor ofrnAmerican Studies at Virginia Tech.rnEDUCATIONrnSchools Under Siegernby Donald GruberrnAmerican public education is underrnsiege, but not b’ kids wifli guns, asrnthe somber reporters of the six o’clockrnnews would have us believe. Schools arernbeing held hostage by goyernment regulations,rnantagonistic parents, a biased,rnmendacious press, and special interestrngroup.s who view public education as anrnopportunity to promote their causes.rnMany American schools can be comparedrnto combat zones. Classrooms havernbecome arenas where disruptive studentsrnceaselessly challenge the flaccid authorityrnof today’s teachers while cooperative,rnself-disciplined students are sacrificed tornliberal ideals.rnThe decline of American academicrnexcellence can be traced to the beginningsrnof the left’s social experimentationrnwithin the schools during the 195f)’s.rnEducational “reforms” seemed to makerngood sense to a public that had becomernaccustomed to science, technology, andrnpsychology. Since flien, academics havernbeen gradually replaced by New Agerndoctrines that have forced teaching andrnlearning to take a backseat to policies ofrncontainment and babysitting.rnThe educational system envisioned byrnour forefathers to train children to enterrnsociet)’ as productive, contributing membersrnhas become a laboratory in which torntest the left’s secular theories. Traditionalrnsubject matter has been replaced byrnchild-centered, self-expressive curricularnreferred to as “self-esteem.” As long asrnflie individual feels good about himself itrndoes not matter how that satisfaction isrnachieed. To the advocates of this misleadingrnphilosophy, any act is appropriaternas long as it adds to one’s self-esteem.rnAny behavior is considered a true and legitimaternstatement of a child’s personalrnexpression and is not subject to criticism.rnSchools have seen the obligation torndiscipline insidiously and .systematicallyrndeleted from the traditional inyentor’ ofrneducational responsibilities. No longerrnallowed to punish wayward, capriciousrnstudents for unacceptable conduct,rnschools now condone bad behavior so asrnnot to offend the offenders. Studentsrncannot learn in the environment of permissiverndiscipline that permeates publicrnschools. If they ha e no reason to conductrnthemselves appropriately, childrenrnwill not do so. The growing numbers ofrndisruptive students increasingh’ dominaternavailable class time, preventingrnteachers from teaching and their lessrncapricious classmates from learning.rnSchools still have rules, but they go largelyrnunenforced. Rules without consequencesrnlead to permissive discipline.rnPermissive discipline breeds chaos.rnIn the clcmentar’ grades, simple disciplinernhas been snperseded by “conflictrnresolution,” “anger management,” “sensitirnit’ training,” “crisis intervention,”rnand “peer mediation.” The transferencernDECEMBER 1999/45rnrnrn