Heritage FoundationDoes anyone know anything about the Heritage Foundation? I have to take a 9 credit hour class for my university and it requires lots of readings from this foundation. It seems...

Heritage Foundation

Does anyone know anything about the Heritage Foundation? I have to take a 9 credit hour class for my university and it requires lots of readings from this foundation. It seems very biased to me. For example I will attach a link to one of this week's required readings about the demise of liberty at the hands of growing government which began during the progressive movement. I am just curious about others' opinions.

The article is called, The Progressive Movement and the Transformation of American Politics.

the link to site and article.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2007/07/The-Progressive-Movement-and-the-Transformation-of-American-Politics

Asked on by kateew

11 Answers | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

To help crystallize what others have said here is a quote from the About page of the Heritage Foundation website. The Foundation:

is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

Their stated aim is to preserve the ideology of the founding principles. Their method is to perform "timely research" on current policy issues. Their "primary audiences" are:

members of Congress, key congressional staff members, policymakers in the executive branch, the nation’s news media, and the academic and policy communities.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Having now read the whole article (yes, I did it just for fun and that says something about me as a person...), I would be very interested in your (Kateew) reaction to it.  Do you find things in it that you would dispute?  Are they factual things or are they opinions?

To me, this article is composed of two parts.  There is the main part which lays out the differences between the Founders' viewpoints and those of the Progressives.  I cannot say that I disagree with any of the main points of the author's characterizations of what the Progressives believed and how they differed from the Founders.  Then there is the (much shorter) last part in which the author argues that modern liberalism is just like Progressivism only much much worse.  This is the part that is pure opinion.

If I were you, I would look at the first part much more closely.  The author is saying that both Republicans and Democrats have come to share the Progressives' beliefs.  Do you think this is true?  Do you think that practically everyone in our society shares those beliefs and prefers them to those of the Founders?  Then I would suggest that you ask whether there is a need for these changes.  Is it the case (as Post 6 argues) that these changes are necessary because society is so different now from the way things were at the Founders' time?  Finally, I would suggest that you ask yourself whether you think the Founders' vision (as laid out here) is superior to that of the Progressives (again as laid out here).  I think all of these would be interesting questions.

I'd really encourage you to think about these questions much more than the stuff that comes under Progressivism and Today's liberalism.  That later stuff is really just venting.  The real "meat" of this article (and what makes it worth reading, whatever your views) are in the stuff that comes before.

(Just so you don't think I'm trying to indoctrinate you myself, I'm not a conservative, would never join the Tea Party, etc.  I don't consider myself a liberal either.  What I hope I am is someone who considers all sides of a question fairly and is willing to listen to reason...)

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that before we get too angry at the reading list for your class, we should see a couple of things.  Most importantly, I think we need to see what it is that your professor does with this material.  There is nothing wrong with presenting material that advances an opinion.  Professors do this all the time.  This is one reason why conservatives tend to get so angry about the liberal bias in higher education.

What we have to see is whether your professor looks at this from a critical point of view.  Does he/she look at it, critique it, and encourage the class to do the same?  Or will this be taught as the truth that must be adhered to?  To me, this is the big issue.  I don't care what sorts of readings are presented as long as a professor is willing to look at both sides of issues in class.  There's no way to present material that has no bias, so it's up to the teacher to make sure that thought is going on.

 

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

After reading through the document to which you set up a link, what struck me most was the changes United States faced in light of the Industrial Revolution. Rather than being God-centered, now machines and science were seen as far superior. The Industrial Revolution (for example) eas one "event" that changed how the world had worked up to that point, and while changing people's philosophies, it also influenced employment, the economy (think of the garment mills so women could buy dresses off the rack), and a sense of moving into a new age of man. With this growth came concerns over destroying nature to build mills and factories, the abuse of workers (including women and children) who worked under terrible conditions, as well as a new sense of the need to and fear of the emancipation of women and slaves.

As with anything that involves human beings, there is growth—therefore there is change. Some good things took place: humane treatment of the mentally ill was adopted, there was a push for public sanitation, better care for orphans, new medical treatments, the ability to communicate more quickly and travel with greater speed. These things sound really good. However, with each good thing, there is the realistic side that not all good comes without a cost—sometimes at the expense of others. The Porters on trains were black and some felt lucky to have jobs, but where they treated and paid fairly: were they considered travel assistants (like flight attendants) or servants?

One point made in the linked article is:

"All that progressives ask or desire," wrote Woodrow Wilson, "is permission -- in an era when development, evolution, is a scientific word -- to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine."

Whenever human beings are concerned, we must look at everything we touch as changing, because we are always evolving. I'm not a big fan of Darwin, but evolution of our species in terms of watching how we have adapted and thrived over the years is Darwinian in nature—and the Constitution and the laws need to be as flexible and able to change as the country it speaks for. This does not mean we throw the child out with the bath water; we need to seek to retain the original intent of our forefathers. Did they have the Internet? Was child pornography as accessible then as now? No. So we need to let the law speak for us, protect us and our family members, and our country as well. Are special interest groups represented now in a manner that they were not before? Yes. However, evolution does not come without a price. If the price is too high, than the people and the politicians we elect are responsible to keep up with our changing world to address inequities. Progressivism was not the first to shake up the status quo of our government, nor will it likely be the last. The responsibility in light of these things is to keep an eye on what happens around us, and do the best we can—amid our careers and other responsibilities—to make sure that those who represent our country do NOT lose sight of what our founding fathers had in mind. Some things come in black or white. Those in various shades of grey need grounded, visionaries who seek to maintain the integrity of the nation as Jefferson, et al, envisioned it. We are capable of great things. Remembering our roots should not be so hard, as long as we are more concerned with the nation, and less with our own personal gratification.

Politics always makes people crazy because we disagree, and because we care. Caring is the first element necessary to address the needs of the people, at the hands of our government. (By the way, I found Locke very interesting as well, especially when compared to Hobbes. And Jefferson was particularly influenced by his as well.) We need to focus on the basics, and adopt change while keeping focus on those basics.

Perhaps the problem with the Heritage Foundation is that it is too conservative: what we need is probably a way to find a middle ground. It seems logical and wise to do so. We can send men to the moon and replace organs: middle ground shouldn't be an impossible vision.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The above posts are absolutely right, the Heritage Foundation is a right-leaning think tank and research foundation.  It was originally funded by the Coors family, and is typically very pro-business and pro-defense spending.  Boeing and Lockheed-Martin are frequent contributors.

This link is from SourceWatch, which is a great way to detect bias based on funding:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heritage_Foundation#Historical_funding

As long as you know in advance that what you're reading has that bias, it's not harmful, but I would say that it is educationally unethical to only offer resources from that one foundation.

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

The Heritage Foundation is a well-funded, highly influential conservative organization. Their website says: "Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." The group has a very strong right-wing bias, and was a leading resource known to provide guidance for Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush.  The group has been embroiled in numerous controversies, including a scandal over its acceptance of significant sums of support money from Taiwan and South Korea.

I am surprised that a college class would rely heavily on a source that is so known for its bias; are there also readings from known liberal sources to offer a balance of perspectives?

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

Having now read the whole article (yes, I did it just for fun and that says something about me as a person...), I would be very interested in your (Kateew) reaction to it.  Do you find things in it that you would dispute?  Are they factual things or are they opinions?

To me, this article is composed of two parts.  There is the main part which lays out the differences between the Founders' viewpoints and those of the Progressives.  I cannot say that I disagree with any of the main points of the author's characterizations of what the Progressives believed and how they differed from the Founders.  Then there is the (much shorter) last part in which the author argues that modern liberalism is just like Progressivism only much much worse.  This is the part that is pure opinion.

If I were you, I would look at the first part much more closely.  The author is saying that both Republicans and Democrats have come to share the Progressives' beliefs.  Do you think this is true?  Do you think that practically everyone in our society shares those beliefs and prefers them to those of the Founders?  Then I would suggest that you ask whether there is a need for these changes.  Is it the case (as Post 6 argues) that these changes are necessary because society is so different now from the way things were at the Founders' time?  Finally, I would suggest that you ask yourself whether you think the Founders' vision (as laid out here) is superior to that of the Progressives (again as laid out here).  I think all of these would be interesting questions.

I'd really encourage you to think about these questions much more than the stuff that comes under Progressivism and Today's liberalism.  That later stuff is really just venting.  The real "meat" of this article (and what makes it worth reading, whatever your views) are in the stuff that comes before.

(Just so you don't think I'm trying to indoctrinate you myself, I'm not a conservative, would never join the Tea Party, etc.  I don't consider myself a liberal either.  What I hope I am is someone who considers all sides of a question fairly and is willing to listen to reason...)

I agree with you. West did lay out some solid facts and presented some well founded opinions. I guess it was the mass of overly opinioned mush at the end that got me riled up. That and then after reading this week’s assignments I will be giving a written assignment like: “America’s Founding Fathers posit a negative correlation between the size of the federal government and individual liberty. Our Founders mistrusted government and believed that its growth came at the expense of individual freedom. With reference to the growth of the federal government since the time of our founding, defend the Founders’ notion of limited government.”

I don’t mind reading the ideas of others even when I don’t agree with them, but it gets old when one has to constantly read articles and essays supporting a single perspective that I don’t completely agree with and then write regular essays defending positions and opinions that I was barely able to bear reading through.

 

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

After reading through the document to which you set up a link, what struck me most was the changes United States faced in light of the Industrial Revolution. Rather than being God-centered, now machines and science were seen as far superior. The Industrial Revolution (for example) eas one "event" that changed how the world had worked up to that point, and while changing people's philosophies, it also influenced employment, the economy (think of the garment mills so women could buy dresses off the rack), and a sense of moving into a new age of man. With this growth came concerns over destroying nature to build mills and factories, the abuse of workers (including women and children) who worked under terrible conditions, as well as a new sense of the need to and fear of the emancipation of women and slaves.

As with anything that involves human beings, there is growth—therefore there is change. Some good things took place: humane treatment of the mentally ill was adopted, there was a push for public sanitation, better care for orphans, new medical treatments, the ability to communicate more quickly and travel with greater speed. These things sound really good. However, with each good thing, there is the realistic side that not all good comes without a cost—sometimes at the expense of others. The Porters on trains were black and some felt lucky to have jobs, but where they treated and paid fairly: were they considered travel assistants (like flight attendants) or servants?

One point made in the linked article is:

"All that progressives ask or desire," wrote Woodrow Wilson, "is permission -- in an era when development, evolution, is a scientific word -- to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine."

Whenever human beings are concerned, we must look at everything we touch as changing, because we are always evolving. I'm not a big fan of Darwin, but evolution of our species in terms of watching how we have adapted and thrived over the years is Darwinian in nature—and the Constitution and the laws need to be as flexible and able to change as the country it speaks for. This does not mean we throw the child out with the bath water; we need to seek to retain the original intent of our forefathers. Did they have the Internet? Was child pornography as accessible then as now? No. So we need to let the law speak for us, protect us and our family members, and our country as well. Are special interest groups represented now in a manner that they were not before? Yes. However, evolution does not come without a price. If the price is too high, than the people and the politicians we elect are responsible to keep up with our changing world to address inequities. Progressivism was not the first to shake up the status quo of our government, nor will it likely be the last. The responsibility in light of these things is to keep an eye on what happens around us, and do the best we can—amid our careers and other responsibilities—to make sure that those who represent our country do NOT lose sight of what our founding fathers had in mind. Some things come in black or white. Those in various shades of grey need grounded, visionaries who seek to maintain the integrity of the nation as Jefferson, et al, envisioned it. We are capable of great things. Remembering our roots should not be so hard, as long as we are more concerned with the nation, and less with our own personal gratification.

Politics always makes people crazy because we disagree, and because we care. Caring is the first element necessary to address the needs of the people, at the hands of our government. (By the way, I found Locke very interesting as well, especially when compared to Hobbes. And Jefferson was particularly influenced by his as well.) We need to focus on the basics, and adopt change while keeping focus on those basics.

Perhaps the problem with the Heritage Foundation is that it is too conservative: what we need is probably a way to find a middle ground. It seems logical and wise to do so. We can send men to the moon and replace organs: middle ground shouldn't be an impossible vision.

I really enjoyed your post. I do agree with post points. It is so hard for me to admit when people I generally disagree with make sound points in the course of a several page article. I guess that is why I was frustrated earlier. I don't agree with everything West concluded but he did lay out some straight forward facts and presented several acceptable opinions.

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

I think that before we get too angry at the reading list for your class, we should see a couple of things.  Most importantly, I think we need to see what it is that your professor does with this material.  There is nothing wrong with presenting material that advances an opinion.  Professors do this all the time.  This is one reason why conservatives tend to get so angry about the liberal bias in higher education.

What we have to see is whether your professor looks at this from a critical point of view.  Does he/she look at it, critique it, and encourage the class to do the same?  Or will this be taught as the truth that must be adhered to?  To me, this is the big issue.  I don't care what sorts of readings are presented as long as a professor is willing to look at both sides of issues in class.  There's no way to present material that has no bias, so it's up to the teacher to make sure that thought is going on.

 

I don't get angry about reading. I love it, I do enjoy listening to others' ideas and thoughts even if I don't agree with them. and can ussually tell if it is biased. I just was curious about others' opinions of using this one organization for the bulk of the class text.

kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

Our class begins with basic federal documents like US Constitution, the Federalist Papers and some Locke, Plato ( I enjoyed these readings), after those interesting readings, all other sources compiled in our text are from the Heritage Foundation.
kateew's profile pic

kateew | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

A second example of required reading from same week and same site is called A Moral Case Against Big Government. I am curious about others opinions about these specific readings but also the required course in general. It seems strange that every single required text and reading from the course comes from this one organization. The course is acctually broken into 3 different courses called; Freedom and Respnsibility, American Vision and Values, and Tradition and Change.

The university has its own website for this required program.

http://www.americanvisionandvalues.org/

Some of it I think it productive but some seems to be basically be a Heritage Foundation indoctrination program.

 

 

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/02/a-moral-case-against-big-government-how-government-shapes-the-character-vision-and-virtue-of-citizens

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