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The Sheeple Have Spoken

San Diego – Well, the good news is that it is over.  The lies and misinformation that dripped moment by moment from the politicians as they sought to outdue each other in the amount of venom and vitriol they could spew at the other side has been spent and they will have another few years to recharge their reservoirs of political bile.

The end came, unfortunately, too late for me to retain respect for some of my acquaintances who did not just fall into but rather flung themselves full bore into the hateful, distasteful, and often idiotic fray of yet more bumper-sticker intelligence and cartoon level thinking about issues that were incredibly important on a scale broader, obviously now, than their self serving, simplistic, often one-issue intellects could grasp.

And make no mistake, that preamble is aimed in ALL political directions.  The real issues that face us now and will face us in the near future as a nation were all but ignored by both sides as they sought simply to smear each other with the offal they could only be obtaining by scraping it of off themselves.  Both winning and losing sides studiously avoided a confrontation on truly critical issues of national importance.  The winning side did so because they had no standing to claim a shred of integrity or sincerety had they attempted to enter that arena and the losing side did so for reasons totally obscure to me but which could not be all that flattering.

And in the end, we, as a nation, got not what we needed (and probably could not have extracted from either side) but what we most likely deserve and what most likely will be the first major move down the path toward those “step” or “stage” changes prophesied by historians and political philosophers from Polybius to Marx I spelled out in a previous post.

Some of you old timers may recall that years ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s I predicted that by the time of this election, we would set our nation on a path to reclaiming the shining example to the world our founders gave us or down the road to ruin retracing the same path and for the same reasons previous great civilizations took to their ultimate demise as virtual centers of the world in terms of geo-political importance and economies.  I hoped it would not happen in my lifetime but now, I am sad to say, I think I have lived to see it.

I have now seen the parasitical class out-vote the productive class.  It was bound to happen sooner or later but I truly had hoped it would be a lot later.  I have now seen those who believe they are entitled to the fruits of the labors of others out-vote those remaining few who think they are entitled only to what they can produce and accomplish themselves.  I have seen now those who believe that if there must be some consequence for their actions and behaviors, it is OTHERS who should bear it and not themselves out-vote those who believe  we should all bear the consequences for our own actions and behaviors.

Unfortunately, those feelings of entitlement and social justice have an economic impact.  Of course it does not — or in their minds, should not impact them because it is the others that are expected to pay “their fair share” when some pay nothing at all.  But as the Iron Lady said, pretty soon that approach runs out of “other people’s” money.   Certainly we have run out of our own as a country.

If that were not so we would not have a $16 Trillion dollar debt and be in immediate need of asking to borrow more.  You cannot claim to be solvent and yet require – REQUIRE – additional borrowing just to meet your liabilities.  And the result is each child now alive will be saddled with over ¼ million dollars in personal debt to the country if it is EVER to be settled.

Of course under the new order set in motion at the polls last night it cannot ever be repaid.  Why not?  Here’s a heretical idea, look at the logic.  It is simple Aristotelian logic and not complex at all.  Here are the premises…

  1. The only way to create sustainable revenue to the government is via increases in national productivity.
  2. National productivity is a function of jobs, solid jobs that create the majority of the goods and services needed so that the balance of trade can remain favorable.  And it is those employees who, if the winners of last night are to be believed, carry the major tax burdens and whose taxes keep the ship of state afloat.  So from all standpoints an increase in the productive workforce is mandatory for any sort of national recovery.

    However…

  3. The world that could easily employ lots of unskilled labor is dying at a rapid pace.  Today’s solid jobs depend on skill-sets and knowledge not dreamed of when I was just entering the work force.
  4. The only institution that can properly prepare future workers with those needed skill-sets is education.
  5. The only institutions that can hire and retain those workers, assuming the existence of requisite skill sets are businesses and corporations.

But…

  1. What institution is designated as the first to receive cuts due to those same budget problems that are claimed do not exist?  Education.
  2. What institutions are designated as the whipping boys for all the unfair ills around and so throttled with tax and regulation burdens to limit or stifle their productivity?  Businesses and corporations.

Is not the disconnect apparent to you?  Are you following any of this or am I going too fast and using words that are too big?  The answer has to be that no, you are not following this or the election results would have been different.

Luckily I am an old guy.  My “future” is well behind me and the truth is I had a very good run at it.  In my opinion we took the first big step over the edge last night but we have so much inertia going that even a dedicated transformer like our president cannot undo us overnight.  It will take a little while.  So I may never live to see it all utterly fall apart.

But my students will and I am sorry for them.  They will never see the America I saw as a youth; a beacon to the world as a place of opportunity and hope for all willing to buy into the culture and work for it.  A major nail was driven in the coffin of that old place last night. Maybe it will be the last nail needed.

But my students were and are among those cheering it all on, pleased at the outcome to savor the flow of entitlements and goodies they expect to come flowing down the government food trough.  So maybe I should not feel sorry for them after all.  They will get the results of the actions they have set in motion; actions and results I do not think can be reversed by the time this term will be over.  And it will be what is deserved.  I do not think they deserve the America that was, the America of dreams and fantastic potential.

(As an aside, yes, I do still think that there is the possibility the technology of efficiently extracting oil from shale noted in my last post will still happen… somewhere.  But having vast oil-based revenues, despite the major growth it has twice allowed in this country, is no guarantee of having things move in the best directions.  Riches do not guarantee a benign government.  Think Saudi Arabia if you do not believe it.  It can also provide the power for a tyrant-in-training to solidify their position by now passing out the goodies even more extensively.  We talk about the best politicians money can buy but the real worry is about the most dependent voters money can buy.)

Anyway…  If I were a national politician this morning, my attitude would be, “OK, you voters made your choice… so be it.  If this is what you want, even though you have no idea what you are asking for, then let it happen and happen quickly.”  Since my own pension and salary are secure as a member of congress, I would give the President everything he wanted with no problems whatsoever.  And make sure who is getting the credit (him) and who will, down the road, deserve the blame.

After all, if we are doomed to pass on through to the next stage, then lets get it over quickly so we can then start setting the ground work to move the cycles rapidly ahead and perhaps the next time we reach the point of wonder and power, we will be able to look back to when we through it all away and see what that cost us.  Perhaps next time we will learn from history rather than ignoring it.

Nah…

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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So, What AM I For and Against Politically? Part 3

OK, we are whittling doen the list of issues at play in the current political environmemnt.  Please, for any of this to make sense, please at least read the part one of this series for a foundation.  In this module we’ll cover Gay Rights, dealing with the debt ands deficit, and education.  Once more, if you are starting here because of a search term or key word, please, in order to make sense of the topics covered here, please, please first go to part one and read it for the foundational data.

GAY RIGHTS

I believe everyone has the right to be light-hearted and of cheerful spirit.  After all that is what the word means.   I refuse to, in my own use, devolve it into something that most certainly does not seem to describe the individuals to whom it is modernly applied.  While I do believe that statistically those life-style choices are at variance from the norm, nevertheless, so long as they do no harm to themselves or each other, as individuals they should have every right to every protection the law provides for any of us.

Consequently, I believe the existing tort and criminal laws, if properly and uniformly applied and enforced, state that ALL individuals have certain legal protections against unlawful actions such as assault (or worse) and fraud, discrimination, etc. so specific wording to encompass specific groups is, to me, superfluous.

I do not think an already despicable action becomes even more so (or less so) depending on the rationale behind the intent to do harm.  I do not think , therefore, that attacking, much less murdering someone because they have done something to anger you is any less of a crime than murdering them because of their skin color or sexual orientations.  Murder is murder, assault and battery is assault and battery no matter who the victim and who the criminal perpetrator.

Regarding marriage between same sex couples, or plural marriages or, for that matter any union outside the definitions commonly accepted in our society, I am of two minds.  On one hand, I think happiness is in desperately short supply these days and that if two… or more… individuals find it, even if in some fashion not normal to the rest of us, then good for them.

If they form a loving, supportive relationship that just happens to lie outside the common definitions, then given that within the common definitions there certainly exist unions that are destructive and vile, I have no problem with them.  And further, I think that once committed to each other in a relationship that in every way other than the genders or number of the parties involved mirrors what we see as an ideal for “normal” marriage, they should be granted all of the legal status and benefits (and constraints) of any married couple.  If they are harming no others, or themselves, but are creating a productive and positive relationship, and, to paraphrase Jefferson, neither “picking my pocket nor breaking my legs” then I see no reason to oppose the union.

My problem is not, and never has been, with the activity, nor for that matter with having the same benefits that might flow to it under more socially acceptable circumstances.  It is with the semantics and the semantics alone that I take issue.  But from a practical standpoint, in some manner I think such unions need to be recognized, sanctioned, and protected at law.   Individuals who care for each other and want to spend their lives together will be involved in such unions, law or no.  But to force them to do so outside the law starts a potential negative, counter-productive chain.  This law is easy to break because of the emotional and personal needs involved.  And there are any number of other laws against which those forces and influences might also be arrayed.  Worse, with damaged inhibitions they’ll be much easier to break the next time.  Then there will be more and it will get easier each time.  And at some point, the acceptance of and reverence for the law will erode entirely.

Personally I do not think that inspiring law breaking by creating pointless laws of prohibition is a good thing especially when, in this particular case, the law itself, and by extension the law-abiding citizenry, have nothing to lose by altering their stand.  None of the other citizenry are harmed by changing the laws to accommodate these unions however all of them might someday be harmed if respect for the law erodes.  I would personally prefer that we use different labels for these different relationships because I am an old stickler for language, but by whatever name, I would insist that they all have the same complete rights and benefits.  And if that is not workable, then I’d rather live with a word I personally think is misapplied (marriage) but in a more peaceful and law respecting environment.

After all, I’ve almost learned to live with the misapplication of the term “gay.”

SOLVING THE DEBT/DEFICIT

Economics is one of those few disciplines in which a practitioner can attain high degrees and reach near celebrity status and yet never once been correct in their conclusions.  Depending upon which variables make it through their philosophical filters, the same data can lead to widely variable conclusions and assertions.  That has been true from the beginning and is still true as evidenced by the fact that well-credentialed economists come down solidly on very different points of view over our nation’s (and now the world’s) current economic woes.  Each party has their pet experts to trot out to try to persuade the citizenry of the merits of their own approaches to the detriment of other views.  So I do not think we can find any definitive answers in academia for this issue as each has their own agenda to support.

But I do think there are a few elements of common experience and increasingly rare common sense that can be brought to the table.  Forget economics and think, simply, about common issues in standard finance, accounting, and bookkeeping.  In those areas, and when applied to personal income a truism that is utterly inescapable emerges.  You cannot continually spend more than you receive or you start to go in the hole.

Ah, but, you say, “If I am out of “cash on hand” I can use my credit card” to get what I want… and that is true.  But in the real world most people know that assets purchased on credit are not really your own until actually paid for.  Think of your car.  If you took out a loan for the car you do not get the title from the loan holder until it is paid off: the lender actually owns the asset since it was their money that purchased it.  It is the same with your home.  And though there is normally no “title” involved for smaller purchases made daily on a credit card, it is obvious that the creditor has an asset in the amount loaned to you and you have a liability for it that must be paid off at some point.

If you continue to borrow more than you receive then sooner or later you reach a point of such heavy liabilities that you have no chance of so increasing your income to pay for them and you are bankrupt.  When the creditors call in their loans you are in trouble and likely to loose either the actual assets such as car or house, or the dollar value of the collection of smaller assets.

A nation with its own sovereign currency, unlike individual citizens and even, States, has one alternative to bankruptcy when they reach a point where the creditors will not continue to back them — and that is to print more money.  But they can only do that after disconnecting their currency from a commodity basis such as gold, and allowing it to float and be valued as what the government says it is, i.e. a “fiat” currency and not any inherent value based on a backing and securing by some commodity.

But the problem with that alternative solution is inflation and that has ALWAYS followed the printing of more money.  Actually it is inescapable.  The math is simple, when the amount of currency in play is its own limit on value, when the amount increases the value drops.  To help prove that point, take a look at the “value” of the commodity upon which our currency used to be based.  Value, remember, means what can be obtained for a certain amount of the commodity.  Personal value is however much of whatever you call your “life” you are willing to give up to obtain something.

What is noteworthy is that an ounce of gold will buy, with near precision, the same today that it has always bought.  A good suit in the 1930s was about $30-$40 when an ounce of gold was $32.50.  Now it is about the same price as an ounce of gold  which, removing sales fees and average market fluctuations and investment buying, is in the $1,600 – $1,700 range.  In the 1880s a Colt Single Action Army revolver was about $20.00, the value of an ounce of gold.  Today from the Colt Custom shop they are still about the price of an ounce of gold.  Things have NOT increased in value based on commodity currency, but the value of fiat currency has dropped as more and more is printed.  Inflation is a necessary by-product of a fiat based currency.

The Fed implies it is helping things by printing additional money with which to buy our own bonds and thereby keeping interest rates down.  This economic slight of hand called “quantitative easing” works out on paper and most accept it since it serves their purposes.  But it is the drop in value of the increments of currency that are the real interest rates anyway.  When something costs you a dollar today but three dollars next year due to inflation, a drop in already very small interest rates does not make up for the loss in value.

I fear that to help mask the realities of our actual economic condition the Fed will soon engage in another round of such “quantitative easing” and that such a move risks pushing us over the tipping point into hyper inflation so virulent it could literally be the push that sends us off the fiscal cliff.

So addressing the debt and deficit has to be something tackled on multiple fronts, all of them now carried to a point far, far beyond the painless point.  No ox is going to remain ungored in any workable solution since we let it go so far out of control.  So all sides need to accept that, accept also that the debt/deficit issue is one not just of economy but of national security, and agree to some very disagreeable compromises at least in the short term of, say, the next 20-30 years at which point painful solutions can be sunsetted and reviewed.

All – ALL — of the steps below will need to be taken even though each is hateful to some or all of the people effected.  Our country has spent like drunken teenagers to boost our collection of goodies and demand our collection of free things from the government which of course actually means from those willing to work to earn the money to provide it which means the government must remove from the workers money and incentives in order to give it to those others who have not earned it.  There is an inverse relationship between free goods and freedom that is inescapable.  There are no historical exceptions so why would we expect to be different in outcome?

Cutting Costs.  A critical step is to cut costs, i.e. government spending even when it is called by the euphemism of government investment.  Not by cutting the programs equally across the board, but by prioritizing them in a sort of economic triage based on the needs of the country to remain strong and viable.  Personally I think providing for the common defense, as noted in the Constitution, and helping provide education are the two most important things a government can do for its people and should receive the lion’s share of apportionment.

Each specific spending area also needs to be triaged to see what is working within its control and where the money is being distributed to make sure efficiency and reward for success is the criteria for distribution.  Next in priority after education and defense, should be national infrastructure to help in commerce such as the federal highway system.  Only if there is anything left should we then look at entitlements and free goods from the government, and then only if the potential recipients are truly physically, medically, or psychologically unable to be productive on their own based not on what they would like to do but on what is available to do.  And only if there is anything left after that should we ever look at sending money abroad especially to nation states that hate us or simply use us to facilitate their own corruption.  It is time to realize we cannot solve the world’s problems if we cannot solve our own.

Increasing Taxes.  We have let this economy get so far mired in crisis there is no way we can avoid also having to look at taxes to help increase revenues.  This is analogous to a family in trouble.  The first thing to do, even while trying to find ways to increase income, is to first cut costs.  Then, as it becomes possible, also increase revenue.  An individual can try to get promoted or take a better job.  But what can a government do?  It can do two things: promote policies that increase productivity and, as a last resort, raise taxes knowing that move comes with risks of backfiring.

I do believe getting government out of the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as big businesses will ultimately result in more tax revenues as their productivity and ability to hire tax paying employees goes up.  But in the short term, of, say 10 years, that is probably not going to be sufficient so some taxes will have to be raised as risky as that move will be.  As noted several times, we are beyond pain free and also beyond risk free to solve the mess we are in.

Often liberals point out to the tax rates of the 1950s as models but forget the inflationary math noted above.  The highest tax rate in 1950 was 84% for those with an adjusted income of over $400,000.  That 1950’s $400K is the equivalent of about $1.3 million in today’s currency – not a bad take-home amount.  $250,000 was, in 1950 dollars, not that big a deal, a little over $70,000.  So I would make the people making over $1 million in adjusted income pay a higher tax rate for ten years, perhaps 60-65% of the income over the target amount.  And nobody with an annual adjusted income of $25,000.00 or more would pay zero taxes for the same ten years, being taxed at a rate of at least 10%.  However, if we reached a balanced budget state in less time, then that would automatically sunset this tax increase and trigger a balanced budget amendment to be in force from that point on.

But it is important that you understand this suggestion is about solving a problem; it is not about resolving some imagined inequity.  The nasty top 5% of taxpayers now pay just short of 60% of ALL federal tax collected.  Nearly 50% on the bottom pay nothing in federal taxes.  I do believe that some are not paying their fair share but it is not the top 5%.  But making things truly equitable with a flat tax, something that, done right, I might support, is still not going to solve the incredible hole we are in for any reasonable length of time.  The temporary increase I suggest here will help but without the other steps as well, will never be enough.  In fact, if 100% of American taxpayers paid 100% of their income in taxes, it would not erase the deficit.  So get real all you “fair sharers” and do the math.  We ALL must get involved but in such a way so as not to drive the golden goose to other venues in our incredibly mobile world.

Revaluing Currency.  The Fed needs to be audited and the use of fiat currency, created in secret and passed without a national vote even though it is in violation of the Constitution which pegs value to gold and silver, needs to be seriously re-examined with the return to commodity based currency as a viable potential unless the efforts to reign in our printing of more money is serious and inescapable.  By halting inflation based on the supply of fiat currency the loss of value of personal income and saved wealth increases and then stabilizes which is a boon to every one other than bankers and stock brokers.

This would, of course, create a massive shock wave in Wall Street and the banking industry, but so do the above measures create one in normal businesses and in middle and low income individuals.  All have shared in the profligate spending and debauchery of the currency that have brought us to this point and unfortunately, I think we will all have to share in the pain of the measures needed for recovery.

Wall street and the bankers got their bailouts and many squandered or hid theirs.  The common citizen got nothing even though the amounts of the bailouts to the financial and auto worlds would have paid off the mortgages of virtually all home-owning citizens, certainly those in the middle class.  With no mortgage payments to undermine income the economy might have soared on its own but we will never know now.  But it is way past time to look at measures that will allow the citizens and not just the financial world to stabilize their economic situations so they can again comfortably rejoin the world of the consumers we depend on for our economy.

EDUCATION

Education, as noted above, commands the future of our country, our culture, and our society.  No single activity has such a direct impact on our future other than a nuclear attack.  It should be the primary priority of the federal government, following directly after national defense, to help achieve the goal of an educated and informed citizenry.  And maybe it should precede it in importance because if it fails us there will be nothing to defend worth the cost.

Yet our governor, here in California, stated that as budgets decline education will be the first cut, the first to feel the pain.  What?  Governor are you nuts?  It should be the LAST thing cut and the first thing funded by a State who does not have to worry about a defense budget.  If ever there was a proper place for governmental “investment” it is in the realm of education.

But we should not fall for every hare-brained scheme, such as the NCLB plan of Kennedy and Bush.  Additionally, it needs to carefully control and audit the distribution of money to the system.  Our problem is not a paucity of money going into the educational system; it is a paucity of that money making it into the classroom without being skimmed off by a top heavy and overpaid bureaucracy in the school systems and districts.

America already shells out more per student than anywhere else in the world and yet our system and the quality of its graduates has become a world class laughing stock.  It is therefore not about the money per se; it is about what happens to the money, or, more properly, what does NOT happen to it.  It is NOT the classroom teachers that are overpaid; it is the bloated educational administrative bureaucracy that is overpaid.

Having said that, however, the teachers’ unions seem to be dedicated to self-perpetuation and then protecting dead wood that needs to be cleaned out in order to create devoted and needy members desperate for their protection.  If we, as teachers, are not willing to clean our own house, we should not have the gall to ask for more money.  Good teachers are shamefully underpaid for the critical service they provide.  But there are enough bad ones, protected by the unions, that the entire collective has gotten a bad name.  That needs to be addressed openly and honestly.

Thomas Jefferson argued the need for an informed and educated public and therefore for the public school system.  But his argument was based on the need to improve the quality of the citizen, not to make them just more job-ready.  Schools are not parents though they are expected to take their place.  Schools are part of an industrial or information age system that includes parents and employers as part of the complete process of education.  Though being job-ready is not the main goal of a school’s work, turning out smart but unemployable students should never be an acceptable outcome either.  Morals, standards of behavior, future goals perspectives, ethics including work ethics are not the purview of schools to teach but graduating students who do not have them will be eaten alive in the market place of the real world.  Knowing the value of study and education must come from the modeling found at home.

Education is in the interests of everybody who wants to see this country strong, proud, and once again a world leader, not to mention improving the standard of living of our own people.  Harming it via budget cuts in concert with bad distribution of whatever funds are available and the allowance of marginal teacher quality is, right after debauching the currency, the surest way of destroying a nation.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The State of the State’s Educational System

San Diego — Tomorrow the Spring Semester starts, and with it comes the onslaught of the issues and problems created for teachers and especially for students by the State’s budget crisis.  So this is perhaps a reasonable time to offer a somewhat jaundiced view of it all.

The underlying official California educational philosophy holds that education up to and including college/university ought to be free to all state citizens.  The concept is based on a truly benign and well intentioned perspective that holds, true enough, that it is through education and perhaps education alone that a society’s real future can be found and therefore, it is in that society’s interest to provide their citizens with a good education.

Most states agree that should include K-12 but California believes it really ought to include secondary education through undergraduate levels at least.   Unfortunately, within that desire lies a lot of places to go very much off the rails, not the least of which is in the definition de jour as to what constitutes a good education.  Whenever the propriety of a course of action – or course of study – can be determined by a political entity then the conclusion rapidly retreats from one based on practicality and even reality and becomes one based on political whims of the day.

Consequently I must openly disclaim that I oppose that idea on at least three grounds:

  1. People, including students understand that in this mercantile society you get what you pay for and when something is offered for free the price honestly tells you what it is likely worth.
  2. Education is not cheap to provide when done well and when the state is running low on money and education suffers, then the really good teachers are likely to go to the better paying schools resulting, sooner or later in the state schools being the poorer ones in terms of educational delivery by anyone’s definition of good.
  3. Since the goals are politically defined then the requirements tend to favor courses that help perpetuate the sponsoring political philosophies over any real world needs and the results are incredibly well educated people who have not a single real world skill and have no chance at employment except to re-enter the education system to perpetuate that which thy have been taught.

I cannot change those goals, they are what they are.  I can only try to reveal them and their results and do the best I can to prepare my own students for success in a real world even if it is not the world my academic colleagues wished existed.  You however, must understand that much of the current budget impasse flows directly from attempts to reach that goal and in the process, bankrupting the system.  This same sort of scenario where one group decides another group needs to carry them based on some idea of social good or justice is part and parcel of the problem.  But for now I want to concentrate on education since it is not only typical but it is the one I have to deal with daily.

A common mantra when viewing and trying to understand political theses and their results is to “follow the money.”  So let’s do that here and see where it goes.  At my school, part of one of the largest community college districts in the state, the actual average cost to the school to provide its educational services is a little north of $150.00 per credit.  But for years, the actual student fees were limited to $20.00 per credit with the rest subsidized by the state in a manner we will address in a moment.  The budget crisis has resulted in a couple of fee increases that, in Fall of 2012 will rise to $46.00 per credit.  You residents of other states can stop laughing or swearing any moment when you compare your own fees averaging nearly $100.00 per credit and often well over that amount.  Remember the state and most academics here really want it to be free.

The immediate problem is that even this new fee hike leaves a shortfall of about $100.00 per credit.  We have about 20,000 students for whom a full load is 12 credits.  To be conservative lets say that the average student load is only 8 credits.  That means the district and state is face with a real deficit of  $16,000,000 each semester.  That is not chump change and all of it must be made up from the state coffers.  So where does it come from?  States do not do anything to earn money, they get it by taking it from someone else… you.

Well most education money comes from property taxes.  The state also promised the taxpayers that if they allowed a lottery the money would be devoted to education to supplement property taxes… unless there was an emergency.  So, dutifully, every year at the opening of the state assembly, one of the very first orders of business by the state legislature is to declare an emergency that allows them to convert the lottery revenues into the general fund.  So with that account now raped, that just leaves the property taxes.

And who pays property taxes?  Well there is a portion that comes from business properties owned by large corporations.  But business regulation has become so restrictive, since Californians see corporations as per se evil, that they are, when possible, leaving the state.  Last year roughly 700 businesses left California for states like Texas and Florida or even Idaho to avoid the onerous restrictions and escalating taxes.  So the property taxes for them went away but with them went something perhaps even more important.

The major source of property taxes comes from homeowners.  And who are homeowners?  Well most of them are employees of corporations or businesses that are stable enough and have the income to get a mortgage.  Or they used to be…

Of course when the companies leave employees either go with them or remain and try to find some new employment somewhere, which today, is nearly always a lost cause because the State is true to its values, and make this a most business-hostile environment.  Those less productive individuals the state sees as vulnerable and to be supported and deserving of help on some level are certain to tug at the heart strings of most.  But by and large they contribute little or nothing to society and certainly do not create a demographic likely to hire people that can buy homes and pay taxes based on their employment.

Of course the CRA (Community Redevelopment Act) passed under Carter mandated that home ownership was a right and so forced lending institutions into accepting mortgage applications whether or not the lender believed them capable of repaying.  So in order to get out from under those toxic loans that were sure to fail they bundled and sold many of them to those fictional private lending entities that are really an arm of the government, Fannie and Freddie.  And now a huge proportion of those unqualified loans have done as predicted even in a stable economy, and failed, leaving the government holding the bag as house after house sits empty (meaning NO tax revenue) or under water and re-assessed for lower values meaning less tax revenue.

And into that revenue void comes a world where inflation, due to the increasing fiat money supply, is making every dollar worth less, able to buy less, and along with it, creating a perfect storm for education: dwindling tax revenues and increasing costs.

Our re-treaded governor is now floating a plan to increase tax revenues by increasing marginal rates… on whom?  Businesses and people making as pre-tax income over a magic number that changes with the telling but lies somewhere between $200,000 and $1 million.  And who does that hit the hardest?  The answer is small and medium companies that are sole proprietorships and LLCs.  I had years as a photographer/industrial training videographer where my pre-tax income approached that amount but my business costs brought my actual take home down, often, to well under $100,000.00

To make matters worse the governor wants to increase the marginal tax rate.  Even though my gross tax rate might have been, let’s say, somewhere near 25-30 percent, once I had taken my deductions, my actual tax rate figured on adjusted income as compared to my gross made my tax rate closer to 12-13 percent of my gross.  The governor wants to increase those rates 2-3% according to his State of the Union address.  But going from 12% to 14% is, in actuality, over a 20% increase in my taxes.  That adds up to a big hit.

I don’t want to get off topic and into issues of what is fair or not here, although I am quite willing to debate the issue in another post.  All I am saying here is that the reality of what the governor is proposing is quite likely going to create a replay of what happened already in Maryland.  There, the state did a study that suggested if they do the same as is being proposed here, the tax revenues would increase by a rather huge amount.  But the year after the new law went into effect and the smoke cleared after tax time, it was revealed that the tax base itself dropped significantly and the actual revenues were down more from the previous base than the projections had shown an increase.

Why?  Because the targeted taxpayers simply left for less hostile territory and took their businesses and often their employees with them.

If that same result were to happen here the results for education would be catastrophic.  At my school we are already operating at a vastly reduced level after cutting classes every semester over a two-year period.  We have eliminated summer sessions and so many classes the few remaining are cutting seriously into our ability to offer our program towards either a degree or certificate.

Yes, tax revenues need to increase but they need to increase through growth in productivity not in growth of tax rates.  Yes schools need to get real with their student fees at least to the extent other states do.  And academia needs to do some housekeeping of its own.

If the avowed reason for education, that is to prepare students to enter the workforce and increase the tax base, is true then state schools need to re-appraise what classes are designed to do that and concentrate their efforts (and money) there and not in feel good “soft” topics that lead nowhere in terms of employment or in developing entrepreneurship.

And they need to get realistic about their faculty vis-à-vis who is providing quality education meeting those goals and who is not.

The rejoinder is that education should be about more than getting a job and therefore many of those feel good classes are important.  I would say that many soft subjects do indeed help prepare students for the real world but many do not and some that could are not taught from that perspective.  Learning to think critically, a very important skill, is not taught by historical revisionism or teaching students how to sing with the existing choir of the instructor and demeaning other perspectives.  I have no trouble with soft classes as electives, but when they become requirements then I think they need to be re-evaluated.

The solution to the budget crisis vis-à-vis the educational success in California schools has now gone way past the point of where it could be done easily and with minimal pain.  If – and I think it is obviously a HUGE IF – the politicians and the people truly believe that education is important even if only to help improve the tax base, then we are all going to have to deal with some pain.

The government needs to get serious about trimming waste and prioritizing its allocation of funds.  Surely education ought to be at the top or very near the top instead of being a poor stepchild to such things as prison guards and Delta Smelt. The governor promised to cut back on the size of government to demonstrate his commitment to dealing with that side of the problem.  The result, according to the State’s own figures, State Employees earning over $100,000 have been cut by 8-tenths of one percent.  Wow…

In addition to the government, the people need to understand that in the short term they too are going to have to give a little.  Perhaps the taxes may need a mild increase but the government needs to make sure that any taxes thus raised are absolutely and irrevocably dedicated to education, the law contains a sunset clause, and, while they are at it, give the lottery money back to education as well and pass laws to draw major companies that hire lots of people back into the state.  The political parties are worse than useless here, the people will have to do something I am normally opposed to and go around them to force the issues against both sides of the aisle.

And the schools have a part to play as well.  When sharpening the axe for cuts they need to look at priorities, a sort of ‘triage’ based on results, rather than trying to spread cuts evenly in the interests of “fairness.”  They need to prioritize costs toward classes and programs designed to prepare students to go out and earn a living and become productive in society and, until things turn around, be willing to axe some of the soft, feel good, politically correct programs that do not well serve those goals.  And they need to look seriously at quantitatively evaluating faculty along the same rules that courses are evaluated.

None of that is easy or painless.  But no less than a continuation of the terminal slide of the California education system is what is at stake.  It is, in my opinion, for each party to the problem and solution, the government, the citizenry, and academia itself to get real about solutions.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Magic of Misdirection, or, How to Turn a Good Thing into a Bad One…

San Diego:  Most of us are sufficiently sophisticated to know that most of the illusions done by stage magicians are accomplished by simple misdirection.  The wizard, with grand gestures, shows us something that attracts our attention while in the background palms the item, hides it behind the screen, or does whatever is needed to make us think, when we are allowed to look again at the subject, that some fundamental change, prohibited by the laws of physics and common sense, has taken place at his or her direction.

It is SOOOooo effective that it was adopted, long ago by another group of professional charlatans: politicians.  And down to this day, with an absolute minimum of slight of hand, carefully selected “documentation” (telling you only the parts that you are likely to agree with) and misdirection, they convince you to back things that sound wonderful based on the presentation but in the end turn out to be far different.  Sometimes that is simply because of unintended consequences flowing from a poorly thought-out plan.  Sometimes it is because no one told us that there was no “sunset” or natural end to what was sold as temporary.  But too often it is because we were told to look at the good stuff while the bad stuff was hidden behind a screen of obfuscation and made too difficult to easily access.  So, hook in mouth, we are unwitting or ignorant facilitators of the grand schemes of people who talk a good line but in fact have neither love nor respect for us apart from whether or not we can get them re-elected and impose their grand agendae on the rest of the country… and then world.

A few years ago, at an ecology summit in Rio, the U.N. (United Nations) floated a comprehensive plan called “Agenda 21.”  In it were a number of very positive and noteworthy goals; goals for the betterment of the environment that no one would find fault with and fail to back.  Some were marvelous goals that, had the agenda stopped there, I would readily support.  But the overall topic was “sustainability” and “biodiversity” and the 40-Chapter document buried the real goals deep in the bowels of the fine print of that and supporting documentation yet to come.

The U.S. representatives had the gall to read it carefully and promptly refused to sign it on the grounds that it asked nations to give up sovereignty over even ancillary things like education and private property to U.N. regulators.  This was in spite of the fact that the first President Bush supported it.  As more of its fine print became public, and as more ancillary documentation, guidebooks, etc. appeared, support started to fall away when more and more people realized this was not about the environment per se, it was a plan, using the environment as a cover, to create a new world order run by the U.N. and to which all nations would be subservient.

The cat escaped the bag, for those willing to follow along and read the documents as they became available, when UNESCO created the supporting documents referred to as their “Global Biodiversity Assesment.”  For the U.S. it was essentially dead except for those who had read only the headlines and still thought it was designed to save the planet.

But on 6/9/2011 King Barrack I signed on to the agreement and then, to make sure we couldn’t find any pesky loopholes in the musty old Constitution that might prohibit us taking orders from foreign governments, while we were all titillated by the sleaze surrounding the Senator Weiner self portrait scandals, signed Executive Order 13547 on 7/19/2011, which basically restated the main points of Agenda 21 so that they applied specifically to Rural America.  i try to stay up on these things but i confess the misdirection worked on me too and I have just, in the past few weeks, become aware of it all being revived.  It has taken a bit to research it (because Idid not believe it at first) but even though I’ve not been able to research all of the ramifications, there are a few that need to be talked about now as we head into a new election cycle.

I can already hear all of the environmentalists saying that is a good thing; we are finally going to protect the environment. Hey, I’m in favor of protecting the environment but not at the cost of human rights or at the cost of turning over U.S. sovereignty to countries that wish us harm. I think we can protect the environment without that extraneous stuff.  And unless you are a rabidly extreme environmental terrorist, who sees humans as, at best, terrestrial skin cancer to be eradicated if possible and controlled at least, I can almost guarantee you that you will not like what goes along with the sustainability parts but are part of the U.N.’s mandated agenda.

(By the way, I’m going to cite and quote passages from some pertinent documents.  But we all know that is easy to fudge so if any of this matters to you, since ALL of them are online and easy to “Google,” before you accuse me of spinning this out of control, take the time to find on your own (so you cannot say I gave you a false document) and read the complete documents yourself.  Not just the good parts you like but ALL of them and see if, when taken as a whole, you cannot see a better plan by saving the good stuff to stand alone and getting rid of the parts that threaten your nation.  And while you are at it, ask yourself why those other parts might be there in the first place if the authors wished us well?)

So what are those other parts to which I am obviously opposed?  Most strenuously I am opposed to those parts having to do with Private Property and Education.  Let’s start with private property rights.

To me the foundational human right from which all others flow, is the right to earn by our own efforts, contract for, and keep sacred and sacrosanct, our own property.  If the rights to earn and hold the fruits of our own labor are removed then we are no better than slaves to who ever controls them.  When the means of production and the distribution of the results of that production are controlled by any outside authority other than the individual then there really IS no individual freedom remaining.  All of the other freedoms flow from this one.

So I am unalterably opposed to anything that diminishes that right.  And what do the pages of, and documents flowing from, Agenda 21 say about it?  The U.N. “Global Biodiversity Assessment” seeks the centralizing of all — ALL — property management under U.N. oversight and states clearly that, “property rights are not absolute.”  To underscore that, the same document shows maps leading to the collecting of humans in specific areas leaving the rest of the country (approximately 90% of it) out of bounds for not only human ownership but in many cases human presence of any kind.  THe color coded map shows those areas where humans are allowed and where they are not.  For those who thought it untenable the way we put native americans on reservations, i would think you would have a problem with this plan since it effect you.

And where humans ARE allowed they can only conduct very tightly prescribed agricutural practices.  The EO mentioned above seeks to make it a felony — a felony — to grow anything not allowed under government mandates and connects, as specified participants in overseeing and enforceing the mandates, virtually every department in the U.S. government.

Under such a scheme you may hold some paper title to some property but if you can only do with it as the government tells you then the truth is you have no property rights remaining.  A government that can tell its rural citizens what to grow has no problem telling its urban ones what to do.

Some forums have commented this is not likely to happen because no educated and informed population would ever allow it.  I think that is true, as far as it goes.  The only way to accomplish such things is with a radically dumbed down populace.  But i have argued long that we are systematically and systemically doing that now.  but while I argued that from observation and logic, the U.N. supplied the documentation to show it is not just a U.S. goal but one of the U.N.’s as well.

The years 2005-2015 Unesco decreed was the “Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.”   They knew what communist “re-educators” from Marx to Lenin to Mao wrote that you only need one generation of school kids to change a country’s thinking.  Think of the chilling efficiency with which the Third Reich created “The Hitler Youth” or Mao created his Red Brigades.  In keeping with the observable success of generational re-education, the U.N.’s avowed goal of that decade was to “encourage changes in behavior to create a more sustainable future via implementation of Agenda 21.”

Well, so what is wrong with that?  Nothing, if it stopped there.  But it did not.  This plan as further enumerated aimed to transfer loyalty from the family to the government whose goals were, of course, only interested in sustainability while traditional families were painted as plunderers of the earth.  That is a very different reality from the one we know.  So how to you alter it?  Well you have to teach students to not trust what they think of as reality and so, true to that need, on page 10 of the document we are told that under this plan (referring to the approved pedagogy called “constructionism” that

“…students construct (their own) understanding of reality and (come to realize) that objective reality is not knowable.”

Any scientists among you find a problem with that?  Well since most higher sciences have a basis in mathematics, if this goal is to be realized, you are a dying breed anyway. The recommended math text under this constructivist program (provided of course by UNESCO) is “Getting to Know Connected Mathematics.”  Following this text, students, according to the intro,

“…learn that mathematics is man-made, that it is arbitrary, and that good solutions are arrived at by concensus among those who are considered expert.”

What?  We can never know “objective reality” and therefore math and science is a matter of consensus by “experts” (meaning the world should still be flat since most did not agree with Aristarchus).  For centuries the expert consensus was that the sun and universe actually revolves around the earth and witchcraft or the devil is the cause of most disease.  Science is a search for truth not consensus and it uses immutable mathematical principles and laws to do it.

So does it work?  In the teacher’s guide in the back of the book on Page 84, it says,

“Because the curriculum does not emphasize arithmetic computations done by hand, some CMP students may not do well on tests in favor assessing computational skills.  We believe such a trade-off in favor of CMP is very much to the students’ advantage in the world of work.”

if it works then why would you need such a disclaimer.  And if science and math results are to be arrived at by consensus, especially in the higher realms of math used by physicists, where would we be?

We would be a whole lot more ignorant, that is where we would be… and you all know it.  So why would any modern organization work so hard to kill education when it is education alone that has allowed humans to progress through the ages?  This seems utterly self-contradictory.

Well, I thought there was only one logical answer and they would hide the truth of it.  But to my surprise, they are be happy to tell you the answer to that.  Hang on to your hat because this is the thinking you will be supporting if you get behind this U.N. (and now U.S.) program.  Remember that goal for the educational decade I noted a few paragraphs above?  Well it follows the UNESCO Paper titled “Education for Sustainable Development” in which the following stunning assertion is found…

“Generally more highly educated people, who have higher incomes, consume more resources than poorly educated people who tend to have lower incomes.  In this case, more education increases the threat to sustainability.”

So tell me, all you liberal educators, how well that goes down?  You claim to believe in education but your dear leader and exhalted messiah has signed onto a world view that sees education not as a solution but as a threat.  Have you ever read a more Orwellian statement than that outside the pages of fiction?  This is not about saving the planet but preparing the planet for a new order run by people hostile to our existence.  And once again there are only two ways to interpret his action: (1) he is rock stupid and never bothered to actually read it or (2) he is brilliant, read it all, agrees with it, and this plan helps him further his own agenda.

Bad as that is, it does not stop there.  Our Secretary of State is supporting our signing onto the U.N.’s “Small Arms Treaty: which essentially destroys the 2nd Amendment.  Even if you oppose the Second Amendment it is still part of our Constitution and surely you are not in favor of setting a precedence of allowing that foundational document to be obviated by foreign fiat without a vote of the people.  Are you willing to let the U.N. with members such as Libya, China, North Korea, Cuba, tell us which clauses in our own constitution we can keep and which we much throw away?

King Barrack is willing to do that.  Do you not see a trend here?  We have an administration with its own agenda that is in conflict with the Constitution.  OK, that is a legitimate debate to be had, as it was with the Federalists and Anti-Federalists in the first place. Let the citizenry, at least the few remaining who can read, get involved and then vote the ideas up or down.  But no matter which side of the political fence you graze on, you cannot, surely, fail to see the unintended consequences of letting one side or the other toss away the Constitution by executive order or by agreeing to a U.N. treaty, because the next time, it might be the other side doing it and quoting precedent to excuse it.

Or do you all simply not care anymore?  If they keep giving you the handouts and protecting you from your own laziness you are fine with it, is that the case?  No, I don’t think so because I don’t think you would have read this far if it was.

Now, I would like very much to believe that none of that is even remotely achievable in the short term.  And Ihope that the people advancing that agenda either are booted out of positions of authority or grow weary of failure and give it up.  So I am not trying for a moment to “lock and load” to man the ramparts to literally launch the next revolution to stave off this idiotic plan.  But what I am trying to do is tell you, show you, that such ideas are alive and well and sponsored by people you may never have suspected of such intellectual perfidy.  Whether or not they succeed is, as always, the choice of the people who allow it and who will deserve the outcome no matter what it is.

But the point is that such philosophical nonsense is alive and well, it is out there, and it is seriously getting in the way of REAL progress and REAL solutions to these problems, including environmental ones, because it is misdirecting us from the thinking that might actually work.  And because of that, for those who seriously think we need to address environment issues, you should send these mental scoundrels packing as soon as possible.  Like those who think you can solve a debt crisis by borrowing more money, those who think you can solve complex environmental issues by reducing education and computational skills, are simply trying to take you eyes off of their real goal which is power and domination achieved through destruction of the present systems.  Or they are true morons.  And why would you throw your support behind either of those types?

So at what may be the most critical time in our history since the civil war, teetering on a pivot point that could send us forward or backward, never has your attention to the details been more important.  Don’t take anyone’s word for anything in this age of spinmeisters.  And that includes me!  Look the documents up for yourselves and read them!  Follow their suggestions to the logical extreme and see if you still like the outcome and if those are in synch with the outcomes they “promise” you.

We all enjoy being fooled by the guy on stage in the top hat, cape, wand, and pretty assistant.  But unless you truly hate this country and want to see it destroyed rather than fixed, you are not going to enjoy the results of the illusions being performed for you by the current politicians.  if you don’t like the magician the theater will often give you your money back.  If you facilitate this show and then realize you do not like it, there will be no money to give back and it won’t matter, because you will have no standing to ask for it anyway.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Snail Darters 100… Education 0

San Diego – There is no joy in being able to say, “I told you so” when the results leading to that really hurt yourself and your passions.  THat is certainly the case for us in the Photo Program at City College.

I have been writing, for several years now, that the liberal screeds on the importance of education were BS and utterly disingenuous unless that education was to indoctrinate the non-liberals in the wonders of socialist thinking and Keynesian economics.  California, the poster child for liberal policies and a main testing ground for progressive experiments, is the perfect case in point.  When the new liberal governor took over, realized to his horror that rhetoric aside, the state finally had spent all of other people’s money it could get and had to actually cut back on spending, what got cut?  Did anything negative happen to programs to protect snail darters, spotted owls, and delta smelts?  No.  Did anything positive happen in terms of allowing the state to start producing energy from its own reserves? No.

What went up? Regulations.  Resulting, last year in California being a leading state considered hostile to business and in over 650 major businesses leaving the State mostly to go to Texas and a few to Florida. Now that is brilliance beyond the call of the most progressive sense of duty.  Where does state revenue come from mostly? Income Tax.  Who pays income tax? People with jobs making an income.  And who provides the jobs?  Businesses.  So what would be the logical and anticipated result of driving away businesses? Less revenue.

Duh…

To be fair there were some spending cuts.  And just what spending did get cut?  Well first to go to the block was education.

Remember that education has been taking hits since at least 2007 when City College had to start cutting class sections.  Every semester since 2008 we have had to cut approximately 10% of our class offerings.  The district had wisely set aside a large reserve fund but even that well had, as i predicted, a bottom, and now we are reaching it.  Consequently, for Fall 2011, we received the cruelest cuts so far.  Our Academic Budget (from which we get supplies, maintenance, etc.) was cut in half.  50% across the board cuts were instituted without regard to the varying needs of the vastly different departments and programs.

You want to know what social justice really means?  What leveling the playing field really results in?  Well here, boys and girls, it is.  Typically for liberals the solution is to bring everything down rather than trying to bring the bottom up.  Some programs with little more than dry erase markers to buy are treated the same as programs, such as ours, where we live and die by our labs.  Perhaps the new math is not capable of any analysis more complex thinking…???

But then we got the really bad news.   Our hourly lab techs were cut from 72 total hours per week down to … wait for it… wait for it… 3.  That is correct, you did not misread it nor did i misrepresent it.  We are cut from 72 hours to 3.

That means we cannot staff the labs we were approved to run or are necessitated by the course curricula. That bombshell was just verified as accurate today so we have not had time, as faculty, to meet and come up with some plans.  But whatever those plans are to be, they cannot include another penny of funding from the state or district.

Nor will they allow us, as of this point, to charge lab fees.  Why not?  It’s not fair (for God knows what reason) nor is it within the guidelines because, according to some attorney completely ignorant of photographic logistics, do the students “get to keep what they paid for.”  Only in an environment inundated by liberal thinking is it better and more fair to force us to close the labs entirely than to allow students the opportunity to help defray the costs and at least keep them open a little.

To be fair, education was not the only thing our retreaded Governor Moonbeam cut.  Infrastructure was cut, state parks and rec was cut.  But how about state employees (other than teachers) such as prison guards who make up the largest group?  Well, no, their union is too strong.  How about pension reform in a state scandalized by pension abuses?  Well, no, again, the unions involved are too strong.  And no liberal can, by definition, see the unions as anything other than the saviors of mankind.

So here we are watching helplessly as liberal chickens come home to roost on the heads of education generally and students specifically.  So tell me, all you progressive teachers out there, is this what you really wanted?  I hope so; because it is the logical, predictable, and historically inevitable result of the policies you backed; so if it is not seeming like a step toward the ideals and social utopia you desire then, to be frank, you are too stupid to continue being a teacher.

And if it IS what you wanted, then don’t you dare complain in my presence about the low educational standings of California students and schools.

 
 

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Union Blinders, Border Blunders, and a Failed Educational System Whining for Handouts

San Diego – it was so nice to get back into photography topics for a moment, especially about such beautiful places as Yosemite.  But once again. against my better judgement, I read the weekly, sometimes daily political male bovine excrement from our AFT guy even though I keep promising myself to just delete it from the mailbox to keep my blood pressure in some sort of survivable range.  This time they want us to march on the local state senator to “send him a message” to extend tax increases and to add tax hikes on the wealthy.  At least here they are targeting those making over $500K and only asking for 1% increase which I could probably support.  Then they go on to talk about other taxes that need to be installled in the system.

The problem is simple math… I mean REALLY simple math.  The measures proposed would decrease (using the Union’s own figures) the state deficit by about $10 billion.  This is, of course, assuming there were no unintended consequences… like driving more businesses out of the state.  Last year wee lost over 600 good sized businesses to Texas, Florida and other states where they do not see business success as something somehow evil.  And with those businesses went the corporate jobs, the corporate taxes, the home ownership and property taxes, the sales taxes, the gas taxes, the othere state “fees,” etc.  We are already considered to tie New York as being the most hostile to business states.

But let’s assume for a moment that the additional taxes would not drive away any more businesses and end up losing any more state tribute…uh… revenue.  The math problem remains: we have a $25+ Billion deficit so these measures do not even address half of it.  And, there was not a single proposal coming from this bastion of Marxist economics to cut ANYthing, nor even to prioritize the spending.  And if suddenly we were only $15 Billion in the hole, how does that help education?  How typical.

In a previous post on “Scorn for Teachers” (you can use the search field in the right hand column to find it) I said we needed to clean our own house if the educational system were to be even WORTH saving, much less saved.  We have a top heavy system in which, at this college, over 99% of the budget (Yes, that is right, OVER 99%!) is for personnel.  The remaining less than 1% is for EVERYTHING else that goes into providing an educational experience for the students.  Meantime, new blood with new ideas and enthusiasm (which would be lower on the pay scale) is blocked from entree by a tenure system designed to protect the tired old dead wood from moving on or even having to perform well.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think good teachers should be protected and utilized until they are ready to retire or drop dead behind the podium.  It is not about the age, it is about the teaching skills.  Meantime, those that are not good teachers should be fired the next day whether they have been teaching ten days or ten years or a lifetime. Education is simply too important.  As a teacher, if I am not doing my job well then I need to be seeking another line of work rather than to continue to inflict my sorry rear on one more student.

So where does the educational community get the gall to ask for more money when we have so disastrously allocated what we have?  Without systemic changes, more money simply goes to perpetuate and facilitate the broken system.  And who suffers? Not the deadwood, but many of the adjuncts who, in direct contradiction to state rules, make up nearly 3/4 of the teaching force.  Many of these adjunct professors are enthusiastic, young exciting new teachers who are savaged by the cuts while those entrenched in their positions are secure and could not be dynamited out.  Until evaluations are based on objective measurements of merit and ability and not the good-old-boy network that will never be solved.

And the State has to get off of the equally Marxian ideal that higher education should be free.  Our State students pay the lowest tuition fees in the country by a huge margin.  That would be fine if the State had it or would prioritize education financially to match the rhetoric, but neither of those is true.  We protect the prison guards but not the educators; we protect the Snail Darters and Delta Smelt but not the students, we prohibit drilling or any resource gathering and by protecting the dead wood also inhibit education gathering by our population.  if the state prefers to spend its money on other things it should at least let the schools raise enough money to come closer to pulling their own weight or making up the difference between what the state has left over after protecting aliens and what it costs to run the schools.  That way they could at least stay open.  of course now with ridiculously low tuition and ridiculously low standings as schools go, one could argue that the students are getting what they are paying for.  And when you give something away for free, you have told everyone what its worth.

But in the liberal mind, “leveling the playing field” is done by bringing down the top rather than raising the bottom, so they would rather see schools cut classes or even close down, than to for all them to raise tuition so that at least the enthusiastic and interested had a shot.  My folks could not afford my tuition though my mom helped when she could.  So I worked as a mechanic and truck driver, and it was damned hard to juggle all of that but i knew first hand the value of that education and worked hard there too.  I earned my education and did not have it given to me and to be honest I think that is how it should be.  if you want it bad enough then you will find a way; if not, if you are not willing to sacrifice to get it then, in my opinion, you do not deserve it because you probably also will not be willing to put in the effort it takes to succeed at whatever it was you were studying.  I do not want class seats that should go to the serious dedicated students being warmed by the fannies of those using school as a financial aid revenue source or a baby sitter to keep them from the horrors of the real world.

Then, ss if the idiocy from the union were not enough for one day, we also just got a memo from the legal department reminding admin and faculty that we are mandated by “new federal regulations” to provide our services to any and all regardless of citizenship status.  Most also need financial aid so they not only go for free they pay virtually nothing back into the system or the economy in the form of buying educational needs or paying even the taxes on them.

One of the things i do know a bit about is the Constitution.  I studied it in Law School, chaired a  group who for some time studied and delved deeply into it, Have copies of it at home, in my office and on my PDA.  I can tell you categorically there is not one word or mention of a “Right” to education and there is sure as Hell no mention of a Right of foreign nationals to our educational system especially at the expense of citizens when competing for seats.  That is just wrong.  Here, you can sneak across the border and if you are here long enough to establish “residency” then you can go to our schools for in-state tuition.  What?

So where does the anointed one get the cojones to stand up in Texas and sarcastically mouth the words that he is protecting the border and American jobs as never before (you need to listen to the speech not just read it).  The words are right out of a conservative playbook but to hear it, to hear the inflections, tells you a very, very different story.  Plus it was mostly an outright lie… but we should expect little else at this point…

Meantime local Border Patrol officers are so disgruntled they are increasingly going public with their orders to not detain aliens but to “TBS” (Turn (them) Back South) or let them go in order to change the statistics to look like the administrations “efforts” are succeeding. It is astonishing that anyone is fooled by this but the disciples of the Messiah seem to be completely entranced and are buying it all.  And anyone who does not think that the immigration problem does not feed the economic problem is simply spending too much time at one of the new clinics smoking some newly legalized substance.

We have an incredibly huge problem, but we have let it go so far out of kilter that any workable remedy will have to be painful for many.  But it can never be solved in the environment that lets us continue to overspend.  Ask any addict what the odds are of slowly weaning yourself from the drug of choice and in the state and this country the drug of choice is money.  Rather the “treatment” ought to be prioritized so that it is more painful for those feeding off the public trough that do not contribute to the betterment of the society than for those who are critical to it.  When the government “shut down” was nearing there was talk of letting go all “non-essential” personnel.  I want to know why we, the taxpayers, should EVER pay for a single non-essential government employee!

Now, of course, it is the other way around.  It is as if those legislators were the incapable-of-thinking products of the very educational system they are now working hard to destroy. Who else would think you can spend your way out of a debt crisis or solve it by borrowing more money?  Maybe that’s the answer… they are not TRYING to solve it.  Maybe they are so angry at the failed system they are willing to tear it down completely and they are learning from their Lord, King Barrack I, that before you can transform a system in your own image you must first tear it down pretty completely.  What other rationales make logical sense?

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Tough Times

San Diego – Things are getting really grim for education in this state and especially for the Community Colleges.  Under the best case scenario we will lose at least 200 course sections at City College by next Fall Semester.  And it could double that number if the State continues to place more emphasis on protecting prison guards and prisoners, prohibiting drilling and refining, and making sure the snail darter and delta smelt are accorded more attention and sympathy than it provides for educating its next generation.  Never mind that without the education that a college offers, individuals will only get lower paid jobs and the tax base to pay for all of those entitled victims feeding at the public trough will get smaller and smaller, or that as taxes rise the employers themselves will continue, as they have already started, to leave for better business environments and with them more contributors to that tax base will evaporate.

Of course that scenario is mirrored by the Federal government as well which seems determined to spend more, not less, and to adopt as a solution to cash needs the expedient of printing money and loaning it to itself using the wonderful euphemism of “Quantitative Easing” or QE.  Is there no one that reads history?  Are the sycophants of King Barrack or Count Bernacke so willfully blind they refuse to even consider the obvious.  They are all in thrall to the liberal economic theory of John Maynard Keynes but they are so without having actually READ Keynes’s work.  And if they did, they quickly turned the page when he wrote, “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.”  As Milton Friedman noted, only a government can take expensive paper and very good ink and turn the combination into something worthless.

The really scary thing is that maybe they DO know.  Perhaps they are all as smart as claimed and this is not slipping by them, it is being done on purpose.  How did Keynes phrase it? “…overturning the existing basis of society.”  Does that sound like “transforming” society to you?  Before you can transform or overturn a society, unless you are already starting with a generally illiterate populace or one used to autocracies, you have to seriously dumb it down and make it dependent on the authority to keep the food trough filled.   Hmmmmmm.  And what better way of doing that than to start the devaluation of both the currency and the educational system?

A growing cadre of financial advisors and economists are trying to sound the alarm bell that we are heading toward catastrophic inflation but are ignored by the mainstream press.  The government denies it absolutely and tells us instead, in a wonderful example of a magician’s trick, that we are in lessening danger of DEflation.  But gas at the pump has doubled in the past two years.  The increasing fuel costs have increased food costs (it takes fuel for farm implements, transportation, power to stores, and GETTING to the stores) to, in some cases, nearly 50% in that same period.  People may do little more than complain about gas but when they start cutting back on food it will get their undivided attention.  If we, as a society, sheepishly accept that and then accept the sure-to-follow offer of the government to step in and provide for us, then it is hard to see how something could be more transformative from a self reliant people to a dependent people.  it will be a redistribution of wealth all right, redistributed from he people who earned it to the government so they can pay down the debt and get their credit back.

Machiavelli would be proud of King Barrack if he pulls that one off.  Political “good” is achieved when an environment is created that allows citizens to be self reliant and self sufficient and enjoy the fruits of their own labor.  Political “Evil” is achieved when the citizens are made dependent upon the government or “village” to survive.  And what would we call such a system?

Using labels to demonize philosophical opponents is a scurrilous, but effective trick because it halts debate and clouds issues behind an emotional smokescreen, so I am not going to assert that our progressive thinkers are one thing or another.  I would assert however that their ideas and ideals are more closely aligned with those of William Godwin than of John Locke, more clearly flowing from Jean Jaques Rousseau than from Edmund Burke, far more consistent with the thinking of Karl Marx than of Thomas Jefferson, and would garner greater enthusiasm from Gus Hall than from John Kennedy.  And in that is a message that is both critically important and generally ignored.

The silence is deafening and i can see “deer-in-the-headlights” stares aimed at me.  What?  “Who are those people?” you ask.   If you do not know and do not know what they all stood for then I would suggest you have no business taking part in the political discourse and debate because without knowing how we got to where we are you can have no idea where it is going.  It is like mathematically trying to draw a trend line based on a single data point.  If you want to know the truth about someone’s foundational beliefs and where they are likely to lead, then you must understand the foundations of those beliefs.  And if you will do that, and God knows the web can make it far easier for you than it was in the old days of actually having to have or go to a library and, gasp, READ something, then you may be somewhat unsettled by the information and find yourself needing to rethink things a bit.  In doing so you will start, finally, to become one of those “informed citizens” Jefferson said was essential to the success of democracy.  Perhaps you will read and understand the fear the founders had when Madison, and Jefferson, philosophical opponents in may ways, agreed that the greatest danger would come when the people realized that they could, directly or indirectly, write themselves a check from the public treasury.

We are there now.  The danger is bleak and at the gates.  The only question of value at this point is are you going to man the walls to fight it off or run down and open the gates?  Or does it matter?  Have we in fact, as some economists are saying, passed the tipping point from where recovery without tumult is no longer possible?   If so it will be because too many people sat on their hands and researched no more deeply than the talking points of their chosen party, steeped themselves in the profound philosophies of bumper stickers, and blindly followed those choir masters of the chosen choir.  If this culture and country craters around our ears then those blind followers are the people to blame.

Perhaps it will be too late for California’s education system to recover and it, along with the State’s economy, will need to collapse and wait to be rebuilt until the wreckage of its current policies is utterly inescapable to anyone willing to look.  Perhaps it will be the same for the State’s economy and, for that matter, the Country.  I hope not but I must confess I am no longer optimistic.


 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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