Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

In case the Russian spy drama overly sidetracked anyone, the following bills have been introduced quietly, I might add.

 

  1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. This means that Lake Michigan will be totally poisoned in a year. The great Lakes are basically static. They all only empty through one river, the St. Lawrence, so they retain pollutants. Lake Michigan unfortunately lies within U.S. boundaries with a multitude of mills, heavy populations near the shores, so heavy pollution. The lake was thought to be beyond saving, but due to efforts by the EPA it is just now starting to recover. Now heaven forbid that corporate America has to spend some profit and not dump their pollutants untreated into this body of water. The Great Lakes are the largest source of fresh water on the planet, and all of them are polluted to one extent or the other!

 

  1. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
! Voucher programs have shown to be unsuccessful. But what is most important for you to know, the voucher program will only allow you to put your child back into the same public program, but with a lot less money available to perform its duties. It does mean the rich can now save a buck sending their children to private schools that you still cannot afford, while your child gets even less of an education than before!            
  2. HR 899 Terminates the Department of Education
! So yes, they need to terminate anyone that might forewarn you about the ass kicking you are about to take!
  1. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
! I would thing that should be self evident, but it will not be!
  1. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act! Ok, I won’t defend it, but make sure you do not let them remove it until you understand perfectly what it is you are getting. You know the GOP are claiming they have written a tremendous, wonderful, the best of the best, most fabulous replacement for the ACA. It is an insult to basic intelligence; it is nothing more than a tax break for the wealthy while ripping healthcare away from millions. Just be wary folks. It ain’t whacha think!


6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
! This entity is under attack because of abortions. But it does not use funds from the government to fund any abortions. So now all you are doing is taking needed medical help from people who cannot get it elsewhere.

  1. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions) If you are one of those who hate unions, well you have no idea what unions have done for you, even if you and yours were never in one!
  1. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
  1. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
 Are we going all the way back to telling a woman to only speak with permission, to take care of the husbands needs above her own, and obey your man, or men if you don’t have your own man? I am a man, and even I know that is bullshit!
  1. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran

Since I started writing this the GOP has defunded feeding old people and children in need! The President just announced he will dismantle anything and everything that President Obama set in motion to fight climate change. That includes weather satellites controlled by NASA! He figures what you can’t see he can lie to you about! His meetings with leaders of countries that are members of NATO make it obvious he does not even understand how NATO works!

Look, I follow the writings of several highly educated people, Diane Ravich, for example, because she is plugged in way better than I am! Actually I don’t even know where the cord is! I recommend her to you, especially if you are in education. http://dianeravitch.com

I have no formal degrees. I am an avid reader, I do have a lot of technical training, some college, but as I said I never turned any of that into a formal degree unless Master Mechanic counts. However there is a humane way to live, a right and wrong that to my way of thinking is universal, it is not something you can parse out or budget out of existence. Kids, older folk, anyone up against it really, deserve to eat, stay warm, and live. (inside) Now that does not mean luxury by any means, but we, as humans, with a brain, conscience, and basic intelligence should not be debating this. As one of the richest countries in the world with all of the attributes that entails, it should just take care of its citizens, period. We can get into how we break the cycle of poverty, the dumbing down of America, the huge differences between poverty, middle class, and the upper crust, if you will, but we don’t put our basic humanity on a shelf while we figure it out! It does not take a genius to figure out right from wrong. I served my country, Sgt. USMC two tours in Nam as an avionics tech. I worked for 40 years. I never went on welfare and I worked for the same company for 30 years as a civilian before I got my second job! I am a proud liberal because I have a brain, a conscience, and I know right from wrong. I also know the GOP is totally out of touch with the people they are supposed to represent, and the current President lied to you big time and has mental problems. As I said before I do not have a degree, in psychology or any other medical field, but I know a rabid dog when I see one!

 

(A New Sub Genus of Human Beings)

Prevarication means that the subject under scrutiny is a lie. A prevaricator is the person or persons extolling the lie. In this case I am using it to describe a whole new species of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Yes look it up, Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the correct nomenclature for modern humans, to differentiate us from our direct descendants, Homo Sapiens Idalta. We are mistakenly called carnivores. We are of course carnivores, but since we also each veggies, we are more accurately described as omnivores, basically we eat everything!

So my premise is this. Since we can be classified by what we put in our mouths, we should also be classified by what comes out! Now all mammals, which includes humanity, also expel air, mostly carbon dioxide, in some cases spittle, and in extreme cases vomit when we have either contracted an illness or omnivored ourselves on just a little too much too fast!

However this premise will be based on the vocal content of what comes out of the mouths of modern Homo Sapiens Sapiens either vocally or in certain cases in writing to be vocalized later! Since the dawn of time, or since men and women learned to speak, and then later to write, prevarications have been told. Now sometimes this is just a storyteller’s way of making the story more enjoyable for his audience, the audience is generally aware, so we call this fiction or artistic license! It is generally accepted, even encouraged in writers of novels of fiction. Even plays and literary works based on actual historical events will have fictional sub plots to make them more interesting or exciting! All of this is expected and accepted.

But there is now a more sinister Homo Sapien out there. It is a Homo Sapien belonging to the family Homo Sapiens Sapiens, but does not know what the truth is anymore, or even if they did know they where lying the first time they told the prevarication, after they repeated it two or three times, their brain flips a switch and accepts that what they are saying is the truth! Unbelievable you say! Well there is more! There are receptors to this kind of vocal prevarication within the same classification. Although they did not invent the lie, just like the originator, after they have heard it two or three times they also believe it! Even when evidence to the contrary is given, if it does not align with what they prefer to believe, they still cling to the prevarication. The truth has no weight with either the originator of the prevarication, or the receptor of such information!

So these individuals need a new classification, because there are millions, maybe even a billion or so of the 7.8 billion on the planet who fall into this new classification! This new classification would be Homo Sapiens Prevaricator! Now this classification can be variable! Just like some choose to be vegetarians and give up being carnivores, education can protect you from this affliction. Education in world history is of particular importance, in geology, the study of early man and how we eventually evolved into what we are today can effect whether or not we will become a member of this new classification. And please forget monkeys when considering evolution, we did not evolve from monkeys, and no real scientist ever said we did! We can get into that some other time! Other sciences such as biology, physics, chemistry, aerospace, all are important! All education in general, so you will know that Columbus did not discover America, for example! Never even laid eyes on it or set foot upon its shores! The educated in the time of Columbus did not even think the world was flat; it had been common knowledge that it was round a long time before Columbus set sail. He was actually looking for a faster way to the East Indies by heading west rather than all the way around Africa! They just did not know there was a whole continent in their way, or the vastness of the planet earth! So if all of these things are understood by having an education system that is not rated near the bottom of the pile compared to other industrialized nations as ours is, it will help you understand the world around you! Most importantly it will help to better recognize the prevarication as it is uttered!

I will give an example of why just history, the real history of the world is so important. It can shed light on why our enemies are our enemies and point to ways to alleviate at least some of the animosity! Ancient Persia was a center of science, math, and language, education was alive and flourishing in what is now Iran! Our modern plumbing and irrigation, road building, almost all science, was influenced by Persians, or some of the greatest scientists of the time who lived and worked in Persia. You see, when it was one of the greatest and largest regions on the planet; they welcomed all religions and all nationalities of people, including the Jews, into their schools, universities, and halls of science. Then as time passed they had what we are now experiencing, their versions of Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, and yes their Trumps. Science and education was placing religion on the back seat and power was not concentrated as it once was. So in order for a small percent of the population to gain control of the empire, this smaller influential group taught them to fear their neighbors, to ignore science and education, put all their energy into their religion! Education of all types was frowned on because they did not want thinkers, they wanted a large force of people they could control and prosper from. Then they concluded that it could only be one specific type of religion, this so that even a smaller percentile could concentrate their power over the rest of population! Everyone in the empire, even the known world for that matter, had to accept their particular brand of religion or face holy war! So now you have what is now called Iran instead of the largest most powerful forward thinking empire on earth. Sound familiar? You bet it does! We have our 1%, the methods of control are more subtle, more in tune with mass media outlets and politicians who can be bought to maintain their control!

So register to vote, all of you! There is no such thing as two bad choices when it comes to this presidential election. No matter how much you dislike Hillary, she is at the very least qualified for the job! We must reverse the trend I have been talking about in this article or this nation is headed for a downward spiral we will not be able to recover from. And you also need to pay attention to your senate and house seats. We cannot have a do nothing congress again! We need to get moving and Trump is not the man to it. He will run this country into the ground. He is a con man, an egotistical narcissistic one at that, and cannot be given the reins of power! As my story points out, he wants to rule with intimidation and fear. He wants to narrow the power in this country to a very specific group by fomenting hate of anyone not like himself! We have to learn to fact check, not just think someone is what lobbyists or talk show host says a person is. Ask for actual proof, if all you get is, well I feel this must be true, or I heard this, I heard this a lot, that means that what you just heard is made up! It is a prevarication by that new portion of humanity I call Homo Sapien Prevaricator. Just keep in mind that none of our living Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, will endorse Trump. That every major country in the world does not understand why Trump is even being considered for President! That he changes policy every week or so as his old ones get him into trouble, that he knows nothing about world politics, or the history that goes along with understanding it. He knows no science, he is not well read, well he does own a copy of Hitler’s speeches, if that is any indication! Almost all of Trumps bad actions can be verified with facts. Almost all of Hillary’s supposed bad actions have no basis in fact. Email is one, I give you that, but not as bad it is being made to seem. Benghazi, well even the House Intelligence Committee, controlled by Republicans by the way, exonerated Hillary completely. She actually had been trying to get congress to increase the monies for the security at Embassies and missions for months on end, but was always stopped by the GOP. So who is responsible again? Actually that report, over two years in the making torched all the conspiracy theories put forth by the GOP members. You go down the list of supposed Hillary crimes there is no evidence of any kind! Just the innuendo and prevarications told by her enemies and her political opponents. A crime in itself!

Fathers Day and my posting of my Dad’s picture got me to thinking about the man who gave me almost every picture of my Father that thankfully I do have! Watch for the video at the very end of this article, it is the one I am most anxious for you to watch!

Warren King is a famous photographer and teacher who lived and worked here in Southern California. He was paired with my father during WWII, 167 Signal Photographic Company. They were both combat photographers, Dad specialized in combat movies when the opportunity presented itself. Not as easy to print up in the newspapers back home, but very valuable to military intelligence. Almost all of the photos I have of my Dad came from this man. A very good friend who I did not find until late in life whose name I had seen in letters sent to my paternal grandmother. He and my Father were very close, but after my Father died he lost contact and did not know what had become of us. I came across a website in which famous Hollywood photographers that had been taught by Mr. King had set up a scholarship fund in his name. I sent him a message via the web site asking if he knew my father and he immediately responded. So there is a documentary about the man, even includes a photo of my Dad!  You can see my Father at 5:16 into the film. It is the picture I am posting with this article and the one I posted on Facebook. At least my adopted families should take time to watch it. It was of course fascinating to me, but for obvious reasons. As I mentioned, Warren and my Dad stayed close friends after the war. After a couple of false starts Warren was offered a teaching job, among his duties he  started a career teaching photography to high school students. He became very famous, his students won prestigious awards every year, and so some of them also became famous in the photographic world. Mr. King took his students to a different foreign country each year on photo shoots, not your average high school photography class!

My father went to work for Hollywood Technicolor Corporation. He mainly worked on special effects for animation. For example, he told me the raindrops in Lady and the Tramp are actually milk drops that were later painted frame by frame to resemble rain and integrated into the animated movie. That is why they look so thick and fat! He loved his job, unfortunately his career was cut short by cancer, the Beverly Hills home we lived in had to go, not one of those mansions, just a regular home. But that is another story. Warren King or J Heslop, another very famous photographer, took most of the pictures in this article that I am including of my Dad. They were all in the same outfit at one time or the other and took photos of each other. So if King and Heslop are in a photo the chances that it was taken by my Dad are pretty good.

H_Warren_King_and_J_Heslop

The fellow pictured above with the camera is Warren King, and J Heslop is sitting to his left. No I am not forgetting to put a period behind the J, his first name is actually just the letter J, no period needed. Anyway, both he and my Dad wound up taking pictures and movies of prisoner of war camps, notably Jewish prisoner of war camps. Heslop used a still camera while Dad used a movie camera. I doubt they were together or at the same camp, but I do not know that one way or the other. I do know that because technology at the time could take still photos and get them in magazines and newspapers Heslop became famous! So there is a whole section at the BYU Harold B. Lee library digital photo section dedicated to J Heslop’s photos, he was a Mormon, you see. But he wrote books, was a journalist, and so was famous for more than just his war photos. There are several pictures of my Dad also in that collection taken by Hislop, however finding them took me a while, and some patience. Now the pictures of J Heslop himself obviously are not taken by him as cameras back then required a human to focus, aim, and pull the trigger, so chances are that Mr. King or my Dad could have taken them, no way to know. I will give you a link to the BSU site for Mr. Heslop, there are 75 pages of photos for you to choose from.

http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/search/collection/JMHes/

 

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This photo is of Sgt. Warren King

Christmas_card

 

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Staff Sgt. Charles Love/Sgt. Warren King

Charles Edwars Love

Dad

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2007-12-27-2247-49Sgt. King/Staff Sgt. Love

Sgt. Warren King, Staff Sgt. Charles Love

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Dad being awarded the Purple Heart.

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Below is the short documentary on Warren King. Warren told me that other than my Mother and Father he was the first to hold me when I was born. He was also the contact for the VA hospital and came to tell me my Father had passed away. Donna was too young, and no one could find my Mother that evening, so he came to make sure I was ok.  I honestly do not remember that night, or him, until I found him about 15 years ago in an Internet search, as I mentioned. Any of you from my adopted families, I highly recommend you watch the video. It does not talk about my family, but it gives you insight into the kinds of people my Father considered a friend. Thank you for watching, and thank you Mr. King for being such a good friend!

 

 

 

 

 

I have tried a few times to put down on paper my thoughts on our economy and those of Canada, the British empire and northern European countries like Germany, for example. Robert Reich posted a recent blog, which explains it well, and all in one place, so I am going to reblog it here, and I quote; “For years Americans have assumed that our hard-charging capitalism is better than the soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe. American capitalism might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living standards overall. Canada’s and Europe’s “welfare-state socialism” is doomed. It was a questionable assumption to begin with, relying to some extent on our collective amnesia about the first three decades after World War II, when tax rates on top incomes in the U.S. never fell below 70 percent, a larger portion of our economy was invested in education than before or since, over a third of our private-sector workers were unionized, we came up with Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor, and built the biggest infrastructure project in history, known as the interstate highway system. But then came America’s big U-turn, when we deregulated, de-unionized, lowered taxes on the top, ended welfare, and stopped investing as much of the economy in education and infrastructure. Meanwhile, Canada and Europe continued on as before. Soviet communism went bust, and many of us assumed European and Canadian “socialism” would as well. That’s why recent data from the Luxembourg Income Study Database is so shocking. The fact is, we’re falling behind. While median per capita income in the United States has stagnated since 2000, it’s up significantly in Canada and Northern Europe. Their typical worker’s income is now higher than ours, and their disposable income – after taxes – higher still. It’s difficult to make exact comparisons of income across national borders because real purchasing power is hard to measure. But even if we assume Canadians and the citizens of several European nations have simply drawn even with the American middle class, they’re doing better in many other ways. Most of them get free health care and subsidized child care. And if they lose their jobs, they get far more generous unemployment benefits than we do. (In fact, right now 75 percent of jobless Americans lack any unemployment benefits.) If you think we make up for it by working less and getting paid more on an hourly basis, think again. There, at least three weeks paid vacation as the norm, along with paid sick leave, and paid parental leave. We’re working an average of 4.6 percent more hours more than the typical Canadian worker, 21 percent more than the typical French worker, and a whopping 28 percent more than your typical German worker, according to data compiled by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. But at least Americans are more satisfied, aren’t we? Not really. According to opinion surveys and interviews, Canadians and Northern Europeans are. They also live longer, their rate of infant mortality is lower, and women in these countries are far less likely to die as result of complications in pregnancy or childbirth. But at least we’re the land of more equal opportunity, right? Wrong. Their poor kids have a better chance of getting ahead. While 42 percent of American kids born into poor families remain poor through their adult lives, only 30 percent of Britain’s poor kids remain impoverished – and even smaller percentages in other rich countries. Yes, the American economy continues to grow faster than the economies of Canada and Europe. But faster growth hasn’t translated into higher living standards for most Americans. Almost all our economic gains have been going to the top – into corporate profits and the stock market (more than a third of whose value is owned by the richest 1 percent). And into executive pay (European CEOs take home far less than their American counterparts). America’s rich also pay much lower taxes than do the rich in Canada and Europe. But surely Europe can’t go on like this. You hear it all the time: They can no longer afford their welfare state. That depends on what’s meant by “welfare state.” If high-quality education is included, we’d do well to emulate them. Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 rank near the bottom among rich countries in literacy and numeracy. That spells trouble for the U.S. economy in the future. They’re also doing more workforce training, and doing it better, than we are. The result is more skilled workers. Universal health care is another part of their “welfare state” that saves them money because healthier workers are more productive. So let’s put ideology aside. The practical choice isn’t between capitalism and “welfare-state socialism.” It’s between a system that’s working for a few at the top, or one that’s working for just about everyone. Which would you prefer?” Conservatives have to be careful not to follow a lot of their constituents over a line that has not been drawn by them, but by well moneyed interests who have been telling them how to think. Liberals have to weed out the bleeding heart that wants everything regardless of the cost. There is a happy medium, one that a lot of countries have obviously found and are using to their advantage, and just as obvious that we are failing to do the same. So the message is, wise up!

Our nations independence was July 4, 1776. Eight out of ten people on the street could not tell me the year, and almost half could not tell me the damn day! Which means they have no idea what July 4th is all about. The ones that did mostly referenced the movie Independence Day. When asked about why, most said it was over tea. After the successful conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763, the British government decided to make its North American colonies pay more of the costs of governing and defending them. Over the next 12 years Britain imposed a series of new taxes and other revenue-raising measures on the colonies that aroused heated opposition. The American colonists resented the trade regulations by which Britain utilized American economic resources to its own advantage, and they likewise resented their lack of representation in the British Parliament. British intransigence to these grievances spurred a growing desire for independence on the Americans’ part. When was the civil war? The civil war was fought from 1861 to 1865. Not one single person was able to tell me the correct answer to that question. Most thought Washington was president during that conflict! They also thought the war was about political and economic issues not connected to slavery and that the only reason Lincoln freed the slaves was to help win the war and for no other reason. The truth is in the 1860 presidential election campaign led by Abraham Lincoln, he opposed the expansion of slavery into United States’ territories. Lincoln won, but before his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy. The first six to secede had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 48.8% for the six.[5] Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln’s inaugural address declared his administration would not initiate civil war. Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy. A peace conference failed to find a compromise, and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on “King Cotton” that they would intervene; none did and none recognized the new Confederate States of America. Watch the movie that came out a year or so ago about Lincoln. It is historically accurate and a good history lesson.

The history of WWI and WWII, well I might as well have been asking questions about molecular biology. No one knew when, why, or how we got into each. WWI began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. The great powers in Europe had been at each others throats, so to speak, for about 4 decades. The defining moment that started WWI was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie by Gavrilo Princip, an ethnic Serb and Yugoslav nationalist from the group Young Bosnia, which was supported by the Black Hand, a nationalist organization in Serbia. The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans. Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties. WWII was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945, though some related conflicts in Asia began before 1939. It involved the vast majority of the world’s nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people, from more than 30 different countries. In a state of “total war”, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by mass deaths of civilians, including the Holocaust, the Three Alls Policy, the strategic bombing of enemy industrial and/or population centers, and the first use of nuclear weapons in combat, it resulted in an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities. This made World War II the deadliest conflict in human history. The Alls Policy was something I was not familiar with. It was a Japanese scorched earth policy adopted in China during World War II, the three “alls” being kill all, loot all, destroy all! I will stop there, as my conversations with individuals about Nam and current or recent conflicts is something I am still studying. The history of the world in general gets into the age of the earth, evolution, religion, and would take volumes, plus is not a popular subject where I come from. So I may tackle that, as I have some strong opinions based on facts, science, and yes, the bible, but does not need to be discussed to prove my current point. My point is, people I talk to have never taken courses in local, state, and federal forms of government. They have no accurate sense of our history, or how we came into being. This includes people who are proud to cite parts of the constitution, especially certain amendments, but have no idea of how or what was going on when they were drafted. They think they do, and are sure they have the straight of it, but when pressed, actually have no clue. These, I believe, represent the majority of our voters. It is also why we follow whoever inundates us with the most information prior to our elections, and couches this information in a way that catches our imagination, but is neither factual nor true in even a minor way in most cases. Yet we follow like lemmings with no true idea of why we are running off of a cliff by the millions.

I have no problem with rich people; I think the fact that you can become rich is part and parcel of what America is about. But it cannot happen at the expense of the vast majority of the American public, the poor, or the middle class!  Their spending power is what makes the economy work, now, in the past, and in the future. If they don’t have extra coin in their jeans to spend, our economy will not grow. Plain and simple folks, it is how it is. So basing a company on profit only at the expense of the worker will cause economic failure. Shipping jobs overseas, hiding money offshore to keep from paying taxes here at home, this all has to stop, must stop. Most people do not even understand the difference between the national debt and deficit, they think it is one and the same. They also do not understand that the deficit comes first before the debt even comes into consideration, and the middle class pays the bill, not big business, and it never has except to create a growing prosperous middle class, not disassembling it. Understanding this means you have to also be a student of history, a student of the local, state, and federal governments and how it is supposed to work. Without both you cannot understand economics. And listening to a powerful rich person is also a mistake. Study after study shows most know nothing outside the realm of the business they are succeeding in. This means they should not be advising you, so you need to advise yourself. So take a careful look, if you cannot see the majority of the population thriving, not just existing, then the policies that make that scenario a reality are absolutely wrong.

There is a dumbing down of America. We have dropped to the bottom of the pile of industrialized nations in education. We are not one of the countries where the population is happy with its countries policies, and we are fast sliding down that list like an out of control bobsled on the Matterhorn. If you are a conservative, you need to round off the sharp corners, if you are a liberal, you may need to accept some realities that are harsher than you would like. But if you look at things with no preconceived notions, and try to improve the basic education I think is necessary, I firmly believe your decisions will be different, and better, regardless if your political beliefs are conservative, liberal, or other leanings that proliferate out there.

Inequality in the United States

 

Inequality overall is usually expressed as wealth or income gap. Regions (southern states is one example) also make a difference as does race and religion. Religion is a war generator, just as much as ethnic bias is. It indirectly has an effect on world economies and poverty. Education is no longer a guarantee of higher wages or even of employment, at least here in the United States of America!

Americans are living in an unequal society, more so than practically anytime in the last century.  The income and wealth differences are greater in the good ole U.S.A. than in any democratic or developed country in the world.  As Joe Friday used to say, “the facts, nothing but the facts.” 

It is not as if we are condemned to watching all of this from the sidelines. All of these economic and demographic changes are embedded in a larger institutional and political story. In order to understand U.S. inequality and its growth over time, and in order to think about what we need to do to fix it, we need to focus on differences that matter. The simplest way to do this is to go back to our midcentury public policies that sustained both a floor for the bottom of the labor market and a ceiling for the top of it. This was done primarily with the power of unions, believe it or not, as they limited how much management could syphon off in pay and bonuses and other areas like buying back their own stock to manipulate profits for gain, but this puts money in the pockets of few, while money for increased wages and benefits is not even in the plan of a major corporation anymore. The work force was motivated because they were being treated fairly and able to transition to the middle class.  The tax base on the top tier of income and profit was also at a much higher rate in the years after WWII, so that the government was able to more easily have funds to operate without creating a huge deficit. Now top tier taxes have dropped dramatically and our politicians are asking you and I to take up all the slack.  This includes education, which in my opinion is a criminal act in itself. Some of the so-called 2% are crying that we should be glad we even have a job, and they feel like we are treating them like the Nazis treated the Jews. Actually said, I did not make that up. 

Some people blame globalization and entities like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for this inequality. Yes, they are partly to blame, however the real result in globalization has been to bring about more equality to nations, but more inequality within them. We were the only major power after the war that did not have to rebuild an infrastructure destroyed by war. That and the fact that at the time fuel and power sources for industry were cheap and plentiful.  However our spending started to increase dramatically starting with the Vietnam War while cheap plentiful fuel was getting harder to come by and also more expensive. Money in the world economy started flowing to countries with younger more energetic economies or who were rich in natural resources. This started narrowing the advantage we had in both trade and influence. What resulted was an economy that used the vast cheap labor pool and manufacturing available at lower costs on foreign soil to blackmail the American worker into working longer for less money, giving up things like unions, healthcare and retirement, in exchange for the company not to outsource their jobs, or moving the company itself overseas or to countries to the south.                                                                                                                 

We need Unions with their power restored to act for the worker as they once did until they were finally made ineffective by a systematic attack by a small percentage of the population whose avarice has no bounds, basically large corporations.  Without unions, workers have no bargaining power at all. Over the years labor’s bargaining power collapsed as I explained previously. This all began with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, which outlawed secondary labor actions (such as boycotts, or the picketing by workers not involved in the dispute) and undermined union security in so-called “right to work” states—especially in the South, the rural Midwest, and the mountain west.  The Landrum-Griffith Act (1959) further constrained secondary labor actions and permitted non-members to vote in certification (or decertification) elections—essentially inviting employers to hire scabs, and then count scab votes against the fate of the unions. This is a direct result of big business buying the votes it needed to enact such legislation. An assault on unions was systematic, and the middle class and all workers, even those outside of the unions began to suffer. The net result is telling. Early in the century, the share of the American workforce which belonged to a union was meager, barely 10 percent of the labor force. At the same time, inequality was stark–the share of national income going to the richest 10 percent of Americans stood at nearly 40 percent. This gap widened in the 1920s. But in 1935 the New Deal granted workers basic collective bargaining rights; over the next decade union membership grew dramatically, followed by an equally dramatic decline in income inequality. This yielded an era of broadly shared prosperity, running from the 1940s into the 1970s. After that, however, unions came under attack—in the workplace, in the courts, and in public policy. As a result, union membership has fallen and income inequality has worsened—reaching levels not seen since the 1920s. Today’s unions are merely figureheads, they have no real power, they have been systematically stripped over the years by influence peddlers (lobbyists) that work for the elite who can afford to make policy with their wealth, to make even more wealth.  Some suggest it is less than two percent of the population that control how the rest of us are going to live. It definitely is not a government for the people and by the people any longer. Well for 98% of us anyway! So look, if you knew that you were going to have to work almost twice as hard for about half the money, would you have agreed? If you knew that a huge portion of health insurance and retirement security was available to employees of corporations but was going to disappear without the protection of a union and that this would result in our elderly being more dependent on social security, medicare, and medicaid, would you still have a bad taste in your mouth about unions? And, of course, union decline contributes to inequality beyond the bargaining table or the paystub. But because public and private sector unions have been such a potent political force across the last century; their decline also undermines support for a wide range of public policies that might sustain working families or check corporate power. 

The net effect is clear. For a generation after World War II, the economy and the wages of working Americans grew together—a clear and direct reflection of the bargaining power wielded by workers and their unions. From the early 1970s on, however, union strength fell—and with it the shared prosperity that it had helped to sustain. Labor productivity has almost doubled, but the median wage has grown only 4 percent.   Let me repeat that, labor productivity has almost doubled; yet wages have only grown by 4 percent! The share of national income going to wages and salaries has slipped, while the share going to corporate profits has risen. Inequality has widened most dramatically for those who at an earlier point in our history or in any other democratic and industrialized setting would benefit the most from collective bargaining. You can boo hoo and nay say all you want but there is no denying that our country was growing as was our middle class and industry all with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans with strong unions representing workers. Now you think that the average American should work two jobs to get out of poverty and thank the wealthiest for the fact they have jobs. Education suffers because most can’t afford to access it. The specter of poverty, jobs with no future, no advancement with a decent wage, drives people to do some pretty despicable things. This is human nature and we can fix it, we just have to wake up and pay attention to Joe Friday and not the swill being fed us by those who think of us as nothing more than a means to more profit. When we cannot service them anymore we are discarded and replaced.  Is that the legacy you keep talking about? I sure hope not.

The solutions here are straightforward. We need to disentangle health care and pensions from job-based eligibility or participation. This would involve moving towards a sort of “Medicare for All” health care system and a system of universal and portable retirement accounts.  I know how much negativity there is about the Affordable Care Act, but if you follow the money, it is the same money that does not want unions to thrive, or social programs to be funded, or a minimum wage increase. We of course need to reinvent our compensatory social programs (unemployment insurance, food stamps) so that they are a better match in terms of eligibility, coverage, and duration for the challenges faced by the current generation of working families. Remember that Social Security, among others, is a paid deduction that comes out of every paycheck you receive.  You will probably not live long enough to get back what you put in most cases. Also that the federal government borrowed amounts that are described with words like trillion! Now that the bonds have come due, these same top tier lobbyist-funding czars have renamed them entitlements. That is money and a lobbyist talking out his ass, not the true state of affairs. Is there a problem with some people who do not deserve social programs, of course there are. But those are the problems we should be solving and not getting rid of a program that does not affect the deficit. 

The concentration of wealth and incomes at the upper end of the scale is bad for our economy and bad for our democracy. Making headway on this front depends upon the redistribution of both economic and political resources, indeed any real progress on the economic side of the equation is likely to be slight or fragile unless we can sever the close relationship (made worse, but hardly invented by the Citizens United decision) between economic affluence and political influence.

Much higher taxes on the rich are the starting point here—both to sustain and to raise the revenues that make other inequality-fighting policies possible. The form of such taxes is as important as their rates: Taxes that penalize or restrain things like a financial transactions tax for instance, which could both raise money and encourage investment in more productive forms of economic activity. Changes in the tax code could be accompanied by checks on executive pay—either through more transparent and active forms of corporate governance or through public leverage. And efforts to chip away at concentration of wealth at the very top should be accompanied by efforts to build the wealth and assets of ordinary Americans. 

Now Corporate America has also trained you to respond to the above paragraph by calling it socialism. It is a way to divert your attention from the truth. Were we a socialist republic after WWII? No we were not but corporate taxes were high, unions strong, and corporations and the working men and women were both doing well and getting better off each year. This is not the case today and the United States has the worst record of inequality on the entire planet! Japan and Germany, who surpass us, and most of the rest of the world economically, also have vastly lower inequality thresholds and support more and better social programs than we do. So I can’t say it enough, we rate right at the top of the list or bottom depending on how you want to look at it in rampant inequality on the world stage. I have heard the old proverb started by the gods of industry that if they do better it trickles down to you. Well what trickles down has been shipped overseas along with your job, or is in an offshore account. Dumbest saying I have ever heard. You have heard of lemmings? You say you want to leave a legacy for your children? Well unless you can figure out how to marry them off to about five or six families of royalty in the U.S., you’re just flat out of luck if the current trend continues. 

 

 

American Education Sucks

 

 

A report out last week by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance found that U.S. students are falling further and further behind their peers in other countries.

Students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil are making gains in academics three times faster than American students, while those in Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia and Lithuania are improving at twice the rate.

The study’s findings support years of rankings that show foreign students outpacing their American peers in education. Students in Shanghai who recently took international exams for the first time showed up with exam scores higher than any other school system on the planet! In the same test, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. I suspect even then the tested students did not come from inner city schools in our largest population centers.

Just 6 percent of U.S. students performed at the advanced level on an international exam administered in 56 countries in 2006. That proportion is lower than those achieved by students in about 30 other countries.

 

In a comparison of education in different countries, we find that many countries not only have a longer school day, but a longer school year. This gives teachers more opportunity to present new material.

 

Successful education in other countries has some things in common. They actively recruit teachers from the top 10% of the class, and they require all teachers to have a Masters degree. Instead of spending money on standardized testing they spend it on teacher education. Also, in order to attract competent teachers they pay them well and treat and respect them for the professionals they are, and allow them the freedom to know how to teach without being told how by someone who does not have their credentials.   Additionally, each community, whether poor or affluent, is funded equally. I believe this to be one of the more important aspects of education and where we fail miserably.

 

We have turned our schools in the poorer areas of our inner cities, and elsewhere, into simply housing our youth to keep them off the streets, but not actually educating them. These schools have little to offer a student that actually wants an education. Studies show that even students with very high grade point averages do not do well in college because their education did not prepare them to compete at the college level. They do not even do well in junior colleges that have programs that are designed to help these very students. So unless you have a genius IQ and can educate yourself and learn at an accelerated rate once you reach an institution of higher learning, as the title suggests, your education coming out of a very large percentage of American schools, sucks!

 

We need to treat education for what it really is, the only way to end the inequality of our nations residents. Sure I rail against all the loopholes that in my opinion make the top 10% in this country tax dodgers. I also think that we subsidize big energy companies, you know the ones making billions in profits, for more money than it would take to fix our schools and fund them all equally no matter where they are situated. But no matter how you feel, be you left or right leaning, our school system is failing.

 

Ok, here is where I may get a little too radical for some of you. I don’t believe our schools should just be housing students. Students who don’t really want to be there and make it hard for the ones that do should be released. So I propose that school be a privilege, not a mandate. If you do not pay attention in class, are disruptive, or you have been caught breaking the law, the school has the right to not continue to educate you. It should be a privilege to go, and I do not mean everyone has to have a high IQ, only that they are using the school to the best of their ability. Now I know that a howl just went up, but this is one of the most insidious problems with large inner city schools. Gangs, drugs, intimidation, even of teachers, are the norm. We have to change this environment. We also need to have a way for students who have been “let go” to earn a way back in. Complicated, of course. Does this mean we will have more people wandering the streets of large cities with no way to earn a decent wage without resorting to crime, sadly yes. So this idea has to come with ideas about how to handle the problems associated with not using our schools as a place just to house our youth. Part of that, an important part, is what I have already mentioned, funding all schools equally. Paying teachers well and requiring a Masters degree to teach. This way you attract highly qualified professionals to the craft of education. Also we need to allow more freedom for the individual school and teachers to decide how to teach and what to teach. Teachers being the key word, not politicians or school boards who do not hold Masters degrees in teaching disciplines.

 

In our current situation, some form of testing is needed, and the new testing does seem to require the student to think not just learn how to pass the test. However, if what I propose is done, mandated testing would not be needed, and this money could be spent keeping teachers updated and in tune with an ever changing world in order for them to better enrich their students lives.