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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

More Tax Avoidance = Less Internet Access

August 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Gretchen Morgenson’s column in yesterday’s NYTimes “A Corporate Tax Break That’s Closer to Home”, describes how a small internet provider in Arkansas is avoiding paying over $650,000,000 in taxes, money that won’t be available to hep the government fund things like schools and internet access but money that WILL be available to Windstream investors. How does this happen? It seems that the IRS has ruled that Windstream can “…spin off its copper and fiber network into a real estate investment trust, or REIT. That sounds pretty ho-hum until you realize it means that Windstream won’t have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.” 

Rather than retaining the income they earn and paying taxes on it, REITs pass along 90 percent of their income to shareholders, who then pay taxes. This means these companies have little in the way of taxable income.

And who are “those shareholders”? Are they middle class folks who complete their own taxes? Upper middle class folks who have their taxes completed by an accountant who scrupulously follows the rules? Or might they be the .5% who see a great investment opportunity and have figured out a way to avoid paying any taxes on this themselves? I don’t know for certain, but I’m guessing the main beneficiaries of this are the most affluent group and I’m also guessing that Windstream won’t be looking to provide internet access to folks in the back woods of Arkansas or those living in publicly assisted housing.

This is more evidence that our tax system needs to be overhauled and, unless I’m completely missing something, that internet access needs to be a public utility and NOT provided by private enterprise.

Writing Well in Tennessee

August 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Tennessee was the site of the Scopes trial in the 1920s… and even today many of its citizens clings to the Biblical truths instead of the Darwinian theories of science. Now the debate over the common core has ignited a debate on handwriting… and as a result TN is intending to adopt standards for cursive handwriting.

I’m sorry to report this to TN, but people aren’t exchanging information in cursive anymore… and 85% of college bound students PRINTED their answers on the SAT essay question. Personally, I never saw the value of cursive writing though I recall it WAS emphasized in Oklahoma where I attended elementary schools in the late 1950s– that is until Sputnik was launched at which point it seemed that the emphasis shifted to mathematics. Moreover, in my 35 years as Principal and Superintendent from the mid-1970s until 2011 I cannot recall any serious debate about teaching handwriting at the board level or among administrators… though I DO recall many debates about keyboarding….

TN is also a state that values deregulation and charter schools… maybe this is the TN State Board’s effort to drive more parents into deregulated charters where coding is seen as more important than cursive. ;-)

 

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Infrastructure Matters

July 31, 2014 Leave a comment

The recent flood at UCLA caused by a broken 93-year old underground pipe SHOULD be a wake up call for legislators across the country: our infra-structure is breaking and we need need to spend money to upgrade it as soon as possible. Broken 93 year-old underground pipes are a clear manifestation of the problem… but our country’s education infrastructure’s “leaks” are comparable. Many of our dilapidated schools need new roofs, new furniture, new HVAC systems, and upgraded windows and doors…. and the schools needing the greatest improvements are those located in economically deprived districts or neighborhoods. Virtually all of our schools have outmoded telecommunication infrastructures and many (if not a majority) of students do not have access to high speed internet. How can we hope to succeed in the future if we don’t invest in our facilities today? How can we expect students attending school in decrepit facilities to believe they have an equal opportunity for success when they watch TV shows illustrating the technology available in the affluent districts in our nation?