Posts Tagged ‘Economic Issues’

$5,700,000,000 Down Payment for Wall COULD be Spent Differently

February 11, 2019 Comments off

We are about to have another government shut-down because President Trump and the GOP are insistent that we spend $5,700,000,000 as the down payment on the completion of a wall— an  old-school physical structure, not a high-tech drone surveillance version— between Mexico and the United States. While there is no crisis being caused by those seeking a better life in out country, the POTUS has manufactured one and his party loyalists have supported him. And here’s what I find maddening: neither the President nor his party seem to think we have enough money for social services or the re-building of our infrastructure, but they are holding the entire functioning of the government hostage in an effort to build a $5,700,000,000 physical structure to address a wholly manufactured “crisis”.

NYTimes columnist Nick Kristof has provided those of us who believe the $5,700,000,000 could be spent on different programs with a handy list of alternatives. In examining the list he provides, it is clear we DO have the money we need to address the serious problems that plague the poorest citizens in our country and the world… but we are making incredibly stupid choices on how to spend it.

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Seattle Complaint About “Liberal Bias” Has One Flaw: It’s Based on Facts

February 4, 2019 Comments off

Dori Monson, a Seattle talk-radio host who describes himself as “right-leaning”, “center right”, and “libertarian“, recently wrote a post for KIRO radio’s website titled “Seattle Public Schools indoctrinate youth with Scholastic reader”. In this post Mr. Monson uses an email from a listener to describe the “indoctrination” as follows:

My daughter attends fourth grade in the Seattle School District. She has a weekly assignment to read the “Scholastic News” reader that is for reading comprehension. This week’s edition had a cover story titled, ‘Women in the House,’ about the increase of women being elected to Congress with some history of women’s suffrage. While I didn’t have any objections with the article for the most part, it’s the cover that I found troubling for several reasons. On the cover are five newly-elected women to Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar.

This cover is the continual far-Left indoctrination by our public schools. First, there are no Republican Congresswomen on the cover. You also have the Socialist agenda being pushed with AOC. The most troubling, however, is that you have two outright anti-Semites represented with Tlaib and Omar, as well as AOC’s association with Al Sharpton and her membership with the Democratic Socialists of America, who support the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement against Israel.

This is how it begins, normalizing people like this by putting them on a cover linked to a story about women achieving.

So… based on one parent’s email Mr. Monson has come to the conclusion that Scholastic is perpetuating some kind of left-wing agenda. Funny… my memory of Scholastic from my teaching and administration days was that it was moderate to a fault and clearly driven by the profit motive… and Wikipedia’s section describing criticisms of Scholastic bears that memory out. Under the heading “Criticism”, Wikipedia offers this critique of Scholastic:

Scholastic has been criticized for inappropriately marketing to children. Also, Scholastic now requires parents to submit children’s names with birth dates to place online orders, creating controversy. A significant number of titles carried have strong media tie-ins and are considered relatively short in literary and artistic merit by some critics.[18] Consumer groups have also attacked Scholastic for selling too many toys and video games to children, rather than focusing on just books. In July, 2005, Scholastic determined that certain leases previously accounted for as operating leases should have been accounted for as capital leases. The cumulative effect, if recorded in the current year, would be material. As a result, it decided to restate its financial statements.

Nothing anywhere about promulgating “leftist propaganda”. Rather, Scholastics biggest problem seems to be violating privacy (in order to sell information on children) or— stated more bluntly— focussing too much on its shareholders!

Nevertheless, Mr. Monson determined that Scholastic was clearly biased and promoting a leftist agenda. But there is a problem with his analysis: in fact the number of female GOP congressmen declined in the 2019 class while the number of Democrats spiked: 

So was the report flagging five newly elected Democrats “biased” or factual? And was the decision to flag three of the most diverse members of the newly elected Congress “biased” or factual? Here’s a report from the Washington Post on the day after the election:

The women who ran this year were remarkably diverse — black, Latina, Native American. But noticeably absent on ballots were more Republican women.

“We need to go out and get our women engaged,” said Sarah Chamberlain, president and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership. “We are being dwarfed by the Democrats. This is something we are going to focus on.”

Yes, I know, it’s the Washington Post a left-leaning publication if there ever was one… but they are quoting the president and CEO of Republican Main Street Partnership for goodness sakes.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I am left-leaning, progressive, and all in favor of diversity— which is to say I favor democracy! Here’s hoping there is a counter-alining voice to Mr. Monson somewhere on the airwaves.

Foxconn’s Promised Jobs in Wisconsin Evaporate… and the Fingerprinting Begins

February 1, 2019 Comments off

Common Dreams reporter Jake Johnson has been tracking the Foxconn con job in Wisconsin for several months and his latest reports are scathing for those who advocate the use of federal, state and local funding to offer “economic incentives” to private corporations. As reported in this blog in August 2017, the State of Wisconsin, reportedly unable to find funds for schools during the prior year’s legislative session, DID manage to find $3,000,000,000 to entice the Taiwanese tech firm Foxconn to build a factory in their state, a factory that promised to bring 13,000 manufacturing jobs to the state. As the aphorism says, if something seems too goor to be true, it probably is… and Foxconn is proving to be no exception. Here’s the latest report from Jake Johnson:

As Reuters reported on Wednesday, the Taiwanese tech firm—which Walker lured to Wisconsin with over $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies—is now saying “it intends to hire mostly engineers and researchers rather than the manufacturing workforce the project originally promised.”

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Louis Woo, a special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, said the company is completely walking back its plan to build $10 billion factory in Wisconsin.

“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,”Woo said.

As Reuters notes, FoxConn “initially said it expected to employ about 5,200 people by the end of 2020; a company source said that figure now looks likely to be closer to 1,000 workers. It is unclear when the full 13,000 workers will be hired. But Woo, in the interview, said about three-quarters of Foxconn’s eventual jobs will be in R&D and design—what he described as ‘knowledge’ positions—rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs.”

Oops! No factory??? No jobs for working class voters who supported Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Walker’s union busting? Unsurprisingly, the GOP leadership in the state is blaming this on Tony Evers, the recently elected governor who, they allege, scared Foxconn away by trying to renegotiate with them. The unfortunate truth of the matter for the GOP is that Foxconn’s latest announcement is a follow up to an earlier announcement they made in early November, before Mr. Evers even took office.

Jake Johnson concludes his article with this quote from President Trump, who came to the groundbreaking ceremony in Wisconsin when Foxconn announced their plans:

“I’m thrilled to be here in the Badger State with the hardworking men and women of Foxconn working with you,” Trump declared during the event. “Moments ago, we broke ground on a plant that will provide jobs for much more than 13,000 Wisconsin workers. Really something. Really something.”

Will Mr. Trump come to the funeral to bury the $3,000,000,000 for the 13,000 jobs that are unlikely to ever materialize… $3,000,000,000 that could have gone into the Wisconsin economy had the Governor “found” the money to pay teachers in the state?

Dutch Historian Has News for Davos: Higher Marginal Taxes Do NOT Hurt the Economy

January 31, 2019 Comments off

The plutocrats gathered at Davos heard some unsettling news from Rutger Bregman: Philanthropy is no substitute for taxes.. and there is a country where high marginal tax rates DID result in economic growth: the United States during the Eisenhower administration.

The Davos crowd also heard from Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International on the flaws of employment data… namely that fact that employment data fails to take into account the DIGNITY of the jobs counted.

While I am glad the plutocrats heard this news, it is unfortunate that more Americans did not hear this information.

Boston Valedictorians Struggling Economically… Their Suburban Counterparts? Not So Much

January 30, 2019 Comments off

A recent story on research conducted by Boston Globe reporter Malcolm Gay reported on the current earnings of valedictorians from Boston area schools who graduated in 2005-2007. The headline of the article read:

How can it be true? Many valedictorians of Boston public schools struggle to make a middle class income

How can it be true? Evidently both the headline writer and Mr. Gay have been asleep for the past decade— or make that past several decades— as the difference between funding for suburban and urban schools has widened, the income disparities of parents in suburban and urban schools has widened, and the racism that exists has persisted. Being valedictorian in an underfunded school does not prepare you for the current economy any more that being the best athlete in a small school prepares you to play in the major leagues. But here’s what’s sad: the student who’s an exceptional athlete has a better chance of making the big leagues than the exceptional scholar because scouts are looking everywhere for “diamonds in the rough” who might become extraordinary players… but colleges and businesses do not want to invest their time and money in potential “stars”. Instead, they rely on private schools and affluent suburban schools to feed them the talent they need… and the current system doesn’t limit their pool. And here is what is particularly maddening: despite their protests about the lack of qualified applicants the private sector is not increasing their compensation for entry positions— the classical response to sagging applicants— nor is it making an effort to cultivate the untapped talent that lies in underfunded schools by paying higher taxes or actively engaging in talent searches.

DeVos Revisiting Supplement vs. Supplant… A Story that Will be Buried But One that will Undercut School Funding Nationwide

January 30, 2019 Comments off

There is so much happening with the ongoing investigation of the President, the aftershocks to the month long government shutdown, the ongoing debate about the need for a wall, and the severe weather that results from climate change that the USDOE’s intent to review the supplement versus supplant language can get pushed off the stage altogether. Here’s a report from Politico earlier this week on the USDOE’s decision to revisit the “supplement vs. supplant” issue:

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TAKES ON ‘SUPPLEMENT, NOT SUPPLANT’: The Education Department is out with proposed guidance under the Every Student Succeeds Act that DeVos said makes clear to districts that they have “significant flexibility” when it comes to spending.

At issue is a requirement known as “supplement, not supplant.” The requirement was meant to ensure that poor and minority students get their fair share of state and local education funding by requiring that the federal education funds enhance, but not replace, state and local funds.

The department says the requirement “had become restrictive and burdensome.” Now, “in order to comply, a school district need only show that its methodology to allocate state and local resources to schools does not take into account a school’s Title I status,” the department said in a statement. “For many school districts, the requirement can be met using the school district’s current methodology for allocating state and local resources.”

In previous years, when Title I funding was “…more restrictive and burdensome”, districts had to demonstrate that the federal funds targeted for students raised in poverty were, in fact, spent on those students. In my experience as a Superintendent, this DID require a lot of complicated bookkeeping and there were some occasions where auditors from the USDOE could be picky, but these accounting rigors did ensure that federal funds did not displace the local funds. This strict segregation of federal funds from local and state funds meant that ALL districts— including those serving affluent students— would raise their voices in support of federal funds that were earmarked for children raised in poverty and especially those funds that were earmarked for disabled children.

Those who want the federal government to stay out of education often fail to acknowledge why the federal government got INTO education to begin with. The federal government was advocated for the voiceless children raised in poverty and shunted out of the public schools due to their race or disabilities. Most elected officials at the state and local levels ignored the needs of these children and because their parents did not have the ears of the officials their children suffered in underfunded and sub-standard facilities. The War on Poverty and the Disability Rights movements injected federal funds into public education and with those funds came the so-called “restrictive and burdensome” regulations that anti-public education voters despise.

This just in: government regulations protect the poor and disabled children from underfunded and substandard schools in the same way government regulation protect all citizens from pollution and foul water. Yes, government regulations can be “restrictive and burdensome”, but that is a small price to pay for a just and equitable public education system.

No State Money = No Neighborhood School… but Nevertheless, NH North Country Remains Opposed to Broad Based Taxes

January 27, 2019 Comments off

The Manchester Union Leader recently reported on the decision of the Berlin NH School Board to close Brown Elementary School, it’s last neighborhood elementary school… and the reason had everything to do with money. Corinne Cascadden, the Superintendent in Berlin and former principal of the Brown Elementary School was saddened at the news, but declining enrollments coupled with the loss of State “stabilization (i.e. equalization) funds spelled certain doom:

Had enrollment been the only challenge facing the Brown School, Cascadden said the school board might have entertained a closure conversation in three to five years, but the fact that Berlin has not received “stabilization” grants from the state since 2016, moved that date up considerably.

Since 2016, Berlin has lost a cumulative $879,295 in aid and therefore closing the Brown School, while difficult, “was the only choice the school board had,” she said.

The closure is expected to save the school district about $300,000 annually.

The folks in Coos County are reliable GOP voters. The voted for Trump in 2016 and Sununu in both 2016 and 2018… and in so doing continued to vote for the political party that created the problems they face in their local economy and local schools. At some juncture, a page may turn or a light may go on, or a lightening bolt will strike (choose your own tired metaphor)… and the voters in communities like Berlin will see that their community’s decline is the result of the GOPs commitment to increasing the bottom line of corporations… and may even see that corporatist neoliberals are doing the same thing. When that day comes it might be possible for NH to adopt a broad-based tax that could provide the funds needed to make communities like Berlin vibrant again.