Monday, December 12, 2011
Class warfare and income redistribution rhetoric has always been fashionable among self anointed protestors and politicians who play the old game of divide and conquer, telling us the greedy “rich” need to “pay their fair share.” This would be tedious if it did not have serious implications for tearing communities apart, including our own. Let’s take a look.
According to IRS data, there are 1.38 million Americans in the top 1% earning at least $343,927 a year. This is a generous living but hardly the cash flow to purchase a corporate jet and luxury yacht. There are 138,000 Americans in the top .1% earning over 2 million a year. They more truly represent the vision we have of “rich,” but only equal .04% of the population.
Going even further, we can say “rich” and attach images of Oprah and Gates, two of the 5,309 people who make over ten million a year, but comparing .004% of the population to the 330 million other Americans to define the economic fabric of our nation is statistically meaningless.
What do Americans earn? 91.7% make less than $100,000 a year, with 71% making between $0 and $50,000 and 20.7 % making between $50,000 and $100,000. Only 8.3% of Americans earn over $100,000 year while 1.8% earn over $200,000. Good incomes to be sure but hardy “rich” once Uncle Sam takes his cut.
Focusing on the extreme ends of the earning scale to define “rich” versus “poor” is like comparing Warren Buffet to a homeless person. Elites who smugly spew indignation to protect a frail sense of self may create moral melodrama, but choosing the vivid exception to statistical truth does not trump demographic realities. In short, the vast swath of Americans make between $25,000 and $75,000 a year. Instead of being a nation of “rich” and “poor,” we are a nation of income equity and mobility.
Sarasota County is no different. The average adjusted income per household is $55,157. So why do we see opulence here in Sarasota? Because the so called ‘rich” spent the better part of a lifetime working hard at building a business or career, saving and investing for a rainy day, paying off a home and planning for their future. They no longer work, and live off their investment income and social security, but they certainly have paid their “fair share” along the way.
Many locals may live well now, but what is unseen are the years of scrimping and saving that went towards the ability for Sarasota seniors to live out their retirement years with some degree of comfort. Contrary to the static class system argument of neo-hippy malcontents, there is an easy explanation for America’s narrow income variations.
Experience, time, and age must be factored into any income analysis. Young people have fewer skills and earn less; older people have more skills and earn more. Incomes increase over time.
The “have” and “have-nots” are not different people, just people at different stages of their lives. The top 20% retire while the bottom 20% increase their human capital and move up while younger workers enter the workforce and continue the cycle. $66 thousand a year gets you into the top 25%.
Likewise, the bottom 20% does not mean “skid row.” There are the painfully poor 3.5%, but most of the people in the bottom 20% in America do not live on the streets or remain there for very long.
The “poor” in America are far richer in real economic terms than the rich in many places around the globe. Defining poverty and affluence is difficult when the bottom 20% in America has a higher standard of living than the top 20% in many other countries.
Income and class mobility is also a dominant feature in America. An absolute majority of people in the bottom 20% move into the top 20% in less than twenty years. Treasury Dept. studies show incomes in the bottom 20% grow at a much faster rate than in the top 20%, while the top1% actually move down in income and bracket over time. Factoring for inflation, the median income of all tax filers increased 24% over the ten year period studied.
The economy is not a zero sum game where the benefit of one comes at the cost to another. The class warfare attack on the “rich” is really an argument against free markets, wealth creation, and life saving economic growth. Polarizing citizens based on highly subjective emotional terms like “rich” and “poor” is counterproductive at best and immoral at worst.
Free market entrepreneurial capitalism allowed for the success of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Attacking the “rich” to pay their “fair share” through forced income redistribution will mean less Apples, jobs, and prosperity.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
By Dean Kalahar
November 22, 2011
Much is said about the history of Thanksgiving. As educators and social scientists, it is important to teach America’s cultural foundations; for if we forget who we are and where we came from, we will face a cultural rot that will destroy us from within.
There are only two contemporary accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving: First is Edward Winslow's account, which he wrote in a letter dated December 12, 1621. It speaks of the feast and sharing of food with the Indians.
“Our corn [i.e. wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a goodincrease of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside,served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
The second description was written about 1641 by William Bradford in his History Of Plymouth Plantation. It is in this account that the Thanksgiving turkey tradition is founded.
“They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass andother fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many,besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person,or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.”
But the story of what the Pilgrims and modern Americans give thanks for every Thanksgiving has a deeper and more profound meaning than most Americans know. To understand Thanksgiving we must first return to Jamestown with the help of David Boaz.
In 1607, 105 men and boys, mostly indentured servants who held no private property and were to work for the “common store,” disembarked from three ships and established the first permanent settlement in America.
There were the usual hardships of pioneers far from home, such as unfamiliar diseases. There were mixed relations with the Indians already living in Virginia. Sometimes the Indians and settlers traded, other times armed conflicts broke out.
By 1609, there were 500 settlers, including women. And yet within six months fewer than 100 were still alive during what came to be known as "the starving time." Why? According to a governor of the colony, George Percy, most of the colonists died of famine, despite the “good and fruitful” soil, the abundant deer and turkey, and the “strawberries, raspberries and fruits unknown” growing wild.
And yet people were desperate. They ate dogs and cats, then rats and mice. They apparently ate their deceased neighbors. And some said that one man murdered and ate his pregnant wife. By the spring, they had given up. They abandoned the fort and boarded ships to return to England. But, miraculously, as they sailed out of Chesapeake Bay, they encountered three ships with new recruits, so they turned around and tried to make another go of it. The additional settlers and supplies kept them alive.
When a new governor, Thomas Dale, arrived a year after the starving time, he was shocked to find the settlers bowling in the streets instead of working. Dale's most important reform was to institute private property. He understood that men who don't benefit from their hard work tend not to work very hard. As such he allotted every man three acres of land and freed them to work for themselves.
And then, the Virginia historian Matthew Page Andrews wrote, “As soon as the settlers were thrown upon their own resources, and each freeman had acquired the right of owning property, the colonists quickly developed what became the distinguishing characteristic of Americans—an aptitude for all kinds of craftsmanship coupled with an innate genius for experimentation and invention.” The Jamestown colony became a success, people from all over Europe flocked to the New World, and capitalism was born in America.
Ray Harvey writes that not many years later, in November of 1620, another group of American settlers — 101 of them, to be exact, this group not financed by the British government — arrived on the good ship Mayflower, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
These Pilgrims, as they were called, moved a short distance away to a place named Plymouth. They were not at all unaware of the early Jamestown disaster, the starvation, the disease, the famine; they were, however, unaware of what had caused it. Accordingly, they proceeded to make the identical mistake that the settlers of Jamestown had made: namely, collective ownership of land. And the Pilgrims too paid dearly for it. Within a few short months, half were dead.
Over the course of the next three years, 100 more settlers arrived from England to Plymouth, all of whom were barely able to feed themselves. As Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford wrote:
“Many [settlers] sold away their clothes and bed coverings [to the Indians]; others (so base were they) became servants of the Indians … and fetch them water for a capful of corn; others fell to plain stealing, both day and night, from the Indians…. In the end, they came to that misery that some starved to and died with cold and hunger. One in gathering shellfish was so weak as he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”
But this same William Bradford would soon solve “the ruin and dissolution of his colony,” and he would do it in the exact same way Sir Thomas Dale had saved Jamestown.William Bradford wrote:
“After much debate of things … [it was decided that the Pilgrims] should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves … And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, for present use. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”
Bradford came to fully grasp how lack of property rights negates and indeed destroys the work incentive:
“Common course” was abandoned in favor of setting “every man for his own particular,” meaning private property. Instantaneously, those who had been indolent became “very industrious,” so much so that woman and men who had “previously pleaded frailty worked long and hard – once they saw how they and their families could benefit from such hard work.”
William Bradford went on to correctly identify the source of the “disastrous problem” as “that conceit of Plato’s,” who, in direct contrast to Aristotle, advocated collectivism and collective ownership of land, which, as history has repeatedly proven creates economic inefficiency and suffering.
Bradford even wrote later that those who mistakenly believed that communal property could make people “happy and flourishing” imagined themselves “wiser than God.”
The greatest lesson we can learn from this history of thaanksgiving? Freedom exercised through the natural rights of life, liberty, and property - promoted through an entrepreneurial free market economic system based on private property or capitalism- saved us in the beginning years of our nation. It is to those principles, tied to historical fact for which we celebrate Thanksgiving today.
The Real History of Thanksgiving, Ray Harvey, November 24th, 2010
Private Property Saved Jamestown and, with it, America. By David Boaz,2007
Practical Economics, Dean Kalahar, 2008
Monday, November 21, 2011
By Dean Kalahar
November 21, 2011
Although highly organized, objectively evaluated, well intentioned, and packaged with some important academic objectives in mind, the AICE Global Perspectives course directly promotes or subtly guides students towards a vision of the world that can only be seen as counter to the principles of West civilization, American Exceptionalism, and Capitalism.
The curriculum in Global Perspectives states “The syllabus aims to develop active global citizens.” In addition, and in a stunningly disingenuous rejection of their own words and directives, the class description states:
“The course is not about getting everybody to think identically; rather it is a matter of opening minds to the great complexity of the world and of human thought, and opening hearts to the diversity of human experience and feeling.”
“The global issues provide a stimulating context through candidates can begin to develop the skills necessary to participate as active, global citizens and for practical application in further study.”
The syllabus offers an insightful example of how the academics in charge of developing curriculum are unaware of their bias.
A topic, such as Biodiversity and Ecosystem Loss, should not be undertaken only as a piece of empirical research e.g. into deforestation. The collection of relevant facts and information is clearly important, but what is also important is addressing the issues within the topic. What makes deforestation a matter of global import is not only the fact that about 20 per cent of tropical and sub-tropical forests have disappeared since the 1960s but also the effect of this loss on human (and animal and plant) life, both locally and globally. In general, human relations, with the planet and/or with each other, are at the centre of all global issues.”There should be no doubt, the AICE developers are directing students to become activists for issues the AICE curriculum is directly advancing. The focus is to teach students what to think, instead of teaching them how to think.
If this is what taxpayers, parents, and students are looking for, then the AICE curriculum is a fine place to increase academic focus and discipline. If, however, taxpayers, parents, and students are unaware of the ideology being disseminated through AICE, it may be a good time to ask some tough questions to see if the program is appropriate.
To further back up these sentiments, the following are excerpts of core curriculum benchmarks taken directly from the AICE syllabus for the 2012 Global Perspectives course. Comments and potential concerns in parenthesis are mine.
Benchmarks Focus questions for a global perspective
Why are plant species threatened? How can existing material/mineral
resources be maintained? How would we judge whether the loss of a
number of plant or animal species constituted a disaster?
Are humans themselves becoming more, or less, diverse?
(sustainability, anti-capitalism ideology)
What causes climate change? What are the effects of climate change?
How do different countries approach climate change?
(global warming ideology)
Conflict and Peace
What is the role of the UN in times of conflict?
(Global government/law, anti-sovereignty ideology )
Is access to good health care a right?
(Universal health care ideology)
Does everyone have the right to an education?
(Global education, centralization of education ideology)
(Redistribution of wealth, command economic systems, “fair/living” wages, exploitation of workers, open boarders ideology)
Family and Demographic Change
Why do some countries have a high proportion of children, or of elderly people? What difficulties can this cause? What is a ‘family’? How/why has the family changed?
(anti-family, alternative family/lifestyle agenda, eugenics ideology)
Fuel and Energy
What are the world’s mineral resources used for? Which countries provide the most/ least? Which countries use the most/least? Who controls the prices? What kinds of fuels are the most environmentally friendly?
(Alternative energy, Anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, “green” ideology)
Humans and Other Species
How well do humans share the planet with other species? Are certain species more important than others? Should humans be permitted to ‘use’ other species to make human life easier/ better?
(Environmentalism, anti-west ideology)
Law and Criminality
Who decides which laws should be in force? What are the problems caused by different law systems in different countries?
(global government ,World court, anti-sovereignty ideology)
Poverty and Inequality
Why are some countries poorer than others and are all the people in these countries poor? How has the gap in equality changed between countries in recent years? In what way should richer countries be concerned about poverty in other countries?
(Anti-west, anti-capitalism, income redistribution ideology)
Trade and Aid
Who makes the rules? Why are some countries with plenty of natural resources poorer than some other countries? Do richer countries have a responsibility to help poorer countries?
(Income redistribution, anti-capitalism ideology)
Tradition, Culture and Identity
Why do people value tradition? Why do people divide into nations? Why do some people move from one country to another? How does this affect their lives? If we have ‘European citizens’, should we aim eventually for all people to be ‘World citizens’?
(global government, world citizenship, anti-sovereignty, open boarders ideology)
Transport and Infrastructure
(Promotes mass transit and control ideology)
Why are more houses being built in many countries in the world? Should there be restrictions on house building?
(Anti-Israel settlement building, environmental ideology)
Water, Food and Agriculture
(over population, sustainability ideology)
Monday, November 7, 2011
By Dean Kalahar
The Occupy Wall Street movement and class warfare politics we are experiencing is no less abhorrent than racism. We should call this behavior a more proper name, “Wealthism.” Just as racists believe in superiority by division and discrimination, “Wealthists” seek superiority by division and discrimination of wealth creators. There is just one problem; the so called villains being demonized are the very people that enhance and save lives.
Basic economics teaches that wealth is created by the actions of man in altering and adding value to scarce raw materials and resources to make them more useful in meeting demand. This additional value is considered capital, which economist Hernando DeSoto explains originally came from the word “cattle.”
Because cattle have always been important sources of wealth beyond the basic meat they provide. Livestock are low maintenance possessions; they are mobile and can be moved away from danger; they are also easy to count and measure. But most important, from livestock you can obtain additional wealth, or surplus value, by setting in motion other industries, including milk, hides, wool, meat, and fuel. Livestock also have the useful attribute of being able to reproduce them-selves. Thus the term “capital” begins to do two jobs simultaneously, capturing the physical dimensions of assets (livestock) as well as their potential to generate surplus value. From the barnyard it was only a short step to the desks of the inventors of economics, who generally defined “capital as that part of a country’s assets that initiates surplus production and increases productivityBecause we do not live with unlimited abundance like the Garden of Eden, scarcity places value on resources that are directly or indirectly owned based on human demand. When capital in the form of goods and services is exchanged, wealth is created.
Wealth is often defined in terms of a tangible currency. But money only acts as a certificate of performance in meeting the needs and demand of others. Capitalists must first serve before they can earn in a free market of voluntary exchange.
In a market economy, human nature and incentives allow scarce resources to efficiently flow from those who have to those who need. Greater wealth comes from increased economic efficiency in meeting needs while answering the fundamental scarcity question. In turn, wealth creation means more of mans unlimited desires including food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, are being met. As a beautiful result, the standard of living rises which equates to a greater quality and quantity of life.
In short, economic growth creates wealth which saves lives. By default then, wealth creation is compassion by action, which is a far cry from the compassionate chest and drum beating coming out of Wall Street and Washington. Proof can be seen in the world wide increase in the standard of living, population, and life expectancy while infant mortality and poverty rates decline.
We can even add a formula to the explanation. If amount of economic growth raises the standard of living Y amount, then Z numbers of people are saved who would have otherwise perished as a result of the previously lower standard of living. In turn, any economic inefficiency that prevents economic growth to Y will cost Z lives.
For example, if for every 1% of growth in GDP the quality of life increased by X amount and Y people were saved, then a government program that restricted growth by 3% would cost the lives of 3Y peoples minus the number of lives saved by the program. In mathematical terms, if $50 million equals 1% GDP growth and for every 1% increase in GDP 500 lives are saved, then a program that costs $100 million would in effect take the lives of 1000 people minus the number of lives the program saved. If the program saves 1001 people it would be worthwhile, if it saves 999, it is inefficient and in fact would indirectly cause the death of one life.
Thomas Sowell explains this concept in more eloquent terms:
There have been various calculations of how much of a rise in national income saves how many lives. Whatever the correct figure - X million dollars to save one life - anything that prevents national income from rising that much has, in effect, cost a life. If some particular safety law, policy, or device costs 5X million dollars, either directly or in its inhibiting effect on economic growth, than it can no longer be said to be worth it “if it saves just one human life” because it does so at the cost of 5 other human lives. There is no escaping trade-offs, so long as resources are scarce and have alternative uses.Thus anything that inhibits the market economy from operating freely costs potential economic growth which means the economy does not expand as much as it could have. As a result needs go unmet and more perish than would have otherwise if the market had been freer. In other words, “smaller pie and people die.”
Wealth creation is fostered by property rights, the rule of law, and limited government in the free market. Crony capitalism, where government picks winners and losers abuses these fundamental tenets. Class warfare politicians, who feel entitled to make economic decisions for others, cover their tracks and protect themselves politically by stirring up protestors to deflect attention away from their social engineering.
Those who impugn wealth creation are championing a cause whose end result will be greater human suffering and death. “Wealthism” is either ignorant economics or the vicious side of human nature masquerading as compassion. If class warfare politicians divide and discriminate, while protestors shut down commerce and demand the end to the efficiencies inherent in a system that save lives, the “Wealthists” need to understand, it is they who will have blood on their hands.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Since the United Federation of Teachers is working directly with the Occupy Wall Street protestors, I wonder if the OWS folks know that the UFT is located at 50 and 52 Broadway, which is in the heart of Wall Street? The AFT is not operating a store front; we are talking 20+ story buildings in the heart of NY’s financial district.
Either the hypocrisy from both the teachers union and Occupy Wall Street crowd is stunning or their ignorance is overwhelming. Let’s look deeper into the pockets of the self proclaimed “victims” in the crowd to see where “greed” really resides.
Mike Antonucci of the EIA reports an article from The New York Times, September 15, 2002.
At the start of this year, the union (AFT) paid $53.75 million for the
340,000-square-foot mostly occupied building at 50 Broadway, near Exchange
Place, and net leased the adjacent and recently empty 400,000-square-foot
building at 52 Broadway. The union will lease at 52 Broadway, where it also
secured a minority equity position in the building, for 32 years with two
20-year renewal options…
The union alone will relocate 400 employees. Based on incentives
currently being offered to employers that move jobs downtown, the union expects
to receive $3,500 per employee, or a total of $1.4 million.
Three affiliated union groups that have been tenants in the Midtown
South buildings -- the New York State United Teachers, a statewide teachers'
union; the New York State A.F.L.-C.I.O.; and the U.F.T. Welfare Fund -- will
also move to the two Broadway buildings, where they will be subletting space
from the union…
In all, the union is giving up the 310,000 square feet it owned in
Midtown South for 740,000 square feet in the downtown buildings, which will
undergo a $40 million renovation, beginning in February. The work will include
joining the buildings at certain floors and providing such long-sought amenities
as a 1,000-seat auditorium, a 20,000-square-foot conference center, high-tech
wiring and a cafeteria as well as on-site parking for 40 cars. There will also
be a separate entrance and lobby for the union and its members at 52 Broadway,
where most of the new amenities will be housed…
The terms of the lease also included some $20 million in free rent,
work allowance and improvements -- from building out the auditorium and garage
to upgrading the technology -- that the landlord will provide.
Leo Casey of Edwise writes:
UFT President Mulgrew has been at Zuccotti Park a number of times, speaking
to the assembly, and was joined by AFT President Weingarten on one occasion. Our
headquarters are a few blocks away from Zuccotti, and we have provided space for
meetings of different groups supporting OWS. We have also given over a major
section of our street level space to storage for OWS, for donations of materials
and supplies sent to them and for the stowing of personal belongings on the
morning when Bloomberg threatened to “cleanse” Zuccotti…
Oh, and last weekend, we sent forty sandwiches left from our conference
for charter school educators over to Zuccotti. I had not thought much of that
donation until Fox Business Network senior correspondent Charles Gasparino
called the UFT on Monday… Why, he demanded to know, was the UFT providing
sustenance to violent revolutionaries? Confronted with the results of
Gasparino’s crackerjack investigative reporting, I decided that it is time to
confess. Yes, I authorized that sandwich smuggling operation.
To further support the hypocrisy, the EIA also uncovered how the UFT is boosting the performance (profits) of Goldman Sachs’ commercial mortgage portfolio of pass-through certificates. The statement notes the positive performance of the underlying collateral pool most notably because:
The largest loan of the pool (10.1%) is secured by a 399,935 square
feet (SF) class B office property in the Financial District submarket
of Manhattan, NY. The property is 100% occupied by the United Federation
of Teachers (UFT) under a long-term lease which expires in August 2034.
UFT also holds 9.9% ownership interest in the building. The loan
is structured with a letter of credit (LOC) which can be drawn upon
to cover debt service shortfalls.
Up to now, the agenda of the Occupy Wall Street crowd has been hard to pin point. This means either the protestors are in fact a rag tag group of burned out malcontents, or they are being used as proxies of organized labor to do their dirty work. After all, if public labor unions spoke with honesty and clarity, it would expose the naked truth of their agenda, greed for power.
The union game of blaming “wall street greed” is beyond irony; it’s the audacity of contempt! Greed for wealth through the creation of capital is far different than greed for power used to seize the hard earned wealth and property of others.
In a nutshell, OWS is an organized plan to define a false villain and create class warfare among America’s electorate so the President and Democrats can win in 2012 and continue feeding the voracious public sector unions their due.
The ends justify the means for the unions and they will stop at nothing to retain their power. Let’s hope the proxy protestors are not pushed into violence. If they are, I’m sure we will hear how horrified the UFT is as they watch the riots from their cushy digs on Broadway.
Shameful is the only word that comes to mind.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
It is assumed that public schools focus on a simple philosophy, teach kids how to read, write, and add. But data shows chronic academic deficiencies among students. Parents, aware of the systemic ills in public education, think their child’s school is great and that problems happen “someplace else.” This creates a paradox, if the three R’s are supposed to be the guiding principles, is it possible that something else is driving the public school syllabus?
Colleges of Education, the National Education Association, textbook, and curriculum developers embrace a therapeutic ideology broadly called Identity politics. They believe injustice and victimization of members in certain social groups, who have been marginalized by others, are entitled to special treatment. Public schools act as the surrogate host transmitting this view to unsuspecting students who are not immune from its influence.
Traditional principles for learning the basics based on accountability, opportunity, and responsibility, have been replaced with developing a “social consciousness.” Let’s look at what some call education and others indoctrination.
One tenet is Political correctness, or not offending certain gender, racial, cultural, sexual, or religious classes. The county has used an American History textbook that was reviewed as “a propaganda tract.” Its revisionist history and emphasis on the oppression of minorities, women and the poor taught white guilt instead of American Exceptionalism. Competition and valedictorians have been replaced with speech codes and participation awards.
Moral relativism/equivalency, dictates there is no moral truth -natural rights or wrongs- and all value systems are equal so judgments are evil. The county’s 9/11 curriculum says to “challenge them to find the commonalities,” between the 9/11 terrorists and Norway’s recent killer. The IB mission statement suspends reason by stating that students should “understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
Social Justice promotes equal outcomes because oppression has caused some people to have more than others. Florida school administers are evaluated on being “advocates for equity and social justice.” The NEA “opposes any immigration policy,” promotes reparations, and believes “efforts to legislate English as the official language ... must be challenged.” Universities write “Mathematics for social justice” curriculum.
Multiculturalism promotes “group-differentiated rights,” where special treatment is required under the ethos of diversity and tolerance. Florida teacher preparation programs demand that teachers believe in “diversity,” and practice “tolerance” before being certified. The schools support “Embracing our Differences,” a campaign that glorifies discriminating in order to end discrimination?
Sexism, Sex Education and family planning promote sexual orientation and gender identification. A Florida Celebrate Freedom Week lesson asks kids to “Write a new Declaration of Sentiments from another view point; e.g., gay rights.” The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, given –sometimes wrongly- in our schools is a morally questionable set of sexually explicit questions asked to children as young as 11. The NEA wants “the right to reproductive freedom,” “school-based family planning clinics,” and “rehabilitation for the assailant, and the protection of privacy” in sexual assault cases.
Bullying now means a focus on harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. LGBT groups, who influence campus life, promote universal acceptance using the anti-bullying message as a soft form of hate crime legislation on children. The school board has thirteen pages of procedures on bullying.
Globalism and Environmentalism: the NEA says “Allegiance to a nation is the biggest stumbling block to the creation of international government.” The local AICE curriculum is a socialist proxy for “global citizenship,” “schools as global enterprises,” “tolerant democracies,” “marginalized communities,” “optimum population,” and “greater fairness.” The Florida American History exit exam will focus on international justice, US imperialism and domestic terrorism. Sustainability and global warming is religion.
Lastly, gifted education has been co-opted by misusing Multiple Intelligence Theory to define everyone as gifted. This has created a false sense of self esteem and superiority that glorifies egos at the cost to those truly needing services.
If Identity politics is what parents expect, then there is reason to celebrate the success of creating socially conscious kids who can’t read, write, or add. If parents were unaware of the school agenda, then it may be time to inoculate your children from a disease that just might be rotting our schools from within.
Monday, September 19, 2011
The largest part of the federal budget is entitlement spending. Since it serves the elderly and the afflicted it has often been called the “third rail” because it is politically “electrified.” Nobody wants to touch entitlements, but basic math now demands that we feel the shock before we all get burned.
Officially known as The Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA), Social Security and Medicare were designed based on a corrupt model of purchasing political power not care for the elderly. In the largest scam ever perpetrated upon American taxpayers, politicians have stolen the people’s money and cooked the books.
FICA is automatically deducted from your paycheck and sent to the federal government. Supposedly, this money is to be placed in a “trust fund” and invested so it will grow and provide you with retirement income and health care benefits when you need them most.
The Social Security trust funds are not like a private investment fund or pension that an individual owns and where money is saved, invested, and grows for the rainy day of retirement. Only public insurance can call itself a “trust” and not actually give the taxpayer “security.”
Social security functions when there are a lot of workers paying and just a few people getting benefits. In the early years of the program, the payroll tax dedicated to Social Security produced more money than the government needed to pay in benefits. Today our senior population is growing faster than our working population meaning there are fewer workers supporting more retirees.
FICA is a pay-as-you-go system, meaning that the taxes paid by today's workers are immediately sent out to pay beneficiaries. By law, if Social Security revenues exceed expenditures, the surplus is credited to the trust funds in the form of U.S. government “special issue” non-marketable bonds. These securities are worthless on the open market because IOU’s that can’t be sold are only worth the paper they are printed on.
When the bonds mature, they are rolled over into new bonds that include both the original value and any interest due. In short, the government confiscates the public’s hard earned money, writes an IOU from one branch of government to another, then- and this is important- pays off worthless IOU’s that have interest attached with newer worthless IOU’s so as to make it appear as if the trust fund is solvent. It’s accounting magic!
The real wealth earned from hard working Americans, exchanged for worthless bonds, goes into the general fund of the Treasury where it is spent as fast as it is confiscated by politicians. Sadly, as everyone knows, you cannot spend and save the same money.
In fact, the Social Security trust fund is actually a white metal file cabinet at the Parkersburg offices of the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt in Martinsburg, WV. When the federal government takes the cash coming into Social Security, it writes the trust fund a bond on a laser printer located at the bureau. It is then stored in a three-ring binder and locked in the bottom drawer of a fireproof filing cabinet.
The entire retirement future of America is in that drawer. One bond is for $15.1 billion and another is just under $10.7 billion. In all, the agency has about $2.5 trillion in bonds sitting in the binder. Of course some will say they are all backed by the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” But when political faith is a fraud and our credit is flawed, good luck getting benefits.
The trust fund balances are claims on the Treasury which must finance all redemptions and pay interest payments with real current dollars. In order to repay those IOUs, the government will have to either: raise taxes, borrow the needed funds from private markets, reduce or cut other federal programs, reduce Social Security benefits by increasing the retirement age, link benefits increases to longevity, or lower automatic adjustments to benefits based on inflation.
Today Social Security is collecting more money than it needs to pay benefits. In 2017, Social Security will begin paying out more than it takes in. Thus, the percentage of spending for entitlements in the federal budget will begin to rapidly expand which will force massive cuts in other programs. The trust funds will become fully exhausted by 2041 and overwhelm the budget until the nation is forced to borrow itself into insolvency.
In simple terms the FICA program is a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. In the fraud, people on the top of the pyramid collect as long as they can get others below them to pay in. Now as the baby boom retires, the takers outstrip the payers. And like all Ponzi schemes, this is when the system will collapse like a house of cards and take with it the American economy.
The day of reckoning is here. Not even the all powerful OZ can spend other people’s money, write an IOU to himself, and then on some future day expect to use those IOUs to fund the Emerald City. It’s time to pull back the curtains and admit “the emperor has no clothes.”
The good news is that it’s in everyone’s self-interest; liberals, conservatives, left, right, Democrat and Republican, to stop in the runaway train and de-energize the third rail before it runs us over. All aboard!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Listening once again to the yearly cry that “the schools are broke” is beyond tedious and boorish. But what does a school district budget really look like in “Anytown, U.S.A.?” For a point of reference, let’s look at Sarasota, Florida.
In a nutshell, the Sarasota County Schools budget has been rolled back to 2005-06 levels; a time prior to the housing collapse when revenue was strong due to a large property tax base and extra referendum dollars. As far as education quality is concerned, the mediocrity from bureaucracy of 5 years ago was no different than it is today.
The schools spent $372 million in 2005-06 to teach 41,516 students. In 2011-12 they will spend $381 million teaching 483 less students while spending $581 dollars more per student. How this creates cause for alarm or drastic cuts in any program, salary, benefit, or position is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, the district cries out as if the sky is falling.
Factoring in for inflation (constant dollars), per pupil expenditures have increased $1689 or 18.6% between 2000 and 2011 to its current level of $10,769 per student.
The $381 million dollar budget does not include the $41 million “fund balance,” also known as a school board savings account, or the $340 million capital outlay “construction” budget.
The total budget for next year is only $5 million less than this year’s –a far cry from what the public has been told- which represents a tiny 1.3 % decrease in spending. Lowering the fund balance to $36 million would have made up for the difference.
The political reality is that there are never enough dollars for elite educators who work within a system of utopian absolutes, void of such pesky market realities as profit, loss, competition, innovation, and productivity. Even at the height of the boom (2008) when the system had $485 million general budget dollars, you were told the schools needed more money, more referenda, more of everything! Cynics say they’ve perfected the “crisis for the children” game to hide the fact the system is fat, happy, and always hungry.
When the consistently militant blue collar teachers union folded like a cheap shirt at the bargaining table, it was clear they felt the heat of public sentiment against collective bargaining largess. Better to lay low for a while, seem compassionate, and protect the gravy train for the long haul.
The bottom line is that there is no budget crisis, the school system has plenty of revenue, and there will be no noticeable changes or effective reforms. The business as usual “shell game” continues. Unfortunately, the consumers of education keep losing while the public sector monolith keeps laughing all the way to the bank.
Source: Sarasota County budget spreadsheets
Friday, May 13, 2011
Florida high school exit exams indoctrinate children into a progressive and revisionist model critical of America
May 13, 2011
Florida is currently moving forward with the creation and implementation of exit tests in the public schools. This is an important reform effort and Florida should be applauded. In a turn that can only be called outrageous however, the process for developing these tests has been hijacked. In teaching American history, the exit exam process is being used as a legal tool for student indoctrination into a progressive and revisionist model that is critical of America.
While exit exams are a vital tool in evaluating student knowledge acquisition, they force very specific aspects of curriculum into being taught as accurate and factual. Teachers, who will now be evaluated and paid according to the exit exam’s specific details and student performance therein, are all but forced into teaching children “what to think.”
This is not a problem in subjects like math for concepts like addition and subtraction. But in the social sciences, suspect concepts and interpretations of history can be used as a tool for distorting the facts at best or indoctrination of children at worst. In subjects like economics, distortions of fundamental theories can cause inefficiencies and death, so important education decisions like what to place in exit exams should not be taken lightly.
The new Florida exit exam standards are a shocking move toward what one can only equate to soviet style propaganda to create a monolithic citizenry. In the case of high school American history, a look into the specifics of the exit exam is all that is needed as proof to an agenda directed in a planned process by groups that have no problem using whatever means necessary to acquire power and promote a twisted vision of America. Florida exit exams in the social sciences need to be stopped immediately and there needs to be a serious reconsideration of the entire process before moving ahead.
As they say, the devil is in the details. The following exit exam specifics are copied directly from the Florida DOE website. Just a few of the concerning aspects that teachers will be legally bound to teach are listed here. As you will see, there are real issues with the appropriateness and accuracy of the Florida exit exam program.
What is stunning is that the 9 standards that follow are a part of the 88 fundamentals of American history that will be tested. As you read what has been determined as mastery based American history, ask yourself, are these fundamental, factual, unbiased, politically correct, or indoctrinating?
•Describe the attempts to promote international justice
•Analyze the major factors that drove United States imperialism
•Analyze the effects of domestic terrorism on the American people.
•Examine the controversy surrounding the proliferation of nuclear technology in the United States
•Assess key figures and organizations in shaping the Black Power Movement.
•Analyze significant Supreme Court decisions relating to reproductive rights.
•Describe efforts by the United States and other world powers to avoid future wars
•Examine the failure of the United States to support the League of Nations
•Discuss the economic outcomes of demobilization.
Underline and bold added to highlight the concern.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
From the founding of our nation,1787-1849 (63 years) federal spending averaged 1.7% of GDP. For the next 51 years, 1850-1900 (including fighting the Civil War) it averaged only 3.1%. From 1901 till 1930 (including fighting WWI) it never reached 8% and averaged approximately 3.2%. Even at the height of the progressive movement and FDR’s New Deal, federal spending as a percentage of GDP never went above the 1934 level of 10.7%. For the first 100+ years of America’s existence, the government provided its Constitutional duties with 2.3% of GDP on average.
Today the federal government is spending is approximately 40% of GDP and that number is rising.
Now that we all now know the truth, we all know what needs to be done.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The facts the government does not want you to know.
By Dean Kalahar
March 22, 2011
With a 14 trillion dollar national debt and national bankruptcy looming, the United State is facing some sober budget realities. To solve the problem, Congress and the President will be forced to address spending in the largest part of the federal budget made up of what are known as entitlements. These are government programs that are supposed to serve the elderly and the afflicted. Addressing entitlements is made difficult because the programs were designed based on a flawed and some might say corrupt model that had more to do with purchasing political power than care for the elderly. In the largest scam ever perpetrated upon the American taxpayer, politicians sold the program to the public with smoke and mirrors, stole the taxpayer’s money, and then cooked the books. Plain and simply Social Security is a fraud. It will bankrupt America destroying our economy and way of life if it is not reformed.
Now, you will hear many say that social security is fine and call anyone who questions it an alarmist or is in favor of killing grandma. You be the judge of the reality you are about to learn. This is the true untold inside story of Social Security with the facts the government does not want you to know.
Social Security began as The Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA). It is the public insurance program set up under FDR’s “New Deal” as retirement income insurance called Social Security and later, under LBJ, for health needs called Medicare. For anyone who receives a paycheck, FICA is automatically deducted from your gross earnings and sent to the federal government. Supposedly, this money is to be placed in a “trust fund” and invested so it will grow and provide you with retirement income and health care benefits when you are old. Sadly, the Social Security Trust Fund was never secured with the dollars invested in order to allow them to grow as found in private insurance. Only public insurance can call its behavior a “trust” and not actually give the taxpayer peace of mind in actually trusting the investment to be there when they need it most.
Social Security is not like a savings account in which payroll taxes are saved for retirement. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, meaning that the taxes paid by today's workers are immediately sent out to pay the benefits of today's retirees. The other big difference between privatized pensions and Social Security is that the individual owns the pension he has paid for. This is not, as you will be told, simply a theoretical distinction to ignore, it is a fundamental practical difference. Personal ownership of one’s self and property defines morality and is a natural God given right. For example, rape, theft, murder, and assault are a direct infringement on a person’s property. As such, the taking of property in the form of FICA without property right protection is immoral. FICA may also be seen as unconstitutional because government has taken the property of citizens, and used it as their own, without providing the citizens the constitutional protections afforded under the 5th Amendment which states: nor (shall any person) be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The problem with the Social security system is that it only functions when there are a lot of workers paying payroll taxes and just a few retired people getting benefits. Our senior population is growing much faster than our working population however. This means there are fewer and fewer workers supporting more and more retirees. In the early years of the program, the payroll tax dedicated to Social Security produced more money than the government needed to pay in benefits. By law, if Social Security revenues exceed expenditures, the “surplus” is credited to the Social Security trust funds in the form of U.S. government securities. The “fungible” cash exchanged for the securities goes into the general fund of the Treasury and is indistinguishable from other cash in the general fund. In short, the extra revenue is spent by Congress and the Social Security trust fund is credited with “special issue,” non-marketable, U.S. government bonds or worthless pieces of paper that act as only a clever accounting entry. The irony is that bonds are also called “securities,” but there is no security provided to taxpayers no matter what they call the entitlement.
The taxpayer’s cash from payroll deductions (FICA) is used to pay for whatever other expenses or deficits the government may have at the time. The government does not save our Social Security taxes for future retirees. There is no separate pool of money set aside for Social Security purposes. Simply stated, Money for your future is spent today, and as everyone knows, you cannot spend and save the same money, no matter what accounting gimmicks you use.
In simple terms the FICA program is a pyramid or Ponzi scheme like the one Bernie Madoff used to scam his clients. In the fraud, people on the top of the pyramid collect as long as they can get others below them to pay in. For Social Security, early beneficiaries were being paid by workers not yet ready to retire. As a result, the scheme looks to actually work as some are receiving benefits and can truthfully say “it works.” Unfortunately now as the baby boom retires, the takers outstrip the payers. Like all Ponzi schemes this is when it will collapse like a house of cards. Except this time the house is the U.S. government and the American economy.
Like the famous Saturday Night Live parody of Vice President Al Gore’s Social Security “lock box,” the misnamed Social Security Trust Fund has no resemblance to a private investment fund where there is actual capital or money saved, invested and increasing in size for the rainy day of retirement. In fact, the Social Security trust fund is actually a white metal file cabinet at the Parkersburg offices of the Bureau of the Public Debt's Martinsburg, WV office. The agency, which is part of the Treasury Department, opened offices in Parkersburg in the 1950s.
When the federal government takes the cash coming into the Social Security fund from payroll taxes to spend on other things, it writes the trust fund a bond. When a new bond is issued, it is printed on a laser printer located at the bureau and then carried across the room, stored in a three-ring binder, and then locked in the bottom drawer of a fireproof filing cabinet. That filing cabinet is the Social Security trust fund. Until relatively recently, these bonds only existed as entries in a record book. Today it has been said they actually have the records on computer.
The entire retirement future of America is in that drawer. One bond is worth a little more than $15.1 billion and another is valued at just under $10.7 billion. In all, the agency has about $2.5 trillion in bonds sitting in the 3 ring binder. Of course some will say they are all backed by the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government.” Don't bother trying to steal them, however, they're nonnegotiable, which means they are worthless on the open market. After all, common sense tells you that if you spend the money coming in and replace it with IOU’s that can’t be sold, then the bonds are not worth the paper they are printed on.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) explained in its fiscal year 2000 budget document that the Social Security "trust funds" do not contain stocks, bonds, or other assets that could be sold directly for cash. The OMB also noted, “the annual surpluses that many thought were being used to build up a reserve for the “baby boomers” have been spent on other government programs or to reduce government debt.”
The Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund (OASI) and the Disability Insurance Trust Fund (DI) make up the Social Security trust funds. Since the beginning of the Social Security program, all securities held by the trust funds have been issued by the Federal Government. The funds hold a specific type of securities called “Special issues.” These are only available only to the trust funds. Although the trust funds have held public issues in the past, the trust funds currently hold special issues only. When the bonds mature, they are rolled over into new bonds that include both the original issue amount and any interest due. The new bonds pay whatever interest as regular Treasury bonds of the same maturity issued on that date. These bonds are really nothing more than IOUs from one branch of government to another. They are not a real financial asset. In other words, the government confiscates the public’s hard earned money, writes an IOU, then- and this is important- pays off worthless IOU’s that have interest attached with newer worthless IOU’s so as to make it appear as if the trust fund is solvent.
The trust fund balances are available to finance future benefit payments and other trust fund expenditures, but only in a bookkeeping sense. They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead, they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed, will have to be paid for with real dollars. Neither the redemption of trust fund bonds, nor interest paid on those bonds, provides any new net income to the Treasury, which must finance all redemptions and pay interest payments.
In order to repay those IOUs, the government will have to either : raise taxes, borrow the needed funds from private markets, reduce or cut other federal programs, or reduce Social Security benefits by increasing the retirement age, link benefits increases to longevity, or lower automatic adjustments to benefits based on inflation. Even the President said in the 2011 federal budget: “The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, increase the government’s ability to pay benefits.”
The trust fund bonds may be assets from the point of view of Social Security, but they’re a liability for the government as a whole, and for taxpayers. The problem, of course, is that the government now owes the trust fund so much money and relies on its surplus so heavily that real problems will be created when it comes time to cash in those IOUs.
Social Security does not have borrowing authority, so when it exhausts the trust funds, the program will only pay out in benefits what it receives in tax revenue. That’s different from bankruptcy, which would imply that the program cannot pay benefits anymore. What that means is that Social Security can get what it needs from Treasury without having to ask permission from Congress and continue the Ponzi scheme indefinitely. At least until the entitlement program takes up so much of the federal budget that the nation is forced to borrow itself into bankruptcy.
Of the $13.5 trillion in gross federal debt, Social Security holds $2.5 trillion of the total $4.54 trillion in government-held debt. The net interest net interest owed by Social Security is $118.3 billion. An additional there is $2 trillion in debt from other government obligations that will impact necessary budgetary reforms. Cleverly, the securities held by the Social Security system are not counted as part of the national debt, because it is one government agency owing money to another. Here we see the magic act that is Social Security. Set up an accounting scheme where one agency owes another agency but no actual currency balances the books and you have the ability to claim vast wealth while not having two nickels to rub together. It’s a sleight of hand diabolical scam.
Today Social Security is collecting more money than it needs to pay benefits, but by 2018 it will begin running a deficit. The last 5 Trustees Reports have indicated that Social Security's Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds would become exhausted between 2037 and 2041. In 2017, Social Security will begin paying out more than it takes in. For the first time, it will have to use the interest being paid on the securities it holds in order to meet its obligations. Thus, the percentage of spending for entitlements in the federal budget will begin to rapidly expand. This will force massive cuts in other programs. In 2027, Social Security would have to start redeeming the securities themselves. By 2041, Social Security would have cashed in the last security, and the system would have enough revenue to pay out only 75% of promised benefits and would drop over time.
Government “special interest” bonds are not an investment that adds one cent to the country's wealth. The real wealth in the form of the FICA taxes earned through the hard work of the American people is spent as fast as it is confiscated. As you can see the $2.54 trillion Social Security trust fund is really an empty bucket. It is a claim on future taxpayers so you know who will be paying the bill, American citizens.
Like a foolish parent who builds a college fund built solely on the good intentions of “I was going to save,” the day of reckoning comes when tuition is due. Likewise, the feds have written checks to themselves that they can’t cash, and the day of reckoning is here. Not even the all powerful OZ can spend other people’s money, write an IOU to himself, and then on some future day expect to use those IOUs to fund the Emerald City. It’s time to pull back the curtains and expose the naked emperor’s smoke and mirrors.
Social Security is a broken fraud. The sooner we admit it and deal with it, the sooner we can hope to stop the bankruptcy of the nation. The positive reality is that for the first time solving the problem is in everyone’s self-interest. Liberals, conservatives, left, right, Democrat and Republican all have a vested self interest in promoting change. Because if we do not attack the “third rail” of American politics, we all but guarantee that any money for individual “special interests” will be eaten up by Social Security. If we don’t rein in the monster, it will indiscriminately eat all of us.
Allan Sloan, Washington post
Dawn Nuschler, Social Security: Trust Fund Investment Practices
Dean Kalahar, Practical Economics
Eric Schurenberg, Fiscal Times
E. Thomas McClanahan, Kansas City Star
FY 2000 Budget, Analytical Perspectives
Liz Pulliam Weston, 5 myths about social security
Thomas Sowell, Social Insecurity; Something for Nothing: Social Security; What Trust Fund?
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Friday, March 18, 2011
Lets first agree on 2 premises: natural disasters occur, and humans interacts with the earth.
With that said:
The natural disaster tsunami in Japan was made up of 100 trillion gallons of water and took less than an hour to create its destruction.
The man-made “disaster” of world oil consumption is made up of 140 million gallons an hour.
That means that the “destructive” nature of oil consumption is only 14 millionths of one percent as destructive as the tsunami on a per gallon basis.
Conclusions: the extreme environmental dogma that believes man is responsible for destroying the earth is not even of discussable statistical significance.
As such, it would be prudent to stop the absurd belief that Americans should stop drilling for oil and produce “renewable green energy” to “save” the planet.
The belief that man has the power to impact much of anything in a global sense can only be categorized as an arrogant attempt to inflate the human condition by those who are incapable of humility or basic math.
It’s time to produce our own domestic oil supply and become energy independent to mitigate the security threat we face in regards to foreign oil dependence.