texshelters

Posts Tagged ‘education’

The Corporate Way to School Improvement

In Economics, Education on March 22, 2012 at 19:52

high stakes testing from http://www.rethinkingschools.org

We have a crisis of graduation rates in our schools. The more data we manipulate to support our view that the schools are collapsing, the worse schools look. We at the Nationalist Association for Superior Intelligence (NASI) have come up with several ways to demonstrate the schools are failing. In fact, we came up with solutions to address this calamity even before creating the data proving the need for our solution.

Our greatest tool used to dismantle schools and the public education system is high stakes testing. The creation of high stakes testing allows us to enforce arbitrary bench-marks that schools must meet, or we take the schools down. We must also start using these test to not only fire teachers, as our beloved Michelle Rhee did in D.C., but we must start using these tests to expel worthless students.

Students that fail to meet an arbitrary score on a standardized test must be summarily kicked out of the school district. While liberals might worry about these stupid kids and want to coddle them, they fail to take into account that this is what we have prisons for. Prisons are the safety net for stupid students all over our great nation.

And if by chance some undesirables skirt through the testing regimen, we can just expel them. By clearing out the human refuse from our schools, we can increase the percentage of students that graduate and not have to waste money and energy helping students undeserving of an education.

For example, if a school has 300 students in its graduating class and only 150 graduate, that’s a 50% rate. If you expel the 50 most at risk students from the school, you can have 150 out of 250 that graduate, a rate of 60%. Expel 100 students that won’t graduate, and you could have 150 graduate out of 200 (300 minus the 100 expelled) and you will have a rate of 75%. The Memphis school district did just this to increase graduations rates, and the rest of the nation should follow.

Another problem with our schools is there’s not enough corporate investment. Just like corporations made the banks work for everyone, corporate money in the schools will make them work. We need to deregulate the schools to allow more corporate investment as soon as possible.

We need to make up more statistics to show the schools are failing. One such clever data switch was discovered when a data entry clerk in the Seattle schools entered a curiously low number of high school graduates going on to college, 17 percent.

Turns out the true number is much higher — 46 percent. Not ideal either, but a far cry from 17… The damningly low 17 percent number was publicized and repeated by SPS these past two years and used to justify Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s “Strategic Plan,” and the onslaught of controversial (and unwanted) ed reforms she has since imposed on the district…

By using the lower rate for graduates starting in the university, we manufactured a crisis in our schools, justifying not only more high stakes testing, but merit based pay and national standards.

A Council of Foreign Relations task force chaired by Joel Klein (Lawyer) and Condoleezza Rice (Former Secretary of State) came up with The U.S. Education Reform and National Security report. Neither of them have been educators, but they want to change the education system. Thankfully, no teachers were consulted for this report, as far as I could tell.

The report calls for:

  • expanding the Common Core State Standard initiative to include subjects beyond math and English Language Arts;
  • an expansion of charter schools and vouchers
  • an annual “national security readiness audit” that would look at how schools are addressing the country’s needs through increased foreign language programs, technology curriculum and more. (snip)

Its recommendations would lead to further privatization of public schools and even more emphasis on standardized testing.

And here’s the best part of this report: The report cites lots of statistics that paint public schools in the worst possible light, and continues the trend of comparing America’s educational system with that of high-achieving countries — but doesn’t note that these countries generally don’t do the kinds of things these reformers endorse. Its recommendations would lead to further privatization of public schools and even more emphasis on standardized testing.

They invented statistics to support our argument that we need more privatization of schools as is our duty because we know what’s best, even if the evidence doesn’t back our solutions. If we can’t sell the public on a corporate take over of schools on academic grounds, we can do so on security grounds. That makes sense since schools in poor districts funnel so many students into prisons or the military, the two legs of the stool of security.

If we stop wasting tax payers’ money educating everyone, and we end child labor laws, the percentage of graduates in our school will sky rocket as will test scores of those more deserving students that remain in schools.

God bless America, ignorance is strength, and if your a stupid student, please drop out for the good of the nation.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Tex Shelter’s Best of 2011

In Current Events, Economics, Education, Election Politics, Humor on December 30, 2011 at 20:33

Flaming Peace from growabrain.typepad.com

Need a reading list for 2012? Well, here you are.

These articles have been chosen among the best of 2011 based on originality, quality of writing, and importance of the topic. I chose some because they are funny or at least they gave me a laugh. They are not ranked, they are chosen chronologically and are only numbered for ease of reading.

1. Stop the Race to National Standards and Race to the Top
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/stop-the-race-to-national-standards-and-race-to-the-top/

This is one of a few articles where I go after high stakes testing as a failed policy (No Child Left Behind) from the Bush administration, given a white wash, and renamed Race to the Top.

Reasons to read: It’s an amalgam of various criticisms of Race to the Top, criticisms that need to be understood before we let corporations ruin our schools beyond repair.

Excerpt: So, teachers’ pay has to be based on how well little John or Sally or Juan or Chin or Liliana does on a standardized test that is only valid if you don’t considered the cultural and economic variations of all students everywhere. And, RTTT gives extra points for creating more charter schools.

2. Michelle Rhee, Wisconsin, and the Attack on Teachers
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/michelle-rhee-wisonsin-and-the-attack-on-teachers/

Why this is worth a read: In this article, I discredit the super-hero of education “reform”, Michelle Rhee. I understand people such as Rhee and Secretary of Education Duncan are symptoms of a greater problem, but like a viral infection, it helps to remove as much of the disease as possible. I also criticize merit based pay that is centered on high stakes testing.

Excerpt: Can you imagine someone going into a hospital, looking at a few charts and then firing half the doctors because they weren’t performing to a set of medical testing data? Most members of Congress would lose their jobs if they had to perform to criteria many of them want to impose on teachers, and they would not put up with it.

3. The Senate is the most Democratic legislative body in the World
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/the-senate-is-the-most-democratic-legislative-body-in-the-world-update-for-linking/

I wrote this article because I was sick and tired of the Senate blocking useful reform and I wanted to explain how undemocrat the Senate is.

Reason to read this: People need to learn facts about the Senate you might not have known. Note the sardonic tone of the piece used to deride this anti-democratic institution.

Excerpt: The latest example of the Senate’s love and support of democracy, though there are so many, is health care reform. By its very nature, the Senators in the finance committee are democratic. They represent a small part of the country, and they can stop health care for everyone.

4. Other Official State Items We Need in Arizona
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/other-official-state-items-we-need-in-arizona/

I wrote this after the Arizona state legislature, in its finite wisdom, decided we needed an official state gun. Arizona is a microcosm of politics in the United States. It’s an example of how a few crazy people can ruin a good state for the rest of us.

Reasons to read: You might laugh and cry and groan all at the same time.

Excerpt: The official state border crossing; changes weekly.

5. Accepted Assumptions that are Wrong: A Healthy Stock Market Means a Healthy Economy
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/accepted-assumptions-that-are-wrong-a-healthy-stock-market-means-a-healthy-economy/

Reason to read: It goes to the very core of misguided economic news, the stock market. It is also one of my best pieces on this myth and a good read, and if I were to give an award for best written, this piece gets the Golden Texy.

Excerpt: Americans outside the brokerage and banking industries, outside of the Forbes 500 and their cronies in D.C, are suffering. The stock market doesn’t gage if average people are doing well, it is a gage of what speculators think they can make from betting on, or against, a certain stock. It is a false indicator of prosperity, unless you look at the holders and manipulators of large stock portfolios.

6. Where is the Proof that Obama is even Human?
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/where-the-proof-that-obama-is-even-human/

Reason to read: In this article, I mock the birthers and those that would take political advantage of birthers by taking it one step further, questioning Obama’s species credentials. If he were a dog, I would want to see his papers.

Excerpt: First, I want to see a copy of Obama’s physical examinations to prove that he is human. The Constitution clearly states that you must be a human to be president, and I have yet to see proof that Obama is. Why won’t any of Obama’s supposed doctors come forward? Perhaps he’s not really a human?

Why hasn’t Michelle Obama come forward with proof Obama is really a man. How do we know that Obama didn’t have a sex change and was really a woman? What proof do we really have? Until I see a photo of Obama’s penis, I can’t believe Obama’s a man. Why won’t Obama come forward with his penis?

Best Line: Why won’t Obama come forward with his penis?

7. How Republicans “Win” Elections or Support the “Voter Shooter Law”
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/how-republicans-win-elections/

Reason to read: A very important article for the year 2012 and the elections. It’s a run-down of the voter suppression and election tactics that make it possible for Republicans to win elections. Then I add a list of suggestions of how to suppress the vote further, as seen in the excerpt below.

Excerpt: 3. Charge neighborhoods with the hiring of employees, the buying of voting machines, and rent in order to have polling places in their neighborhood. That should keep voting down to only those that contribute enough to society to deserve a vote. However, we will not have a poll tax,  for that is un-American.

Memorable line: Voters are easily manipulated by nationalistic symbolism and the Republicans count on it to win elections.

8. How to Promote High Stakes Testing: Lie
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/how-to-promote-high-stakes-testing-lie/

Reason to Read: This article features examples of teachers, schools, superindendents and school districts so desperate for funding that they lied about their test results. This story is important and not enough people know about it.

Excerpt: In the movie Waiting for Superman, charter schools based on the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) model are touted as out performing public schools. However, this model leaves children behind and thus their stats are gamed,

“Taxpayer-funded KIPP schools, praised in the film ‘Waiting for Superman,’ succeed in sending poor graduates to college because the lowest-performing students drop out or don’t enroll at all, a study found.”

Important line: So, the high stakes testing regimen faced by schools all over this nation was based on a lie, and that lie has produced millions in sales for CTB/McGraw-Hill, makers of testing materials and friends to President Bush.

9. Obama Shows his Hatred of Israel by Admitting Palestinians are Human
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/obama-shows-his-hatred-of-israel-by-admitting-palestinians-are-human/

Reasons to Read: The article directly discredits the big lie that “Obama hates Israel” in an alternating serious and sardonic style. I wrote it after a well educated Jew I know asked me, “Why does Obama hate Israel?”, and then she refused to debate me on it because instead of using her analytic, scientific brain (she is studying medicine), she told me that she was “too emotional” to talk about it. Well yea.

Look at the facts and learn that Obama wants peace, and that includes for Palestinians too. Sorry, but Obama thinks Palestinians are also human. Some paranoid Jews and Republicans who want to attack Obama don’t even bother to look at Obama’s complete speech and stick to the big lie about Obama’s hatred of Israel that Republicans have pushed since Obama ran for president. Also, look at the map and the borders. The 1967 border is almost exactly the same as the current borders.

Excerpt: Clearly, Netanyahu wants no peace. And there are Arab governments, namely Iran, that don’t want to see a peace between Israelis and Palestinians either. If nothing else, pissing off Iran and other Muslim nationalists in the region should move Israel to peace talks. Furthermore, I am sure there are multinational arms dealers selling weapons to Israel and Muslim jihadists that will suffer greatly if peace breaks out in Israel and Palestine.

Memorable line: How Dare Obama hate Israel by stating their need to be secure!

10. Stop the Socialist FEMA Takeover of the Midwest
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/stop-the-socialist-fema-takeover-of-the-midwest/

Reason to Read: Republicans hate the government, until they need it. This article mocks the tendency of hypocritical Republicans to take government money when it helps them but cut funding when it might help someone else.

Excerpt/Memorable Line: Yes, the state legislature refuses aid for the unemployed caught under the dual tornado of joblessness and state cuts, and they should stick to their guns, and pull them out of their holsters, to refuse socialist FEMA funds to help those affected by the recent tornadoes.

11. Every Day, I’m More Gay
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/i’m-more-gay-every-day/

Reasons to read: Sometimes the only thing you can do to fight homophobia is to amuse those that realize most homophobes are scared and ignorant, and laugh at them. I write like a confused homophobe, and exaggerate the fears these people must be feeling to humorous effect. There are too many good lines to quote here, so read it.

Excerpt: Then another shocking revelation came my way when I learned that Freddy Mercury was a gay man the whole time I was listening to his music and watching his videos, on MTV! Imagine a band named “Queen” having homosexual members in it. Who would have known?

Memorable Line: Yes, I know Broadway is not just for gays any more, but it’s the gayt way drug to homosexuality.

12. Defending the Power Elite in America Against the Interests of the People: The Case of the United States Government
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/defending-the-power-elite-in-america-against-the-interests-of-the-people-the-case-of-the-united-states-government/

Reason to read: This article illuminates the undemocratic structures in our government and questions the firmly held beliefs of our elected officials and much of the population that we are a highly evolved democracy. And, it’s not a bad read.

Excerpt:  The form of our government in the United States is one that is not conducive to change and radicalism. It is set up to prevent big sweeping changes and thus promotes the interests of those in power, the moneyed and political elite. Elections for political office do little to change the underlying body politic, changing one face for another, and are only cosmetic in nature.

Line to Remember: As long as we have a two party system in the United States run by money and limited choice, we will never have a government by the people and for the people.

13. Facts about Class, Poverty and Downward Mobility
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/facts-about-class-poverty-and-downward-mobility/

Reason to read: This article is a well written exposé about class in the United States and the lies the right-wing and political and economic elite use to defend their economic dominance, greed and the plutocracy.

Excerpt: If it was just a matter of working hard, why is poverty rising and wealth more concentrated at the top than ever before? Is it that 80% of Americans are lazy? There is a given amount of wealth in a nation and thus when more wealth is concentrated at the top, there will be more poverty at the bottom.

Memorable Line: The idea of the American dream is one of the most successful pieces of propaganda ever perpetuated.

14. Endangered Billionaire Job Creators

Video of the year by Tex Shelters done in the style of an endangered species ad. If you gag every time you hear the term “job creators” about mega corporations who are actually job cutters, this video is for you.

15. My Dream Christmas Letter From Obama to the Republican National Committee
https://texshelters.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/my-dream-christmas-letter-from-obama-to-the-republican-national-committee/

Reason to Read: The article is a letter I would love to see Obama send Republicans and it explains why he will win in 2012. It also highlights the faulty Republican candidates and how they are not qualified for the campaign trail let alone the office of the presidency. Moreover, it’s funny.

Excerpt: And Michelle Bachmann, what can I say? She thinks black families had it better during slavery than they do now. Thank you for that Representative Bachmann. Have you asked Herman Cain about that?

Memorable line: You know how to make a guy feel welcome, to four more years in the White House.

So there you have it, some of my choices for articles that deserve an addition read and issues that deserve further consideration.

Peace, and happy New Year,
Tex Shelters

Michelle Bachman’s Not the Problem

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics, History on August 31, 2011 at 01:40

Michelle Bachmann exists as a symptom and a distraction. While the left (and others) writes endlessly about Bachmann, what we need to do is address the ignorant nationalistic and dominionist right-wing ideology from which she sprang.

First, we must address religious intolerance and the moral superiority complex of the far right in the United States.

Bachmann believes in Dominionism, the idea that people of faith are mandated by God to be politically involved. They believe that they need to be politically involved because they are the chosen people and the only ones that can faithfully carry out God’s plan. But Dominionism did not start nor will it end with Bachmann. Dominionism has also been called, “Christian Nationalism”, “Kingdom Now Theology”, “Dominion Theology”, or “Restoration Theology”. Bachmann and her ilk, from George Bush, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and others practice this politicized brand of faith. And even if a candidate is not a Dominionist, groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Coalition with their legislative agenda, Assembly of God (known for funding John Ashcroft’s congressional campaigns) among others push candidates to accept their far-right religion infused legislative agenda. They help choose the Republican Congressional candidates, in many cases being King, or should I say Queen, makers.

From gay marriage, reproductive planning, education, immigration laws, and other policy areas, Dominionists are actively trying to create public policy based on their theology. And if you are not of their faith, you are out of luck. Freedom of Religion is merely an obstacle to dominionists, not a right of all people in the United States. And if you are a practicing Muslim, dominionists won’t care about your immigration status, years of residence, community standing or law abiding history. All Muslims are suspect to the religious right. Herman Cain called forth the specter of McCarthyism by saying that Muslims would have to take a loyalty oath to work for him. Republican leaders fought the Muslim community center in New York City, Oklahoma banned Sharia law  (as if it was about to be applied), among other bigoted acts and fear mongering involving Islam and the far right. Attacks against innocent people in the United States solely because of their Muslim faith increased dramatically after Sept 11, 2001. The language of the Republican party against Muslims only makes such attacks more likely.

If Republicans take over the White House and gain control of the Senate, they will pass Jim Crow style laws against Muslims as soon as they take power. After they are done with the Muslims, the atheists will be next, then non-Christians and so on.

We must also educate each other and our children to fight Republican historical revisionism.

History and economics doesn’t deter the far right from promoting failed economic policies. We have had ten years since the Bush tax cuts, and the far right still argues that tax cuts create jobs. One look at the rise in unemployment since the Bush tax cuts will disprove that theory, and a look at historical tax rates show that high tax rates can be correlated to high employment. Notice, I didn’t say that correlation of high taxes with high employment proves causality, for I am not a Republican who confuses correlation with causality. The point is, there is no evidence that tax cuts create jobs and there is plenty of anecdotal and historical evidence that tax cuts don’t work.

Republicans and the far right also argue that cutting spending at a time of high unemployment will rescue the economy. The fact is that cuts in spending leads to public and private sector layoffs.  This leads to cuts into the amount if money in the economy and thus spending, which leads to further layoffs. But these economic and historical facts don’t deter the far right from demanding spending cuts, nor does it deter President Obama from considering them.

Bachmann and the right want desperately to have a gun in every pot, and so they make up history to meet their gun loving ideology. Sarah Palin, a staunch gun defender, told us that Paul Revere took his famous ride to warn the British not to take our guns. You see, she wouldn’t let historical facts get in the way of her ideology. The truth is that no Congress has ever tried to pass a ban on gun use in the United States, and they never will.

When fear of Islam was failing Bachmann, she called on the fear of the Soviet Union to rescue her. Recently on a Christian radio show, she reminded us what Americans fear, “They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.” Doesn’t Bachmann realize that the Soviet Union is deader than Ronald Reagan?

But it fits in with her fear of the outsider and fear of the foreign, and she won’t let history deter her from calling on that fear to garner support.

Republicans like Representative Kurt Zellers ignore the fact that voting is right in order to pass laws to restrict the vote. When asked about laws restricting voting, he failed to get the facts straight, “I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right.” Actually, it’s a right written in the Constitution in several places.

Republicans ignore the history of the Great Depression where unfettered capitalism created a run on the stock market, overproduction of goods with no buyers, and the worst economic collapse in world history, so far. They ignore this history because it interferes with their free market fetishism. They even ignore the recent history where over production and over investing in housing led to the recent recession.

Instead, the Republican leadership once again call on tax cuts as the solution, because as we have seen, tax cuts lead to reinvestment, right? And tax cuts lead to public spending cuts and leads to more layoffs. The trick is repeating that tax cuts will lead us out of the recession over and over again and convincing enough people that this is true to avoid a complete revolt.

There is also the myth that regulation hurts investment, but there are fewer regulations today then there were in the Clinton era when the economy did well. There is no evidence that a reduction in regulation helps our economy and will lead to investment, unless you count as evidence the self-serving statements of corporations who will benefit financially if they can pollute the environment and poison us with impunity.

“An analysis conducted by the Washington Post at the end of Bush’s first term found that since he took office, federal agencies had begun roughly one-quarter fewer regulations than President Clinton and 13 percent fewer than Bush’s father during their first terms.”

So, if cutting regulations will improve our economy, why after all the cuts in regulations under Bush isn’t our economy booming? The cutting of regulations leading to a better economy is a lie looking for evidence. Yes, we can find examples of over regulation and regulations that might cost us, in the short run. But regulations are put in place for the long term health of the economy.

Author Nomi Prins worked at Goldman Sachs before writing books on economics from an insiders perspective including, “It Takes a Pillage.” The book lays out the facts that a large part of the mortgage industry collapse that lead to the current recession was due to deregulation of the banking and mortgage industry. So much for deregulation saving us. It has instead lead to the biggest economic collapse in decades. Republicans lie about deregulation being the cure all because it would help out their patrons if they didn’t have to be concerned with ethical, ecological, and health and safety concerns when creating and selling their products. Again, they demand larger profits at the expense of people.

Republicans also ignore the history of abortion before and after Roe V. Wade to promote their pro-fetus agenda. Certainly, no one is “pro-abortion.” However, as this doctor points out, it is only option for some women, “The familiar symbol of illegal abortion is the infamous “coat hanger” — which may be the symbol, but is in no way a myth. In my years in New York, several women arrived with a hanger still in place. Whoever put it in — perhaps the patient herself — found it trapped in the cervix and could not remove it.”

And what of the women that didn’t make it to the hospital for medical help? While the statistics on abortion related deaths are uncertain, ranging from 1000-10,000 deaths a year before the Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision, a thousand deaths is too much to tolerate, and banning abortion won’t change the reality that some women will die during an illegal procedure. But in the world of Republicans, a woman’s life isn’t worth that of a fetus, so safe procedures, and contraception, should be banned.

It is clear by all accounts that making abortion illegal won’t end abortions. It will, however, make them less safe for women without means. On the other hand, abortion will remain safe for the wealthy who can travel or hire private doctors to do the procedure. Republicans want to ignore this reality because they live in a fantasy land where unwanted and unsafe pregnancies won’t happen to them and theirs, and everyone has options when they become pregnant. This is not true. Not all women have options when they become pregnant.

Many of the religious right are also against the main tool used to reduce unwanted pregnancies, contraception. No one is “pro-abortion”, and it’s the far right that ignore the real consequences of a ban on abortions for their fantasy-land ideology and hatred of reproductive freedom.

We must acknowledge that Bachmann, Perry and Palin are symptoms and act accordingly.

If Republicans didn’t have Bachmann, they’d have to invent her. For too long the Democrats, progressives, liberals and moderates have let the racism and nationalism of the far right go unaddressed in policy forums. And “professional liberals” spend too much time mocking easy targets like Bachmann while ignoring the systematic exporting of jobs and cash by large corporations and the criminal military contractors like Blackwater that Jeremy Scahill writes about.

While the largest media outlets in the United States talk about Bachmann, apparently unimportant issues like corporate earnings, corporate welfare, poverty, unemployment, and a growing income gap get largely ignored. Poverty continues to be overlooked because it’s depressing and we don’t want to read or watch stories about things we can’t solve. However, “In the past six months, the Post has published online or in print 34 staff-written stories plus 12 wire service stories on Bachmann” and only five about Ron Paul who has spent twelve terms in Congress compared to Bachman’s three. Liberals need to stop adding to the Bachmann chorus and start writing about the issues.

Other underlying issues that must be address so fewer Bachmanns get undeserved press attention include: poverty, income inequality, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, fear of change, election laws and corporate speech, and lies about “family values”.

Let’s work on the issues that concern us and fight the Bachmanns of the world by promoting education, inclusiveness and good governance.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Dudes, Where’s Our Jobs?

In Current Events, Economics on May 7, 2011 at 23:37

Excerpt: Republicans efforts to block the Democratic agenda since Obama’s election have severally curtailed job creation, and Democrats are loathe to take the effort far enough to affect the job’s deficit in the United States.

They killed Osama Bin Laden. So where are the jobs? Republicans regained control of the House for the umpteenth time. Where are the jobs? According to The Donald, he forced Obama to release his birth certificate. How many jobs did The Donald create? Arizona and Utah passed bills designating a state gun, but the conservative legislatures in these states could not think of a way to create jobs. However, they did give out tax cuts to corporations while they prayed to God that jobs fall from the sky. Republicans thought of ways to sneak anti-choice legislation through the House, which certainly was a good way to spend their time since at least 20 million Americans are unemployed. Conan O’Brian got his own late night television show recently. At least one person got a job.

So, where are the jobs? Where are the green jobs that were going to appear with the passage of stimulus money? Where are the manufacturing jobs? Where are the new-science jobs? Where are the jobs that businesses are supposed to be producing with their tax cuts? If tax cuts create jobs, as Republican prevaricators say, then we should be rife with jobs opportunities.

Obama and the Democratic Congress spent much of 2009 trying to tackle the out of control health care costs and the health care crisis in the United States. What passed was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009.

In the first three months of that year 2 million jobs were lost while they fought over health care. Was the health care battle of 2009 really worth the political capital? A few of the provisions might help more people get access to health care by barring the pre-existing condition provisions used to keep insurance companies from taking risks on anyone but healthy patients. Could those provisions been passed without the insurance mandates that will do little to control health care and health insurance costs?

Hindsight is 20/20, right? What that saying ignores is that hindsight can give you foresight. We have the hindsight, if we take an honest look, to realize that the Bush tax cuts of 2003 did little to create jobs. Using the math of mainstream liberal, conservative and other economists, the $787 billion dollar stimulus of 2009 was too small to do anything but keep the economy on life support. There is a trillion dollar hole in the GDP, and progressive economist Joseph Stiglitz along with more conservative economist Martin Feldstein agrees that a new stimulus package two to three times as large as the 2009 package is needed to awaken the economy.

Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. also supports a larger stimulus package, “The basic story is that the stimulus was too small, pure and simple. It would have been too small even if the Obama’s administration’s projections for the severity of the recession had proven accurate. However, since the downturn is considerably steeper than they had projected, the inadequacy of the stimulus is even greater.” Although Dean’s predictions of 11 percent unemployment have yet to come true, he clearly understood that the stimulus wouldn’t bring us anywhere near the target of 5% unemployment that is a standard gage of a healthy economy.
According to Robert Pollin & Heidi Garrett-Peltier, there are three areas one must consider when looking at the job creating effects of spending. (http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/071001-jobcreation.pdf )

1. Direct effects—the jobs created by producing the fighter bomber or school;

2. Indirect effects—the jobs associated with industries that supply intermediate goods for building a fighter bomber, school, or any other direct spending target. These would include the steel, glass, tire, and electronic industries for building an airplane; and concrete, glass, and trucking industries for building a school.

3. Induced effects—The expansion of employment that results when people who are paid to build a fighter bomber or school spend the money they have earned on other products in the economy.

In summary, the effects of stimulus spending in jobs to the economy include reducing unemployment and increasing the tax base, increased spending and stimulus to producers of the products needed for a given project, and increased spending by those employed in the projects. Republicans want to eliminate this stimulus and Democrats are unwilling to take a chance that the temporary increase in the deficit from stimulus spending will hurt their chances for reelection.

By the time politicians see the stagnant job growth, it might be too late to save their jobs. Be advised that this is not a grade of President Obama, Republicans, or Democrats, but the federal and state governments together and their unfortunate spending and legislative priorities that have failed to affect the jobs’ crisis.

Job Stimulus Report Card

Infrastructure                        Grade: C-

The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded our infrastructure a D. The areas include roads, bridges, aviation, dams, energy and so forth.   Solid waste received the highest grade at a C+. Several areas receive a D, including schools and transit, both areas vital to our growth and well being.

Some jobs were created, and some projects have done some good. However, it is not nearly enough to stimulate externalities (indirect and induced effects) and boost consumer spending and tax revenues. “About 27,800 jobs will be created for every $1 billion in federal highway construction spending under the stimulus package, said chief Department of Transportation economist Jack Wells. Roughly half of those jobs would be “induced” jobs, those “generated when highway construction workers respend their income on consumer goods and services — like lunch at McDonald’s or going to the movies or buying new clothes,” said Wells.” (link)  One problem with freeway and bridge construction is that these jobs are not sustainable. Once the project is done, the job is gone. Afterwards, at least we are left with better roads and bridges and better water in a few places. (link) It’s a start, and we need more.

One way to guarantee sustainable jobs through infrastructure is to have ongoing maintenance of bridges, dams, and levees such as those that collapse during hurricane Katrina that cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage. Unfortunately, we are a pay later society, and lack of upkeep of our infrastructure costs us jobs and security and more money in the long term.

Transportation                        C

According to the New York Times, over $48 billion of stimulus money is set for transportation projects in the United States. A large portion, $9.3 billion is for rail transportation. That is the pool of money that Governor Walker refused then later tried to accept because he suddenly realized the demand for improvements in the Milwaukee-Chicago rail line and that improvements would save the state money. (link)

The rejection of this money led directly to the closure of a factory in Wisconsin that makes rail cars. Great work Governor Walker, letting your Randian ideology get in the way of job creation. Like many stimulus areas, Republican ideology against government spending has decreased the possible impact of the stimulus. Florida’s Governor Rick Scott as has Ohio Governor John Kasich have also rejected stimulus money for rail projects. So, much of the poor grade on this, like other stimulus areas, can be laid directly at the feet of Republican governors and legislators.

Obama should stick to giving money to states like California and New York, where they need and will gladly accept the funds. The White House should also give the money to only those states that have projects in the works and ask for the funds.

Green Jobs                        D

Too little money was put into green energy and thus too few jobs were created. The death of the Cap and Trade energy bill also diminished the number of green jobs created. In 2009, the President “committed to creating 5 million green jobs as part of his energy platform.” (link) “Two years later, the answer to that second question appears to be no. Obama’s environmental agenda is in tatters. His green jobs plan has done little to make a dent in unemployment, which persists at close to 10 percent. Obama’s signature environmental initiative, cap-and-trade, died in the Senate in July. And, during the first year of Obama’s tenure, China massively outspent the United States on clean-energy technology.” (link)

Short term projects are too small to make a dent in unemployment and the long terms projects were too speculative and have yet to get off the ground. Poor math, poor planning, and exaggerated expectations doomed the 5 million green job promise.

State by state run down on green jobs projects: http://www.greenjobs.net/

Education                        C-

Some of the stimulus money went directly to states for colleges and schools and help save teachers’ jobs, but money spent on high stakes testing and Obama’s Race to the Top is wasted. More money needs to be spent on buildings and books and protecting teachers’ jobs. There is too much focus on competition and not enough focus on sustainably good schools. (link) Furthermore, states are cutting budgets and cutting education funds at an alarming rate and the stimulus money in education, besides being wasted on Race to the Top, won’t make up for the loss in education funds on a state level.

Overall                                    D

Republicans are on a crusade to cut spending in areas that will cost us jobs at a time with over 9% official unemployment and at least 16% real unemployment. “The Labor Department’s statistics don’t include…those who have stopped looking for work. This alternative measure creates a much higher number.” The real unemployment rate includes the long term unemployed who no longer receive benefits and those who have given up and is 16-20%, depending on how it is counted. (link)

As Paul Krugman makes clear, the real problems with the economy are not the deficit, nor inflation, nor the devaluation of the dollar, but the ongoing lack of jobs.

The government takes our money; it would be nice if some of it was used for job creation instead of wars and tax cuts for the rich.

Unemployment applications up

One place work is needed is infrastructure

Peace,
Tex Shelters