Friday, October 31, 2008

Nieman Marxist

Barack Obama is Irish

$10 million California boondoggle

A million here, a million there, soon these things begin to add up to real money.

We all recognize the fiscal emergency of the California state budget. We are shocked by the governor’s proposals to cut $31.6 million from the CSU as of Oct 20, and the cut last year of 3.1 billion from K-12 education for 2008/2009. California can not accept such an abandonment of its educational infrastructure. . We still consider ourselves bound by the promise of the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, and these cuts would break that promise.
In light of these proposed budget cutbacks, we are strongly opposed to the governor’s action last year in the May Revise to add $10 million to the CSU budget to pay for a Teacher Performance Assessment program (TPA). The TPA and/or PACT is a poorly designed, redundant and invalid process for assessing the quality of teacher credential candidates.

SB 2042, in 2000, required a major revision of teacher preparation in California based upon a new set of state standards and a set of teacher performance expectations (TPEs) . The universities have responded by revising their programs. In 2042 The legislature created a system where the state must continually train new teachers to replace those driven out by inadequate working conditions. One element of 2042 required the development of high stakes performance assessment of California teachers (TPA) based upon the teacher performance expectations (TPE) to be developed by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
The problems with this are several. There is no evidence that TPAs are valid measures of good teaching. To the contrary, our experience tells us that one-time all-or-nothing tests like the TPA are among the poorest possible ways to predict the likelihood that a test-taker will be an excellent California teacher. Beyond this overwhelming substantive concern about the damage to teacher education, we must also point out that the implementation of TPA assessment was initially contingent upon state funding. But SB 1209 in 2006 removed the funding requirement and required implementation of the TPA throughout the CSU effective July 1, 2008, imposing a new low quality accountability system on teacher preparation programs in addition to the performance assessments currently in place, without providing the funding needed to pay for the new program.
Thus the legislature and CTC have imposed an expensive, redundant accountability system – one the state cannot afford in its current budget crisis. Not that we want the TPA program funded -- it would be a gross injustice to add funding for performance assessment into the budget when our schools are having to increase class sizes, lay off teachers, reduce career technical education, cancel transportation, and delay long needed school reforms.

Duane Campbell: Sacramento

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When is a bail out a Swindle?

from The Nation

Paulson's Swindle Revealed
By William Greider

October 29, 2008

The swindle of American taxpayers is proceeding more or less in broad
daylight, as the unwitting voters are preoccupied with the national
election. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson agreed to invest $125
billion in the nine largest banks, including $10 billion for Goldman
Sachs, his old firm. But, if you look more closely at Paulson's
transaction, the taxpayers were taken for a ride--a very expensive
ride. They paid $125 billion for bank stock that a private investor
could purchase for $62.5 billion. That means half of the public's
money was a straight-out gift to Wall Street, for which taxpayers got
nothing in return.

These are dynamite facts that demand immediate action to halt the
bailout deal and correct its giveaway terms. Stop payment on the
Treasury checks before the bankers can cash them. Open an immediate
Congressional investigation into how Paulson and his staff determined
such a sweetheart deal for leading players in the financial sector and
for their own former employer. Paulson's bailout staff is heavily
populated with Goldman Sachs veterans and individuals from other Wall
Street firms. Yet we do not know whether these financiers have fully
divested their own Wall Street holdings. Were they perhaps enriching
themselves as they engineered this generous distribution of public
wealth to embattled private banks and their shareholders?

Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, raised these
explosive questions in a stinging letter sent to Paulson this week.
The union did what any private investor would do. Its finance experts
vetted the terms of the bailout investment and calculated the real
value of what Treasury bought with the public's money. In the case of
Goldman Sachs, the analysis could conveniently rely on a comparable
sale twenty days earlier. Billionaire Warren Buffett invested $5
billion in Goldman Sachs and bought the same types of
securities--preferred stock and warrants to purchase common stock in
the future. Only Buffett's preferred shares pay a 10 percent dividend,
while the public gets only 5 percent. Dollar for dollar, Buffett
"received at least seven and perhaps up to 14 times more warrants than
Treasury did and his warrants have more favorable terms," Gerard
pointed out.

"I am sure that someone at Treasury saw the terms of Buffett's
investment," the union president wrote. "In fact, my suspicion is that
you studied it pretty closely and knew exactly what you were doing.
The 50-50 deal--50 percent invested and 50 percent as a gift--is quite
consistent with the Republican version of spread-the-wealth-around

The Steelworkers' close analysis was done by Ron W. Bloom, director of
the union's corporate research and a Wall Street veteran himself who
worked at Larzard Freres, the investment house. Bloom applied standard
valuation techniques to establish the market price Buffett paid per
share compared to Treasury's price. "The analysis is based on the
assumption that Warren Buffett is an intelligent third party investor
who paid no more for his investment than he had to," Bloom's report
explained. "It also assumes that Gold Sachs' job is to protect its
existing shareholders so that it extracted from Mr. Buffett the most
that it could.... Further, it is assumed that Henry Paulson is
likewise an intelligent man and that if he paid any more than Mr.
Buffett--if he paid $1 for something for which Mr. Buffett would have
paid 50 cents--that the difference is a gift from the taxpayers of the
United States to the shareholders of Goldman Sachs."

The implications are staggering. Leo Gerard told Paulson: "If the
result of our analysis is applied to the deals that you made at the
other eight institutions--which on average most would view as being
less well positioned than Goldman and therefore requiring an even
greater rate of return--you paid a$125 billion for securities for
which a disinterested party would have paid $62.5 billion. That means
you gifted the other $62.5 billion to the shareholders of these nine

If the same rule of thumb is applied to Paulson's grand $700 billion
bailout fund, Gerard said this will constitute a gift of $350 billion
from the American taxpayers "to reward the institutions that have
driven our nation and it now appears the whole world into its most
serious economic crisis in 75 years."

Is anyone angry? Will anyone look into these very serious accusations?
Congress is off campaigning. The financiers at Treasury probably
assume any public outrage will be lost in the election returns. I hope
they are mistaken.

National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political
journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and
Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers
One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The
People, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster) and--due out in
February from Rodale--Come Home, America.

Monday, October 27, 2008

McCain and Palin

California AYP

October 24, 2008
In virtually every state that has released AYP results this SCHOOL YEAR (these are results based on 2007-08 tests that determine status for schools for the 2008-09 school year) the number of schools failing to make AYP has increased, dramatically so in many cases. In several states the rate at which schools are failing AYP doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled. These results are not unexpected.
AYP forces all states, school districts, and schools on a march to 100% proficiency by 2013-14. Each state had to establish a trajectory setting out for each year the percentage of students who must score proficient or higher on the state's reading and math test. Those proficiency percentages, or AYP thresholds, must increase over time to reach the 100% mandate. States do not have to raise the bar every year, but must do so at least once every three years. This is one of the years in which every state raised the bar to make AYP.
In addition, several states set their AYP trajectory so that much larger yearly rates of increases in the percentage of students who must be proficient occur in the last half of the 12-year path toward the required 100 percent proficient level. These “balloon payments” are likely to result in even larger rates of schools failing AYP in the next several years.
Indeed, several states that have conducted projections of AYP results in the year 2013-13 predict that between 75 and 99 percent of all school will fail AYP. A just-published analysis in the scholarly journal Science of AYP in California showed that almost all California elementary schools would fail to meet AYP by 2014.
Examples of state AYP results:
• Alabama: the percentage of schools failing AYP declined slightly from 17.8 percent last year to 16.6 percent this year.
• Alaska: the percentage of schools failing AYP increased from 34.1 percent to 41.3 percent.
• Arizona: the percentage of schools failing AYP held steady at 28 percent.
• California: the percentage of schools failing AYP increased from 33 percent to 48 percent, with only 34 percent of middle schools making AYP.
• Colorado: The percentage of schools failing AYP rose to 40 percent this year, up from 25 percent last year.
• Connecticut: the number of schools failing AYP rose to 40 percent, with 408 schools failing – 100 more than last year.
• Delaware: the percentage of schools not making AYP stayed the same as last year, with 33.8 percent failing to make AYP.
• Florida: the percentage of schools failing AYP increased

All states are in the release.
For more information contact:
National Education Association
Beth Foley (BFoley@nea,.org) or Joel Packer (

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vote No on Prop 8

Hi, you may or may not know me, but someone you know does, and that’s why you’ve gotten this letter. My name is Sean Campbell and I’d like to tell you a little about why I am against Proposition 8, the initiative that would reverse the state Supreme Court’s ruling and eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. If you support Prop. 8, I don’t expect you to undergo some magical conversion as a result of my few words. If I can only influence 1 vote, it will have been worth it. I would just ask that you give me a couple of minutes to explain why I oppose Prop. 8.

I am a straight man in my 20s. I like basketball and guitar and poker and my girlfriend. Most of my friends are straight, but I have a few gay friends like many people do. Growing up in Sacramento I knew some people I’d met and spent time with were different in some way from others but I didn’t really know what being gay or lesbian was until my parents told me. In school, boys teased other boys with words that you hear less nowadays but still hear from adults. I think my parents were relieved when I got in trouble for kissing a girl in kindergarten because they knew that life would be easier for me as a straight person. When I moved to San Francisco in 2000, some of my friends from back home made comments (and still do) about the reputation of the city. I was definitely surprised to see how there was a gay district and many gay-owned businesses. I didn’t really see why it was enough of a big deal that so many would mention it upon hearing where I lived.

After moving back here after college I began to work doing small business accounting. I’ve been lucky enough to establish a foothold and now have 4 clients, 3 of whom are gay. One of my former clients just got married to his partner of 12 years. As we became friends I remember him telling me how I was one of the only straight male friends he had. I thought that was kind of strange and told him so. He told me that he hoped that in my generation things would be different and there would be less division between gay people and straight people in terms of friend groups. He and his partner looked so happy at their wedding reception. Gay couples and straight couples came together to celebrate their union and wish them well. To me, it looked just like the traditional wedding I had recently attended; lots of happy people celebrating love and commitment. They asked for donations to the No on 8 campaign in lieu of gifts, so I donated $25.

Another designer I work with just married his partner of 25 years in a small, private ceremony. They own established businesses, a vacation home in Arizona and work in the same office. They are very different from each other, but very complementary in terms of personality. Their commitment and love is apparent, and they have been waiting to get married for years. I know they will enjoy growing old together. I congratulated them and in their honor I donated another $25 to the No on 8 campaign.

Just a couple of nights ago I received an email from two of my clients announcing their marriage, to take place next month before the election. They own established businesses, work from their home and have adopted two beautiful children. They are some of the best parents I’ve ever witnessed; their whole lives are designed around raising these children with good manners and good morals. They sacrifice so their children can have the best care and schooling possible. They also asked that no one buy them gifts but instead donate to the No on 8 campaign. I again donated $25 and resolved to write this letter for all of these friends of mine.

I believe in treating people equally under the law, no matter religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or any other attribute. It’s one of the most important and significant achievements of American democracy. Our country has gone through a lot in order to bring this ideal closer to reality, and in some respects (and for some people, like my friends) this project remains incomplete. I realize that for some people the concept of two people of the same sex being married seems strange or wrong. It used to be that in this country marriage between people of different races was considered strange or wrong, or illegal. Luckily, my parents didn’t care, and I’m the result of their marriage and love. I realize that our airhead Mayor Gavin Newsom has been on your television telling you things “whether you like it or not”. He’s not my friends’ best advocate, to be sure, and I regret his election every day when I hear about all our problems here in San Francisco and his total lack of will to solve them.

I don’t ask you to agree with or endorse same-sex marriage or go against your religious or personal beliefs. I ask that you honor that great American tradition, to live and let live. I ask that you decide that government doesn’t have a role in regulating private behavior between consenting adults. I ask that you live your life in your way and let my friends live theirs.

I want my friends to be able to express their love and commitment the same way you and I can. Please vote No on Prop. 8 on November 4th. Thanks for your time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement

Cesar Chavez and the Farmworker Movement

Photos, Music, Essays, Video, Oral history materials, Archives, El Malcriado


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Politicians fail teachers

A Teacher’s Anger: Markets, Moral Hazards And Schools

Over the last year, as the growing economic crisis took a grim toll among working Americans unable to make mortgage payments on their homes, we witnessed the introduction of a term of art from laissez-faire market economics into our national political conversation. It would be wrong for government to provide assistance to those facing foreclosure and the loss of their homes, we were told again and again, because such aid would create a moral hazard. The dream of working Americans to own their own home has led to financially risky behavior, the logic went, as too many bought homes beyond their means. When an economic downturn makes it impossible for these working homeowners to make ends meet, they have to face the hard consequences of their risky behavior: the loss of their home. Rescue them and others will be encouraged to engage in economically risky behavior. Market discipline must rule, unchallenged, whatever carnage it leaves in its wake.

Yet in recent weeks, as Wall Street’s leading financial institutions came crashing down, one after the other like falling dominoes, one heard no talk of moral hazards. When it comes to finance banks, insurance companies and mortgage providers, a different logic had to apply. If these corporate leviathans are subjected to harsh market discipline, if they are not rescued, we are now told, the American and global economies will collapse, resulting in a massive economic privation. It matters not that in this instance the risky economic behavior was in the service of sheer greed, as those with millions and billions of dollars sought more and more, rather than a modest dream to own your own home. All that is important is that the insolvency of Wall Street’s leading financial institutions would bring economic disaster far beyond their particular bottom lines.

Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, who was the CEO of the finance bank Goldman Sachs before he took his current position in the Bush administration, proposed that the rescue of Wall Street involve the unconditional handover of $700 billion. The legislation he brought to Congress gave him the sole authority over the use of this unprecedented amount of money. He and his one-time colleagues on Wall Street fought against provisions which would place limits on the pay of the executives of the rescued corporations, restricting the obscene bonuses and golden parachutes that were symptomatic of the current crisis, on the grounds that this would undermine the incentive of corporate brass to work hard. Incredibly, opposition was also mounted to providing financial aid to homeowners facing foreclosure. It was only Congressional resistance that forced Paulson and the Bush administration even partially off these positions.

Let’s be clear: massive government intervention is clearly necessary if we are to avert a total economic meltdown and the immense harm it would inflict on working people around the globe. But it must not be done on the terms of Wall Street and the Bush administration. Their economic vision treats private profits as sacred, but quickly loses market religion when it comes to socializing corporate losses and having working Americans pick up their bill with our taxes and cuts in our essential public services. Instead, America needs a new New Deal. An effective rescue package will have to address the structural causes of this crisis, restoring the public interest by re-regulating and redirecting an economy where corporate greed has been given free rein. It will need to stimulate economic growth and create new jobs through government spending, provide needed aid to working homeowners, and protect essential public services and the social service safety net. If government is going to save Wall Street from its own folly and avarice with our tax money, the public must have an ownership share in those institutions, and the public must recoup its investment when these corporations turn a profit once again. The government intervention that seems to have had the most positive effect in the current crisis – the purchase of equity shares in the troubled financial institutions – was fashioned by the British Labour government, and the power to implement it in the U.S. was written into law by Congressional Democrats, with the Bush administration unhappily bringing up the rear.

Working Americans have much good reason to be very angry about these developments, and none more so than teachers. For the last decade, Wall Street financiers, hedge fund operators and corporate moguls, together with the market fundamentalists who provide them their ideological support, have been mounting a steady drumbeat of attacks on public schools and on the educators who have dedicated their professional lives to teaching and caring for our children. Our schools are failing and our teachers are incompetent, they repeated again and again in a systematic effort to delegitimize public education, and market based reforms and privatization will make everything right. They know as much about education as Sarah Palin knows about foreign policy: they could see a school from their house. But for them ignorance was bliss: it meant that the laissez-faire market could be the answer to every educational question, without any danger of troubling information on what that actually meant in practice. One might think that the catastrophic failure of the financial markets of Wall Street they had fought to deregulate and remove from public oversight and checks and balances would have led to a little pause and a second thought or two on the wisdom of unfettered, unregulated markets in education. But let’s face it: there is not much capacity for self-reflection in these circles. The work of defending and improving the public schools that are vital to American democracy will rest with those of us who actually work in their classrooms.

Now more than ever, America needs a vibrant and flourishing public square, with public education at its center. The pursuit of greed and excess, the idolatry of unregulated and uncontrolled markets, are no substitute for the pursuit of our common good and the support of our public purpose. We will now pay a heavy price for having forgotten and abandoned this truth of our republic, so as educators, we need to ensure that it is a lesson fully learned.
Leo Casey : from Edwize


Sarah Palin as President

Be sure to click around -especially on the doors and windows and red

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Labor's plan for the new administration

This was also posted at Steve's request on TalkingUnion at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Prairie Elementary School and NCLB

Under ‘No Child’ Law, Even Solid Schools Falter

Published: October 12, 2008
SACRAMENTO — Prairie Elementary School had not missed a testing target since the federal No Child Left Behind law took effect in 2002. Until now.

Fawzia Keval, the principal of Prairie Elementary in Sacramento, which had not missed a testing target since the No Child Left Behind law took effect. “I’m spending sleepless nights,” she said.

Falling Behind Schedule
The school, perched on a tidy, oak-shaded campus in a working-class neighborhood here, has moved each of its student groups — Hispanics, blacks, Asians, whites, American Indians, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, English learners, the disabled — toward higher proficiency in recent years.

Over all, the number of its students passing tough statewide tests had increased by more than three percentage points annually, a solid record.

But this year, California schools were required to make what experts call a gigantic leap, increasing the students proficient in every group by 11 percentage points. For the first time, Prairie, and hundreds of other California schools, fell short, a failure that results in probation and, unless reversed, federal sanctions within a year.

“And they’re asking for another 11 percent increase next year and the next, and that’s where I’m saying I just don’t know how,” Fawzia Keval, the school’s principal, said. “I’m spending sleepless nights.”

Across the nation, far more schools failed to meet the federal law’s testing targets than in any previous year, according to new state-by-state data. And in California and some other states, the problem traces in part to the fact that officials chose to require only minimal gains in the first years after the law passed and then very rapid annual gains later. One researcher likens it to the balloon payments that can sink homebuyers.

Part of the reason for the troubles was that the states gambled the law would have been softened when it came up for reauthorization in 2007, but efforts to change it stalled. This year Congress made no organized attempt to reconsider the law. With the nation facing urgent challenges, including two wars and economic turmoil, it could be a year or more before the new president can work with Congress to rewrite the law.

The law requires every American school to bring all students to proficiency in reading and math by 2014. When it was first implemented six years ago, it required states to outline the statistical path they would follow on their way to 100 percent proficiency, and about half set low rates of achievement growth for the first few years and steeper rates thereafter.

Here in California, which in 2002 had only 13.6 percent of students proficient in reading, officials promised to raise that percentage on average by 2.2 points annually from 2002 to 2007, but starting this year greatly accelerate the progress, raising the percentage of proficient students by 11 points per year through 2014.

Now that the time has come for that accelerated improvement, California schools are not keeping up. This year, about half the state’s 9,800 schools fell short.

“We’re hitting a balloon payment scenario, to use a housing analogy, where the expectations set forth in the federal law are far higher than recent performance levels,” said Richard Cardullo, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, who led an analysis of the performance of state elementary schools.

His study, published Sept. 26 in the journal Science, found that the proportion of students scoring at or above proficiency increased, on average, less than four percentage points annually from 2003 to 2007, far short of the 11 percentage points of annual growth required starting this year.

“Lots of schools are no longer going to be able to meet the law’s requirements,” Dr. Cardullo said. His study predicted that virtually every elementary school in California would fall short of the federal law’s expectations before 2014.

Why did California decide on six years of relatively slow achievement growth, followed by six years of extraordinary gains? Officials from many states told the Bush administration in 2002 that they needed time to write new tests and accustom teachers to them.

But the California state school superintendent, Jack O’Connell, said he also bet that Congress might change the law in 2007, perhaps by removing its 100 percent proficiency goal. “It’s true that was in the back of my mind when we negotiated our plan with the feds,” Mr. O’Connell said. “And I’d do the same thing again. I’m still hoping a new administration will change the law.”

Meanwhile, the law has had other unintended consequences — including its tendency to punish states, like California, that have high academic standards and rigorous tests, which have contributed to an increasing pileup of failed schools.

A state-by-state analysis by The New York Times found that in the 40 states reporting on their compliance so far this year, on average, 4 in 10 schools fell short of the law’s testing targets, up from about 3 in 10 last year. Few schools missed targets in states with easy exams, like Wisconsin and Mississippi, but states with tough tests had a harder time. In Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Mexico, which have stringent exams, 60 to 70 percent of schools missed testing goals. And in South Carolina, which has what may be the nation’s most rigorous tests, 83 percent of schools missed targets.

“The law is diagnosing schools that just have the sniffles with having pneumonia,” said Jim Rex, the South Carolina schools superintendent.

Under the law, all public schools must test students every year and if those in any group fall short, the school misses its targets and is put on probation. All states adopt their own curriculums and testing standards, and the rigor of the tests varies greatly.

Schools that miss targets for two consecutive years are labeled “needing improvement” and face escalating sanctions that can include staff changes or closings. Partly because the law is identifying thousands of schools, however, few states have tried to radically restructure more than a few.

Margaret Spellings, the federal education secretary, acknowledged in an interview that the law’s mechanism for holding schools accountable needed refinement because it works as a pass-fail system in which schools with only minor problems are in the same category as chaotic institutions with students running the halls.

“We passed the best law we could seven years ago,” Ms. Spellings said. “There’s wide recognition that this is something we need to address.”

Under a pilot program known as differentiated accountability, Ms. Spellings has given six states — Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio — permission to treat schools labeled for improvement that have missed targets for only one group differently than those needing sweeping intervention.

But the rate at which schools have been identified as needing improvement has not yet become worrisome, she said. “Pretty much every organization needs improvement,” she said.

Ms. Spellings has fiercely defended the law’s requirement that all students achieve proficiency by 2014.

Among that provision’s most tenacious critics has been Robert Linn, a University of Colorado professor emeritus who is one of the nation’s foremost testing experts. He argued, almost from the law’s passage, that no society anywhere has brought 100 percent of students to proficiency, and that the annual gains required to meet the goal of universal proficiency were unrealistically rapid, since even great school systems rarely sustain annual increases in the proportion of students demonstrating proficiency topping three to four percentage points.

“If, no matter how hard teachers work, the school is labeled as a failure, that’s just demoralizing,” Dr. Linn said.

Ms. Keval, the principal at Prairie Elementary, has been fighting demoralization herself since learning of this year’s test results, she said.

Educated in British schools in Kenya, she speaks Urdu, Swahili and five other languages, and several teachers said she was an inspirational leader. Ms. Keval described her staff as qualified, hard-working and dedicated to student progress.

Eight out of 10 children at the school are poor — the children of gardeners and maids, retail clerks and short-order cooks, the unemployed — yet all groups have made progress.

When the law took effect in 2002, 22 percent of all students and 19 percent of blacks were proficient in reading. Ms. Keval has for several years used federal money to hire extra reading teachers and to organize additional instructional time for low-scoring students after school and during vacation periods.

As a result, reading proficiency has increased on average by nearly four percentage points each recent year, although black students have improved more slowly. On California’s state tests this year, 42 percent of Prairie’s students schoolwide and 40 percent of Hispanics demonstrated reading proficiency. But only 29 percent of blacks demonstrated proficiency, and since California schools were required to raise the proportion of proficient students in every group from 24 percent to 35 percent this year, that was not good enough. The school has been put on probation.

“I know we’ll continue to make gains with our students, but whether we can meet the next No Child target remains to be seen,” she said. “In one year, its hard to make an 11 percent impact.”

Dr. Linn said Ms. Keval had good reason to worry.

“An 11 percent increase from one year to the next, that is pretty gigantic,” Dr. Linn said, “compared to how most schools improve from one year to the next.”

From: New York Times.
More Articles in Education »A version of this article appeared in print on October 13, 2008, on page A1 of the New York edition.

The money was there for school improvement

The God that failed.
Chris Floyd
Perhaps the most striking fact revealed by the global financial crash -- or rather, by the reaction to it -- is the staggering, astonishing, gargantuan amount of money that the governments of the world have at their command.
In just a matter of days, we have seen literally trillions of dollars offered to the financial services sector by national treasuries and central banks across the globe. Britain alone has put $1 trillion at the disposal of the bankers, traders, lenders and speculators; and this has been surpassed by the total package of public money that Washington is shoveling into the financial furnaces of Wall Street and the banks. These radical efforts are being replicated on a slightly smaller scale in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and many other countries.

The effectiveness of this unprecedented transfer of wealth from ordinary citizens to the top tiers of the business world remains to be seen. It will certainly insulate the very rich from the consequences of their own greed and folly and fraud; but it is not at all clear how much these measures will shield the vast majority of people from the catastrophe that has been visited upon them by the elite. 
Year after year, the ordinary citizens were told by their governments: we have no money to spend on your needs, on your communities, on your infrastructure, on your health, on your children, on your environment, on your quality of life. We can't do those kinds of things any more. 

Of course, when talking amongst themselves, or with the believers in the think tanks, boardrooms -- and editorial offices -- the cultists would speak more plainly: we don't do those things anymore because we shouldn't do them, we don't want to do them, they are wrong, they are evil, they are outside the faith. But for the hoi polloi, the line was usually something like this: Budgets are tight, we must balance them (for a "balanced budget" is a core doctrine of the cult), we just can't afford all these luxuries, sorry about that.

But now, as the emptiness and falsity of the Chicago cargo cult stands nakedly revealed, even to some of its most faithful and fanatical adherents, we can see that this 30-year mantra by our governments has been a deliberate and outright lie. The money was there -- billions and billions and billions of dollars of it, trillions of dollars of it. We can see it before our very eyes today -- being whisked away from our public treasuries and showered upon the banks and the brokerages. 

Let's say it again: The money was there all along.
Money to build and generously equip thousands and thousands of new schools, with well-paid, exquisitely trained teachers, small teacher-pupil ratios, a full range of enriching and inspiring programs.

Money to revitalize the nation's crumbling inner cities, making them safe and vibrant places for businesses and families and communities to grow.

Money to provide decent, affordable and accessible health care to every citizen, to provide dignity and comfort to the elderly, and protection and humane treatment for the mentally ill.

Money to provide affordable higher education to everyone who wanted it and could qualify for it. Money to help establish and sustain local businesses and family farms, centered in and on the local community, driven by the needs and knowledge of the people in the area, and not by the dictates of distant corporations.

Money to strengthen crumbling infrastructure, to repair bridges, shore up levies, maintain roads and electric grids and sewage systems.

Money for affordable, workable public transport systems, for the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, for sustainable, sensible development, for environmental restoration.

Money to support free inquiry in science, technology, health and other areas -- research unfettered from the war machine and the drive for corporate profit, and instead devoted to the betterment of human life.

Money to support culture, learning, continuing education, libraries, theater, music and the endless manifestations of the human quest to gain more meaning, more understanding, more enlightenment, a deeper, spiritually richer life.
The money for all of this -- and much, much more -- was there, all along. When they said we couldn't have these things, they were lying -- or else allowing themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When they wanted a trillion dollars -- or three trillion dollars -- to wage a war of aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market, they suddenly have it. 

Who then can believe that these governments could not have found the money for good schools, health care, and all the rest, that they could not have enhanced the well-being and livelihood of millions of ordinary citizens, and helped create a more just and equitable and stable world -- if they had wanted to?

This is one of the main facts that ordinary citizens around the world should take away from this crisis: the money to maintain, secure and improve the lives of their families and communities was always there -- but their governments, and their political parties, made a deliberate, unforced choice not to use it for the common good. Instead, they subjugated the well-being of the world to the dictates of an extremist cult. A cult of greed and privilege, that preached iron discipline to the poor and the middle-class, but released the rich and powerful from all restrictions, and all responsibility for their actions.

This should be a constant -- and galvanizing -- thought in the minds of the public in the months and years to come. Remember what you could have had, and how it was denied you by the lies and delusions of a powerful elite and their bought-off factotums in government. Remember the trillions of dollars that suddenly appeared when the wheeler-dealers needed money to cover their own greed and stupidity. 

Let these thoughts guide you as you weigh the promises and actions of politicians and candidates, and as you assess the "expert analysis" on economic and domestic policy offered by the corporate media and the corporate-bankrolled think tanks and academics. 

And above all, let these thoughts be foremost in your mind when you hear -- as you certainly will hear, when (and if) the markets are finally stabilized (at whatever gigantic cost in human suffering) -- the adherents of the market cult emerge once more and call for "deregulation" and "untying the hands of business" and all the other ritual incantations of their false and savage fundamentalist faith.

For although the market cult has suffered a cataclysmic defeat in the last few weeks, it is by no means dead. It has 30 years of entrenchment in power to fall back on. And the leader of every major political party in the West has spent their entire political career within the cult's confines. It has been the atmosphere they breathed, it has been the sole ladder by which they have climbed to prominence. They will be loath to abandon it, once the immediate crisis is past; most will not be able to. 

So remember well the lessons of this new October crash: The money to make a better life, to serve the common good, has always been there. But it has been kept from you by deceit, by dogma, by greed, and by the ambition of those who have sold their souls, and betrayed their brothers and sisters, their fellow human creatures, for the sake of privilege and power.
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