Monday, February 28, 2011

Bill Gates tells nation’s governors that budget cuts do not have to limit school learning.

 Really Mr. Gates ? This argument is more than a little truth challenged.

From earlier posts on this blog. 

Diane Ravitch  “How did right-wing ideas become the education agenda of the Obama administration?”My sense is that it has a lot to do with the administration’s connections to the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation. Although both are usually portrayed as liberal or at least Democratic, their funding priorities have merged with those of the very conservative Walton Family Foundation. I explain this curious power elite in a chapter of my book called “The Billionaire Boys Club.”

Joanne Barkan.
Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy
Joanne Barkan, Dissent Magazine: "The cost of K-12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy - where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision - investing in education yields great bang for the buck."
Read the Article

I have a suggestion of how Mr. Gates could assist the schools. He, and Microsoft could pay their fair share of taxes. And, he could talk to his many billionaire friends to pay their fair share of taxes. If the rich paid their share, the entire budget deficit could be ended in two years.

While  Americans are being asked to sacrifice, major corporations continue to use the rigged tax code to avoid paying any federal taxes at all. If you have “one dollar” in your wallet, you’re paying more than the “combined income tax liability of GE, ExxonMobil, Citibank, and the Bank of America“:
“I have one dollar in my wallet. That’s more than the combined income tax liability of GE, ExxonMobil, Citibank, and the Bank of America. That means somebody is gaming the system.”

100,000 Strong in Wisconsin

The Battle in Wisconsin and Rage Among Teachers

 Diane Ravitch 
Thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers have camped out at the Wisconsin Capitol, protesting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to reduce their take-home pay -- by increasing their contribution to their pension plans and health care benefits -- and restrict their collective bargaining rights.
Republicans control the state Legislature, and initially it seemed certain that Walker's proposal would pass easily. But then the Democrats in the Legislature went into hiding, leaving that body one vote shy of a quorum. As of this writing, the Legislature was at a standstill as state police searched high and low for the missing lawmakers.

Like other conservative Republican governors, including Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio, Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Rick Scott of Florida, the Wisconsin governor wants to sap the power of public employee unions, especially the teachers' union, since public education is the single biggest expenditure for every state.
Public schools in Madison and a dozen other districts in Wisconsin closed as teachers joined the protest. Although Walker claims he was forced to impose cutbacks because the state is broke, teachers noticed that he offered generous tax breaks to businesses that were equivalent to the value of their givebacks.
The uprising in Madison is symptomatic of a simmering rage among the nation's teachers. They have grown angry and demoralized over the past two years as attacks on their profession escalated.
The much-publicized film "Waiting for Superman" made the specious claim that "bad teachers" caused low student test scores. A Newsweek cover last year proposed that the key to saving American education was firing bad teachers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

1,500 in Sacramento Rally for Wisconsin Workers

Over 1500  union members and supporters rallied again  at the State Capitol in Sacramento  on Feb.26,  called by Move-, and Jobs with Justice to support the working people in Wisconsin in their struggle to defend their  union rights.  Speakers described the financial crisis that began  2007  as  an assault on organized  labor, working people, and our democracy.   A retired teacher from Wisconsin detailed many of the events occurring in Madison in an effort to end the demonstrations by public employees and families there.  For example, Wisconsin teachers and public employees have agree to all of the demanded salary and benefit cuts, but insist that their union rights to negotiate be protected.  This defense of union rights is not acceptable to Governor Walker and the Koch Brothers who fund him.
 Several speakers, and several signs noted that the assault in Wisconsin is class war- by the rich against working people.

Friday, February 25, 2011

State spending cuts make the recession worse

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Deeper spending cuts by state and local governments weighed down U.S. economic growth in the final three months of last year. The government's new estimate for the October-December quarter illustrates how growing state budget crises could hold back the economic recovery.
The Commerce Department reported Friday that economic growth increased at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the final quarter of last year. That was down from the initial estimate of 3.2 percent.
The weaker figure was disappointing and prompted some economists to lower their forecasts for economic growth in the current January-March quarter. State and local governments, wrestling with budget shortfalls, cut spending at a 2.4 percent pace. That was much deeper than the 0.9 percent annualized cut first estimated and was the most since the start of 2010.
State spending cuts are the wrong way to go. They don’t work.
You can’t cut your way out of the recession. Cutting jobs makes the recession worse. Just look at the current situation of Ireland and Great Britain. You can see what a budget cut approach produces- stagnation.  This is what California is producing. See the story above from the Associated Press.

We need to build the promise of California.  That promise is a good job for all,  the opportunity to have  a rewarding career, and the chance for a good education.  The tax and budget cut mania  does not promote good jobs, rewarding   careers.  It only digs the hole deeper. Cutting k-12 and higher education makes matters worse.

So, we need to put teachers, firefighters, nurses, police back to work and stop cutting these jobs.  Then, they will buy groceries, gasoline, pay rent, buy houses, and create private sector jobs.  It is called demand.  You can’t cut your way out of the recession. Cutting jobs makes the recession worse. Just look at the current situation of Ireland and Great Britain. You can see what a budget cut approach produces- stagnation. 
See my post here  “An Open Letter to Governor Brown “ providing a list of revenue sources to allow California to grow needed jobs.
We need to repeat this message over and over again, in all available venues.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thousands rally in Sacramento in support of Wisconsin workers

Sacramento Rally
Updated 2/23/2011

Over 2500 union members and supporters rallied at the State Capitol in Sacramento  on Feb. 22,2011, in a candle light vigil to support the working people in Wisconsin in their struggle to defend their  union rights. The financial crisis that began  2007  is an assault on organized  labor, working people, and our democracy.  To date the corporate class is winning. 
While Wall Street has recovered and returned to profitability, working people continue to suffer  15 million unemployed with at least 10 million more under employed.   It is more than a crisis - the reality is that the financial class has looted the U.S. economy.  The Oligarchs  took 13 trillion dollars  out of the economy and caused 4 million people to lose their homes and  another 4.5 million to fall into foreclosure.   Now they want you and I to pay for their greed by forcing budget cuts on the states. 
            In 2010-2011 the crisis is hitting state and local governments hard.  The AFL-CIO is tracking this assault at    Responding the  messaging of the Right many liberals stayed home on election day. Republicans and the Tea Party  won a majority in the House, took control of several state houses, elected governors, and now dominate the main steam media with their messages.  Conservative forces, the Republicans, the Tea Party, and others use the crisis in the states to launch aggressive campaigns against public sector unions and the salaries and pensions of public sector workers.
            The Sacramento response, like rallies in other states condemned the anti union campaigns of Republican governors and legislators.  In Wisconsin Governor Walker's immediate attack is aimed directly at some 200,000 public workers in Wisconsin.
As Rose Ann DeMoro Executive Director,  California Nurses Association said in a well distributed letter,
“Working people did not create the recession or the budgetary crisis facing federal, state and local governments, and there can be no more concessions, period.
It should be apparent that the right wants to scapegoat workers and their unions, and is trying to exploit the economic crisis for an all-out assault on unions, public employees, and all working people in a campaign that is funded by right-wing, corporate billionaires like the Koch brothers.
Who caused the economic crisis? Banks, Wall Street speculators, mortgage lenders, global corporations shifting jobs from the U.S. overseas.

Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spreading the Wisconsin Struggle

Lessons for Wisconsin From the Flint Sit Down Strikes of 1936-37
Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University
   With the state legislature in Wisconsion occupied and surrounded by thousands of state workers and their supporters, and with schools closed throughout the state because of teachers calling in sick, I cannot help but think of the greatest strike and building occupation in the history of the American labor movement- the Flint Sit Down Strikes of 1936-37.  Though the Wisconsin struggle is being led by government workers, and the Flint Strikes involved workers involved in automobile production, both movements took place during the worst economic crisis of their era and were fighting for the same goal- collective bargaining rights for working people through a union of their own choosing- and were much more about dignity and respect than about income.   
      The Flint Strike, which involved the occupation of 9 General Motors automobile plants over a  six week period, transformed the history of the industrial labor movement.  During December of 1936, when the first GM plant was seized and occupied, the entire automobile and steel industries in the United States were union free. When the strike was finally settled, both General Motors and United States Steel agreed to bargain collectively with the CIO ( Congress of Industrial Organizations) unions seeking to organize their industries.   
      The Flint Strike , though it was precipitated by local conditions- a fierce unrelenting speed up on the GM assembly line , the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan like organization called the Black Legion in suppressing labor unrest in GM plants- was part of a national movement to win bargaining rights for industrial workers. As a result, the Flint workers were supported by the national leadership of the CIO-led by the formidable John L Lewis- as well as their own national union, and numerous leftwing organizations including the Communist Party.  Though only GM workers actually occupied the factories, at key points in the strike, thousands of union workers  were mobilized to come down from other cities to make sure that right wing Citizens Committees were unable to storm the plants, and that food and medical supplies were delivered to the striking workers.  There were also doctors, nurses, lawyers, and journalists who came from all over the country to help the strikers.    By the second week of the sit-down strikes, it was clear to everyone involved that this had become a truly national movement
    The same dynamic must operate if the Wisconsin movement is to achieve its main goal- removal from the governor’s legislative program of any effort to weaken the bargaining rights of public workers in the state.  Unions around the nation who face similar initiatives ( in Ohio, Tennessee and New Jersey) must send delegations to join the occupation and the protests and give whatever financial and legal support is necessary to teachers who are keeping the local schools closed.  National union leaders who have a high public profile, people like Richard Trumka and Randy Weingarten, must not only come to Madison to offer their support of the movement, they must head straight to the White House to demand that President Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders come out aggressively in support of the Madison movement. Student social justice organizations must send delegations to Madison to join the thousands of students at the state’s public universities who have been a central part of this movement from the beginning.

Join the Wisconsin uprising

Stand With Wisconsin Workers



Support Workers’ Rights!Join us for a Candlelight Vigil in solidarity with Wisconsin workers.

Date: TUESDAY, FEB. 22, 2011

Time:Meet at 5:30 pm 

Vigil at 6:00 pm



Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Real Republican Strategy - Robert Reich

  • The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.
    By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.
    Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich – making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.
    The strategy has three parts.
     The battle over the federal budget.
    The first is being played out in the budget battle in Washington. As they raise the alarm over deficit spending and simultaneously squeeze popular middle-class programs, Republicans want the majority of the American public to view it all as a giant zero-sum game among average Americans that some will have to lose.
    The President has already fallen into the trap by calling for budget cuts in programs the poor and working class depend on – assistance with home heating, community services, college loans, and the like.
    In the coming showdown over Medicare and Social Security, House budget chair Paul Ryan will push a voucher system for Medicare and a partly-privatized plan for Social Security – both designed to attract younger middle-class voters.
     The assault on public employees
    The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn’t cause these budget crises — state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession — but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.
    Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, “I’m attacking the leadership of the union because they’re greedy, and they’re selfish and they’re self-interested.”
    The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they’ve caused these budget crises, but it’s also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don’t, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.
  • Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Class War in Wisconsin

    Don Taylor
    As I write this, we are in our fourth day of demonstrations against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill and its’ provisions to effectively eliminate public sector collective bargaining. Today, the Democrats in the senate have fled the state, leaving the Republicans one vote short of a quorum to pass the bill. The Democrats say they will not return until the anti-union provisions are off the table.
    Disguised as a bill to fix a shortfall in the current budget, this bill would:
    • Abolish public sector collective bargaining on all topics except wages. There would be no more negotiating leaves of absence, health and safety, discipline for just cause, or anything else. Negotiated wage increases would be capped at CPI; in other words, no real negotiation could occur.
    • Prohibit public employers from deducting union dues via payroll deduction. This measure is one of several that demonstrate the bill’s true intent, because it represents no savings whatsoever for the taxpayer.
    • Require all unionized units to hold annual decertification elections. Again, this relates to the budget in no way whatsoever, and is the most blatant example of the ideological agenda behind this bill.
    • Impose higher employee costs for health care and pensions for state employees.
    • Institute “right to work” for public employees.
    In other words, an existing unionized unit would have to collect hand dues, would be unable to collect payment from free riders, and would be prohibited from negotiating anything except wages at some level below the rate of inflation. Then, as employee discontent grows over a perception that “the union can’t do anything,” along would come the state-mandated annual decertification vote.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Defending Big Bird

    I remember the first time I introduced my 3-year-old son Jack to Sesame Street. Big Bird, Burt, Ernie and songs about ABC's and 123's quickly became one of his favorite shows. We still watch together, and he always learns something new.
    But now, right-wing Republicans in Congress want to take Big Bird and his friends away from my son with slash-and-burn budget cuts, just to pay for more tax cuts for millionaires.
    Thing is? PBS makes up less than .0001% of the federal budget. ENOUGH ALREADY.
    Click here to tell Congress: Hands off Big Bird and PBS!
    My son, like a lot of kids, doesn’t pay as much attention as he should in school. That’s why parents like me need Sesame Street, NOVA and other programs.
    And I’m lucky that my son goes to a wonderful pre-school. But not all kids in our country are so lucky. That’s why public TV programs like Sesame Street and Curious George are so important to introduce concepts like math and science in fun ways that benefit ALL kids.
    Darrell Issa, David Dreier, Kevin McCarthy and the entire CA Republican congressional delegation have lined up to cut programs like Sesame Street out of our lives. PBS is a public resource and one that enriches our community and our children’s education.
    Will you join me and Jack and tell Issa and the rest of the CA Republican delegation to keep their hands off of our children’s education?
    I’m not going to stand for eliminating good education for my kid while Republicans wants to dole out tax cuts to millionaires. I've watched PBS for over 40 years and I'm not going to let it go now.
    Without PBS, there's no more NOVA to spark Jack's interest in science. There's no more Sesame Street to introduce Jack to a world that shares, cares and learns. And there's no more NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, or Frontline: unbiased journalism that isn't bought and paid for by big corporations.
    I love California and our country and I love my son.  I want Jack to grow up in an America that cares about its kids, not about tax cuts for millionaires.
    Join me to demand that the California Republican congressional delegation says yes to PBS and no to budget cuts that hurt our children.
    Thanks for protecting our children… and Big Bird, too.
    Sarah Callahan

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Race to the Bottom: Obama school reform gone wrong

    By Roger Bybee <>

    Diane Ravitch, author of /The Death and Life of the Great American
    School System/.

    President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have
    formed an alliance with billionaire "school reformers" whose agenda
    is to downgrade U.S. public education and blame its shortcomings on
    "bad teachers," warns educational historian Diane Ravitch.

    Ravitch spoke Thursday night before a crowd of more than 1,000 education
    professors, students, public school teachers, and community activists at
    the University of Wisconsin.

    "These corporate reformers are pursuing a strategy based on ideology,
    not on evidence," she charged. "It is demoralizing teachers and setting
    up public schools to be de-legitimized, as they are called upon to meet
    impossible goals. This is not an improvement strategy, it is a
    privatization strategy."

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Wisconsin State AFL CIO "Rights" TV

    LAO identifies massive cuts if tax extensions fail

    If lawmakers pursue a cuts-only budget to solve the state's $26.6 billion deficit, they could eliminate class-size reduction, require that kindergarten students be 5 years old at enrollment and hike university tuition by another 7 to 10 percent, according to a new review by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.
    There's also a stark option for state workers: reduce pay by an additional 9.24 percent (equal to two furlough days) and reduce state contributions to employee health care by 30 percent.
    The Feb. 10 letter responds to Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who asked the Analyst's Office what the Legislature could do if voters or lawmakers reject tax revenues proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The LAO offered $13.5 billion in alternatives, presuming under Leno's request that the ballot taxes would not succeed and other revenue ideas like eliminating enterprise zones would fail. (end Sac Bee blog)

    The LAO list is revealing.  That is the kind of a state that the anti tax radicals  want. There are no quick nor easy solutions. We can not simply cut our way out of the crisis; budget cuts and lay offs make the recession worse.
    School funding reveals the nature of crisis.  In the last two years the k-12 budget “solutions” have cut 4.6 billion dollars from the schools. We have larger classes and fewer teachers.  These cuts would devastate our schools ( your grandchildren), the police, the fire fighters, the county health workers.  Who is going to protect you from the West Nile Virus?
    Instead of these cuts, we need to spend more state money to improve schools, to develop roads and infrastructure, and to create jobs. 

    No 1 in the World, Mr. Duncan? Really ?

    Number 1 in the World, Mr. Duncan? Really? You Have Got to Kidding Me
    By Jim Horn
    Arne Duncan proclaimed a couple of days ago that he wants the U. S. to be #1 in educational achievement but that we have "a long way to go."  But that's okay, boys, we're in a hole, so keep digging.

    Since Duncan came to Washington to sit as ED's titular CEO while the Gates and Broad Foundations runs the show, the hole has gotten deeper as new shovels are brought in to replace the old ones.  The urban schools that were blown apart by NCLB's ticking time bomb have been turned into corporate segregated charters run like prisons, and more public schools are exploded each spring as the scores come in, telling us where the poorest children in America will be added to the penal charter list, as two-year temps from TFA and alt-cert neophytes take over the duties of teachers. 

    Meanwhile, the Gates-Broad team hire the high priest of the stats world to devise ways to use unreliable and invalid tests to keep or fire teachers, despite the mountain of scientific evidence and common sense that tells the rest of us that this is unfair, unethical, and just a bad idea.  Other Gates goons are working to shut down or re-make teacher education programs to focus on those same test scores.  Still others are being farmed out to conservative and neolib state legislators and governors looking for ways to take away teachers' collective bargaining rights, due process, and any remaining shreds of academic freedom.

    Meanwhile back at the school children are choking on the growing mountain and tests that fatten the corporate leeches who publish them.  Children learn to read by racing through nonsense syllables and despise reading by the time they get to junior high. Librarians are fired and book collections dumped or allowed to collect dust.  Students are paid to graduate a year early to save money, while class sizes swell to overflowing.

    read the entire piece here.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Save our schools

    The message we want to get out to as many people on Valentine’s Day is that everyone who cares about young people should also care about our public schools. Our best schools nurture our children and make them feel safe and able to take the risks they need to in order to learn. But our schools are in danger of becoming even more narrowly focused on test preparation while class sizes rise and teachers are blamed for the ravages poverty inflicts on their students.

    We are responding. We love our schools. We declare the week of Valentine’s Day, 2011, to be
    I  Love Public Education Blog Day. On this day we will write our hearts out, about why public education is so important to us, to our children, and to our democratic society. If you or your readers will join us and tell why you love public education too, send your comments and posts

    Writing will be displayed at the website, and will be tweeted with the hashtag #LovePublicEd. We offer the march and events of July 28 to 31st in Washington, DC, as a focal point for this movement, and we ask participants to link to this event, so that we can build momentum for our efforts. If your readers wish to repeat this post on their own blog, we would welcome it. We would love if you could use our attached graphic to indicate that this is part of our campaign.

    If you are not familiar with our new grassroots movement, please go to our webpage and look at our endorsers and also at “About Us.”You will see that many of our endorsers are well-known people, such as Diane Ravitch, Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, and David Berliner. You will also find a list of our demands on the webpage. A new website will go live in the next few days.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Michelle Rhee's claims fail the smell test

    Check out this entry from Jay Matthews on how Rhee's claims of taking students to the 90th percentile have been totally debunked by G.F. Brandenburg.  Even better, check out the stinging rebukes  in the comments section...

    Obama Admin misleads on education reform - Krashen

    The feds have spelled out their plans in detail, in their technology report, in the Blueprint, and in Duncan's speeches. It is a top-down, purely data-driven system with more testing than ever seen in history, with all tests, interim, summative, and maybe even pre-tests in the fall, closely linked to national standards. If the LEARN Act is ever part of this, we will also have a skills + test approach to everything in language arts, K-12. That's what in the documents.

    In response, the professional organizations are eagerly supporting this brutal approach, or saying nothing. When challenged, they say they want a "seat at the table," which I suspect also means "a piece of the pie."

    Instead of leading the way in education, they are doing what they can to allow the ignorant and uninformed to prescribe educational practice.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2011

    Obama has a Long Way to Go on Education Reform | The Forum for Education and Democracy

    Obama has a Long Way to Go on Education Reform | The Forum for Education and Democracy

    What California should learn about schools, budgets, and taxes from Texas

    The so-called Texas Miracle is in trouble, demonstrating that fashioning fiscal policies strictly along low-tax lines doesn't protect you from budget deficits or business slumps or make your residents necessarily happy or healthy.
    Michael Hiltzik Feb.9, 2011.
    Billions of dollars in government red ink. Classroom spending near the bottom of national rankings and heading down. Desperate appeals to Uncle Sam for emergency funds to stave off cuts to the poor and elderly.
    All this points to the obvious question: What's the matter with Texas?
    Texas? Yes, the so-called Texas Miracle is in trouble. Unemployment soared and state tax revenue came in sharply below estimates during the recession, and the deficit mushroomed.
    California's Legislature has won national renown for its dysfunction, but Texas lawmakers know how to squeeze dysfunction until it squeals. The late Molly Ivins reported years ago that when a good-government group ranked the Texas Legislature 38th among the 50 states, the reaction among knowledgeable Texans was, "You mean there are 12 worse than this?"
    Maybe things have improved in the Texas statehouse since Ivins' day. But given that the legislators put off action on the budget this year so they could first debate an anti-abortion measure, a balanced-budget amendment for the U.S. Constitution and a voter-ID law, maybe not.
    Pondering the problems of Texas isn't merely an exercise in schadenfreude, the pleasure one takes in the misfortune of others (some examples evoked by the puppets of the show "Avenue Q": "Football players getting tackled; CEOs getting shackled … "). The goal is to gain perspective on our own crisis and the conventional proposals to address it. The bottom line is that fashioning fiscal policies strictly along low-tax lines doesn't protect you from budget deficits or business slumps or make your residents necessarily happy or healthy.
    The budget crises afflicting states coast to coast arise from a combination of the nationwide recession and obsolete or wrongheaded state taxing schemes. The National Council of State Legislatures says that at least 15 states face large deficits this year and 35 in fiscal 2012.
    As things stand now, the council's figures place California's projected 2012 deficit at $19.2 billion, or 18.7% of its general fund, and the Texas deficit at $7.4 billion, or 17% of its budget. States with broad-based tax policies that balance property, income and sales taxes are best equipped to ride out economic cycles, because those levies don't all move in lockstep with the economy. Neither California, with its over-reliance on income and sales taxes, nor Texas, which has no income tax, qualifies.
    Many state budgets will get worse before they get better, because federal stimulus funds used to close their gaps over the last two years are drying up. That points to a fact that hasn't been widely remarked upon: President Obama's stimulus program helped both California and Texas — indeed, many states — manage their deficits.
    While Texas Gov. Rick Perry sucked up to the "tea party," declaring himself opposed to "government bailouts" and prattling about seceding from the union, he papered over his state's budget gap with $6.4 billion in Recovery Act funds, including increased federal handouts for education and Medicaid. So when you, the California taxpayer, hear talk of the Texas Miracle, you should take pride in having helped pay for it.
    The supposed superiority of Texas over California in fiscal policy long has been a conservative article of faith. In 2009 the libertarian American Legislative Exchange Council published a report co-authored by the conservative economist Arthur Laffer underscoring the contrast. The report posited that "Texas' superior policies over the past several years are making the Lone Star State more resilient to the current economic downturn."
    But Texas was hardly immune to the recession. From 2006 through 2010, the unemployment rate in Texas soared from 4.4% to 8.3%. Yes, that's a better showing than California, which went from 4.9% to 12.5%, but the difference may reflect the huge effect on California's economy of the popping of the housing bubble, which jumped our unemployment rate to a new magnitude and is likely to keep it there for a while.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    A Terrible Divide

    Look out the window. More and more Americans are being left behind in an economy that is being divided ever more starkly between the haves and the have-nots. Not only are millions of people jobless and millions more underemployed, but more and more of the so-called fringe benefits and public services that help make life livable, or even bearable, in a modern society are being put to the torch.
    Employer-based pensions, paid vacations, health benefits and the like are going the way of phone booths and VCRs. As poverty increases and reliable employment becomes less and less the norm, the dwindling number of workers with any sort of job security or guaranteed pensions (think teachers and other modestly compensated public employees) are being viewed with increasing contempt. How dare they enjoy a modicum of economic comfort?
    It turns out that a lot of those jobs were never so secure, after all. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tells us:
    “At least 44 states and the District of Columbia have reduced overall wages paid to state workers by laying off workers, requiring them to take unpaid leave (furloughs), freezing hew hires, or similar actions. State and local governments have eliminated 407,000 jobs since August 2008, federal data show.”
    We have not faced up to the scale of the economic crisis that still confronts the United States.

    Moderates in Egypt ?

    Egyptian "Moderates"

    The situation in Egypt remains murky as Vice President Omar Suleiman talks with opposition leaders about what comes next. FPIF contributor Islam Qasem, in Three Possible Scenarios for Egypt, sketches out the trajectories: Mubarak rides out the storm, he resigns but leaves the regime intact, or there's a more-or-less clean sweep. The last alternative, which the protestors are demanding, will be the most interesting: "Egyptian society will have to endure a hard period of transition, during which lessons will have to be learned in political compromise, pragmatism, and consensus," he writes. "At the same time, Islamists of all stripes and colors will be emboldened."
    The Obama administration has largely echoed the current Egyptian leadership's calls for "orderly transition." As FPIF contributors Asli Bali and Aziz Rana explain in The Fake Moderation of America's Moderate Mideast Allies, the frame of "order versus chaos" is a false one, for the protestors have been the orderly party in the conflict. Meanwhile, "the regime that Western leaders have lauded for decades as a beacon of moderation has unleashed its salaried, plainclothes security personnel to loot its own cities, set fire to its streets, and attack unarmed protesters with Molotov cocktails, knives, U.S.-supplied tear gas canisters, and live ammunition. The new Vice President Suleiman now promises to employ the same security services to arrest those the regime chooses to blame for the disorder and violence it has wrought."
    In light of its wishy-washy response to the protests in Egypt and earlier in Tunisia, the United States should rethink its whole approach to democracy promotion. "The lesson of Tunis, Sanaa, and Cairo is that democracy rhetoric is more than a strategy for the assertion of American dominance," writes FPIF contributor Abena Ampofoa Asare in Regime Change Redux. "On the contrary, it is a language that fuses moral and political power into a radical claim that every human being deserves a voice in the decisions that affect their daily lives. The United States tried to promote democracy through the barrel of a gun. It's time now for Washington to support democracy in the Middle East by pressing its authoritarian allies to put their guns away."

    Monday, February 07, 2011

    This is a jobs depression !

     We need to build the promise of California.  The government was created to promote the general welfare.  That promise is a good job for all,  the opportunity to have  a rewarding career, and the chance for a good education.  The tax and budget cut mania  does not promote good jobs, rewarding   careers.  It only digs the hole deeper.
    See my post here below listed as  “An Open Letter to Governor Brown “ providing a list of revenue sources to allow California to grow needed jobs.
    You can’t cut your way out of the recession. Cutting jobs makes the recession worse. Just look at the current situation of Ireland and Great Britain. You can see what a budget cut approach produces- stagnation.

    Sunday, February 06, 2011

    Cornel West on Building a Powerful Left in the U.S.

    The interesting series on Building a Powerful Left in the U.S. finishes up with a show including Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Norman Solomon and Ralph Nader.
    The narrator identifies Cornel with Democratic Socialists of America.   Cornel does an excellent job of discussing the current crisis. He describes our society as Oligarchic, Plutocratic Rule.
    The Show is here

    Cornel's talk is at about 28 minutes into the show.
    The entire series has some good speakers.

    I recommend it to all.
    Duane Campbell

    Stop Budget cuts- Kasich Rally. January 8, 2011. Columbus, Ohio.

    Saturday, February 05, 2011

    NYC Parents and Teachers fight for their schools

    Some 2,000 parents, teachers and students demonstrated against school closures at the Panel for Educational Policy meeting at Brooklyn Tech HS on Feb. 3 before walking out in protest.
    Calling the process a sham, some 2,000 parents, students and educators on Feb. 3 stormed out en masse from a meeting of the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy before it voted to shutter 12 struggling New York City public schools.
    Equipped with whistles and a foghorn, they also delayed the meeting’s start and at various points before their walkout brought the proceedings to a standstill, drowning out the panel chair’s calls for order with chants of “save our schools” and “Black must go.”
    Met with tremendous applause and enthusiastic chants of “UFT” from the crowd, UFT President Michael Mulgrew in his testimony challenged the legitimacy of the school closure process.
    “There cannot be a legitimate process for anything unless there is a plan for schools to succeed first,” Mulgrew declared. “All we see is a plan for failure. So as far as the UFT is concerned, this panel and this process are illegitimate.”
    Mulgrew took aim at the DOE’s failure to support struggling schools, which union officials and educators claim have been intentionally starved of resources.

    Commercial colleges cost students- government more

    Flurry of Data as Rules Near for Commercial Colleges

    As the United States Department of Education gets closer to issuing its final regulations on commercial colleges’ eligibility for the federal student aid that provides the bulk of their revenue, a flurry of new reports and litigation are being filed in advance of important policy decisions for the schools.
    “There’s obviously a great deal of political posturing and positioning taking place,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education. “The for-profits want to underscore the importance of the needy population they serve. Critics want to undermine the sector. It’s very hard to separate fact from fiction, given all that’s taken place.”
    On Thursday, the department issued new data showing that many commercial colleges leave large numbers of their graduates unable to pay back their loans. The data — covering all institutions of higher education — found that among students whose loans came due in 2008, 25 percent of those who attended commercial colleges defaulted within three years, compared with 10.8 percent at public institutions and 7.6 percent at private nonprofit colleges and universities.

    Friday, February 04, 2011

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011

    Many corporations pay limited taxes

    Major corporations pay as little as 6%. Boeing - 4.5%; Southwest Airlines 6.3%. What do you pay?
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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.