Educational Stupidity: DC Schools Declare World Traveling Piano Prodigy ‘Truant’

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Imagine that you represent an embattled urban school system.  Plagued by decades of failure, waste, and ridicule, you have one saving grace-a young student that is a piano prodigy.  This student travels the world; winning competitions and amazing world wide audiences with her talent.  You might want to publicize that to perhaps enhance your own embattled image.

Nah, declare her ‘truant’ and threaten her parents!

Avery Gagliano is a commanding young pianist who attacks Chopin with the focused diligence of a master craftsman and the grace of a ballet dancer.

The prodigy, who just turned 13, was one of 12 musicians selected from across the globe to play at a prestigious event in Munich last year and has won competitions and headlined with orchestras nationwide.

But to the D.C. public school system, the eighth-grader from Mount Pleasant is also a truant. Yes, you read that right. Avery’s amazing talent and straight-A grades at Alice Deal Middle School earned her no slack from school officials, despite her parents’ begging and pleading for an exception.

“As I shared during our phone conversation this morning, DCPS is unable to excuse Avery’s absences due to her piano travels, performances, rehearsals, etc.,” Jemea Goso, attendance specialist with the school system’s Office of Youth Engagement, wrote in an e-mail to Avery’s parents, Drew Gagliano and Ying Lam, last year before she left to perform in Munich.

Although administrators at Deal were supportive of Avery’s budding career and her new role as an ambassador for an international music foundation, the question of whether her absences violated the District’s truancy rules and law had to be kicked up to the main office. And despite requests, no one from the school system wanted to go on the record explaining its refusal to consider her performance-related absences as excused instead of unexcused.

Avery’s parents say they did everything they could to persuade the school system. They created a portfolio of her musical achievements and academic record and drafted an independent study plan for the days she’d miss while touring the world as one of the star pianists selected by a prestigious Lang Lang Music Foundation, run by Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who handpicked Avery to be an international music ambassador.

But the school officials wouldn’t budge, even though the truancy law gives them the option to decide what an unexcused absence is. The law states that an excused absence can be “an emergency or other circumstances approved by an educational institution.”

I cannot fathom why the district is doing this.  Perhaps it’s racism, or they think that Avery having this level of talent is somehow “unfair,” and she needs to be limited so the other kids don’t have bruised egos. Both ideas are common among liberals, so who knows.  What we do know is that Avery is now home-schooled, because the DC schools system, emblematic of liberal failure,  and even though they had the option of allowing her absences, decided that she was to be punished for her talents.

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Change, Intervention, and Dependency

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The concept of the government “solving” all the problems of the world has crept into our society over time. With every new program, every new entitlement, the public has  gradually become accustomed to the government solving the ills of the world. And what of fact that the government seemed to make all of these problems worse? Well, that’s neglected. After all, the government is taking care of it-I don’t have to worry about it, right?

Starting with the “progressive” movement in the late 19th century and accelerating greatly since the great depression, the government has vastly increased it’s meddling in human affairs.  Ignoring the Constitutional limits on its power, the government has expanded its powers and influence to impact everyone’s life, many times, with negative results.  This begs the question; does it really work?

While going over every government intervention would require writing a book, it might be prudent to to take an in-depth look at one: public education.

Since 1970, per pupil cost of public education, according to investors.com

Far from being an engine of wealth creation, the education system is bleeding the economy to death. The U.S. spends 2.3 times as much per pupil in real, inflation-adjusted dollars as it spent in 1970, but the return on this ballooning investment has been less than nothing.

And what is that return?  First, let’s take a look at some results of public education over time.  Here is the graduation rates in the Us, by state, in 1990.

Next, here are the same figures for 2006

So, all this extra money, and graduation rates continue to drop?

Next, let’s take a look at how much different states spend on education.  The next image is from the census bureau.

Then from the same report

Utah spent the least per student ($5,257), followed by Arizona ($6,261), Idaho ($6,283), Mississippi ($6,575) and Oklahoma ($6,613). All 10 of the states with the lowest spending per student were in the West or South.

So, what are the results of this huge disparity?

Recent studies reinforce the disconnect between spending and achievement. For example, the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) “Report Card on American Education, a State-by-State Analysis 1976– 2000” concluded that “it is clear after studying the data and results that the policies of the past have failed to meet the educational needs of our country’s children. If we continue to spend more money on the existing educational system in an attempt to buy our way to better student achievement, we will condemn another generation of students to mediocrity.” The ALEC study showed no correlation between conventional measures of educational inputs (such as expenditures per pupil and teacher salaries) and educational outputs (such as scores on standardized tests). Simply stated, increased funding does not translate into improved achievement.

An analysis of per-pupil expenditures on a state-by-state basis is illuminating. For example, in the 1998–99 school year, Utah spent $3,807 per pupil whereas Maryland spent $7,059. There is little evidence to suggest that equalizing resources between the two states would equalize achievement. In the 1998 NAEP, 31 percent of eighth graders in both Utah and Maryland scored at proficient or better in reading, despite the large discrepancy in per-pupil expenditures. Also, based on several standardized tests, the ALEC report rated Iowa (ranked 32d in per-pupil expenditures) as having the top-performing public elementary and secondary schools in the nation, followed by Minnesota (14th in spending) and Wisconsin (9th). At the bottom of the achievement ratings were Mississippi (50th in spending), the District of Columbia (5th), and Louisiana (39th).

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Expenditures per student have increased over time, and the distribution of the expenditures has been according to popular emphasis: The level of teacher education has increased, teacher experience has increased, and student-teacher ratios have fallen. But the desired outcome—student achievement—has remained flat.

So two of the sacred cows of education do not stand up to scrutiny.  Namely, class size and expenditures.  Both are mantras of the left, yet neither have any statistical relevance to graduation rate.  In simple terms, they have NO IMPACT AT ALL!  This however, does not dissuade the left from raising them as issues at any time educational funding is discussed.

This is just one example.  There are so many more.  For example, the government has run social (in)security into the ground. It’s a ponzi scheme anyway-one that makes Mr. Madoff look like a rank amateur.

They created the fraud and waste infested Medicare and Medicaid programs.  They’ve had 40 years to stop the (now, hundreds of) billions of dollars in yearly fraud and waste, with no meaningful results.

They were negligent over obvious warnings and caused the great recession with the CRA and by ignoring all of the warning signs that Fannie and Freddie were about to implode.  Instead, at the time, they attacked those releasing the warnings. They now deny their involvement, and instead blame the administration that released multiple warnings over the course of several years.  Ironically, the very warnings they ignored.

Even the Post Office is failing!  Not a good track record, yet the American people continue to accept these programs, and many ask for more.  Based on their record, they’re going to do a great job with health care, right?

As previously stated, as all of these programs are enacted, the people become comfortable with the concept of the government addressing social problems and issues, no matter how badly government performs.  But, there is a second, perhaps more damaging aspect to this; that government assistance creates dependency that allows for influence.  To illustrate this, let’s go back to the education example.  The public school districts obtain most of their funding either locally, or at the state level (note that this varies greatly by state).  However, the federal assistance they receive, as well as the federal funds the states receive, if removed, would cause a “crisis” in the schools.  They have become dependent on these funds to provide the services that they have established.  Any threat to that funding therefore creates a reaction from the benefiting organization.

It is helpful to remember that the first priority of any bureaucracy is self-maintenance.  The stated purpose or task of a bureaucracy is secondary, and is only done to the extent that the primary goal is met.  When the primary goal is threatened, there is an immediate reaction.  Even surviving at a diminished scale is not acceptable.  Protests will be organized, politicians will be lobbied, children & seniors will be exploited, and rent-a-mob will be paid, all in order to maintain the status quo (and influence/power!), even if that status quo is dysfunctional, or even destructive.

In this situation, government is in the position to issue mandates to states, communities, and organizations in order to receive government funding.  Government can use its checkbook as a means to push their agenda on the recipient organization.  If the government is leftist, the mandates will be to the left-if the government is to the right, the converse holds true.  Since the recipient organization is now dependent on the government money to maintain itself and it’s power, it has little choice but to go along with the scheme of the day.

Many organizations, in turn, lobby the government to help craft these mandates, or simply support them with some well-timed contributions and/or PR campaigns.  They then have the opportunity to use their influence over government to push their agenda.  When so many politicians and organizations are left leaning, is it a surprise that they manipulate us into following some leftist scheme that create more problems, or exacerbates existing ones?  The lobbying organizations use their influence over the government to manipulate the government into exerting influence over still others to push an agenda.

To illustrate, let’s again go to the educational arena.  With the government having an increased role in society, other groups benefit from the intervention, prompting them to lobby, donate, and otherwise influence the government’s activities.  For example, increased spending and decreased student to teacher ratios benefit the NEA.  The NEA supports and lobbies for the increased spending and benefits from all of the additional teachers that are hired as a result.  More teachers lead to more union dues, which lead to more money with which to influence the government, which leads to more teacher and union dues…you get the point.  In the end, powerful groups gain more power by influencing the government’s actions, as well as assuring their own funding stream.  Since many of these organizations, and particularly the NEA are leftist, the mandates that the government decrees are increasingly socialist in nature.  Here is evidence of the political nature of the NEA.  It is a long video, so the part of interest is at 16:00.

The results for public education are seen every day.  Violence, pregnancy, poor test scores, and increasing drop out rates have all continued, or even increased, with the advent of increased funding.  It actually appears that the social engineering aspect of education is the goal. With the teacher acting as facilitator, the children are guided, mislead, and manipulated to a pre-determined ideological mindset.  Again this is all set from Washington, with the left and the lobbyists manipulating each other, and, in the end, you and I.

Additionally, government and its supporters seek to eliminate all functional or ideological competition.  Taking the lead of most totalitarian regimes in the last century, they seek to eliminate threats to their eminence and power.  Other ideas are poisonous to their plans, so they are banned.  For example, home-schooled children do not meet their leftist ideological goals, and perform at a higher academic level.  Rather than take what works from this system, the left seeks to ban it.  Again, if high scores and knowledge were a concern, they might study the matter.  However, the goal is indoctrination, so home schooling must be ridiculed, restricted, and then banned.    They have not let this goal drop from their list of priorities, and they are using their influence with the state and federal governments in a schemes to gradually restrict, then ban, home schooling.  They can use their influence to write government legislation or regulations to their liking, while the other entities are subjected to the whims of the leftist government, as well as their well-fed supporters.  After all, government assistance comes with strings attached!

So, where does this leave us?  Caught in the middle of lobbyists, government, interest groups, thugs, goons, and mobs.  Each group uses it’s influence over government  to enrich and empower itself.  in turn government uses it’s “endless” checkbook to fund schools ( and other entities), and makes demands in exchange for the funding.  In the end, we all lose.

The solution to this mess is simple; return the federal government to its Constitutional role.  When the government does little, as it should, there is no motivation to influence it.  If the government has no influence over education, why would the NEA pay off some congressmen or senators?  If the federal government stayed out of health care, why would the insurance companies, big pharma, the unions, and any of a number of  leftist groups attempt to influence it?  If the government didn’t try to control and thereby ruin our energy supply, why would big oil try to influence it?  In the end, it is the size of government that creates the problem.  A large and powerful central government invites corruption and creates dependency-cutting it down to size solves both problems.  Power does corrupt, and the more power the government attaches to itself, the more corrupt it becomes.  It matters little if the administration is Democratic or Republican, the size of government, and it’s accompanying corruption, makes victims of us all.

Note:  this is a re-posting of an earlier article.

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$1.2 Billion Obamacare Contract Pays Workers to Do Nothing

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“I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it’s there… We will fire government managers who aren’t getting results, we will cut funding for programs that are wasting your money and we will use technology and lessons from the private sector to improve efficiency across every level of government… The only way we can do all this without leaving our children with an even larger debt is if Washington starts taking responsibility for every dime that it spends.” – September 2008, Barack Obama

Yeaaahhh, right. That’s what Obama said in 2008, but now that his signature agenda item is chugging along, where is his outcry on this “waste, fraud and abuse?”

Hat/Tip Bad Blue.

serco wentzville, mo
Serco, INC. Wentzville, Missouri

An employee of Serco, a company with a $1.2 billion government contract to handle paper healthcare applications has some rather interesting, and believable claims.

“There are some weeks that a data entry person would not process an application. The main thing is the data entry side does not have hardly any work to do. They’re told to sit at their computers and hit the refresh button no more than every 10 minutes. They’re monitored, to hopefully look for an application. Their goals are to process 2 applications a month, and some people are not even able to do that. There are centers in Missouri, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. 1,800 people trying to get 1 of 30 application that pop up. Serco, gets paid for the number of people they employ. So they want us there even if we are not doing anything.”

Others complain as well. The video shows online comments from an alleged former employee “This place is a JOKE! There is nothing to do – NO WORK.”

Here is the full story from KMOV.com News 4, St.Louis, MO.

.

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Top 10 Ways Congress Wasted Your Money in 2013

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We obviously need to introduce the notion of fiscal responsibility to Congress.  There are so many programs and items that are funded by the federal government that need to be sent back to the states, districts, or counties to fund. Whenever Congress, federal and local governments propose spending our money and raising taxes Congress, teachers, and government officials need to ask themselves at least this one question: Is this item or monetary increase absolutely necessary that it is a must to require my neighbor, friends, and family to reach down deeper in their pockets and pay more in taxes?

Original Post: TeresAmerica

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Do government Health Regulations Cause Hunger?

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Here is the first post of our newest contributor, Teresa, of TeresAmerica.  Please welcome her to the team! -Matt

On December 5th Pope Francis had a private audience with leaders of  “Movimiento de Trabajadores Excluidos” (Excluded Workers Movement) of Argentina where he said:

 “We are living in a throwaway culture where we easily leave over things, but people as well,” the Pope said.
“You recycle and with this, two things are produced: an ecological work, which is necessary, and on the other hand, a production that promotes brotherhood and gives dignity to one’s work, you are creative in your production, but also creative in caring for the earth, of the world in this ecological dimension.”

Wasted food, he continued, “can feed all the hungry people in the world.”

“Be conscious that food should not be wasted, because there are children who are hungry. Thank you for what you do,” he said.

After thinking a bit I came up with this question — Do government health regulations cause hunger, leave the poor hungry?

I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but in the United States restaurants are required to throw away all their food at the end of the night. The health departments regulations forbid restaurants from donating this food. If it wasn’t for government regulations we could have solved the problem of feeding the hungry at least in the U.S.

So, hence excessive govt. regulations causes hunger.

Original Post:  TeresAmerica

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Welcome to Soviet America: Detroit’s Curbs Lead the Way to a More Inept Tomorrow!

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That’s right, comrade!   The future is brighter for the disabled people in the People’s Republic of Detroit!

Either that, or Detroit’s curbs should have been curbed in the first place.  Motor City Times has a hilariously typical example of big government at work…

Friend of MCT, T Shelton sent a link to a very interesting post @ Motor City Muckraker.

MCM has a post giving us a small glimpse into the absurdity that is government bureaucracy run wild (at the local and federal level):

Two years after the city dished out the tax dollars to install the ramps, the Motor City Muckraker examined the whereabouts of thousands of the curb cuts. Here’s what we found:

  • Many of the ramps were installed on sidewalks that are impassable because of overgrowth or collapsed homes.
  • Dozens of curb cuts were found on blocks with no occupied houses.
  • Nearly a quarter of the ramps were improperly installed, damaging sidewalks and property.

“No one ever uses these sidewalks,” Aaron Morgan said of the curb cuts near his house that were installed by the abandoned Packard Plant on the city’s east side. “It’s a joke.”

So how’d this happen? A judge ordered Detroit to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act by installing ramps at intersections for people with disabilities in 2005. Prior to that, the city had improperly installed thousands of curb cuts.

That’s right folks the city probably spent a bajillion dollars on these, and likely hired union labor, so a lot of the money would come back to the union bosses, and then to the democratic party, in the form of campaign donations.   And, since there is no actual accountability in socialist Detroit, it never had to be done correctly in the first place, and frankly never will.

Hey though, think of it this way; if we keep on electing democrats, the rest of the country can look like Detroit too!

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Cash for Clunkers Revisited: More Damage Done

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cash-for-clunkers

For those of you that have been here since almost the beginning, you know that we pegged “Cash for Clunkers” as the huge failure that it was.  Here is what we wrote while the program was ongoing…

The cars traded in on the program are to be destroyed.  Now, in normal situations, a trade in will either go on the dealer lot, go to auction, or go to the junkyard.  In any of those situations, others will have the opportunity to benefit from this car, either by driving it, or by purchasing the usable parts from it.  When the car is destroyed, there is little benefit.  Or is there?  I wrote here about how the new Secretary of Transportation wants to “coerce” people out of their cars and onto public transportation.  Here are some quotes…

The moderator of the press club event asked LaHood: “Some in the highway-supporters motorist groups have been concerned by your livability initiative. Is this an effort to make driving more torturous and to coerce people out of their cars?”

LaHood answered: “It is a way to coerce people out of their cars.

 

And some more…

Lahood then made a joke about the fact that some conservatives believe that the way he wants to use the Department of Transportation represents an increased government intrusion in people’s lives.

“Some conservative groups are wary of the livable communities program, saying it’s an example of government intrusion into people’s lives,” said the moderator. “How do you respond?”

“About everything we do around here is government intrusion in people’s lives,” said LaHood. “So have at it.”

“So have at it.”  Pretty cavalier attitude regarding manipulating the public into a pre-arranged goal, isn’t it?

In the “Cash for Clunkers” plan, how many cars will be taken out of the market?  How many fewer Americans will be able to own a used car due to this?  New cars that are to be made to the messiah’s specifications will be more and more expensive.  To reach the mileage and emissions goals, more, newer technology will have to go in, increasing the cost.  With so many used cars sent to the crusher, where will people go for a car when they cannot afford the newer ones?  Funded with $1,000,000,000, the initial plan was to scrap 250,000 cars.  The congress wants to add another $2,000,000,000 to the plan, does that mean a total of 750,000 cars?   How many people will that “coerce” onto public transportation?

That was in August of 2009.

Here is what we said a little more than a year later…

 

I think we have the answer to my last question, courtesy of Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.

In other words, there was real and rational demand for the cars that the Obama administration sent to the grinders.  That demand hasn’t stopped, even if tainted with political incorrectness.  The top four vehicles for price increases in Edmunds’ used-car tracking are all high-end, larger cars or SUV:

Cadillac Escalade – 35.6% increase
Chevy Suburban – +34.2%
Dodge Grand Caravan – +34%
BMW X5 – +33%

As predicted last year, the people most hurt by the price increases are those who can least afford them.  The used-car market usually attracts people who need transportation on a budget, who cannot afford to buy new.   By destroying a quarter’s worth of trade-ins in three weeks and permanently taking them off the market, the Obama administration has forced an artificial inflation by supply restriction.  Moreover, they did so by subsidizing new-car sales that would have occurred anyway, eating up three billion dollars in taxpayer money.

In other words, the White House spent $3 billion to make used cars more expensive for working-class families.  Nice work.

I’m not claiming to have a gigantic brain with super -predictive powers.  Anyone with half a brain could see this coming.  However, the folks in DC are lacking that half brain, or any other, for that matter.  There is even more for the post mortem on “cash for clunkers.”  Freedomworks has more…

“Cash for Clunkers” allowed drivers to trade their old gas-guzzler for up to $4,500 towards the purchase of a sparkly new green machine. Progressive pundits hailed it as a foolproof win/win/win: The anemic auto industry would sell cars, broke customers would get a sweet deal, and Gaia herself would breathe easier at America’s crystal-clear skies.

Alas, reality begged to differ:

[Cash for Clunkers] created a dearth of used cars, artificially driving up prices. For those who needed an affordable car, but didn’t qualify for the program, this increase in price meant affordable transportation was well out of reach. It also meant used-car dealers, most of whom are independently owned, small-business owners, had little to no stock. According to Smith, 122 Virginia dealers chose not to renew their licenses after that year.

If 122 dealers were put out of business in one state alone, just imagine the damage nationally. And help to the consumer was illusory. The artificial trade-in bonus helped people who couldn’t qualify for a new car loan get saddled with debt they had no hope of repaying. Once financial reality — and higher insurance rates — kicked in, many saw their cars repossessed and their credit ruined. Ultimately, they traded in their affordable ride for a daily bus ticket.

And, there is even worse new from the greenie front…

E – The Environmental Magazine gravely notes that Cash for Clunkers produced tons of unnecessary waste while doing almost nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Shredding vehicles results in its own environmental nightmare. For each ton of metal produced by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of “shredding residue” is also produced, which includes polyurethane foams, metal oxides, glass and dirt. All totaled, about 4.5 million tons of that residue is already produced on average every year. Where does it go? Right into a landfill.

E Magazine states recycling just the plastic and metal alone from the CARS scraps would have saved 24 million barrels of oil. While some of the “Clunkers” were truly old, many of the almost 700,000 cars were still in perfectly good condition. In fact, many that qualified for the program were relatively “young,” with fuel efficiencies that rivalled newer cars.

So, it cost jobs, and was even worse for the environment.  And everyone saw that, but they did it anyway.  It looked good, and it “felt” good, so it really didn’t matter if it actually made things worse.

Once again, Quinn’s First Law is proven…

 

Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of it’s stated intent. 

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Government Spent Enough on Welfare in 2011 to Give Each Family in Poverty Over $59,000 Each

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A long term criticism of social programs, especially the entitlements, has been the massive waste associated with them.  Recently, a report was released that shows that if Welfare spending was concentrated, each family in poverty over $59,000 each.  CNS News has more…

According to a report from the CRS produced for Sen. Jeff Sessions(R-Ala.), $1 trillion was spent on federal welfare programs during fiscal year 2011 – with $746 billion in federal funds and $254 in state matching funds.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were approximately 16.8 million households living below the federal poverty level of $23,000 per year for a family of four in 2011. ( See:  2011 Households Below Poverty 2011.pdf)

If each of the estimated 16.8 million households with income below the poverty level were to have received an equal share of the total welfare spending for fiscal year 2011, they each would have received $59,523.

Um, that’s more than my salary.  Not only that, does the assistance that they receive equal that amount?    I doubt it.  However, I think the following, from the same article, sums it up nicely…

In other words, if the government were to discontinue its myriad federal welfare programs, such as housing vouchers, food stamps, and Medicaid, and instead just wrote every poor household a check, it would nearly quadruple their income: increasing it from at most $23,000 per year to nearly $83,000 per year.

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ObamaPhone Hilarity: Over 250,000 Have More Than One

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When you give away free stuff things that other people are paying for, you have to expect some fraud and abuse along the way.  For a great example, we need to look no further than the infamous ObamaPhone.  But, it seems that people are loving their free paid for by us phones so much, they can’t stop at just one.  Liberty News has the story…

Note that Obama’s own minions found that more than 250,000 people have more than one ObamaPhone.   I guess it’s probably racist to point that out, right?

To lighten the mood a bit, All American Blogger has the top five viral videos regarding the ObamaPhone…

He has a few more, get over there and check them out.

And remember, don’t you dare call it dependency!

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If Teachers Were Paid Minimum Wage to Babysit Students They Would Make $189K/year?

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Some people claim that teachers’ are overpaid- they argue that teachers’ only work 9 or 10 months a year and basically most teachers simply babysit kids today. And for that they should be paid a minimum wage.

That’s right- people claim that we should pay teachers $7.50 (roughly the minimum wage in most states) an hour and only pay them for the hours they worked (not any of that silly planning time or any time they spend before or after school). That would be $48.75 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

So, in summary each parent should pay $48.75 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Teachers only work about 180 days a year, so that works out to $8775 each year in childcare (per kid) to have teachers babysit your children. That’s a little high for daycare, but is pretty darn close to what some of us pay for our own kids for childcare.

But hold on- let’s look at this from the teacher’s perspective. The average classroom size in America is 23 students. So that means to babysit these students each day the teacher brings in $48.75 x 23 = $1052 a day. If the teacher brings in $1052/day and works 180 days a year, this teacher brings in $189,360.

The average teacher’s salary is about $55,000 though. That’s about $134K less than expected.

Many in the public sector and many union people would argue that the failure here is that people are not paying enough for education- they want higher taxes, more money sent into education, more government control over the process, and more centralized control over education in general coming from Washington DC. They suggest that taxes should be levied on businesses, individuals, homes, and goods that we buy to increase the amount of money that is churned into the education establishment and that if this happened than teachers would be paid more. Probably a bit of the wealth that is extracted from free citizens would in fact find its way to teachers- but this whole argument is missing an important idea- why is so much of parents’ money not finding its way into the classroom now?

The problem is not that government isn’t involved enough here- the problem is that government is too involved in education today. Teachers are being robbed of the wealth that should flow to them for the services that they provide- $134K per year per teacher is being sucked away by non-classroom teachers such as union employees, government bureaucrats, and other useless waste on the system. Oh, some of that money obviously goes to cover administration, those children who free-load because their parents can’t afford to pay, the building costs, bus drivers, and the cost of technology and textbooks- but I doubt that those costs would eat away all of that $134 per teacher per year.

The problem is that education is the government is interfering with the market for supply and demand for education and is running horribly inefficiently. To solve these problems, we need to strengthen the connection between parents paying for education (through local property taxes or direct payments to schools) and the connection between teachers being paid for providing education to these children (without having that money cycle through government bureaucrats all around the United States).

I’m sure my math on this subject is far off, and of course teachers provide much greater service than babysitting, but maybe I’m on to something here- maybe government is not the solution to the problem in education, maybe government is the problem?

Original Post:  A Conservative Teacher

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$16 to Serve Hamburgers on Amtrak Trains?

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Yes, you read the title correctly.  It costs our government $16 to serve crappy quality, microwavable hamburgers on Amtrak.  However, to make up for it, they sell them for $9.50!  Bloomberg has more…

I live in New York City, so I’ve eaten my share of $16 hamburgers. If a hamburger costs that much, it’s usually pretty good. It had better be!

But that’s not true if you’re on Amtrak. At a congressional hearing yesterday, we learned that the agency’s on-board, microwave-in-bag hamburgers cost $16 to serve, even though the agency only charges travelers $9.50 to buy one.

The purpose of the hearing was to examine why Amtrak’s food service operations have lost $800 million over the last 10 years. The answer is, apparently, that it costs Amtrak a ton of money to serve food that is mostly pretty terrible.

Why doesn’t Amtrak do this? Nick Rahall, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has one answer. He says Amtrak food service jobs are well-paying, and we shouldn’t eliminate them, even if the food service is expensive and terrible. “It’s a whopper of an idea, trading good-paying jobs for cheaper hamburgers,” said Rahall.

And this is the government that we want to provide health care, build roads, and (gasp) run more, albeit high speed rail?

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Get Your Free Obama Phone

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“Call me; I need campaign money.”

He never delivered on the Obamamaniac’s desires for him to pay for their mortgage and gas, but Barack Obama  can give you a free phone. (Question: Since when does a government program have a .net address?)

Predictably, if you’re already sucking on the government teat, you automatically qualify for a phone:

If you, or members in your household are, receiving the following benefits you automatically qualify for the Lifeline program. Those interested in the program must have an income of less than 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. (For example in the 48 Contiguous States and D.C the income level is $22,350 per year for a family of four.)

  • Food Stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income – commonly known as SSI
  • Health Benefit Coverage under Child Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)
  • The National School Lunch Program’s Free Lunch Program.
  • Low-Income Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance ( Section 8 )
  • If you are a low-income Eligible Resident of Tribal Lands
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families – TANF

Last year, the federal program paid out $1.6 billion to cover free cell phones and the monthly bills of 12.5 million wireless accounts. Naturally an audit showed that many people getting you to pay for their phones were taking more than their “fair share.”

269,000 wireless Lifeline subscribers were receiving free phones and monthly service from two or more carriers.

You can imagine the number of participants is only going to climb. I mean, it’s not like that money could be used to create jobs jobs jobs, or something.

But jobs have never been Obama’s top priority; getting re-elected has. Does he really think giving someone a free phone will buy their vote?

Oh. Wait.

H/T: Weasel Zippers

Original Post:  Feed Your ADHD

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Shovel Ready? $11,000,000 Spent-two People Helped!

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For government work, that’s a bargain, apparently.  We said that when the porkulus passed, that there would be tremendous waste and corruption.  So, when the following came to light, I was not surprised.  Michelle Malkin has more on the shenanigans in Detroit.  

Part of an $11 million grant intended to provide business attire to 400 low-income job-seekers instead helped only two people, an audit of the city’s Department of Human Services has found.

The audit, conducted by the city’s auditor general for the period from July 2009 to September 2011, found the department failed to control the operations and finances of a boutique that was to provide the clothes.

The department did not safeguard grant funds or create an inventory for the clothing, the audit found.
[…]
“The DHS was only able to provide the auditors with two referral forms signed by two clients documenting that they received clothing from the boutique,” the audit said. “Eligible Detroiters are not being served with available clothing being stocked in the boutique.”

The department did not give a reason for not reaching the goal of providing 400 people with clothes.

Detroit’s Department of Human Services must be a training ground forDepartment of Energy clean energy loan officers.

As rdbrewer pointed out at Ace of Spades, assuming the entire $11 million was earmarked for the job seeker “service center,” even if they met their goal of helping clothe 400 people in business attire, that would have still worked out to $27,500 per person. Where did they plan on taking these people to shop? Oscar de la Renta?

Yes, there you have it.  $11,000,000 spent to buy clothes for two people!  We probably shouldn’t go looking too hard for where all the money went, though it wouldn’t surprise me if some local Democratic party officials have nice new swimming pools and cars.

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Nanny State Alert: LA Unified School District’s Healthy Meals Make Students ill, Cause them to eat more Junk Food

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Here’s the scenario; government identifies an invented problem, or creates one via nonsensical policies.  Then, they propose to solve the problem with even more government.  Since government is force, and totally inept at solving problems, they tend to create even more problems.  Sometimes, it’s tragic. Other times, its hilarious.

This is one of those hilarious situations.

It seems that the LA Unified  School District discovered that their school lunches were not healthy enough.  So, in typical nanny fashion, they likely hired experts, held meetings, and decided that they would be the agents of change to save the youth from a lifetime of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease (until the IPAB decides that they are no longer worth keeping alive).  The result is typically liberal-not that they get that the joke is on them.  Here are the rib tickling details, from the LA Times…

It’s lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day’s fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don’t even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it “nasty, rotty stuff.” So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.

“This is our daily lunch,” Iraides says. “We’re eating more junk food now than last year.”

Quinn’s First Law:  Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent.

For many students, L.A. Unified’s trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.

There’s just one problem: Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they’re suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving.

I’m actually having a hard time responding-it’s so funny.  Did they think that people would willingly eat rabbit food?  Actually, I think that most self respecting bunnies would reject that dreck, but I could be wrong.

On the serious side, our would-be nanny overlords, as usual, display no knowledge of human nature.  In their effort to “perfect and protect us,” they tell us what we can and cannot consume, what we can or cannot do, and the like.  When they dictate and control, people find ways to do it anyway.  Then, it becomes a cat and mouse game, with regulators and regular citizens creatively bypassing each other.  But guess what? In the end, freedom always wins.  In the end, even Communism, the greatest nannies (and murderers) in history,  collapsed under it’s own failure.

That, and forget the drugs, some kid nicknamed “Ronald Freaking McDonald” is going to pay for his college education by selling black market Big Macs in the hallways!

Linked at Memeorandum!

Related story at Lonely Conservative

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And we need another Porkulus? To fund more cars from Finland?

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If you’ve been following the current debate over Porkulus 1000.0, you’ve heard a lot rehashed rhetoric from the original effort back in 2009.  Of course, we all know how that worked out…

  • Turtle Tunnels
  • Billions in funds going to Congressional Districts and Zip Codes that do not exist.
  • Solyndra
  • Fish Sperm
  • Curb cuts in places where there are no sidewalks
  • Increased unemployment
  • Lib organizations that claimed more jobs saved than their total number of employees
  • More money going to districts that voted for Obama, only to see their unemployment rates increase even more.
  • “Shovel ready” projects that were apparently not so “shovel ready.”
  • A trillion dollars in unsustainable debt.

Even the veep is in on the act, promising more rape if we do not pass the latest boondoggle.

Joe Biden’s Clock

Now, we have yet another example of what happens with Porkulus funding.  Apparently, an electric car maker got over a half a billion dollars-to build them in Finland.  

In a stunningly wasteful move, apparently made with no research, the Obama administration approved a loan to Fisker Karma, makers of sporty electric vehicles… that can’t even be produced in the US.

Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.

“There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle,” the car company’s founder and namesake told ABC News. “They don’t exist here.”

And what would yet another botched Obama green-jobs-stimulus measure be without cronyism… starring Mr. Green Fallacies himself:

The loan to Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers producing sporty – and pricey – cutting-edge autos. Fisker Automotive, backed by a powerhouse venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore, predicts it will eventually be churning out tens of thousands of electric sports sedans at the shuttered GM factory it bought in Delaware. And Tesla Motors, whose prime backers include PayPal mogul Elon Musk and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, says it will do the same in a massive facility tooling up in Silicon Valley.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no animosity towards Finland, but why did our government give this company money, when they ended up going to Finland to build the cars?

But, if we let them do it again, it will be completely different, won’t it?

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There Will Be No Instant Gratification

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Nile Gardiner, based in Washington and writing for The Telegraph, has analysed current polls and believes that end of big nanny government may be in sight. Here are some of the poll results that he sites:

  •  81 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, which comes from 65% Democrats and 92% Republicans. And from a Gallop poll, he reports
  •  57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010. And
  •  Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago. And
  • 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.

I certainly find these numbers encouraging. It would appear that there is great change taking place in the average American’s attitude about government being able to solve all of society’s woes.  People do seem to be waking-up to the fact we can not continue to borrow money  that no amount of future generations can ever pay off because we will forever be borrowing more and more money that is worth less and less.

Yet, I wonder how many of these people who were polled understand how much their life is going to change as the country transitions from the nanny state to something closer or even equal to what our founders had in mind. I wonder how many of these people think that, by electing a different set of politicians, they will bring about the instant gratification the people seek.

I wonder how many people have thought about what  is going to happen when they get smack in the face by reality. There are very few Americans that will not be affected by the end of the nanny state. Think about all the people who are recipients of money handed out by the nanny state. Think about how many people are employed by the nanny state on the federal, state and, local level. Think about how many businesses sell goods and services to the nanny state on all levels.

Folks,  the big government elitist and the bankster led us down this path of destruction; but, we can not escape our own culpability in following them. We are in a very deep hole. I’m wondering how many Americans will accept the reality  and work shoulder to shoulder to climb out of hole and rebuild our country based on sound  monetary and fiscal policies; and how many Americans are going to deny the reality  and fight the necessary changes.

I think it would be naive to think we will avoid the violence that has rocked and continues to rock countries like Greece.  The Greeks, of course, followed the nanny state elitist and banksters much further down the path than we have. They are only the first country that has to face the fail of the nanny state.  You may want to read this AP Yahoo News article on the most recent plans of protest in Greece and then watch this short video. I s this an example of what is in store for America?

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

Original Post:  Conservatives on Fire

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Graph: Unemployment Rates Projected with and without the Passage of Stimulus Bill II

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Stimulus I not only didn’t work, it probably made the unemployment rate go higher by transferring available funds from private investment and savings to spending by government, making the marketplace more uncertain, preventing the free markets from self-correcting on bad investments, and discouraging savings and efficiency gains.

Democrats promised that if this one-time only trillion dollars in spending was enacted, it would prevent unemployment from going above 9% and would shorten the length of time of recovery. But the spending was permanent and unemployment went above 10%, sharply increasing shortly after the passage of Stimulus Bill 1, and has now settled into a new post-stimulus normal unemployment rate of 9%.

So, in light of this epic failure and waste of money, what President Barack Obama, the nominee in 2012 for the Democratic Party, suggest, supported and applauded by Democrats in Congress? More of the same! So, taking the lessons that we learned as a nation from stimulus bill I, I have projected the likely courses for unemployment if we don’t pass the stimulus bill II and if we do pass stimulus bill II. Feel free to share:

Original Post:  A Conservative Teacher
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