Police, firefighters, and teachers! Oh my!

Fate can be a lot of things, but mostly it seems to be cruel.  A lot of folks have been agitating of late to reduce the size of government.  I count myself among them.  Remember when a trillion dollars was an unimaginable amount of money?  At the federal level we now forecast trillion dollar annual deficits for the rest of our lives.

But what are we to do?  As Barack Obama so frequently reminds us, the slightest downward trajectory in government spending will result in massive layoffs of police, firefighters, and teachers.  Oh cruel fate!  America desperately needs to cut spending and the only option is thinning the ranks of the three most popular, poll-tested categories of government worker!  Won’t someone please think of the children!

Now at this point some of us might wonder how cutting spending at the federal level would affect state and local budgets.  We’d be accused of wanting to cut firefighters, police, and teachers for asking out loud, naturally.  But seriously, D.C. is like a pusher keeping the states addicted to deficit budgets with annual infusions of cash.  Why the hell should fiscally sane states subsidize basket cases California, Illinois, and the like?  Ideological redistributionism.  Rewarding the most progressive, and subsequently brokest, at the expense of the prudent.

Damn the luck.  If only there were some areas other than police, firefighters, and teachers where state and local governments could make the kinds of difficult decisions companies across the U.S. have to make when budgets tighten.  HP announced they’re laying of 25,000 people.  Doing just fine.  On the plus side, outside of any settlement agreement HP won’t be paying those terminated workers 75%+ of their base salary or covering their health care for the balance of their lives.

I believe everyone would agree that state and local governments provide many essential services independent of police, firefighters, and teachers.  Don’t try and tell me a cop is more important than a sewer worker or a teacher is better than a garbage man.  Being important or popular doesn’t protect you in the private sector when budgets have to be cut.  Why should it be unfathomable for public workers suffer the same fate?

“I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedExare doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the post office that’s always having problems.”

That comment provoked laughter from the audience.

Asked to clarify, the White House said Obama was pointing out that while core Postal Service services are different from those offered by UPS and FedEx, it has not undermined the competitive spirit of the private shipping industry.

The audience laughed riotously as Barnack the Magnificent opened each hermetically sealed envelope and read the answer, “More Government Spending,” for every question, completely unaware it was not done in irony.  It never occurs to him that bureaucrats spending other people’s money have absolutely no incentive to drive efficiencies and continuous improvement.  Wanna know why core USPS service differ from those offered by UPS and FedEx?  There’s a federal law that prevents anyone but the USPS from delivering mail.  Do you even wonder whether they could do it cheaper and better than the USPS were that law repealed?

But I digress.  We’re discussing state and local spending.  And state/local governments would never impose legal barriers to providing services in competition with publicly funded institutions.  Interestingly the census bureau has data on state and local employees.  I’ve reproduced one of the tables in full below:

Appendix Table A-1.Categories of Employees at the State and Local Level by Function in 2010

Function

Total full-time and part-time employment nationally

Coefficient of variation (percent)

Percentage of total government employment

Percentage employed at the local level

Total U.S. Employment. .. . . . . . . . . .

19,599,463

0.05

100.0

72.8

Education.

11,132,752

0.12

56.8

76.0

Elementary and secondary education.

7,917,038

0.16

40.4

99.2

Instructional employees.

5,355,239

0.16

27.3

99.2

Other employees.

2,561,799

0.15

13.1

99.2

 

 

Higher education.

3,121,471

0.05

15.9

19.6

Instructional employees.

1,113,481

0.09

5.7

26.5

Other employees.

2,007,990

0.04

10.2

15.7

 

 

Other education.

94,243

0.00

0.5

0.00

Hospitals.

1,076,575

0.12

5.5

59.3

Police protection .

1,009,639

0.13

5.2

89.2

Persons with power of arrest.

727,954

0.13

3.7

90.5

 

 

 

Correction.

743,371

0.08

3.8

35.9

Highways.

546,612

0.12

2.8

56.9

Public welfare .

534,718

0.18

2.7

54.9

Health .

481,456

0.15

2.5

58.5

Judicial and legal.

449,896

0.09

2.3

59.7

Financial administration.

422,968

0.10

2.2

60.1

Fire protection.

420,769

0.22

2.1

100.0

Firefighters.

388,165

0.21

2.0

100.0

 

 

Other government administration .

418,658

0.12

2.1

85.8

Parks and recreation.

408,988

0.23

2.1

89.7

Transit .

243,857

0.19

1.2

86.5

Natural resources .

203,516

0.06

1.0

24.0

Libraries.

188,888

0.23

1.0

99.6

Water supply.

181,316

0.22

0.9

99.6

Sewerage .

132,842

0.23

0.7

98.7

Solid waste management .

119,058

0.22

0.6

98.1

Housing and community development.

118,314

0.38

0.6

100.0

Social insurance administration.

92,107

0.00

0.5

0.5

Electric power .

80,091

0.38

0.4

94.8

Air transportation.

49,225

0.30

0.3

93.6

Water transport and canals.

13,533

0.27

0.1

64.3

Gas supply.

12,003

0.36

0.1

100.0

State liquor stores.

11,796

0.00

0.1

0.00

All other and unallocable.

506,515

0.11

2.6

61.1

 

Out of twenty million total state and local government employees, there are 6,471,000 actual police, firefighters, and teachers.  I exclude higher education, mostly because a professor would bristle at being called a teacher.  That and because higher education is essential like a jaunty feather for your pimp hat.

Does the fact there are over 1.1 million professors at public colleges in the U.S. strike anyone as rather high?  What about the two million other employees?  At the ElHi level there are two teachers to each “other employee.”  At university there are two “other employees” for each professor.  Surely that has nothing to do with the higher education bubble.

It has been said that police, firefighters, and teachers are on the chopping block because of supposed austerity.  Others have said we must raise taxes to stave off the wholesale firing of police, firefighters, and teachers.  I reject those false choices and say you made your bed – with lavish public pensions and runaway spending – and now it’s time to lay with dogs and accept your fleas.  Fix it or get out of the way.

“I mean, if you think about it, Sidwell Friends School is doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the public school that’s always having problems.”

That comment provoked laughter from the audience.

Asked to clarify, the White House said Obama was pointing out that while core public school services are different from those offered by Sidwell Friends School, it has not undermined the competitive spirit of the private education industry.

Funny how a man who fights tooth and nail to kill school choice unabashedly insulates his own children from the cruel fate he’s dictating for so many poor children.  I know, if you return money to parents for education they may not spend it the right way.  The public schoolhouse holds an iconic place in Americans’ souls alongside the buggy whip and curative galvanic belt.  It would be cruel and foolish to cast aside an address-centric educational system which produces occasional islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity for a risky scheme involving willy-nilly free choice of schools as parents see fit.

Barack the Pragmatic.  Remember him?  The guy T. Coddington Voorhees fell in love with?  What a bunch of schmucks.  Who in their right mind could look at his history, public elected history, and see anything but a partisan ideological blowhard?  Police, firefighters, and teachers.  Does that still resonate after a thousand utterances?  Obama is laughably range-limited and one dimensional.

I know you want to pound your opponent early but Romney has to be keeping his powder dry at this point in the campaign.  Obama has so many markers out there.  There was a time when I averred to spurn Romney should he win the nomination.  I don’t entirely trust him or his instincts.  Which politician can’t you say that about, though?  What’s encouraging is his campaign being completely on the ball.  He’s hired good people and they’re acting decisively.  As a professional recruiter I respect that in an executive.

Now that he’s not debating other Republicans Romney has been quite good.   I expect him to do well against an incumbent with a bag of economic nothing whose messaging is trite and predictable.  Police, firefighters, and teachers.  More like TSA agents, Department of Labor attorneys, and healthcare administrators, am I right?   Oh cruel fate!

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Posted by on June 13, 2012.
Filed under Barack Obama.
Tagged with: .
Baron Von Ottomatic was voted "Most Likely To Spend Time in a Methadone Clinic" by his high school classmates.

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  • GarandFan

    Police, firefighters, and teachers.

    Baron, what better way to frighten the proles and keep them in line. After all, we don’t want to fire the University’s 1st Vice President for Diversity Oversight and Implementation.

  • Stan Brewer

    Keep the teachers. firemen and police officers that work down in the trenches. The ones that need to go are the deadwood i e the secretaries, assistant secretaries and their assistants and on down the line that is taking up space and making it harder for the ones that are in the trenches to do their jobs. Another place that could be cut are the oversight boards. Yeah those ones that question the motives of every decision that the above trench worker makes, but have never even walked a beat, fought a fire or taught in the classroom to see what the job was really like.

  • Commander_Chico

    higher education is essential like a jaunty feather for your pimp hat.

    Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? No recognition of the value of affordable higher education as a driver for economic growth and a vehicle for social mobility. That is not a controversial idea among economists of any ideological pole, right or left.

    Graduates of state colleges have been adding value as highly-productive managers, engineers, research scientists for years, Nowadays, higher education is more important, as Americans compete for jobs in a globalized economy which will move your job to India in a second if it can find someone there who’s more productive and cheaper. The knowledge economy requires knowledge, duh. So higher education is an investment in economic growth. Even the gender studies majors end up adding more value to the economy than non-grads. You have a fundamental misunderstanding of the bases for economic growth – education is one of them.

    But we are faced with a situation where only tax cuts and public employment cuts are in the frame. A small group at the top wants it all. The rest will be poor and ig’nrant. Don’t ask me why, it seems counterproductive to me, and history has shown it’s a bad idea.

    Cut, cut, cut public benefits. The wars aren’t even over yet, and the elite are gearing up to screw veterans. See this article from Stars and Stripes (and Chico’s comments thereto):
    http://www.stripes.com/news/us/pentagon-soon-to-spend-more-on-vets-benefits-than-active-personnel-study-says-1.180176

    Not to mention, there has been no growth in government employment during this recession, in fact a decline: (see graph here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/public-sector-austerity-in-one-graph/2012/06/11/gJQAv89NVV_blog.html ). Maybe that’s why we’re stuck in a recession, no demand.

    • herddog505

      Yes, because it’s so important for the US to lead the world in the number of graduates in French Existentialist Feminist Theory, or PhD’s specializing in Transgendered Womyn in the Mid-16th Century Holy Roman Empire.
      We struggle to get kids into science, math and engineering, but we DARE not cut funding for the department of underwater basket weaving, or reduce spending on the student center / food court / coffee bar.
      How DID college kids make it – nay, even SURVIVE – back in the primitive days when there weren’t at least three Starbucks on campus???

      • Commander_Chico

        When I went to college, you had group requirements in writing, humanities and science to get any degree. It’s called “well-rounded” education. I don’t get into the business of being dictator and agitating to censor the courses I don’t like.

        That is part of the academic freedom which makes U.S. universities attractive from overseas.

        FWIW, I think French Existentialist Feminist Theory has its place. Why not take a course in it, you might gain from another perspective.

        • herddog505

          If we’re paying for these courses with borrowed money – so much borrowed money that we’re jeopardizing the jobs of police, firemen, and teachers – then I think it’s VERY reasonable to wonder if we’re getting actual bang for our buck. Further, given the apparent problems with student loan debt (i.e. kids are being crushed by the weight of their loans), maybe we need to reeevaluate whether this type of “well-rounded” is a good idea. Finally, nobody suggests that the humanities be ditched entirely. However, when people are MAJORING in ridiculous, pointless things like French Existentialist Feminist Theory, I think that there’s a real problem somewhere.

          • Commander_Chico

            How about philosophy at all? Why not cut that totally? And art history? Or history altogether?

          • jim_m

            How about not offering the same sort of loans for those degrees and creating an incentive to get a degree in something useful. How about encouraging people to major in something useful and then to minor in something interesting but unproductive. I got myself a degree in Medical Technology, which gave me useful skills and which would give any graduate today an instant job almost anywhere in the country, and I minored in Philosophy. I would say that both have been beneficial to me.

            You can be a productive member of society and be educated too. The problem is that academia places far too much emphasis on degrees that do not offer any useful application. My brother-in-law recently told me of a young man he interviewed for a job and the kid had a history degree from a state college in Michigan. It turns out that the degree he received was not one that prepared him to teach or positioned him for graduate school. It was the equivalent of 4 years of the history channel – not detailed enough to be useful and incapable of advancing him in any sort of career. This kid was grossly used by the college or university he attended.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            And yet he’ll still have to pay for that education.

          • Commander_Chico

            Four years of the History Channel nowadays would qualify you to work in a pawn shop, drive a truck on ice roads, or be a logger. that’s just my comment on the History Channel.

            That aside, I agree with you that some types of education and student loans are scamming students.

            I was a history major, but I was able to get a commission out of it, thanks to Reagan’s/Lehman’s 600 ship Navy.

          • herddog505

            I agree. If I’m going to pay for a kid to go to college, he’d either:
            (A) get a useful degree, or;
            (B) be some damned good in his chosen field that it’s worth something to society.
            Having some semi-educated snotnose coming out of college after six years of blowing his student loans on the Epistomology of Star Wars and enough beer to float the Eisenhower doesn’t seem to me a good way to spend our money.
            I should add that, IMO, the really touchy-feely, worthless degree areas would dry up if colleges didn’t (A) FORCE students to take those courses and (B) provide E-Z financing for easy A’s.

      • ackwired

        At least we could lead the world in something other than death by handgun.

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          [citation required]

          Still

          • ackwired

            Kids in America are 12 times more likely to be killed by a gun than kids in 25 other industrialized nations combined.The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children aged less than 15 years was nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
            Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Rates of Homicide, Suicide, and Firearm-Related Death Among Children – 26 Industrialized Countries,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 46(05): 101-105, February 07, 1997.
            More Americans were killed by guns than by war in the 20th Century.More Americans were killed with guns in the 18-year period between 1979 and 1997 (651,697), than were killed in battle in all wars since 1775 (650,858). And while a sharp drop in gun homicides has contributed to a decline in overall gun deaths since 1993, the 90′s will likely exceed the death toll of the 1980s (327,173) and end up being the deadliest decade of the century. By the end of the 1990s, an estimated 350,000 Americans will have been killed in non-military-related firearm incidents during the decade.
            Handgun Control 12/30/99 (Press release from CDC data)

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            15 years ago. That’s not just an old study, it’s a crusty one well beloved of gun grabbers. Homocide rates dropped by 18% between 1997 and 2007. No wonder you were so reticent to share and then provided no links.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            15 years ago. That’s not just an old study, it’s a crusty one well beloved of gun grabbers. Homocide rates dropped by 18% between 1997 and 2007. No wonder you were so reticent to share and then provided no links.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


    Why the hell should fiscally sane states subsidize basket cases California, Illinois, and the like?

    You might want to look at red states that have to rely on federal funds to stay out of the red.

    Does the fact there are over 1.1 million professors at public colleges in the U.S. strike anyone as rather high?

    Wow… An attack on teachers? Seriously?

    It has been said that police, firefighters, and teachers are on the chopping block because of supposed austerity. Others have said we must raise taxes to stave off the wholesale firing of police, firefighters, and teachers. I reject those false choices and say you made your bed – with lavish public pensions and runaway spending – and now it’s time to lay with dogs and accept your fleas. Fix it or get out of the way.

    What lavish pensions and runaway spending? You have anything to contradict this? How about quitting the false equivalency and get some facts up on the board here? If you say that Obama is to blame, prove it. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the one rejecting expenditures that the GOP House decided to block and blame on him since his inauguration. I’m sure there’s plenty of other reasons to not like Obama. But at least keep the story straight by bringing up the facts about the so called “runaway spending” instead of running on a half rant.

    It would be cruel and foolish to cast aside an address-centric educational system which produces occasional islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity for a risky scheme involving willy-nilly free choice of schools as parents see fit.

    Please. Spare us the notion that the private voucher system of schooling will actually work.

    Who in their right mind could look at his history, public elected history, and see anything but a partisan ideological blowhard?

    Whoa… This is far different from other names such as being a leftist socialist Muslim who’s destroying the government.

    What’s encouraging is his campaign being completely on the ball.

    HAAAAHAHAHA!

    He’s hired good people and they’re acting decisively.

    Who? Like he’s going to put John Bolton back in charge who wants to put us in a war with Iran, Russia, Syria, and other places at the same time?

    Or maybe Colin Powell’s message of Romney actually thinking was lost on you. Good people acting decisively would have prevented Romney from making that gaffe in the first place.

    Wow, so sad that this article is so poor in details and filled with hyperbole…

    • jim_m

      Spare us the notion that the private voucher system of schooling will actually work.

      Yeah, why allow people to make choices when the government has demonstrated so convincingly that it will ALWAYS make better choices than any given individual. Why don’t you spare us the empty lefty ideology without any factual back up, Jay.

      • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

        Would have been nice to have a voucher to offset the cost of the little guy’s education. We could have left him in the public school system (where we were the schools were so bad we could have saved a decade by simply teaching him to say ‘Would you like fries with that?’) but figured it was worth the extra expense to send him to private school.
        I was told at one point I should keep my son in public schools and work to improve them. I laughed – why should I spend time and effort attempting to fix what the public school teachers and administration won’t? At least in a private school there’s an expectation that what the teachers do actually works – or they don’t stay employed as teachers very long.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

          Truly depends. Some private schools are good just the same as public schools. But going to a private voucher system is far worse in the states that it’s implemented.

          • SCSIwuzzy

            Data?

          • jim_m

            Jay doesn’t offer actual data. He makes claims that offering a voucher actually limits choice because some people still cannot afford private school. He makes claims that it forces people to attend religious schools and get religious indoctrination they object to . He claims that religious education is by definition substandard failing to recognize that the only rationale for such a determination is his own prejudice. He claims that vouchers are unconstitutional and then points to a link that shows hat they are not but might violate some state constitutions (and then fails to show where it has been shown to do so).

            In other words, Jay knows they are far worse based pretty much on ideological grounds alone.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Jim, quit trying to talk for others. It makes you look like a sore loser.

            Indiana and Louisiana use the vouchers the most.

            But go ahead Jimbo. Name one country besides the US that uses the voucher and has success. Since you seem to want to say my info is bad, yours must be better. I’m now interested in you citing your sources of superior skill.

          • jim_m

            Nice try on moving the goal posts. It isn’t about finding some other country that uses vouchers. It is about whether or not the public schools are actually doing what they are supposed to . You are obviously arguing that they are and that in the rare event that they are not the right solution is to keep on doing the same thing and expect that things will miraculously improve

            Show me where adding money to education in the US has actually improved some large city schools system. Show me where doing the same failing thing over and over again actually resulted in a sustained success.

            You are arguing that we should not try anything else but the failed public school system. I have outlined my objections to your arguments below as being founded in anti-religious ignorance and pro union BS. You’ve shown nothing to me that proves otherwise. You’ve not linked to actual data, although you demand that of others. Your one big link was to an ideological rant that was full of false assumptions and anti-religious bigotry.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


            It isn’t about finding some other country that uses vouchers.

            Not moving any goal posts. The programs have been used in other countries. It still hasn’t been successful in the times that it’s been used. That’s the point here. You know… Facts? They aren’t as elusive as you think.

            You are obviously arguing that they are and that in the rare event that they are not the right solution is to keep on doing the same thing and expect that things will miraculously improve

            Nope. I don’t know how you read that but you’re wrong. As I’ve shown at least twice now, I’ve discussed how there are ways to improve public schools but the voucher program isn’t it. Sure, you can find schools that are great but you have to pay more or you have failing schools that you want to ignore but do go on.

            Show me where adding money to education in the US has actually improved some large city schools system.

            MIT has an open software movement. Further, there are a number of experiments in using the internet to teach students while resources are sparse through budgets. Also, the lessons of other nations continues to ring true. If you want true change, it’s not going to be done by making schools compete. The problem in education is that we haven’t closed the gap when compared to other countries that teach in different methods.

            Show me where doing the same failing thing over and over again actually resulted in a sustained success.

            The voucher program is the same failing program done over and over and over. But do go on. The more you attack public education (since there are schools in other nations far better than the US without voucher programs) the more it’s looking poor for your argument.

            You are arguing that we should not try anything else but the failed public school system.

            If it was a failed experiment, then why is Norway and Finland some of the top schools for primary education? Hell, even Asia’s educational system is beating us. Where does equal access actually fail, Jim? Where has a competitive system that adheres to making access to educational tools disparate actually work? Show me that. Show me the success of the private system in aggregate. If it becomes a system that is top in the world and promotes Louisiana and Indiana to the top of the charts, I’ll root for the system. If not, then it’s not doing its job which is truly inherent on the surface. It’s making access to education unequal to all students involved. That’s a problem if you truly believe that students should be the first thing for educators to worry about.

            . You’ve shown nothing to me that proves otherwise. You’ve not linked to actual data, although you demand that of others.

            Jim, you’ve NEVER linked to data. NEVER. You get on your high horse, act as if you’re the very best in your arguments which are filled with fallacious ad homs then you act as if you’ve suddenly defeated Grendel and you’re Beowulf. I ask YOU specifically for data for your cause and you can’t prove it. I’ve at the very least shown you why this program is inherently dubious for actually educating kids of lower income families. You haven’t touched that argument since I’ve pointed out how it’s a false equivalency fallacy. So yes, you’re damn right I’m going to ask you to cite your sources. That’s what a debate is all about. If your argument had merit, you would want to prove how it’s much better by not forcing it on people that believe otherwise, but through the actual data gathered on what is working quite well.

            From what I’ve gathered, the data suggests that voucher programs have disparate results. I’m glad that JLawson found a good school for them. But again, the data suggests that the program is spotty at best. Then you have problems with the educators that can affect the educational process. The fact remains that a lot of accountability is lost and that’s a tragedy when it comes to actually teaching in the public versus private sector.

            So go ahead Jim. There’s more data for you. Of course, I’m biased against vouchers because I’ve read the data. Maybe that’s something you could do instead of spouting your nonsense that doesn’t prove anything but how implacable your position is.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            “If it was a failed experiment, then why is Norway and Finland some of the top schools for primary education?”

            Just off the top of my head, I’d think… a homogenous population, with some serious expectations of appropriate behavior by the child in the school and by the parents at home, and a culture that values education highly… coupled with a willingness to spend much more on a per-capita basis to create a good school system and the ability to take a teacher that’s not performing well and dump them.

            But that’d just be what I think it would need. I’m not a good judge of such, after all, not having gone through years of college to get a high-level degree in education. ;)

            We don’t have the first, or the second (in a lot of cases), or (in a lot more cases) the third in the general population. You cannot teach a child that’s not willing to learn, no matter how much money you throw at the problem.

            We definitely don’t have the last item.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            You can look at my other comments for details. I’m sure that’s the first thing you’ll ignore though.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Louisiana which has a great little private prison system that leads the world in incarcerations. Now they want privatized school systems. That’s a horrible combination.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


        Why don’t you spare us the empty lefty ideology without any factual back up, Jay.

        Look up the numbers Jim. The private voucher system initially allows students to get into any school they want, but it serves to make certain schools richer and destroy public education.

        Indiana has 60 percent of the private voucher systems. Louisiana (which is the same state that has the highest penalties for privatized prisons as well) has done even more than the state allowing you to shoot police.

        All of the studies into the voucher system shows that its a way for a small percentage of schools to benefit while defunding public schools. Let’s say the 380,000 students all leave the public schools. That’s $3.3 billion out of the Indiana public schools for private gains. Further investigation shows that most of the money will be going to private religious schools. Sadly, conservatives don’t seem to believe that this investigation into religious schools is worthy of merit. Rather, if you have a private school that is the only option for you over a public school much farther away, you may not be able to attain the same education level.

        Further, the same religious schools might not have all of the things needed for a well rounded education. There are plenty of good schools, but you also have some schools that may have a great sports team but no library. You’ll also have to deal with more fundamentalism by having a child taught something against the wishes of the parents. It may be interesting that a Muslim child only has an option to go to a Catholic school for study and learns the strict rituals of Catholicism.

        Still more, the fact is that the voucher system pushes for more income inequality by allowing high income families to secure spots in the premium schools. As a side effect, those at the bottom of the barrel will go to the worst schools.

        Finally, the voucher system undermines teachers. When they lose their union jobs, they can lose tenure. When they lose their tenure and union benefits, they also lose other protections. Now teachers are more susceptible to firings, tenure rights, and other benefits of actually having a working union that wasn’t truly in jeopardy.

        So what do you have to say Jim? Feel like showing how much more inhumane you are by making the taxpayer pay even more for a system that doesn’t work?

        • jim_m

          So it serves to destroy public education? So what?

          The problem with public education is that IT SUCKS! The reason your hated voucher system destroys public ed is that no one wants to send their kids to the crappy public schools and given a choice they don’t. If the public schools were run for the benefit of the students and not the unions the situation would be different.

          The fact that public schools suffer under a voucher system should cause you to ask what the reason is that people don’t send their kids to the public schools, not to eliminate the voucher system as “dangerous” because it forces the schools to improve.

          You haven’t proven that a voucher system doesn’t work. There are systems that have worked (in fact obama killed one in DC that was working). What you have demonstrated is that you believe that public schools are run for the sake of protecting teacher salaries and little more. What you have shown is that you are in favor of condemning kids to going to a public school which is substandard in performance and that you would rather that than reduce the influence of the union machine that funds your lefty politics.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


            The problem with public education is that IT SUCKS! The reason your hated voucher system destroys public ed is that no one wants to send their kids to the crappy public schools and given a choice they don’t.

            Yep, let all the hatred out for the middle and low income workers who want to provide an education. Instead they should just be given a one way ticket to jail because they don’t vote conservative to make the system fit to what you believe. That’s a great way to live your life. Hating on people that won’t get nothing more than a little bit of tuition assistance to go to a school that’s worse than a public school. Excellent argument.

            If the public schools were run for the benefit of the students and not the unions the situation would be different.

            Wow, 100 years of a tried and true method and you want to go to an untried method of teaching that hasn’t done anything to make education better for anyone. Again, great argument.

            The fact that public schools suffer under a voucher system should cause you to ask what the reason is that people don’t send their kids to the public schools, not to eliminate the voucher system as “dangerous” because it forces the schools to improve.

            And Louisiana is where exactly in regards to education in the US? How about Indiana? It doesn’t force the schools to improve. It destroys the public education by taking away opportunities for those that can’t afford it. Again, great argument, but it’s not supported by the facts.

            What you have demonstrated is that you believe that public schools are run for the sake of protecting teacher salaries and little more.

            Jim, I haven’t said anything in that regard, you just want to make up facts because you can’t back up your own argument.

            What you have shown is that you are in favor of condemning kids to going to a public school which is substandard in performance and that you would rather that than reduce the influence of the union machine that funds your lefty politics.

            Bullshit. I’ve shown that this is favored towards those from high income areas and how the middle class as well as the low income families will be screwed and you choose to ignore actual arguments for your usual ad homs and false equivalencies. Great arguments, but they can use a little work.

          • jim_m

            Wow, 100 years of a tried and true method and you want to go to an untried method of teaching that hasn’t done anything to make education better for anyone.

            Actually, if you paid attention to our public schools the reality is that they are the one’s that are big on novel and innovative teaching techniques and they scoff at traditional methods used by private schools.

            Public schools are big on bringing in new methods that make it easier for the teacher and remove quantitative measures of learning and replacing them with subjective BS so the teacher can make sure that every student gets a good grade that builds self esteem and relieves the teacher of having to do their job and to explain to Johny’s parents why Johny is a freaking moron.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            The public schools are paid by the state. So they have budget falls and are told to be taught more on less. Last I checked, the way to do that is through innovations such as Khan Academy and even MIT’s experiments of free software to allow increased learning potential. Problems such as NCLB and testing for colleges are actually a partisan problem instead of doing what actually works: Allow for equity in attaining an education and accessibility of materials.

            Instead, what we do have is a political game where politicians of both parties take away funding that makes the public system worse while playing along party lines. Instead of competing, the best schools run when there is equity across the board as evidenced by Norway and Finland’s approach to education.

          • jim_m

            You cite where certain states rank in terms of educational achievement, but what you leave out is that private and charter schools make up only a small fraction of their ranking. Those scores are really dependent upon the performance of the public school systems.

            What you are saying is, in essence, that states where the public schools have failed so severely that they rank at the bottom in educational achievement, there should not be allowed any voucher system that allows students to exit that failing system for something else. You are saying that it is better to keep trying the same failing system and that looking at alternatives is actually the worst thing that anyone could do.

            Perhaps we need to update the definition of insanity: Insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result following lefty ideology. No, the definition is pretty much the same, it just tells the truth about lefty educational philosophy.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Jim, you’re full of it as usual. Show some damn proof of your argument. I sure as hell did so. Show exactly where the religious schools (which make up over 80% of the voucher system) are doing well for the students which you advocate so highly for.

            What I’m saying is that the voucher system is far worse than the public education system that picks winners and losers. In the states that it’s run it fails on what I’ve presented. Shift the argument till the cows come home but you’ve yet to provide anything substantial that takes away from the arguments presented. What, because privatized prisons have worked for Louisiana, it’s going to work for schools now?

            There’s been no ideology here, Jimbo. You’ve been spouting your rhetoric and I’ve shown you facts. You have no argument other than to try the same fallacious tactics that don’t work for you. Get your facts, then come back.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Look, I’m firmly middle class – but I didn’t want my one and only child to go to crappy schools. We didn’t just go “Oh, this looks good” while browsing brochures – I took the time to check out a half-dozen private schools in person before deciding where to put the kid. Some were… you walk in, see maintenance issues that need to be dealt with – and walk right out. (That took care of two. If they won’t clean up before an open house, when do they?) Two weren’t bad – but they were too far out location-wise, looked good curriculum wise. The 5th was a Catholic school, I could be sure he’d get a good education, but didn’t want the Catholic part of it since we’re nominal Methodists.
            The 6th was a Methodist school. Curriculum was good, ratings were good, location was good, price was good, talked with the teachers and they taught evolution so that was good – and that’s what we chose.
            Now, please understand one thing… as a parent, I have VERY little input into the school system. I’m not an expert. I’m not degreed. I don’t have influence. I can say “Hey, you guys aren’t doing the job”, and they’ll say “We’re teaching to the standards. It’s not our fault the kids aren’t learning.”
            You don’t GET that in a private school. You can say “Hey, what’s going on with…” and get a response. They’re also (at least, where we were) good at letting you know what’s going on with the child.
            As Jim said, public schools are broken. There’s parts still functioning, but there’s also parts that are so bad that the teachers have to change the kids answers on the standardized tests so the school will pass.
            This indicates problems – BIG problems. They’re being rooted out in places, but they shouldn’t have occured in the first place.
            My thought as to why they occured is that there’s no active competition.
            You have a public school that’s underperforming? Too bad! They STILL get the same amount of money from your taxes – and even more if they can persuade the local suckers to ante up more on property taxes while promising to ‘change’ things.
            You’ve got lousy teachers? Too bad! They’re protected by the unions, you can’t get rid of them, you can’t make them care – so you’ve got to let more kids be damaged by them.
            So much for ‘We gotta do it for the children!”, eh?
            So the school sucks. They shuffle administrators around, they shuffle teachers. And the scores stay the same, or get worse. There is NO institutional penalty for failure, aside from closing the school and shipping all the students elsewhere. (That’s when you might as well gather ‘em in the auditorium and teach them to chant ‘Would you like fries with that?’ because that’s about what their education to that point suits them for.)
            And the school system gets a few more layers of administrators in place. It won’t help – but it looks good and lets them ask for more money.
            If you have an actual economic penalty to a failure to educate, then things change. If parents have an affordable alternative – that forces change also. If nothing else, they’ll pull their kid and put ‘em elsewhere.
            Kids have ONE trip through the school system. Why don’t they deserve the best the parents can give them – even if it means vouchers?
            Maybe we’re not normal parents – I don’t know. But I’d sure have appreciated a voucher to help pay the tuition.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            As I said, I’m not arguing that there aren’t public schools that don’t have problems. What I’m saying that Jim ignores is that the private voucher system has a ton of problems that he won’t admit because he hasn’t researched it at all. It sounds good but in essence, the private voucher program funnels money from these schools that funnel money to lobbyists in DC and make education worse off.

            What I have shown to Jim is a link to how Norway and Finland do pretty well with education that has far exceeded ours in the US. The facts indicate that we value teachers far less than we should in the US and they’re becoming a victim of partisan attacks instead of educating. Everytime their budgets are cut, that’s more money teachers have to spend to actually educate. Yes, you have bad schools and bad regulations. I would consider NCLB a bad regulation. I consider how we put more money into the military, instead of education, a bad investment/regulation. There are just so many horrible regulations in education that it’s difficult for most teachers to do their jobs.

            I’m just saying that education could work but it depends on taking away what doesn’t work and not voting in people that will make it worse (Mitt)

            Kids have ONE trip through the school system. Why don’t they deserve the best the parents can give them – even if it means vouchers?

            Because, as I’ve explained, the voucher system will not allow them a quality education when money will allow only the rich into the best schools.

            That’s the problem of the voucher system. It does not allow all children the quality or the access that they would need and could bring worse societal consequences down the road. This is something to consider when vouching for a privatization that has not worked for all students involved.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall here because you’re not listening at all to what my experience was. I think you’re preferring to go with a theoretical argument against what I found to be the actuality.

            “Because, as I’ve explained, the voucher system will not allow them a quality education when money will allow only the rich into the best schools.”

            That’s a very nice talking point you’ve got there. It doesn’t appear to coincide with reality as I’ve experienced it.

            At 14, my son has a better education that I had by the time I finished high school. And a much better education that he would have gotten in the public school system to this point.

            We’re not ‘rich’. We could have used a voucher. As it was, we spent about a tenth of our after-tax income a year to put the kid into private school, because we were zoned for a 39th percentile school in the 48th rated state (at the time).

            A voucher would have helped considerably.

            Schools won’t fundamentally change until they see a reason to. That reason is financial. When the parents go “Screw you, the product you’re putting out is way substandard and I’m not dippin’ MY precious offspring into it” – and can then TAKE money from the schools to put into a better alternative, the public school system will change.

            Until then, it won’t.

            I think you believe that, given a voucher, parents will take out their kids from public school and enroll them at Honest Joe’s Fly By Night Diploma and Daycare.

            But I think that any parent contemplating taking the kid out already understands that the school they’re going to is sucking big-time, and will look for the best alternative they can afford for the kid.

            Having a voucher INCREASES their affordable options, and sends a signal to the school system that something is wrong. If suddenly 5-10% of a school’s parents request vouchers, that’s one hell of a signal that something is wrong at the school.

            Put another way – how often would you buy groceries at a store where the produce is half-rotten, the floors are dirty, the smell of the meat counter induces a disgusted shudder, and you don’t even want to think about touching the milk?

            Yeah – the prices are low… but at what cost long-term?

            Would you spend more to buy your food elsewhere?

            When you do – you’re withdrawing your money from that store. And you’re signalling that you don’t want what they’re putting out.

            Instead of the schools in LA and IN going “OMG! We must get this money BACK somehow, by hook or crook!” they need to look at just WHY the parents are getting the vouchers. Because obviously, something isn’t right.

            There’s going to be parents who will leave their kids, no matter how bad the school. There will be parents who pull their kids, no matter how good the school is – because they think they can get a better education elsewhere. There are parents who would pull their child if they could afford it – but can’t.

            Would an additional 20-50% have changed where we sent the smart&crunchy to school? Probably not – but the money would have been welcome.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            I’m looking at at least two different school states and the problems of their school systems. That’s where we have the disagreement. I’m acknowledging that your experience is going to be different from others. But looking at the aggregate of the school systems, there’s a problem that it will heavily favor those who can invest more money.

            What the disagreement is about is what this does to the school system in the long run. Louisiana and Indiana are still subpar and moderate school systems effectively. But take into account what this does to the options and choices of those that have to work in low income families. Their options are hindered considerably by the voucher program. They get initial assistance, but these programs are heavily skewed towards those that can afford to stay in those schools (ie the wealthy) by increased tuition rates, lack of resources in worse schools, etc, which I’ve explained above.

            Now you found a good school and I have to say congratulations. But does this mean that the voucher program has a high rate of success for all kids involved over public education? That’s where I have true doubts given the information I found out about the programs.

          • jim_m

            Their options are hindered considerably by the voucher program. They
            get initial assistance, but these programs are heavily skewed towards
            those that can afford to stay in those schools (ie the wealthy) by
            increased tuition rates, lack of resources in worse schools, etc, which
            I’ve explained above.

            That’s false on its face. Giving people an opportunity IS increasing their options. Whether or not they can sustain that opportunity is not limiting their choices.

            What should be happening is that the public schools should be acting to make themselves more attractive so they retain students. But the unions prevent that by enforcing the status quo. What we need is a competitive system where the schools that do the best job of educating get the students. Private schools usually spend less per student than most public schools and still get better results. They only seem to cost more because parents have to pay the whole thing.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


            That’s false on its face. Giving people an opportunity IS increasing their options. Whether or not they can sustain that opportunity is not limiting their choices.

            Then explain how they’re going to be able to afford the tuition. Explain how lower income families and middle income families will actually be able to afford a quality education when some of the schools in the voucher system are sub par while eliminating public schools as an option. When you can answer that question satisfactorily, then I’ll drop the subject. But you insist on the same rhetoric instead of showing sources that explain how the voucher system is successful.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Slow afternoon so back into it…

            The thing about vouchers is – ideally you’d be able to use them at the school of your choice, not one that the school system tells you is approved.

            If you’ve made the decision to take your child OUT of public school, then gone through the trouble of applying for a voucher, then finding another school – you’re not likely to just toss your kid into the first rat-trap you see. You’re going to research the school, you’re going to see what the ratings and evaluations are like, and there’s plenty of resources on the web that’ll help you sort out what’s good from what’s crap.

            You AREN’T going to do it for the money, because you’re not going to make anything off it by the time you factor in hauling the kid to class and back, paying tuition, buying books, uniforms and associated expenses.

            And if you’re middle-class, you’re also going to be putting off your own wants and desires. You’re not going to be taking expensive vacations. You’re not going to be getting a new car every few years. That new house? Forget about it. You get ‘creative’. One guy I knew would get stuff on Freecycle and then sell it on Craigslist. You do what you have to because this is IMPORTANT to you.

            Now, as far as the sub-par schools go… crappy private schools don’t stay around long. Word of mouth accumulates, and you hear things from unexpected sources… and occasionally it even hits the evening news.

            There was a spate of ‘schools’ and ‘colleges’ that popped up in the ’80s and ’90s around here that were pretty much dedicated to separating the veteran from his educational benefits. They got debunked by local news sources, and they either straightened up or they were shut down and the owners prosecuted for fraud.

            The private school system is self-correcting in a way the public system isn’t, I think. The ONLY thing a private school can offer that’s ‘value added’ is their educational success. If they don’t have that, they won’t succeed.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            “But take into account what this does to the options and choices of those that have to work in low income families. Their options are hindered considerably by the voucher program.”

            And their offspring are going to be hindered even more by being locked into a public school system with no incentive to change.

            There are parents who don’t give a shit about their kids. There are parents who want the best possible education for their kids. I don’t know where you fall, I don’t know if you’ve even got kids or not. You’re arguing theory that it won’t work. I’m arguing that it can – and would in a lot of cases if given a chance.

            But what we have is failing the next generation, and failing it badly. Look at the graduation rates. Look at how much remedial work is having to be taught to freshmen. You cannot argue that what the kids are getting now, for all we’re paying, is a consistently high quality education.

            You’re arguing that an annual voucher hurts those who want to get their kids out of failing schools. How about leaving them poor little saps where they are? What does that do to them? Is it PREFERABLE to keep kids in crappy schools when their parents might, with the aid of a voucher, get them to a better one?

            Whatever, man. Keep the proles where they are, don’t allow even the possibility of escape. Equality of outcome is very important to you, it’s plain.

            But if that equality of outcome means that everyone ends up virtually illiterate, I wonder just how satisfied you’ll be. Lowest common denominator and all that… and it’s where we’re headed at present.

          • jim_m

            But if that equality of outcome means that everyone ends up virtually illiterate, I wonder just how satisfied you’ll be.

            Everything Jay has said points to equality of outcome being the primary measurement. That is what he has defined as “fair”. While he will complain that your end point is not desirable, he would likely prefer that to one where some people are left behind. Better that everyone fail together

          • jim_m

            But if that equality of outcome means that everyone ends up virtually illiterate, I wonder just how satisfied you’ll be.

            Everything Jay has said points to equality of outcome being the primary measurement. That is what he has defined as “fair”. While he will complain that your end point is not desirable, he would likely prefer that to one where some people are left behind. Better that everyone fail together

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            I deleted your double-tap, Jim.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            His point is also disproved by inner-city Catholic schools which draw predominantly from the same lower income minority populations and which still outperform the public schools serving the same community.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            [citation needed]

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves
          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            That’s merely one city. I’ve talked about two different states. The comparisons and analogies are dissimilar.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            You still have produced NO citations in support.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            I have in other data samples up top. I’m being lenient by saying the examples are going to be dissimilar between Indiana and Louisiana which I’ve brought up repeatedly against your NYC example which is also 20+ years old.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            ou still have produced NO citations in support.

        • http://www.wizbangblog.com David Robertson

          Meanwhile, back in reality . . .
          An education system is supposed to exist for the purpose of benefitting students, not education workers (teachers, administrators, support staff). The last time that I checked, the mission of a school is to educate its students, not to provide its teachers with job security.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Who said anything about job security? That’s Jim’s argument. The benefits of not being fired for going against your employers does help teachers do a better job. I find it an odd argument when teaching students means that a better environment for teachers equates to less job security.

          • jim_m

            The benefits of not being fired for going against your employers does help teachers do a better job.

            Data please. There is no evidence that tenure improves teaching performance. In fact the lack of any measurement of performance to job security or pay means that performing well as a teacher is irrelevant to their compensation and they receive no incentive to perform well. Sure some people are intrinsically motivated, but they are the tiny minority. There is a reason you pay salespeople with commission. People respond to positive motivation. Teachers are motivated to maintain the status quo. That is not anything remotely similar to excellence.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Bingo.

          • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

            Exactly.

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          The burden of proof is yours.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Murphy/100001624276605 Ryan Murphy

      Spare you the notion that it will work, other than that it has everywhere its been implemented, the opposite of Socialism?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

        Right…

        I’ll give you homework. Look up Louisiana and Indiana for places where the private voucher system has been exposed as a scam.

        • http://www.wizbangblog.com David Robertson

          What law says that a state cannot create a voucher system that is different from the ones in Louisiana and Indiana?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            This is supposed to be Ryan’s homework assignment but… Link

            That basically opened the floodgates into school vouchers being used almost exclusively for private schools in an attempt to defund public education.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            I just read that.

            I don’t think it’s saying what you think it’s saying, and you might want to consider using the late Sen. Kennedy’s objections as a contrarian indicator.

            (If nothing else, the concept that ‘tax dollars’ are a scarce resource which must be used as frugally as possible has been shown by the Obama administration to be a completely irrelevant concept.)

            Anyway, I’m done. I’ll deal with the practical side of trying to make sure my kid gets the best education I can give him, you can stick to your theoretical models that never seem to have any unforseen consequences to them.

            The real world is never so neat and clean.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


            If nothing else, the concept that ‘tax dollars’ are a scarce resource which must be used as frugally as possible has been shown by the Obama administration to be a completely irrelevant concept.

            Obama hasn’t spent wildly but that’s another fight for another day.

            Anyway, I’m done. I’ll deal with the practical side of trying to make sure my kid gets the best education I can give him, you can stick to your theoretical models that never seem to have any unforseen consequences to them.

            I’ve been nothing but respectful to your experience and these aren’t theoretical models when there are better educational systems in place than what the US currently uses. I just haven’t found much that supports a voucher system over what has worked in the US as well as the world for decades.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            But if it WAS working in the US, there wouldn’t be a call for vouchers.

            There wouldn’t be a need for remedial courses in college. There wouldn’t be constant calls for reform.

            Any business that produced a product as flawed and uneven (and I’ve got no better way to put it succinctly) as our educational system turns out its students would be out of business in short order if there were any alternatives.

            And yes, you can cite Norway, and you can cite Finland. As I’ve posted above, they’ve got advantages we don’t.

            What we have is what we’re stuck with, and it needs to change. The best way to get a system that depends on ‘voluntary’ contributions to change is to withhold money. It serves as a signal that something’s got to change or they won’t be getting the money back.

            Theory is good. But you’ve got to take reality into account when formulating theories, otherwise you’re just playing fantasy word games.

            And I’ve got to ask, forgive me for being nosy here – do you have children? Have you experienced the public system first-hand, or through the proxy of a school teacher’s experience?

          • jim_m

            Have you experienced the public system first-hand, or through the proxy of a school teacher’s experience?

            I recall just a couple of years ago our local school district implemented a new curriculum that they advertized as the latest educational technique and that it would do wonders for the kids. The reality was that it was leftist, self esteem crap out of California and the districts pout there that had originated it had already dumped it as a failure. But the teachers here wanted it because it reduced the amount of actual teaching they had to do.

            The parents protested and the school board’s response was STFU, we are the teachers and you aren’t. Naturally, the student’s performance promptly dropped with the new system and in a couple of years it was dropped. It was dropped not so much because it sucked but because the school board sensed that they would all lose their next election if they didn’t do something.

            The notion that the public schools care about the students is false. Individual teachers can and do care (I even have met a few) but the system in general is run for the benefit of the bureaucracy and the unions and no one else.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            And that’s one of the nice things, in my estimation, about private over public schools. The teachers cared a LOT about their students, at least where I was. Those who didn’t lasted about a year, and were replaced.

          • jim_m

            Since the left is full of unoriginal, unthinking robots they cannot conceive of any plan being different from what has been tried before.

            That’s why we get the left saying that the answer to bad education is to spend more money. the answer to a bad economy is a bigger stimulus. And the biggest hoot of all: Communism hasn’t failed because it hasn’t really been tried yet.

            The left “knows” that all it’s solutions work and when those solutions fail it isn’t because the solution sucked, it is because the solution wasn’t implemented in a sufficiently left wing way.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Jim, you’ve always been a funny guy.

            You don’t know a thing about what you spew and you constantly make these off the wall remarks that show you to be a fundamental wing nut.

            That’s why we get the left saying that the answer to bad education is to spend more money.

            Equity Jim. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

            the answer to a bad economy is a bigger stimulus.

            Right. Let’s just deregulate some more and let the bankers run the system as Mitt Romney wants to do. No, the stimulus did nothing as Republicans are want to say but change the subject when it was shown that it worked.

            And the biggest hoot of all: Communism hasn’t failed because it hasn’t really been tried yet.

            Ah, the Allen West theme comes out. Spewing rhetoric on things that make absolutely no sense. Awesome.

            The left “knows” that all it’s solutions work and when those solutions fail it isn’t because the solution sucked, it is because the solution wasn’t implemented in a sufficiently left wing way.

            [citation needed]

            Your randomness is showing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Murphy/100001624276605 Ryan Murphy

          Please, expand. SHow how you think its been exposed as a scam, and no, you can’t cite lefty blogs …

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            I did. Read up at my other posts.

        • Ken in Camarillo

          We already have a large basis for comparison of voucher system education to non-voucher system performance. For the most part public high schools are a non-voucher system. For the most part, US colleges are equivalent to a voucher system. Which system is seen as world class enough to draw top students from everywhere?

        • http://wizbangblog.com/author/rodney-graves/ Rodney G. Graves

          You don’t get to shift the burden of proof, Jay.

    • jim_m

      What lavish pensions and runaway spending?

      Well here is an example: http://www.jeffjacoby.com/397/my-respect-for-boston-firefighters-union

      When the Boston Fire Dept (BFD being an appropriate acronym) wants a 2.5% raise in return for having their members show up to work sober, it is understandable that people are a little put out by their crap.

      • Commander_Chico

        Thanks for proving my quote of the comment below about firemen being vilified as “greedy freeloaders.” You and Jacoby do it quite well.

        I’m sure that you and Jacoby have to charge into burning buildings all of the time, too.

        Having to pee in a bottle is giving up a significant degree of personal privacy and dignity. For example, you can’t smoke a doobie when you’re off-duty, even though Massachusetts has decriminalized possession of marijuana. If the city wants firemen to do it, why shouldn’t the firemen demand something for it?

        • jim_m

          Actually, I demonstrated why they sometimes deserve to be vilified as greedy freeloaders.

          With fire fighters in Boston dying because they are high or drunk on the job you would think that they would not object to having to come to work straight. But no, the fire fighters wanted to be paid for doing that and they apparently didn’t mind losing their lives because their coworkers were to high to drive the truck straight or do their job right.

    • jim_m

      Here yo go Jay a point by point refutation of your bigoted and ignorant BS:

      1. Vouchers undermine religious liberty:

      This argument was total BS. The complaint is that people will be forced to send their children to a school that teaches them a religion they do not subscribe to. Well, then they have the choice to not go there don’t they!

      The article then makes a claim about unconstitutionality it later disproves
      in item number 3. Please, stop being a religious bigot. You bring up a claim about it being unconstitutional and them later mention that your claim is bogus? That is more than a little dishonest.

      2. Vouchers divert public money to unaccountable private schools:
      Regulation does not necessarily mean quality. The rest of the argument here boils down to religious bigotry. So religious schools teach religious doctrine. And your point is?

      I’ll have you know that I went to a private, non-religious school. They exist too.

      3. Vouchers violate many state constitutional provisions:
      This is funny because they show that vouchers do not violate the US constitution and them turn around and say that state constitutional issues were not addressed in the lawsuit.

      4. The people do not support vouchers:
      You site polls dating back to 1967. Does it really matter what people thought about vouchers 45 years ago? People want them now and the people in
      failing school systems want them most.

      5. Vouchers do not improve student academic performance:
      Voucher programs generally have not been conducted long enough or with
      enough students to make any such claim. No links are provided to verify the claims made in your story so there is no way to address the claims in any specific way.

      6. Vouchers do not improve opportunities for children from
      low-income families:

      This is simply a lie. The voucher program that obama shut down in DC was helping children from poorer families. The answer is not to cut voucher programs in order to save the public schools but to provide them for
      everyone so everyone has the same opportunity to get out and get an education.

      7. Vouchers do not save taxpayer money:
      They are not intended to. They are intended to provide a mechanism to get children the education they need when the public schools are failing. This is
      totally beside the point.

      8. Vouchers do not increase education choice:
      Yes they do. While they do not guarantee admission as your article points out they eliminate or reduce the financial barriers and that alone increases choice. You seem to think that unless they provide equality of outcome they are no good.

      Equality of outcome is a leftist ideal and is not found anywhere else
      but in modern leftism. It is a recipe for mediocrity and failure.

      The other objections are that private schools are not heavily regulated. SO what? Regulation does not equal quality either.

      9. Vouchers lead to private schools of questionable quality:
      Two arguments were given here: 1) that fly by night schools sprung up (yes
      that will happen. People need to use some sense when selecting where to send their kids) and 2) that religious schools teach religious doctrine. Again, so what? People have the right to teach things you don’t like Jay. Stop being a fascist.

      10. Vouchers distract from the real issue of reform:
      The complaint is that we reduce the need to make public schools better by replacing them. No, we just make it far more imperative and reduce the time line that those schools may have in order to fix themselves. A little incentive is necessary to get them to change. Throwing money at them as we have for the last 4 decades hasn’t worked.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


        1. Vouchers undermine religious liberty:

        False equivalency. I used one example of the Muslim going to a Catholic. However, you’ve yet to explain why 80% of the schools that receive voucher recipients are religious schools. I’ve explained that once. Here’s the article again: Link

        You might be able to make that choice, but it’s as if we’re talking past each other because you can’t accept what the stats are telling you. Then you go out of your way for ad homs as usual and somehow paint that as my argument? *sigh* Whatever shall I do for someone that ignores facts?

        2. Vouchers divert public money to unaccountable private schools:

        The point that you summarily missed is a strong separation of church and state. But it seems you didn’t get that memo. You know… The one that was brought up in the Obamacare debates about religious freedoms? Or did the shoe just get put on the other foot? I can’t quite remember…

        3. Vouchers violate many state constitutional provisions:
        Comprehension fail. You didn’t understand the sentence with your speed reading. Here it is again.

        The Zelman case did not address state constitutional issues. Some three dozen states have church-state provisions in their constitutions that are even stronger than the U.S. Constitution. These provisions often more explicitly bar taxpayer money from being used to fund religious schools and education. Private school vouchers would likely be unconstitutional in most states – and some state courts have already ruled that they are.

        In other words, the vouchers aren’t supported by nothing other than a few red states.

        4. The people do not support vouchers:

        Again, comprehension fail. *Since* 1967, a majority of people in 23 states have not supported vouchers. Please try again with less spin.

        5. Vouchers do not improve student academic performance

        Hold the phone. You just advocated for DC earlier. Now you’re saying there’s no evidence that those in the PV system are doing better? Where’s your DC evidence, Jim? Surely you can find something to support your argument!

        6. Vouchers do not improve opportunities for children fromlow-income families

        You just contradicted yourself. Which is it, there’s no evidence or is there evidence that the DC PV system was successful? If it was, how so and why? If not, then how does it discredit the article presented? Be specific.

        Also, more evidence

        Far more openings are available at smaller, less prestigious religious schools, including some that are just a few years old and others that have struggled to attract tuition-paying students.The school willing to accept the most voucher students — 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
        And that’s why I’m leery about the entire project. It doesn’t help the kids find quality schools and seems to be a way to defund public education when alternatives are lacking. So you’ve yet to answer how low income families actually have a choice in this matter since it seems they’ll be going to subpar religious schools that won’t be focused on education, particularly in LA which isn’t high in the US rankings in math and science right now anyway.7. Vouchers do not save taxpayer money:
        But here’s the oddity: What happens when the school is subpar? You go on and on as if somehow every school is going to be better, but the articles are outright stating that not every child’s experience with private schools is going to be the same. And that’s going to lead to a number of problems and educational gaps as I’ve copied and shown above.
        8. Vouchers do not increase education choice:
        … Right… What happens after year one? Did you realize that Louisiana has no caps planned for 2012-2013? What this basically means is that even the rich families get money out of this deal to subsidize their education. So they can afford to go to the best schools while low income families won’t have that access. Again Jim. It’s a false choice. I’m willing to wager that this system will not increase Louisiana nor Indiana’s ranking significantly because it’s a sub par system when you look at it. And while you spout this nonsense about regulation which makes absolutely no sense, the fact is the education system did quite well until William Bennett was put in charge. Then it all went downhill.
        9. Vouchers lead to private schools of questionable quality:
        Who has time to be a fascist when that’s your job Jim? I’m just showing how the system gives more questions than it solves. But yes, I have to laugh because that’s pretty funny how you throw around words that you have no idea what the meaning actually equates to.
        10. Vouchers distract from the real issue of reform:

        Again… Who is throwing money at education? There are better systems in place around the world. Borrow from those countries, use the systems and let go of what hasn’t worked such as the private voucher system (that’s your homework for tonight) since it hasn’t worked for any country that has tried to maintain it in the long term.

        • jim_m

          Jay,
          Your link went to a series of arguments without supporting data and the chief arguments were that

          1)religious educations is by definition inferior to public education because it includes religion.

          2) because it includes religion it is by definition coercive and unconstitutional even though the only example they could provide was one where the constitutionality was held up.

          3) That by providing financial support so people can go outside of the public school system somehow actually decreases their educational options (this is so farcical it does not deserve comment)

          4) That multiple layers of bureaucracy providing regulatory oversight into irrelevant issues such as length of school day, bureaucratic review of curriculae, etc improves education in some measurable way (if that were the case then people would be rushing to get into public schools not leave them).

          5) that by creating competition for public schools we are destroying the public schools because the best way to incentivise performance is to guarantee people their jobs no matter how poorly they perform (which is utter nonsense as well).

          and lastly, it cites as evidence of the unpopularity unnamed and unlink polling from up to 45 years ago that suggests vouchers are unpopular. There is no way to rebut this since no data or links are provided and as I said before it is nonsense to claim that a 45 year old poll is relevant. The fact that they include data that old suggests that they are really reaching to find anything that supports their position. The fact that they will not link that data confirms the suggestion.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            45 years back most parents thought the schools were doing an adequate job. So why pay money for a good product that’s more or less paid for by taxes?

            Nowdays – not so much. I know one public school teacher who had her one&only in private school up to 6th grade. She took him out when she got transferred to a different school, and the commute to get her child to the same one mine was in was too much.

            I’ve had long-term teachers I’m friends with in the SF community recommend private school, because the public schools simply weren’t cutting it quality-wise – and we won’t even talk about discipline issues. Little kids are uncivilized barbarians who need to be taught self-discipline – and it’s a constant problem that’s only gotten worse over the years. But that’s something beyond the scope of this – so enough on that…

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            1) That’s your suggestion Jim. I’ve been showing how some of the schools are sub par. You choose to cherry pick what you want to see.

            2) So now you’re advocating a stronger federal government instead of states’ rights? Don’t you think that’s a bit backwards given most conservative viewpoints?

            3) Again, show how all of the private schools will be better than public schools then we can have that conversation. Right now, if there are private religious schools that don’t even have a library, they are by definition worse than publicly funded schools.

            4) Again, where is this massive rush? Show some data instead of bringing up anecdotal evidence. The only two states I’ve found to have a prominent voucher system are Louisiana and Indiana. These are red states. The conversation for vouchers changed in 2010 and were a dead issue under Bush. When they were implemented, they were poor substitutes on the aggregate. So put up your numbers that show this massive rush and let’s talk about it. Where is it? How did the public schools do? What were the criteria? How was it funded? So long as you just rely on a gut feeling instead of stats, I’ll remain critical on this subject.

            5) No, you’ve comprehended what you want to believe. I’ve said time and again that the students will not have access to the best educational schools which will go disproportionately to higher income families. You haven’t factored in how the public schooling system allows for families to have accountability for their schools that is missing in the private sector. If private schools don’t like a teacher, they can fire her. How does that work to the student’s benefit? How does less benefits actually bring the best teachers to the private sector? Your argument doesn’t make sense. “Give teachers less incentive to work in the private sector and make them work wonders.” That’s beyond ridiculous and yet you believe that somehow something such as tenure needs to be taken away to promote better student viability? Come on Jim.

            The polling is done by various respectable polls Jim. If you want 45 years worth of data, you might want to look around at their validity at your leisure. The most recent polls I saw have vouchers being supported in Tennessee while not supported in Pennsylvania. Also, the Milwaukee and Cleveland voucher experiments haven’t improved student performance meaningfully. I’m not against data Jim. Feel free to bring some to the table because it seems you’re coming off as poorly naive on this issue.

    • jim_m

      In short Jay, your link provides no data but only tired old lefty arguments about why religion is evil and unconstitutional and how regulations about length of school day and bureaucratic oversight of teaching materials are somehow necessary to ensure quality education despite absolutely no evidence to support such claims.

      Rhetoric is not proof.

      An ultimately, I deny the necessity to provide you any proof other than the manifest fact that public schools are failing and that if we cannot make them work we have an obligation to provide an alternative. Your answer is that the alternative is the insanity of doing the same as we always have done and expecting that by some miracle things will change.

      Well what do you know. You do have a religion.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

        Ah, so you don’t have the balls to back up your own argument. Good to know.

        • jim_m

          I’m not going to argue data against ideology. Your argument is data free and pure ideology. It is anti-religious, pro union BS plain and simple. Back your BS up with data and not anecdotes. So far you’ve provided interesting anecdotes and nothing else.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Jim, you’re still full of it. You just hate data that contradicts what you believe. I’ve already backed up my data. It’s time you do the same.

  • Commander_Chico

    There was this comment on the Stars and Stripes article about veterans’ benefits which hit the target:

    After 911 I bet that police and firefighters would never have suspected that just 10 years latter they would be vilified as greedy freeloaders. When it serves a purpose to have the public turn on you they will so Veterans watch your backs

    • herddog505

      Who, pray, is villifying policemen and firemen as “greedy freeloaders”? Now, I’ve heard lefties insinuate (if not outright state as fact) that the military is a refuge for deadbeats and mediocrities who can’t cut it in the private sector, but I can’t recall hearing anybody “villify” cops and firemen.
      But that’s how the left rolls, isn’t it? Want to cut public spending because we’re in the worst financial crunch in our history (if we’ve ever owed more money relative to GDP, I’m not aware of it)? “You HATE firemen and cops and teachers!”
      Bah.

      • Commander_Chico

        Just read any newspaper comment thread on public pensions.

        • jim_m

          Go and look at what they are being paid. If you work for the union in Chicago you get a Chicago government pension paid out based, not on how long you worked for the city, but how long you worked for the city + the union and paid out according to your bloated union salary.

          It’s crap like that which pisses people off. It’s the defined benefit plans that we cannot afford and that the rest of the nation does not have access to because any employer that actually has to balance a budget to stay in business can’t afford to do it.

          What the public wants is public employees that actually get paid like the rest of us and get retirement benefits like the rest of us. It isn’t the firemen and police men per se (although the Boston Fire Dept with their insistence on a raise in order to show up to work drug free and sober was pretty disgusting) it is public unions in general. There was a reason that FDR and George Meany were both against public employee unions and we are seeing why today.

        • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

          Effectiveness is more than just how much money is spent on doing (x) – it’s about results. Local county’s running into problems persuading parents they need more money for schools, when they’re cutting teachers and inflating the administrative staff.

          Funny how when you’re not putting out a quality product, people resist buying it… even when there’s no practical alternative available for most.

        • herddog505

          Well, THIS is a thread about public pensions.
          Anybody want to call cops and firemen freeloaders?
          No? Really?

          • Commander_Chico

            See jim_m and jeff jacoby, above.

          • jim_m

            It is not a blanket assertion. The fact is that like all people sometimes even police and firemen can be total jerks. Frankly, the larger the city the more likely that seems to be the case.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Murphy/100001624276605 Ryan Murphy

      Its the lefties that seem to think that whenever there are cuts the cops, firefighters and teachers should be the first to go, not the conservatives. Lefties must hate the three above categories to think that they are the first cuts that have to be made.

      • jim_m

        The reason that lefties think that cops, firefighters and teachers will be the first one’s cut is the left insists that those are the first cut in order to make it all the more painful for the public to reduce government spending. You never hear the left talk about cutting administrative staff or bureaucratic overhead. THOSE are the areas that are sacrosanct to the left.

        • Commander_Chico

          It is true that cops, firefighters and teachers are always trotted out as the first victim of budget cuts. That’s politics, get over it.

          But are there too many public employees in the USA, and are they necessarily a drag on the economy?

          The conservative/libertarian judge Richard Posner, who founded the prescient “Law and Economics” school which forms the basis of much regulatory theory, doesn’t think so.

          The USA is in the middle of countries in percentage of public employees, at about 16 percent. Even that might be skewed by our relatively massive military establishment.

          Posner’s conclusion:

          Perhaps the relation between a nation’s economy and the percentage of its public workers is determined by a political and social culture that determines what tasks are assigned to government, what incentives and constraints are placed on public workers, and who is attracted to public service. Maybe, with the right conbination, public service can be as economically productive as private enterprise.

          http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2011/09/too-many-government-workersposner.html

          • jim_m

            But are there too many public employees in the USA, and are they necessarily a drag on the economy?

            Yes there are and saying that other nations have more public employees is not evidence that they are not a drag on our economy here.

            PS your link doesn’t work

          • Commander_Chico
          • jim_m

            I still get this: Your requested host “www.becker-posner-blog.com” could not be resolved by DNS.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Might want to check your IC. I can look at the link with no problems.

          • Commander_Chico

            censored!!!!

          • jim_m

            It may be that I am blocked by my firewall at work, but it is pretty open minded about what it allows in.

          • Commander_Chico

            Who knew? Posner is a federal appeals judge.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay

            Yep. Posner just had a great ruling on a patent fight between Samsung and Apple. He essentially dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice since both party’s patents were not in the public interest.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Seems to me there’s a certain level beyond which public sector employment is actually a drain on the economy. They don’t, by their very definition, produce anything – therefore they are a consuming drain.

            And a necessary one, to a certain extent. The trick is figuring out what’s actually ‘necessary’, what’s ‘nice to have’, what’s ‘well, we don’t need it but we’ve got the money so we’d better spend it or we won’t have it next year’, and what’s ‘Let’s just hire a few more people so I can get a bump in grade as a supervisor’.

            We can’t really afford to use the public sector as a jobs program. There has to be some utility behind the expense that can’t be replicated any other way.

          • Commander_Chico

            The public sector produces the enabling environment for others to produce. Try being a goldsmith in Somalia. Or a trucker in Haiti.

            As I said earlier, public education can produce workers who can find their ass with both hands.

            No human system is 100% efficient, abuses will always be there. But is the public sector in the USA bloated relative to other OECD or G20 countries? No, with the exception of the military establishment, which is out of all proportion with the requirements of “defense.”.
            And oddly enough that is the one thing “conservatives” always want to spend money on. Example: the boondoggle known as “Missile defense.” It does not matter that you’ve got 100 scientists from MIT and CalTech who say it won’t work, it will funnel tax money to the “right” people.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            You’ll note in the second paragraph I’m not saying there’s no use for it.

            It’s really a matter of getting what you pay for. But (for example) when you’re making 20k a year and you’re buying a car, you get what you NEED, not what you might WANT. Every little option you get has a price, and though each may not be much on their own, the total tends to be a hell of a lot more than you can pay for.

            So you start cutting back. Super shiny special colors? Gone. Dual turbo engine with an automatic transmission? Gone. Leather interior? Gone. 44-speaker sound system with 250CD changer and 5kw amplifier? Gone. (And your neighbors will thank you, as will your ears.) Special rims and racing tires? Gone.

            And what you’re left with is what you NEED, instead of WANT.

            We have a government that’s been pimped out with all the options anyone might want. It’s flashy. It’s glittery. It’s expensive as hell to keep going – and we’re having trouble paying for it.

            Hmmm… Maybe a lot of the ‘options’ we’ve been told were absolutely needed aren’t something we necessarily needed in the first place. Sure, your passengers are going to complain if you cut out some of them – but they’re not paying the bills for them, are they? And we’re deep in debt, deeper every year. But we need a framework – one that provides what works, not what would be ‘nice to have’.

            Hmmm. That base-line Ford Fiesta’s starting to look a lot better than the fully loaded Taurus when you’re on a tight budget…

            “As I said earlier, public education can produce workers who can find their ass with both hands.”

            Yes, it CAN. But more and more it isn’t, and the parents are getting fed up with having to pay more and more and getting less and less out of it. That’s a BIG problem, and one that consistently seems to be address with ‘Throw more money at it, and add more administrators.’

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doc-Musgrove/100000620620015 Doc Musgrove

            The USA has dropped to 27 in the world in education. When we rise to the top 5, then talk about education – or do you subscribe to the theory that “throwing” more money at it will fix the problem? So you got a commission because you got a degree in history? I bet you were real useful. I had an officer assigned as a medical officer who had a degree in accounting, he was just as useless and unknowing 3 years later as the day he walked in.

          • Commander_Chico

            Not according to the OECD:

            14th in reading, 27th only in math, 20th in science

            Not the best, could be improved, but not too bad considering the heterogeneous quality of the USA.

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/world-education-rankings-maths-science-reading#data

        • Evil Otto

          Speaking as a teacher, I would dearly love to see administrative staff and bureaucratic overhead cut.

          To the bone.

    • http://wizbangblog.com/ Baron Von Ottomatic

      After D-Day I bet that soldiers would never have suspected
      that just 20 years later they would be vilified as baby killers.
      When it serves a progressive purpose to have the public turn on you they will so
      Veterans watch your backs.

  • 914

    So to be clear? If I’m anti America, pro inflation, deflation and stagnation, I can blame it all on Boosh and party like its 1999??

    Hell yeah!! sign Me up!!

  • Hank_M

    I think it’s time to remove “teachers” from the equation.
    Police and firefighters will lay down their lives to save others.
    Teachers, as represented by their unions , only care about themselves.

    • jim_m

      Unfortunately, we have seen that the police and firefighter’s unions also don’t care much about the public. Furthermore we have seen in Wisconsin that the police showed a great deal of sympathy for the teacher’s unions and the protests in Madison were allowed to get out of hand as a result.

      When you unionize police and firefighters you create a situation where the police and firefighters unions are opposed to the welfare of the government and the people they serve. A union’s job is to work to increase the benefits and salary paid to its members while reducing the responsibility and accountability of its members. These (especially the latter) are antithetical to the mission of police and fire protection.

  • Commander_Chico

    Eventually, you might need to put a lot of people on the public payroll, just to give them something to do in return for income. As production and services become increasing automated and outsourced, there won’t be enough jobs for a lot of people, maybe even most people.

    Does the wealth generated by machines run by a few expert managers and technicians all stay with shareholders and the managers, or does any have to be redistributed to maintain social peace? And is it better to just give it out, or have people work for it in various “public” jobs.

    I was reading this today about the subject, it is an interesting perspective:

    Automation And Redundant Humans

    There’s a lot of chatter from the internetsia and on various econ-centric and forward-looking culture blogs (i.e. mediums hosting most of the interesting ideas you won’t ever hear discussed in the increasingly self-discrediting MSM) that automation and computerization are leading to impressive productivity gains, mostly concentrated among the high IQ elite knowledge workers who feign disbelief in the relevance of IQ (and other inheritable personality traits that are useful in a high-tech, interwoven economy, like conscientiousness). The thinking goes, and trend line evidence supports the notion, that vast swaths of humans will be left unemployable by their inability to grasp the language of abstraction. Unemployment rates that dwarf Great Depression numbers could soon be the norm.

    Pursuing this line of thought, these Cassandras theorize that the end result of a bifurcating economy into machine overseers and redundant humans meant only to consume the products produced by the machines and their management consultant handlers will be huge wealth residing in the hands of a few, while pittances will drop like bread crumbs from welfare-issuance offices upon the benighted masses.

    So I have two questions for any economists reading:
    1. How is the present automation and productivity conundrum qualitatively different than ones from the past (for example, the classic case of the auto replacing the horse and carriage)? If you do not believe it is qualitatively different, explain how we escape the “zero marginal productivity” worker trap, especially in an era when human capital is shrinking due to a combination of dysgenic birth rate differentials and mass migration of unskilled poor? Note: “Humans are fungible” is not an acceptable cop-out.
    2. If, say, most of the profits go to the top 10% in society, while the bottom 90% are unemployed or marginally employed, how is it exactly that those top 10% will be able to extract profits from a customer base that doesn’t have the income stream to afford more than the basic necessities?

    http://heartiste.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/automation-and-redundant-humans/

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IZ5BM5GNLA54OADSWGSXAMA7SY Jay


      1. How is the present automation and productivity conundrum qualitatively different than ones from the past (for example, the classic case of the auto replacing the horse and carriage)?

      The automation means that we need a more highly skilled labor force. Further, our labor is being wasted in a number of aspects. What actually has to occur is that unions have to shift their thinking to the 21st century and how to bring about highly skilled labor that can command better wages. Bear in mind, I don’t like the AFL-CIO as they currently are and one of the main reasons I’m anti-union is because of their involvement with SOPA/PIPA which gains my ire. Still, I believe unions are a good thing as evidenced in Germany where they make up a good amount of the workforce as well as sit on the boards, to ensure their needs are met. Sure, the automation can continue, but this mean the job market will shift. As we moved from the horse and carriage, automotive skills increased in popularity and you can have mechanics working on engines instead of horse breeders working on carrots and carriages.

      What can we do for unskilled labor? Again, we should be concerned for them, not the managers of large companies. So long as the conservative view of eliminating the weak through Social Darwinism exists, you will continuously see the rise of American Fascism through poor decisions such as Citizens United. We would have to eliminate the current mercantilist society that we live in. This means convictions of those that break the rules (Bradley Manning the bankers), punishments for breaking the Constitution (ie politicians impeached if need be) and a stronger protection of the middle class.

      2. If, say, most of the profits go to the top 10% in society, while the bottom 90% are unemployed or marginally employed, how is it exactly that those top 10% will be able to extract profits from a customer base that doesn’t have the income stream to afford more than the basic necessities?

      Remember feudalism? This is the government supporting stability over the needs of its nations. It only arises when people continue to allow crony capitalism to flourish in the ways that it’s destroyed American society as a whole. We have 5.3 million felons based on drug laws and racial indifference. Public education is being hurt by lack of funding from Congress. Student debts have arisen at a considerable level. The list goes on and on.

      How about putting that money to better use through increased social services or into the pockets of the people instead?

      • Commander_Chico

        We live in bleak times and bleaker times are ahead. War, oppression and poverty will be the lot of most people.

    • herddog505

      Yes, they certainly worried quite a lot about this… fifty or sixty years ago when the computer and automation were going to put us all out of work. For that matter, worrying – nay, PREDICTING – that ZOMG! machines are going to make us all obsolete has been a common theme amongst parts of humanity since AT LEAST the start of the industrial revolution.
      And, yet, somehow, the poor, miserable, trodden-upon 90% (which includes myself) somehow not only manage to scrape by, but enjoy a standard of living that even the richest person a century ago would have killed to enjoy.
      I was remarking to my wife just the other day that it’s a damned good thing that I haven’t got to earn my bread with my hands such as by plowing a field, making cloth on a handloom, or even making buggy whips; instead, I use machines to make my labor easier and more productive, which in turn means that I have more disposable income, which in turn allows me to indirectly employ a lot of other people who similarly haven’t got to earn they pay by dint of hard manual labor.
      Vive le machine, I say.