Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kicked Out of School

Beth has a pretty interesting post at MinnPost.

Kicked Out of School: Disparities are a Looming Crisis for All Districts

It seems to align with our discussion on prejudice and racism.

I am not even sure where to start this discussion...  I don't think the suspensions and expulsions are effective punishment when the child probably does not want to be at school in the first place.  However keeping them in the classroom to disturb the Teacher and other students isn't acceptable either. Thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Veterans Administration Problems: Root Cause

The impeachment discussion brought up these interesting and timely comments.
"Obama has combined foreign and domestic disasters, scandals and failures in an entirely unique, unprecedentedly awful, comprehensive and kaleidoscopic fashion." Jerry

"Apart from the VA, I don't see any scandals. There have been some political disputes, however. I will be looking forward into the Congressional investigations in Congress' failure to adequately fund the VA. I expect they will be really hard on themselves." Hiram
Fox News: Obama Promises to Fix VA
Kaiser: VA Controversy Showcases Problems With Government Health Care
LA Times VA Problems Systemic
WP: Obama Defends Veteran Policies

So what do you think?

Is this just what happens when you try to "socialize and cost control health care"?
Is it a good reason to avoid single payer and/or single provider?
Or is it something else?

Humans are Prejudiced

Here is an excellent opinion piece that seems to be relevant to our discussions on racism.
Fox Sports Mark Cuban on Prejudice  And here is a foolish response by some writer at Think Progress.
"I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to make an honest and crucial point: that all of us, especially those of us who grew up in the comfort of white skin in a country in which that is the number one marker of privilege and security, have internal racial biases that we must acknowledge."  Think Progress: How Not to Star Discussion on Race
Somehow this writer thinks that white folks are more racially biased than others...  Like Black folk don't have biases regarding White folk.  Or Latino folk don't have biases towards Middle Eastern folk.  What silliness.

I don't know anything about Mark Cuban, but thank God he was willing to express his very rational view.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

MN Holding Tail, Trying to Wag Dog

The MN DFL seems to think they have a lot of clout.

CNN MN Issues Ban on Antibacterial Ingredient

WP MN Mandates Cell Phone Kill Switch

Apparently they know better than the FDA, and they are going to try to mandate phone features.

Now I know what the GOP means when they say the DFL is out to make government intrusive in our lives.  Thoughts?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Impeach the President?

Short on time again.  Though you may find this discussion interesting.
MinnPost Impeachment Anyone
"I guess I don't know much about this topic, however these comments seem way too one sided.
Now Bush did have a big advantage. Many of the liberties he took were tied to "National Defense" when people feared Al Qaeda. And since the President is the Commander in Chief, he was given some latitude.
Whereas Obama seems to using Executive privilege in some places where it may not belong.
  •  Letting schools opt out of NCLB
  •  Delaying ACA implementation
  •  Raising min wage for federal contractors
It will be interesting to see where this goes. Especially if the GOP takes over Senate control this in January." G2A
"As of January, Obama has issued 168 Executive Orders,compared to George Bush with his 291 in 8 years and Ronald Reagan with 391. By the way, last I heard, Al Queda is still a threat but I guess Obama doesn't get the same latitude because ...oh yeah, he's a Dem. Thanks for chiming in however and adding nothing to "your side" other than just blind, partisan speculation. I'm sure there's some poor people you can chastise for their poor life choices coming on another thread real soon. Better warm up your blog..." Jason
"Yes they are and I am happy Obama has not undone all of the good work that was done to ensure the war on terrorism stayed off US soil. And if his dictates focused around keeping us safe, he would get that benefit. Unfortunately his dictates seem to be about getting around the rules passed or not passed by the Legislative branch.
By the way, have you started Buying American whenever practical? It is good for American workers, Government revenues, Unions, etc." G2A

Thursday, May 15, 2014

MN DFL Spend Spend Spend

Short on time today, however I thought you may find these interesting.
MinnPost DFL-GOP Bonding Bill Blow Up
MinnPost Legislature on Roads, Transit
MinnPost Legislators Strike Budget Deal
MinnPost Slurping Up the Surplus Slows

In summary:
  • DFL wants to spend the majority of the surplus. (surprise)
  • They will spend little on infastructure and great deal on public buildings, parks, etc.
  • The surplus money that will be "redistributed" to citizens will not go to those who paid too much in taxes. (ie funded the surplus)  Instead it will go to those who paid less in taxes, many of whom are DFL voters.
Do you notice anything else informative or noticeable in this session?

Thank heavens they need GOP votes to pass the bonding bill or the DFL would have signed our children up for paying back even more DEBT.

The following article made me wonder if the "DFL's tax and spend" us into growth plan may have run into a problem...  MinnPost MN Lost Jobs in April  Which would be ironic since they kept wanting to take credit for MN's great success of late, even though the GOP was pretty much in control until about 1 year ago.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Teach For America and the U of MN

Now this was a fairly interesting Q and A.  It seems there is a chance of alternative licensing coming a school near you.  MinnPost Prepping Teacher for Challenging Classroom  There were only 2 comments entered, I am hoping we can generate more.
"Color me Skeptical:  Several bits of Ms. Dillon's enthusiastic response beg for further explanation, but I'll just pick 3 that got my attention right away.

The whole notion of "alternative pathways" is interesting. I can easily think of circumstances when it might well be a more effective approach, but it also strikes me as an approach that could just as easily be LESS effective than the model usually followed, and more importantly, it's interesting to me that the approach is aimed at only classroom teachers. I look forward to the U's involvement, for example, in "alternative pathways" to school administrative certificates, and while we're at it – especially given the stated presumption of ineffectiveness of the current model – there seems sufficient grounds to develop "alternative pathways" to doctoral degrees in education, as well as tenured positions at state universities in the field of education.

A 60% retention rate beyond the 2-year TFA commitment is… um… nothing to write home about.

“they work side-by-side with an experienced classroom teacher who is very effective and provides strong mentoring that we mutually value. The K-12 students they work with recognize them both equally as teachers. They plan together."


Students recognize a college sophomore (or perhaps it's a college freshman – it's not entirely clear in the interview) who doesn't know a whole lot more than a 12th grade high school student as a legitimate teacher? Equal to the experienced and effective career teacher with whom they've been partnered? This suggests to me that high school students in Minnesota are quite a bit less discerning than the high school students with whom I worked in another state – who would never have considered a college freshman or sophomore the "equal" of the "real" teacher in the room unless the former were extraordinarily mature and well-prepared, and the latter was the personification of ineptitude.

Even then, they'd be skeptical. So am I." Ray

"TFA Prerequisites:  Apparently all of these candidates are already college graduates with at least a 2.5 GPA. So hopefully all of them are more knowledgeable than most HS Seniors.  TFA Prerequisites

I have friends who got teaching degrees and much of their curriculum was typical of other liberal arts college degrees. Not sure why you are skeptical." G2A

Teach For America Twin Cities
UMN and TFA agree to develop
Star Tribune: ED MN Why They are Against TFA  (ironically Mr Dooher stated "According a review of the national research on TFA by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, “studies indicate that the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers.”"  Which makes little or no sense since ED MN keeps saying that teaching results can not be accurately measured or used for Teacher Evaluations...  Go figure...)
Star Tribune: ED MN Blocks TFA  (I knew there was a reason I voted for the Democrat... "“I believe that we are an outlier in our opposition to TFA,” state Sen. Terry Bonoff, DFL-Plymouth, who worked to bring TFA to the state.") 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Social Security is NOT a Ponzi Scheme ?

That MP FDR post led to some very interest comment strings.  Here is one discussing Social Security, and the opinions vary greatly.
“Just One Little Minor Correction

…I can't speak for Libertarians, but most Repubs I know (geezers and others) expect to get what they've paid for; no more, no less.”

What most Repubs (and Dems, Libertarians, Independents, Innocent, Oblivious, etc.) will get from SSI and Medicare is far in excess of what they contributed. Most retirees get back from Social Security in 3 or 4 years the sum total of what they (and their employers) put into the system. After that, unless they're independently wealthy, they're living on someone else's dime.

And, of course, if all you expect to get back is what you've paid for, we can eliminate the "return" on a whole host of investment vehicles, from passbook savings (where the return comes close to being eliminated already) to T-Bills to real estate to whatever substance you want to buy "futures" in, be it oil, hog bellies, or chicken feed. I look forward to meeting the Republican who insists that charging interest on a loan is usury, and expecting to get back more than she's put into a low-risk bond is simply greed." Ray

"Most retirees get back from Social Security in 3 or 4 years the sum total of what they (and their employers) put into the system. "

Like all Ponzi schemes, that was true for the earliest "investors". We're reaching the bottom of the pyramid...or have reached it.

"Social Security has reached another critical threshold: For the first time, a typical husband and wife retiring today can expect to collect less in benefits than it paid in payroll tax over the course of their life." Yahoo SS Not the Deal

If you're comparing SSI as an investment, I'd be remiss not to point out it's an extremely poor vehicle.

As for true investments, getting a positive rate of return certainly falls under the category of getting what you pay for, since an investment inherently implies a gain of some type. Expecting others to subsidize a loss falls short of the definition, and that is what the left is suggesting." Thomas
"Social Security is not a Ponzi Scheme:

Once again a claim is being made here that is contrary to fact. A little research on the matter will lead to the conclusion that the title of this comment is correct.  For example, from the Economist, a slightly conservative but respected publication on Finance

"Social Security: A monstrous truth"

"NO PONZI scheme in the history of the world has ever lasted 75 years."

"Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. The entire population of working Americans has already been subscribed to Social Security for decades, yet the system continues to pay out benefits on time. That is because the actuarial calculations underlying its revenues and benefits are sound."

Please read the entire article for more information. Mr. Swift's disparaging and incorrect questioning of Social Security as an investment is also addressed:

"If you wanted to call Social Security an investment, you would say it is a play on the proposition that America's GDP will continue to grow over the long term. This is the safest play one can imagine making, which is why the returns are so modest. Like any investment, it could go bad. But if it goes bad, if the economy of the United States ceases to grow over the long term, it is inconceivable that any other investment large enough to feed a pension plan covering the entire working population could do better."" Bill

"What would you call a government program that taxes the well to do the highest premium and then to stay solvent pays them the lowest benefit? I am not sure if Ponzi is the correct term, however it sounds a lot like typical welfare.

"Those costs are limited and, measured as a percentage of GDP, will flatten out. They can be absorbed through a modest, gradual increase in Social Security taxes and modest reductions in benefits for wealthier recipients."

By the way, the big problem isn't SS Retirement... It is SS Disability and Medicare... The premiums paid in the past do not cover the planned benefits." G2A

G2A Life Expectancy and SS
G2A FICA Income or Benefit
G2A Just Say NO to Programs
G2A The Magic of THEY
G2A Debt the Gift to our Children
G2A Prodigal Son Revisited

Some interesting quotes from the SS Medicare Fund Trustees
"Neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing, and legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers. If lawmakers take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits. "
"Social Security’s Disability Insurance (DI) program satisfies neither the Trustees’ long-range test of close actuarial balance nor their short-range test of financial adequacy and faces the most immediate financing shortfall of any of the separate trust funds. DI Trust Fund reserves expressed as a percent of annual cost (the trust fund ratio) declined to 85 percent at the beginning of 2013, and the Trustees project trust fund depletion in 2016, the same year projected in the last Trustees Report. DI cost has exceeded non-interest income since 2005, and the trust fund ratio has declined since peaking in 2003. While legislation is needed to address all of Social Security’s financial imbalances, the need has become most urgent with respect to the program’s DI component. Lawmakers need to act soon to avoid reduced payments to DI beneficiaries three years from now. "

"A temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax rate in 2011 and 2012 reduced payroll tax revenues by an estimated $222 billion in total. The legislation establishing the payroll tax reduction also provided for transfers from the General Fund to the trust funds in order to “replicate to the extent possible” payments that would have occurred if the payroll tax reduction had not been enacted. Those General Fund reimbursements amounted to about 15 percent of the program’s non-interest income in 2011 and 2012. The temporary payroll tax reduction expired at the end of 2012. "

"While the combined OASDI program fails the long-range test of close actuarial balance, it does satisfy the test for short-range (ten-year) financial adequacy. The Trustees project that the combined trust fund asset reserves at the beginning of each year will exceed that year’s projected cost through 2027. "

Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Control and Governments

Paul and myself were trying to have a discussion at MP FDR when the moderators once again intervened...
"Liberandians and political spectrums. Clearly some people are confused about their own location on the political spectrum. Suffice to say that you need not have read a single word of Ayn Rand or John Birch to qualify as a Libertarian. The confused and incoherent ideals of Libertarian/Randian pseudo philosophy have become so ubiquitous within the American right wing that many don't actually realize their so-called "independent" thinking originated. Tea partiers for instance tend to be particularly confused regarding their actual intellectual heritage.

Be that as it may, the rest of us must try to have intelligent discussions and liberals also seem to get confused once and while. For instance, I run across a quite a few liberals who seem to have forgotten that "limited government" was actually a liberal idea and is a standard feature of liberal democracies. That's what all the checks and balances were about. When so-conservatives show with their weird notion that "limited" government is their idea, and then seek to create dictatorial systems liberals would do well to remember their roots." Paul

"Wishful Thinking. Let us hope then that Liberals someday return to their roots." G2A

"Liberal's have not strayed from their roots.... Liberal's are not trying to establish dictatorial polices that restrict voting and marriage rights or attempt to use the coercive power of the state to enforce mono-cultural economic standards. Tis conservatives who everywhere from books bans to secret prisons assault liberty with unlimited government solutions to every problem, large or small, real or imaginary. The fact that such assaults are launched under the guise of "freedom" has long been observed as a standard conservative bait and switch. Somebody once said: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." THAT person or persons, will NOT be a liberal, they will look a lot more like Sarah Palin than Paul Wellstone." Paul

"Nolan Diagram. There is a reason that a tyranny can be an economic Liberal or Conservative on the Nolan chart. G2A Political Self Awareness Because government control is government control. Be it preventing abortions or redistributing money.

The GOP and DFL both seem very comfortable using government to force the society to conform to their version of what is "good". And to punish those that do want to comply." G2A

"Government control is government control? Yes, so there's no difference between affordable housing and concentration camps. And no difference between Iran and the Netherlands. Where there be government control, control is control. Nolan chart? No wonder some people are sooooo confused." Paul

And my unacceptable comment went something like this...
"Different yet Similar.
One country controls based on wealth distribution values.
One country controls based on spiritual values.
Both are trying to save their people..." G2A
It seemed pretty tame to me...

Now if there is a day of judgment, it would be interesting to see how the folks of the Netherlands fare...  This an interesting article.
My Experiences in Amsterdam's Red Light District

Thoughts on Paul's initial comment or the following discussion?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Keep America Beautiful

The MinnPost moderation system still has me puzzled.  Here is a snippet from a comment string.
"FDR's Liberties. How long after FDR's Four Liberties speech did he intern Japanese-Americans? They were provided free houses, so maybe he only kinda infringed on their freedoms, right?

I'm surprised that there has been no discussion of positive and negative liberties here. A positive liberty is one where someone is kept from a bad situation (i.e. freedom from want) where a negative liberty describes a right that can't be taken from someone. So the negative liberty reading of a general 'right to bear arms' describes a situation in which people can't be forbidden from owning guns, but a positive liberty reading is one where guns would be provided. 
FDR's assertion of positive liberties doesn't constrain all of us, forever, from the negative liberty position. In fact, the negative one was the more basic understanding from before the founding of the country. 
He suggests a right to a good education but that doesn't magically make it appear. Similarly, his promise of a right to a good job didn't make them happen either. You could argue that the creation of the WPA and similar was a good idea in the depression (and I'm not sure I would disagree) but would the failure of the government to create jobs mean that the unemployed were having their rights violated? Right now we have the lowest job participation rate in a generation. Should the jobless file a civil rights suit?
If not, why?" Peder

"It seems many people here think that "freedom" means that the government must provide "it", whatever "it" is. And that the recipients effort or lack of effort is immaterial to the discussion.

As is who's Private Property is seized to enable this "freedom"." G2A

"G2A chimes in...we arrive full circle. Back to taxes being "seizure" and anyone that isn't wealthy is lazy. Cue usual pimping of his blog for more unique insight...that's a wrap." Jason

Something's Missing
"Trash. Most welfare recipients already have a job, often several jobs that take them away from their families for extended periods of time. They're on Welfare despite having employment. And yet you want them to work more and take them away from their families even longer.

Compassionate conservative you're not. You're simply conservative." Todd

 "Willful ignorance... Less than 5% of the population are "dependent on welfare", which is defined as having more than half of their family’s income coming from TANF, food stamps, and/or SSDI payments.  5%.  And that is with the cutoff of HALF or more of their income coming from the gubbmint." Neal

"Clean Neighborhoods. Let's say 1.000.000 adults in metro
Let's say 1% of your 5% could be cleaning
Means 10,000 people could cleaning the metro." G2A
 So I am re-reading this string and all of a sudden it hits me that some late moderation had occurred.  A whole comment had been there and was later deleted.  And this seems to happen to me occasionally.  Here is roughly what went missing...
"No need. Hits are at record highs. And I think there are many reasons that people are poor. (ie bad luck, poor decisions, divorce, etc)

I just think some of them could be cleaning our streets or doing other tasks for their benefits. " John
Not sure why the comment got yanked...  Thoughts on the discussion or the moderation?