I really wonder who dresses these people. We have another unexpected announcement about the economy, this week it’s the housing sector. Again. Last week we had reports of new lows in the price of resale homes and they were shocked. This week it’s a new low in new housing starts. Actually, the news is really about both January and February, from the Wall St. Journal.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — New construction of U.S. housing units plunged in February, erasing a sharp gain in January and coming close to an all-time-low level.
Mitch Daniels has been oft mentioned as a possible candidate for President in 2012. He’s done some good things as Governor of Indiana and appears to be popular with the folks in his state. He’s also tarnished his conservative credentials a couple of times with some “missteps” like his proposal for a “truce” on social issues until we can get the fiscal problems facing us on the way to being fixed. And then there’s his opposition to a bill in the Indiana legislature that would make his state – where he eliminated some collective bargaining ability by unions by executive order – a Right To Work state.
Frankly, I can live with the concept of the truce. Mostly because in the real world, social issues – primarily abortion – isn’t going to come off the table, it’s just not going to be front and center but there will still be ongoing legislative actions to curtail the practice when the opportunity presents itself. See the Congress working to defund Planned Parenthood as an example.
We keep hearing bluster about how the economy is recovering. Bluster. Let’s see, there was that announcement about job creation and the unemployment rate dropping to 8.9%. Of course, in the midst of the trumpets and hallelujah choruses there was the note that the reason for the drop was not the “job creation”, rather it was the number of people who quit looking for work basically cooking the numbers for the Obama Administration.
I’m going to stray today from my normally politically correct, softball writing and call a spade a spade.
Barack Obama and his US Department of Labor are a bunch of lying whores. (With apologies to sex workers who don’t deserve the comparison.) Their latest exercise in attempting to sell a bill of goods to the American people is their latest pap on unemployment. This is just another exercise in why I don’t trust either statisticians or government employees. Both are congenital liars, to the point where they don’t even realize they’re lying. What never ceases to amaze me is that they are able to use media outlets like The New York Times to smear their pap and the folks at The Times seem to do it with glee in their hearts. I know I shouldn’t be amazed, but the level of gross stupidity and ignorance of even the basic facts – when all the data is numbers – is overwhelming and I expect better, even of products of the re-education camps run under the guise of “schools of journalism”. OK, so much for my whining. And, Mrs908 recommends a fine sharp white cheddar available at Trader Joe’s to go with the 908Whine™.
…or so you’d think from the whining.
You’ve really got to hand it to teachers. They’ve managed to sell society a real bill of goods over the last 40 years or so. Now don’t get me wrong, there was a time when teaching was a very honorable profession. Profession. Teachers actually cared about having children learn and develop a thirst for life-long learning. That time died a violent death with the advent of the NEA and AFT and so-called “schools of education” that handed out undergraduate and graduate degrees in, of all things, “education” and they transformed teachers into “educators”.
As the good folks of Georgia are finding out.
Let me start off by making a couple of things clear, or at least trying to.
- Every dollar spent by the federal government on “education” in any form is a dollar wasted. The return on investment is ZERO. That includes money for “studies”; money spent on (not invested in) bricks and mortar at the federal, state or local level; money targeted to “improve” specific schools; federal block grants to the states; every crying dime of money spent propping up student loans and every nickle of Pell Grants.
- Most of the money poured into state colleges and universities is perfectly good cash that could be used for something that is useful.
OK, so now you should know where I’m coming from on the subject of education in general. If you’re not clear, reread the above points until you are. If you’re still having a problem understanding, Google “higher education bubble” by clicking the link and read at least five of the articles. That brings us to the subject for today, the State of Georgia. The Legislature passed and some Governor or another signed a bill a while back – 1993 to be exact – creating the Georgia Hope Scholarship Program. The point of this program, according to the politicians who wrote it and passed it, was to help good high school students in Georgia attend college and to attend “for free”. [Insert screed here re: ain’t no fricking free lunch!] The bottom line with the program is that if you graduate from high school with a “B” average you get as much as $6,000 per year toward your college costs. According to the article in the New York Times…
A majority of freshmen in Georgia have grades good enough to qualify for Hope, which covers tuition, some books and fees — but not housing costs — at any Georgia university or technical school.
My first instinct with that line is “Huh?” [scratch, scratch, scratch] “A MAJORITY?” Now since I’m old and have managed to acquire a reasonable – cynical, but reasonable – understanding of human nature, let me point something out that you may also have already figured out.
- Politicians promise parents “free” school for their kids.
- Politicians “pay” for the program with proceeds from state sanctioned gambling (lottery), typically played by those who can least afford it.
- Parents then exert tremendous pressure to achieve specified grades to qualify for “$$$Free Money$$$” (thank you JD Hayworth) on their kids. Oops, make that their kids TEACHERS. Teachers, reacting to a point of pain that they perceive can be easily remedied, practice “Grade Inflation” (note, link requires strong stomach or alcohol).
- More kiddos that the politicians “thought” (any references to “politicians” and “thinking” at 908 Straight St! are very strained and generally used for comedic effect) magically qualify for the program.
- Costs of the program spiral upwards. Is there any other direction?
- A “crisis” eventually ensues.
- The New York Times and whatever the local paper of the same ilk get hysterical. Cut to appropriate response for such hysterical behavior.
So, is this program a waste of money? Yeah, it is. Some anecdotal evidence from the same NYT article…
ATHENS, Ga. — Students here at the University of Georgia have a name for some of the fancy cars parked in the lots around campus. They call them Hopemobiles. But there may soon be fewer of them.
The cars are gifts from parents who find themselves with extra cash because their children decided to take advantage of a cherished state perk — the Hope scholarship.
And even though as many as two-thirds of Hope students let their college grades slip so much that they no longer qualify — “I’ve lost Hope,” they joke when it happens — Georgia still gives away more financial aid per student than any other state.
If The Times would like to do some research, they might also check to see how many Hope recipients are also taking out Federally Subsidized Title IV Student Loans, and just where that money is going.
“Free Money” from the government, doled out in large parcels, may buy some votes for a time. Oh heck, it WILL buy votes for a time, but that time may well be coming to an end. In addition, the idea that everybody “needs” a college education or that a college education will provide certain benefits may also be coming to an end. We, as a nation, need to step back and take a deep breath and understand that we’ve been sold a bill of goods by the education establishment and in the process of thinking that college for all is either good or worthy, the establishment has dumbed-down the process so that those who aren’t prepared for or simply aren’t able to do “the work” of real academics won’t get their feelings hurt. The result is a second rate education, on it”s way to becoming a third rate education, is available to all at a staggering cost. And that cost is not just the student loan balances that people leave school with, nor is it the tremendously high cost of state and federal subsidies for educational institutions that graduate students who can’t communicate in standard English, can’t write in a form that’s doesn’t look like a text message and who have “degrees” that don’t qualify them to do much more than find out if a customer wants fries with his lunch. The cost of college-for-all is the proliferation of degree programs that have the words “studies” or “science” in them that prepare their graduates for nothing more challenging than going to grad school to get an “advanced degree” in the same crap which will qualify said “student” to do nothing more challenging than teach college level courses to other simple minded fools.
It’s time to take a hard look at our colleges and universities and, as with most things, get back to basics. Degree programs should offer the student the opportunity to be exposed to real knowledge not pap or pop culture. The emphasis of universities should be to graduate students who have mastered difficult academic material, not to hand out worthless diplomas so students and parents will feel good about a supposed “accomplishment” that will show itself to be near worthless in a very short time.
- Hopemobiles (lukeford.net)
- Students prep to challenge HOPE changes (ajc.com)
- HOPE won’t end, but it will change (ajc.com)
- Bad News: Defaulted Student Loans Don’t Cost the Government (dailyfinance.com)
- Will College Become Unaffordable? (distance-education.org)
Because, it’s time to pay him.
Schadenfreude is just such a wonderful thing. As a private sector kinda guy who believes in the profit motive, I’ve pretty much always had a huge problem with gummit employees. And I feel somewhat remiss in not putting employees in scare quotes because next to lawyer jokes, stories about lazy, arrogant, unproductive gummit employees are in everyone’s quiver of stuff to say when the room gets quiet. The difference is that lawyer jokes are funny and gummit employee stories aren’t.
Well, things they are a changin’ on that there front, thanks in part to the economic expertise of Mr.Hope&Change and his crack economic team. The commoners, the little people, are figuring out that the lazy leeches who are paid from their tax dollars by all levels of gummit are bleeding us dry and we’re getting fundamentally nothing from it. The real fun part to all of this is that politicians, at least at the local level for now, seem to be getting the message that the natives are restless and are laying in a stock of torches, pitchforks, tar & feathers and rope. Even the New York Times is catching the drift.
FLEMINGTON, N.J. — Ever since Marie Corfield’s confrontation with Gov. a YouTube classic, she has received a stream of vituperative e-mails and postings.this fall over the state’s education cuts became
“People I don’t even know are calling me horrible names,” said Ms. Corfield, an art teacher who had pleaded the case of struggling teachers. “The mantra is that the problem is the unions, the unions, the unions.”
Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable, as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city and town budgets, and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy.
You might remember when Ms. Corfield got snotty with Governor Christie last year at a public forum and got her [self] ripped up one side and down the other to the applause of the crowd. And she seems incapable of understanding how or why people would go after her. Well dear, the answer might have something to do the perception that you’re an arrogant public employee who costs the taxpayers of New Jersey about $90,000 for a part time job. Go figure. And take note that it’s not likely to get better for you either.
In California, New York, Michigan and New Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture historically tends to be pro-labor, even longtime liberal political leaders have demanded concessions — wage freezes, benefit cuts and tougher work rules.
It is an angry conversation. Union chiefs, who sometimes persuaded members to take pension sweeteners in lieu of raises, are loath to surrender ground. Taxpayers are split between those who want cuts and those who hope that rising tax receipts might bring easier choices.
And a growing cadre of political leaders and municipal finance experts argue that much of the edifice of municipal and state finance is jury-rigged and, without new revenue, perhaps unsustainable. Too many political leaders, they argue, acted too irresponsibly, failing to either raise taxes or cut spending.
A brutal reckoning awaits, they say.
Well, it IS the New York Times and at least they are directionally right. But I think they missed a couple of things. Foremost among ’em, methinks that taxpayers are NOT split. They’re fed up. And as far as political leaders acting irresponsibly, yep they did, and it was both parties. But the irresponsible part wasn’t “failing to raise taxes” is was not controlling and then not cutting spending. But The Times does get it right in the end, the day of reckoning is neigh and it will be brutal. The really brutal part will be when these “public employees” get their panties in a wad and go looking for real work in the private sector. As an employer, I can guarantee you that a gummit job on a resume is only slightly less damaging to your prospects for employment than a stretch in the pen as a child molester. Slightly.
There are a couple of other stories in the media from around the country on this subject, I’ll highlight a couple and they deserve a full read so you can really understand that public employees are in trouble. And in places you might not guess. Like Wisconsin. And Pennsylvania.
MADISON, Wis. — In preparation for Monday’s inauguration of the new governor, Scott Walker, red, white and blue bunting has been draped around the Capitol’s echoing rotunda. Lawmakers are unpacking files in their newly assigned offices. And state workers are fretting.
“What does this bring? What does it mean? Where are we going here?” Marty Beil, the leader of a union that represents 22,000 of Wisconsin’s corrections officers, maintenance workers, game wardens and others, said the other day. “State employees feel like they are the target of all the slings and the arrows and the bullets that the new administration is already throwing.”
You feel like you’re a target? Good.
FOREST CITY, Pa. — Ralph Miranda was looking for eggnog here the other day at the state liquor store, a dated and somewhat forlorn little shop with no name, just the Soviet-style designation #5801. When the store manager told him they were out, Mr. Miranda muttered, “That’s why you privatize.”
“The Soviet-style designation”. Perfect. What business do states have in running what should be real businesses anyway. Although I will admit the when we lived in New Hampshire decades ago, the state did a good job of running state liquor stores. Mostly because neighboring states had high sales taxes and specific taxes on liquor. And New Hampshire built huge state liquor stores right on the interstate highways about fifty feet from the border. The parking lots were always full of out-of-state plates.
And finally, in my home state of Arizona…
- Public workers taking blame in budget crises (msnbc.msn.com)
- Time to Rethink Public Employee Unions (powerlineblog.com)
- GOP Guvs Ready to Take on Greedy Public Employee Unions (chicagonow.com)
- You: Republican governors target public employee unions (latimes.com)