Monday, February 21, 2011

American’s Aren’t Buying Teacher Union Thuggery Anymore…

The Teacher’s unions in Wisconsin are showing the union agenda again to the American people and the American people are not buying. Public School Teachers are well paid in this country. People talk about how they are underpaid but when you compare wages with the people that pay the teachers through taxes, the benefit packages, and the number of hours worked in a year, teachers are well paid. It is not a job for everyone but neither is being a computer programmer.

The reality is that the way education is structured, teachers work for the taxpayers and parents. They don’t work for “greedy corporations” that are trying to “screw” them while management takes home hefty profits on the backs of those teachers. That argument doesn’t work because the people have only one agenda for their kid’s education; they want the best they can get for a fair price. The reality is the teachers in Wisconsin as well as many other teachers across the country don’t pay into health care or pension funds. Those tend to be outside the salary cost. Some areas have started to implement small changes but overall the public sector is way out of balance from the people that pay the bills in the private sector.

There is a financial reality with most public careers; an inherent salary cap based on what taxpayers are willing to pay. If you think you are going to get rich working in the public sector you will not. Most public sector employees have moved beyond what most taxpayers believe to be fair wages and benefits. Public employees in most sectors make more than their private sector counterparts and that causes resentment. It is especially concerning when teachers complain and strike based on the very small concessions they are being asked to make. Teachers aren’t the most important people in a kid’s education, parents and family is. Teachers come in a close second but if we lost every teacher in the country tomorrow there are millions of well qualified individuals that could pick up and make sure our kids learn what they need to know to be productive citizens in society. To act as if public education is the Holy Grail is to be utopian. Just look at any inner city public school system and tell me that we need those schools?

There are great teachers in many schools around the country but the system is broken and we need to address the systemic problems. And one of the biggest problems is teacher unions. Teacher unions could care less about the kids. Unions are political arms that buy politicians to get more money for teachers and unions. The kids are just an excuse to take your money. Teachers unions take our hard earned tax money that is supposed to go to hard working teachers to pay Union bosses huge wages to distribute money to politicians to maintain mediocrity. Every dollar that goes to unions is a dollar that could have gone toward our kid’s education. Parents are done paying into this antiquated and failing system.

As the teachers and union members walk the streets of Wisconsin when they should be in school teaching, parents are taking it all in and are coming to the same conclusion; get back to work and get rid of these unions. Unions are political organizations that have no place in our classrooms. Good teachers will be rewarded and bad teachers fired fairly without unions. The taxpayer is tired of paying for useless political thugs that impede great education and creativity. The taxpayer wants to pay a fair wage and benefit package to good teachers. The taxpayers also want results for their investment.

The taxpayers aren’t greedy corporate executives. We are parents making sure our kids get the best education for the money we are investing. We are on to the Union thuggery and we are done paying for it…

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trains; Budget Boondoggle…

We are racing out of control heading straight down the tracks toward bankruptcy and we are talking about $50 billion in funding for high speed rail? What has happened to spending cuts? The only conversation about high speed rail we should be engaged in is the fact that Amtrak runs at a $2 billion yearly deficit that should be cut. The tax payers should not be subsidizing Joe Biden’s 7000 roundtrips from Delaware to DC.

Michael Medved recently interviewed a rail expert about the economics of trains, and in particular high speed rail. The reality is the United States infrastructure is not conducive to trains being economically viable. Trains rarely pay for themselves. That is evident by the lack of private sector companies willing to invest in rail without a commitment from government to pay for it.

The republican budget committee has just announced a meager $ 32 Billion dollar cut in the federal budget which needs to be $1.4 trillion. The deficit is $1.4 trillion and that is what the goal should be. Throwing money at high speed rail is the same as flushing it down the federal toilet; high “efficiency” toilet that is! I can’t understand the move toward a system of transportation that will never be able to sustain itself.

The green folks and Prius crowd have a love affair with the train and often site Europe as the example. Even in Europe the train systems run at a deficit with the exception of a few specific lines. If the Europeans can’t even sustain rail with a much more condensed infrastructure what makes these people think that rail will work here? And that doesn’t even take into account the argument that will be made for subsidies for car companies as people abandon their automobiles. Even if that pipe dream was to come true.

Giving up the automobile will never happen, and it is unrealistic to expect Americans to give up the convenience and luxury no matter what the price of gas is. If gas prices get too high the American voter will demand increased drilling here in the states. They will never abandon the car when oil is so readily available and the answer is simply to increase our political will to drill. That is a matter of an election cycle or two.

Trains are only viable for freight. If the federal budget contains more than $1 in 2011 it will be $1 too much. Can we please get off the train track and start addressing the third rail issues like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense; please?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Inner City Education is Paramount…

Education is the absolute key to success so why do we entrust it to politicians and teachers unions? Why would we place our most precious assets and source of future entrepreneurial creativity in the hands of people that are deep in the syrup of bureaucracy? It is not an argument about public and private but simply an argument about competence.

Have the unions that control the public schools in our inner cities acted competently? Have they found ways to educate our kids from difficult circumstances? The only answer we hear coming from the education bureaucracy in more money. More money has been tried and failed. Why? The consequences of failure have been neutralized by social welfare programs that incentivize a life style that has become acceptable for an entire generation of individuals. It is a crime against humanity. The people responsible for the education system in inner cities should be prosecuted for child abuse. Not because they have failed but because they have failed to adjust and innovate while accepting another generation of under educated inner city youth.

When the few do get through to the college level they end up needing remedial programs that are the result of the failures at the high school level. Education at the college level has become an overpriced extension of high school for too many individuals. Colleges and Universities are not focused on preparing kids for the work force they are simply milking a cash cow. The private colleges that focus on nursing, computer programming, business, accounting, etc…, are the only institutions living up to the promise an education offers.

What is needed is a fresh perspective on education at all levels that rejects the current structure and starts to transform using the new technologies available to today’s families. Home schooling should be expanded into community schools that offer incentives for small groups and families to work together in smaller settings in conjunction with technology centers and social hubs. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to changes is this propensity to hang on to the traditional High School experience that many parents remember as the “glory days”.

The glory days are gone for the kids in the inner city, and the cost of managing huge complexes of brick and mortar in a day when any building can be outfitted with the equipment to educate, needs to be cast off. A new day and way has to be adopted. Bringing together kids in the inner city to schools that attract drug dealers and criminals is no longer a model that works. We need to focus on learning, not buildings and sports teams. The sports, band, and other activities can be offered outside the traditional HS experience.

These are just a few ideas for our education bureaucrats. They will fight them tooth and nail but if we expect to end the bigotry of low expectations for our inner city kids we need a new approach. The one they keep dishing out is not working. Just walk through any inner city in this country and you will find kids being left behind for another generation of lost hopes and dreams.

Can we just try something new?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Government Intrusion Making us Sick…

Pfizer recently announced reducing its budget for the research and development of new life saving drugs by a whopping $2 billion dollars. Even if the money and jobs doesn’t concern you because you hate big “Pharma”, evil corporate executives, and capitalism in general, the new drugs that may have been developed to save your life one day are on life support.

Capitalism is simple; investment is made when rewards can be realized. The rewards are profits that can be used to pay people to develop more products to make more profits. The outcome is jobs, investment, charity, and overall economic growth. The reason the company has made this decision is based on the reality of the FDA’s over bearing regulations that will most likely make any of these investments into new drugs a total waste of time. The company does not believe any drugs in the future will be approved by the FDA. So the investment being made is unlikely to be realized. In the real world what that means is an assault on our system; capitalism.

Obama talks about innovation and corporate “responsibility” as he enters campaign mode, but what he has created behind the scenes is a bureaucratic nightmare. Obama talks about a “partnership” between the private sector and government. There is no such thing. The only responsibility of the government is to insure commerce moves between the states in a regular fashion. The federal bureaucracy is out of control and now trying to regulate us to prosperity. You can’t regulate the economic prosperity by being the gate keeper of new drugs into the market place. The process to get drugs to market has become so burdensome that it is no longer worth it to make those drugs. That is what the government has done as a “partner”.

The rule of law needs to be enforced in a free market place. That is the role of government. It is not the role of the federal government to micro manage as a “partner” in the private sector. That is a complete distortion of the free market economy. This president has NEVER created a job in the private sector. He has never worked in an industry that had to innovate and develop a product to survive. He is completely ignorant of the free market and is creating an atmosphere that is stifling American ingenuity. Why do you think companies are moving offshore? It is not simply lower wages; it is because they are looking for places that still respect the free market.

Companies do not exist for the sake of creating jobs and investing in communities although that is the result of successful companies. Companies exist to make a profit. If they can’t make a profit here in America they will go where they need to or go out of business. The government’s role is to stay out of the way unless laws are broken in the process. Less regulation and intrusion will fuel economic prosperity.

Pfizer is just the beginning and the effects will be felt for years to come if we don’t reign in this out of control federal bureaucracy. The future drugs that may have prevented or cured common diseases of today have been stopped by the FDA. One day we will look back and wonder why our mortality rate has rescinded. This administration and philosophy is making America sick…

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Decision Points…

I have just finished reading Decision Points by George W Bush and as a history buff; I enjoyed reading the President’s perspective of events that are fresh in my mind. It does give you a perspective that is quite different from the vantage point of citizen. I still have major issue with many of his decisions because he continues to suggest he is a conservative that respects the constitution but a lot of his actions over his eight were neither.

There were a few key points I took away that helped me to understand why I am a constitutionalist. The constitution limits the power of the federal government, and if one thing is extremely clear in the book is that Washington DC sees itself as too important and too powerful. The constitution is an afterthought in much of the decision making process with the exception of when the president weighed into unchartered territory like the war on terror, foreign policy, and the financial crisis.

The other area that stood out like a sore thumb was the President’s confidence in people to manage a government that was totally out of control, and his determination to work with liberals in congress. His judgment of liberal democrats seemed flawed and at best wishful thinking, at worst naïve. To think that Ted Kennedy was working with him on education reform for the benefit of the kids is almost laughable. Ted Kennedy was in it for his own legacy and unions; period. Working with Kennedy on No Child Left Behind showed how little conservatism entered into his though process.

Don’t get me wrong, I think George Bush was a good man but a really flawed conservative. I would love to have the opportunity to hang out with him and debate the issues, but to argue that he was anything resembling a conservative is not realistic. He has a very liberal leaning propensity that showed in his willingness to inject government solutions into problems that are best left to the private sector and local communities like education, healthcare, and poverty. Although I think his support of Faith Based Initiatives was on the right path, it didn’t go far enough.

The final chapter titled Financial Crisis really brought home the sense that the federal government and Washington DC is mired in a mindset that the country would have melted if not for the federal bailout. There was a panic that they were trying to manage by taking action that continued the panic. We may never know, but the markets were manipulated by regulation and the results harvested bad behavior by the private sector, government, and individual citizens. The ability of the market to rebound would have been swift and real compared to what we have now. We are mired in government intrusion because George Bush opened the door to additional government intrusion. The correction would have hurt more but I am not convinced it would have been worse if the companies that made bad decisions were made to go through the bankruptcy process.

We will never know because we didn’t let the market work. Washington DC and George Bush thought they were smarter than the markets. I disagree that the markets were the reason for the meltdown, I believe it was a crippling of the markets through bad regulation, but we will never know and are left to speculate and clean up the mess his actions created.

I like GW as a family man and person. I think he was a better alternative than Al Gore or John Kerry but he was no Reagan. I enjoyed his book and feel like I have a better understanding of his decisions as president but I still disagree. The soldiers and their families had a good Commander in Chief, and I have a lot of respect for the respect he showed our troops and their families. He took his responsibility with great care. He is truly a man of faith and I loved that he shared his personal struggles with alcohol.

The book was a good read but for conservatives there are lessons to be learned about compromise and government largesse. The lesson is we need to work harder to educate people on the power of conservative principles and the constitution. Jefferson style not Bush style…