Thursday, September 25, 2014

Charter Schools and Their Promises

Take a leisurely stroll through the history of American enterprises that have come and gone, that started out with high hopes only to crash and burn on bad management, under capitalization and changing times, one quickly realizes that private effort is as susceptible to all the faults and failings that plague the public sector. 

Private enterprise offers no solid guarantees on success. So, let's not have a silly love-affair with Charter Schools, as if they could do no wrong, as if "privatizing" public education is the cure-all for every problem. It's just not true, in spite of the jingoism of Wall Street Devotees and those who hate all things public. 

The same standards that others have applied to public education must be applied, now, forcefully, to Charter Schools. If they're failing, find out why. Try to fix it, of course. But let's not be afraid to cancel the charter - either going back to the public system, or granting the charter to another corporation. After all, isn't that the American Way? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Boehner's Ceaseless Lies

These are the kinds of lies always 
told by the wealthy to America.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, members of the "ruling class" were wise enough to know just how terrible these lies are, and that's why they "betrayed their own class"- a class of liars and deceivers, driven by greed, and the enormous fear that some might gain at their expense.
I wish I could take John Boehner on an LA bus for a day - let him really see people, how hard they work, bone-tired and poorly paid too often, hoping and dreaming, being good citizens. To drive Vermont and other great streets to see the hustle and the bustle of mom and pop shops, street vendors and folks working hard to make a dime.
Yes, there are some who need help, and who will always need help. Is this so hard for us to understand? Is the need for kindness, mercy, compassion, so galling to us that we cannot muster the will to be generous? What's wrong with this man, and his handlers? What's wrong with the ruling class?
Shame on Speaker John Boehner for such lies ... shame on the ruling class for spouting this unpardonable sin, that of darkening our counsel, muddying the waters, and casting aspersions on millions of decent people.
We can do better. We have done better, and by God's grace, we may again do better. Throw these liars out of office, and put firm leashes back on the ruling class, lest they run us all, like lemmings, off the cliff to certain death.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Debt and the American Dream

Everyone knows that Americans believe in freedom of opportunity and the work ethic: Work hard enough, and you'll be successful.

The top symbols of success being, of course, cars, houses, clothing and travel.

Those who have only their labor to sell are not likely to gain a whole of the big symbols of the American Dream, so, obtain them on credit.

You, too, can have a fine car, live in a lovely home, wear stylish clothing and travel to romantic destinations ... come and see us, and we'll be more than happy to put the cash into your hands, for a slice of the American Dream.

Here's where the system gets clever - if such things are not readily available to those who have only their labor to sell, then the owners make loans through their banks. The owners of capital, while withholding decent wages, are more than willing to loan you their money through their credit devices, and, of course, if there's a failure to pay off the debt in a timely manner, the owners have the law at their disposal.

So, dear reader, the owners of capital profit all the more, if not by lowering wages directly, then by interest charged on workers' debt.

Meanwhile, Americans "charge" ahead with the American Dream, believing, against everything reality reveals, that a little more hard work, maybe a few breaks, or even winning the lottery, the Dream is theirs ... if not now, then someday. If not in large part, then, at least, in small ways. In America, everyone is a millionaire waiting to happen.

Ah, yes, the power of a dream!

Or might it be a nightmare?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Can We Tell the Truth About Taxes?

Let's start telling the truth, can we?

1) A society built upon low taxes will never be healthy - it may be good for a very few at the top, but children and schools, bridges and highways and just about everyone and everything else increasingly has a hard time of it.

2) A society built upon taxes, even high taxes, will be healthy - infrastructure will be maintained, education sustained, medical care available to every citizen, and then some. If we have to fight a war, it won't drain the economy.

3) Taxes, even high taxes, are a job-creator - when government is funding and supporting the economy, everyone prospers - from the aerospace industry to the medical worker to the school teacher and to the small business owner.

4) Taxes, even high taxes, narrow the gap between rich and poor, not only for individuals and families but for states and municipalities. Everyone benefits everywhere!

Can we start telling the truth about taxes?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What Destabilizes a Government?

Kindness and openness has never once destabilized any government anywhere in the world ... governments are destabilized by their failure to redistribute wealth, when the society grows top-heavy with wealth in the hands of a few. 
And since when are property rights such a "Christian" thing? Seems to me the early church figured that one out in a mutuality of ownership and use. 
And charity? I love charity, too, but let's get clear on its drastic limits and its self-serving qualities - charity doesn't change the system producing the problem, and it makes the giver feel inordinately self-righteous. And the same for volunteering. 
All of this is good, but not good enough if we refuse to see the real causes of social dislocation (in this case, American trade policies have shredded local agriculture, driven people into hopeless urban areas, along with America's insatiable appetite for drugs). 
As for Jesus giving to people, there was never a question what the person "might do with it." Goodness, where does that come from? 

What I finally hear is a lot of justification for keeping things the same - helping ease some suffering and feeling good about it, but ignoring the big picture and turning away from the suffering we've caused.

The above comment was in response to the following:
I understand the mentality of charity for all--in fact, we are commanded to be charitable. However, it's one thing to voluntarily give to others. It's another to destabilize the nation by forcibly redistributing wealth to others. We were not commanded to form governments that redistribute wealth. We were commanded to pay our taxes (and follow laws), but we were not commanded to support governments that do not recognize property rights. We need human-constructed borders, and we need to retain the resources within our borders unless there is such a surplus that individuals decide, of their own free will, to give to others who have not. Why should we not do on a national level what makes total sense to both the Left and Right on a personal level? We see a homeless man on the street--we do not give him the keys to our house. We may give him some food, or sometimes even a dollar or two (but we hesitate to do that, because we're not sure what he's going to do with it). Those who genuinely care may give annually or monthly to a homeless shelter or other organization that provides help to get homeless individuals back on their feet. Those who care even more may volunteer their time at a place like that. They may give that homeless man a card with an address as to where he can go to get help. We certainly don't demand that our neighbor, who has a nice car and is doing well for himself, give us his money so we can give it to the homeless. And, assuming he will turn us down, we don't break into his house and steal his money so we can give it to the homeless. It may be a noble cause, but going about it that way is just wrong! Most people on the left and right do not want a person to break into his house, say he'll be gone as soon as he gets up on his feet, but in the mean time, demand to be fed, clothed, housed, and given full use of all the utilities (water, gas, electric, etc). That would be ridiculous! So why don't we do on a national level what makes sense on a personal level?

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Big Money Won It All: Student Loans

From a piece I'm working on: How Big Money Won It All -

This, on student loans:

As for students, tell them from little on that college is needed for a good and productive life, and then make it impossibly expensive, yet provide a way: loans. Huge loans that can’t be appealed or terminated or negotiated, but only repaid, with failure to pay not an option. Saddled with huge debt, students can no longer consider non-lucrative jobs, but only those that will pay them enough to pay off the debt, the kind of jobs that fulfill the needs of Big Money, the kind of jobs that prevent creative thinking and eliminate the possibility of “the educated” (actually, the technically trained) to challenge the system. The technically trained, by definition of the term, are well-trained, and likely to plod on; it’s the educated, by definition of the term, who are likely to challenge the status quo, ask embarrassing questions, think through the morality of corporate philosophy and economic principles. The last thing a dominant social entity needs is thinkers. Whether it be the Church, or State or now with the Owners of Capital and Labor, thinkers pose a threat; what a singularity needs is servants, the well-trained, who, with the promise of rewards (rarely realized) will stay the course favorable to Big Money - like the proverbial mule walking toward a carrot dangling from a stick tied to its head, just beyond its reach.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SCOTUS - A World of Confusion

SCOTUS, by its all-too "normal" 5-4 split, has opened a door to a world of confusion ... by siding with one form of religious expression, the Five Justices have violated, I believe, the establishment clause of the Constitution, First Amendment - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

When companies provide health care to their employees, this is a coast of being in business - after all, as a Union (defended by Lincoln), we're all in this together.

While some have suggested that workers, if they don't like it, should quit and find another job.

How about this: If the Boss doesn't like it, sell out and quit! Take the money and run. Go on a mission somewhere and make the world a better place.

Truly put your Christian Faith into action for good - and when it comes to priorities, save the lives of children already in our world, rather than going bonkers over the viability of a zygote on the so-called morning after.