(Video) At last, teachers unions explained!

March 6, 2011

Words of wisdom from animated characters with mechanical voices. Well, from one of them… .

Pretty much sums it up, I’d say.

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Wisconsin: one out of three eighth graders can read! Yay, teachers!

February 22, 2011

Well, isn’t this special? With teachers union members demanding the right to keep better medical and pension plans better than almost anyone else has in Wisconsin, and with Democratic state senators Fleebaggers showing their support by running away from their jobs in order to block representative democracy, it’s nice to know that these teachers truly earn their money and benefits.

I mean, what’s wrong with a 66% illiteracy rate among Wisconsin 8th-graders?

Jeez, what do you people expect — that our children should actually know how to read and write?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Wisconsin: reactionary liberalism unchained

February 22, 2011

Pajamas Media co-founder Roger L. Simon is a Hollywood screenwriter and lifelong Left-liberal who in recent years has made a journey back toward a pragmatic conservatism; it was through his writings at PJM and his earlier blog that I came to realize that American liberals and progressives are among the most reactionary people in today’s political environment. They cling bitterly to their ideology in the face of all evidence contradicting it, while conservatives such as Paul Ryan or Sarah Palin instead look at what’s been tried and what really works in the search for solutions to today’s problems — empiricism as opposed to dogma, reaction as opposed to thought.

In his post today at PJM, Roger recounts the saga so far of Wisconsin’s attempt to reform public employee benefits and collection bargaining and then asks why has American liberalism become so juvenile and reactionary? His answer, selfishness:

Liberalism has become a mask for greed in our culture — a way of hiding excessive selfishness from others and, importantly, from the self. It’s a deflection, really.

We see this in the billionaire extremes of a George Soros and a John Kerry, but also now in the demonstrators in the streets of Madison. Many are suffering economically in our country. Huge numbers are unemployed. But when asked to pull together for the good of the mean, the liberals, the ones who pay the greatest lip service to equality, say NO.

They hide behind “Union! Union! Union!” and “No pasaran!,” but it’s all a fake. When the chips are down, our modern liberals are overcome by their own sense of entitlement. Christopher Lasch’s Culture of Narcissism has infected them to such a degree reality cannot intrude. I get my pension even if there’s no money, even if you have to pay for it and you’re broke without any pension of your own.

Socialism, my fat fanny! It’s just plain old selfish greed.

I think this is spot on, at least for the large mass of those demonstrating in Madison and elsewhere for the preservation of their gold-plated benefits and outsized political influence. Among the ideologues and left-liberal elites, including our president, there’s a desire and a goal to reshape our nation along European social-democratic lines, the vast, highly regulated welfare-entitlement state we see in a France or —God help us!— a Greece. But for many, maybe most, it comes down to throwing a tantrum when some adult says there are no more cookies in the jar.

Be sure to read the rest.

RELATED: Another former Lefty “gone Right.” Ron Radosh on “How the Left sees the union crisis in Madison.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Myths and facts about the Wisconsin union protests

February 21, 2011

The conservative Heritage Foundation produced this video, contrasting claims made by protesters in Wisconsin with the facts about the financial aspects of the budget-balancing bill proposed by Governor Walker. I’ll let you be the judge, but I really, really hope none of these people are teaching History:

Doesn’t Godwin’s Law apply to protests, too?

via Fausta

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: Brown’s austerity budget?

December 29, 2010

The LA Times has an interesting article today about incoming Governor Brown’s proposed budget – interesting mainly for what it hints at and leaves out, and secondarily for a bit of media bias. First, the proposal:

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown is laying the groundwork for a budget plan that would couple deep cuts to state services, including university systems and welfare programs, with a request that voters extend temporary tax hikes on vehicles, income and sales that are set to expire next year.

The blueprint Brown will unveil when he takes office early next month also is expected to take aim at several tax breaks and subsidies that have been fiercely guarded by the business lobby in Sacramento, according to people involved in budget discussions with the incoming administration.

Among the breaks are multibillion-dollar incentives for redevelopment projects and hundreds of millions of dollars of “enterprise zone” credits meant to encourage investment in blighted neighborhoods. Also targeted is a recent change to state business tax formulas that has saved corporate California roughly $1 billion.

The combination of austere spending and extended tax hikes is designed to confront both parties and their allied interest groups with painful choices that Brown says are necessary to truly resolve the state’s massive budget problems. He intends to take swift action, using the political capital of a new governor to confront a deficit that could easily subsume his governorship.

In a symbolic gesture to garner the trust of a skeptical public, Brown has already pledged to cut his own office budget by 25%.

First promising sign: the Governor-elect recognizes we’re in a deep mess and cannot keep spending the way we have been for the past 25 years :

California state spending has outgrown the state’s tax base by 1.3 percentage points annually for 25 years. Simple arithmetic dictates that in lieu of constant tax increases, this perpetuates a deficit.

From 1985 to 2009 state GDP in California grew by 5.5 percent per year, on average (not adjusted for inflation). Annual growth in state spending was 6.8 percent, on average. Three spending categories have dominated this spending spree: public schools, cash assistance and Medicaid. Making up half of state spending, they are outlets for traditional redistributive welfare state policy.

(h/t Wyoming Liberty Group)

Back to the Times article, Brown plans to ask for cuts to California’s welfare, public school, California State University, and University of California allocations. He also wants to change or eliminate special enterprise zones (areas of lowered taxes to encourage local hiring) and the way a particular tax is calculated for businesses. Finally, he wants voters to approve an extension of onerous tax increases enacted a few years ago, which will expire with this fiscal year.

It’s a mixed bag, with something to tick off everyone. By one theory of politics, that means he must be doing something right. Teacher’s unions and the universities, for example, will hate the cuts to education. But, let’s be blunt here: CSU and UC students, even after recent fee hikes, are still heavily subsidized and charged nowhere near market rate for what they get. And higher education is a public good, not an unalienable right. If the state can’t afford to keep subsidizing it at current levels, then logic dictates cutting back. And it’s not as if public school performance in California has warranted giving the teachers unions more, instead of forcing some competition and choice into the system, as has New Orleans.

The proposals to cut back business enterprise zones will surely anger business communities, but the article mentions (but does not cite directly) studies arguing that those zones have not had the desired effect. Shouldn’t fiscal conservatives be open to the idea of ending programs that don’t work, even if they are ones conservatives sympathize with?

One of the greatest obstacles Brown’s proposals face is the extension of tax rates. California is already one of the mostly highly taxed states in the nation, one of the reasons businesses and people are leaving for other states that don’t punish success nearly as much. Here in the Golden State, if you make more than $47,055, but less than a million, you pay the second-highest rate, 9.55%. Sales tax in Los Angeles county is 9.75%, which is a 1.5% premium over the state rate of 8.25%. And auto registration fees (the dread car tax, which was part of why Gray Davis lost his job in 2003) is 1.15% of the car’s value. Brown is hoping that spending cuts will persuade a skeptical and angry public to extend these tax rates in a special election in return for deep spending cuts. We’ll see.

The devil, of course, is in the details, and Brown’s representative was deliberately vague, probably not wanting to show his hand in advance of what is sure to be a hard fight in the legislature. Here are some questions I have for the once-and-future governor:

  • Are these spending cuts permanent reductions in bloated state spending, or just a temporary cutback until the economy picks up, at which point we’ll go on a binge again?
  • When would the extended tax rates expire? When the economy recovers, will you consider tax cuts to stimulate economic growth?
  • Will you push for an increase in school choice to break the stranglehold of the teachers unions and make sure we’re getting value for the money we put into education?
  • What will you do to reform California’s regulatory environment, which helps make this state the worst in which to do business?
  • What will you do to curb the corrupting influence of other public-employee unions?

I’m sure there are a lot more questions, but these are a start — as is Brown’s plan. We’ll see what comes out in the details in the months ahead.

TANGENT: The article does a pretty good job with the basics, but still reflects the LA Times’ pro-Democrat, pro-progressive bias. When discussing portions of Brown’s proposal that the business community might not like, it mentions only opposition with no word about people who might be hurt by the changes. When talking about cuts to welfare and education, we get pity-words about students and the poor, with no attention given to the effectiveness of those programs — unlike we see in the discussion of enterprise zones.  Not egregious, not outrageous, but sadly typical.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Grading Obama’s education policies

October 11, 2010

Libertarian Reason.TV gives the President an “F,” and I have to agree. Narrated by Nick Gillespie, the video flunks Obama in three areas:

  1. More money for no improvement
  2. Policies that limit choice, when school choice has been proven effective
  3. Unions before education

Watch the video for an explanation:

With regard to the second reason, I’ve written before about the rebirth of the New Orleans school system after Hurricane Katrina and how a voucher system enabling school choice has lead to greatly improved test scores there.

But don’t bother a progressive reactionary, such as the President, with empirical evidence.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Chris Christie is proof we need human cloning

September 9, 2010

I’m not kidding. At least 40 of them, now. Watch how he handles a Teacher’s Union member who whines about his direct, blunt manner:

At Ace’s, Drew M. gets it right:

I’m not saying the guy is perfect but damn, he’s simply demolishing the union talking points. I love how he can move between big picture political themes and policy details on a dime. He has total command of the subject and the conversation.

I think the most impressive thing about Christie is he is simply not cowered by the liberal talking points that send most politicians running to their mommies. You want to take a shot at him? Fine, he’s going to punch back.

In a era in which state budgets are being swamped by unsustainable public union contracts and pension agreements and ripped off by union bosses trying to preserve their little empires, governors like Governor Christie are exactly what this country needs.

Oh, and about those clones? Back off, Jack. California gets the next one off the line.