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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5337

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure that Mike Fick hasn't been in a classroom since he was in short pants, and only consumes right wing messages. I volunteer in first and fifth grades classrooms, 4 days a week. School is harder than it was when we were growing up--the curiculum is more advanced, and there is a greater degree of diversity in cultural and economic backgrounds than there was when I was a kid. If you want an informed viewpoint on education, try Diane Ravitch http://www.dianeravitch.com/, who has impeccable conservative credentials, having served under the smarter of the George Bush's, and having working at the Hoover Institute at Stanford. As she points out, there are 4 million school teachers, and they generally fit a bell shaped curve, with 95% of them doing an adequate job and 5% split between outstanding and terrible.

The fact free party uses anecdotes, like the green rooms in the New York system, to support faith-based solutions like charter schools and vouchers. They have no evidence to support the efficacy of those solutions, and Ravitch fairly thoroughly demolishes the reputed successes of conservative solutions in San Diego and New York City. If you think about it for just a moment, the corporate model cannot be imported wholesale into the school systems. Corporations (and civil service organizations) pick and choose through tens if not hundreds of applicants. They check references, put new employees on probation, and terminate all but the best. We cannot do that with students. One of the wonderful things about the United States is that we try to educate all children. One thing that I know is that there are all kinds of intelligence, and paths to future success as adults. Scoring in math and reading, while quite significant in assessing how a child is developing, tell only a small portion of that story.

The one thing that is crystal clear to me after 6 years of volunteering, from remedial reading to advanced math, is that the emotional state of a child constitutes the most significant barrier, or fertile ground, for educational success. Overcoming small things like a child's bad mood, to large issues, like losing your home, or your dad being sent to jail, loom much larger in a child's mind than paying attention at school. Acting out, and filling out random bubbles in a standardized test, are only two of the ways this shows up.

Don't worry, Isobars and his conservative ilk would rather send them to jail later than educate them earlier. That's why prisons are the biggest growth arena in the State of California economy. And how do drugs get into prisons? Guards allow it. What a wonderful solution. Louis Armstrong would be so proud of the conservatives world.
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 2704

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To provide some balance, here are the numbers.......Koch Industries PAC contributions '89 - 2010, ........$11million......89% to Repubs. In the same period, the teachers unions alone contributed $60 million, 97% went to Dems. In addition, the other unions in the top 20 contributed an additional $300 million, 95% to Dems. Clearly unions have a powerful influence. (I have relied on OpenSecrets for the numbers).

The unions in WI have conceded the reduced medical and pension benefits. Regardless of the merits, I believe that the Governor is making a tactical error if he does not back off a little at this time on the collective bargaining issue. A successful negotiation allows both parties to leave the table feeling they have won something. Pulverizing an opponent with whom one has to work over the long haul, will leave a lasting resentment and likely galvanize wider support. In my view, he needs to give them something.
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boggsman1



Joined: 24 Jun 2002
Posts: 3599
Location: at a computer

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remember when Republicans used to argue that a contract is a contract? ha ha!
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5337

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

every once in a while mrgybe says something that I can agree with--although he spins the numbers relentlessly. Here he picks only one of the Republican business donors, the notoriously oily Koch's, and compares that one donor to all teacher's unions, and then all unions. Remember, the contribution numbers are 10 times as much business as union--and mostly hidden because the Republican's blocked any disclosure of contributors in the last Congress.

He is right about both the need for pension reform and the stupidity of the Wisconsin governor in grinding. But the point of the grinding is not solving the economic problems, it is trying to destroy the voice of the opposition. It is the same mistake that a much more moderate Republican, Arnold, made in California. Arnold could probably have gotten good reforms through, with bi-partisan support, if he had a more balanced team working for him.

It takes a bit of knowledge to understand the nature of the pension difficulties, and which areas demand reform, and which areas are merely punitive. In California, State workers get 2% of their salary, multiplied by the number of years that they served, if they retire at 60. Many local governments gave their employees 2.7% of their salary, multiplies by the years of service, if they retire at 55. In both cases, the multipliers are higher for more years of service. So a State highway engineer who started soon after college at 25, making $80,000 a year makes $56,000 in retirement. A City engineer making the same salary makes $64,800 if they retire at 55. Public safety employees get a higher multiplier for fewer years of service, so cops, firemen, and prison guards make substantially more. The State legislature passed a law allowing local governments to establish higher multipliers many years ago when the CALPERS system, which both groups belong to, was making a high enough return on investments that it looked very good. I think this should be changed, and also think that higher taxes on retired public employees (and the ultra-rich) are fair ways to manage the problem we have now.

A number of things went wrong in this scenario. First, investments fell prety to the Phil Gramm/Wall Street engineered looting of their pensions systems called securities. Huge losses. Second, local governments started reducing their contributions into the pension systems, some right away, others went the dot-com bust happened. They were counting on continued growth in Calpers investments to replace the pension costs that they had budgeted. Third, the actuarial numbers used for health care costs were not conservative enough, and providing health care for a retired employee between 55 and 65 when Medicaire would take over was costing more than anticipated. Fourth, governments at all levels who had employees that they weren't satisified with, for whatever reasons, encouraged retirement and sometimes gave them extra years of employment credit to move them out the door.

All of these things need reform. There should be more substantial reductions in benefits for anyone who retires before 60, and perhaps before 65, to lower both medical and long term payments. Many of these folks take consulting jobs (Mr. Fick?) and there could be means testing. Second, Phil Gramm and his re-Thugs should be flogged, not returned to power. Third, managers in government should demand performance or fire people. When I fired someone who wasn't performing, everybody else in the organization was happy about it. A miserable job, but one that needs to be done, and done well. Finally, we need to use the collective power of government spending on healthcare to reduce costs.

Which of these reforms have the Republicans proposed? Eliminating collective bargaining so employees don't get a union representative in disciplinary hearings? That's nuts. I never had a problem with an employee representative. They knew if their clients were going to go out the door.
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

boggsman1 wrote:
Remember when Republicans used to argue that a contract is a contract? ha ha!


As indeed it is......and can be enforced in court. However, there comes a point when sensible people have to recognize economic reality. It seems that state workers have two choices........one, they can agree to contract amendments.......two, they can attempt to hold on to what they have and suffer significant layoffs, or renegotiate contracts from scratch when existing agreements are set aside in bankruptcy. These are not palatable alternatives, but they are the only ones on offer. I'm reminded of the coalminers strikes in the UK..........the unions held on for more than a year, caused in incredible suffering within their own ranks, and ultimately folded. Many would say this was a principled stand........but the result was that essentially all their members lost their jobs and the entire industry collapsed. Hopefully wiser heads will prevail in this dispute.

Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad situation..........as GM and Chrysler bondholders discovered.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5337

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh, so now mrgybe is enamored of the restructuring of the American auto industry. Now tell me which Republican negotiated that settlement? Oh, imagine my disappointment to hear that it was Obama. I think you will see a similar situation in California, where Jerry Brown, who has some credibility, will force concessions from the traditional Democratic supporters. As he is reported to have said to the union leaders when they tried to exact concessions for supporting him, "At least with me you will be in the room when the cuts come and you will understand why I made them. With Meg you won't be in the room."

Who wants to bet that the Republicans are busy overplaying their hands?
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coyotewindsurf



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 1272
Location: SF Bay

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mrgybe wrote:
To provide some balance, here are the numbers.......Koch Industries PAC contributions '89 - 2010, ........$11million......89% to Repubs. In the same period, the teachers unions alone contributed $60 million, 97% went to Dems. In addition, the other unions in the top 20 contributed an additional $300 million, 95% to Dems. Clearly unions have a powerful influence. (I have relied on OpenSecrets for the numbers).

CNN cites the findings of followthemoney.org (a nonpartisan organization that tracks state campaign contributions)...
Quote:
Organized business interests -- including real estate, transportation, construction and lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- donated $878 million to gubernatorial and other state candidates across the country during the 2009-10 election cycle. That includes more than $21 million to the campaigns of Wisconsin's Walker and Ohio's Gov. John Kasich.
Organized labor, on the other hand, donated far less to state campaigns: $225 million, according to the nonprofit organization.


It's clear there's an abundance of money in the pot trying to influence public policy. While I'm not now nor ever have been a proponent of public employees unions, I am adamantly opposed to union busting.

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mo
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coyotewindsurf



Joined: 03 Apr 2006
Posts: 1272
Location: SF Bay

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mac wrote:
I think you will see a similar situation in California, where Jerry Brown, who has some credibility, will force concessions from the traditional Democratic supporters.


I'm looking forward to what will come with the new, more pragmatic Jerry Brown 2.0.

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mo
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mrgybe



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 2704

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To ensure the removal of any doubt, I am absolutely not enamored with the restructuring of the auto industry. The GM and Chrysler bondholders were muscled into a deal that gave them a tiny fraction of that given to the union creditors. It was a disgrace. In this environment, no sensible investor would buy the bonds of a company with unionized workers.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5878

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks mac for the insightful posts. But, I must give some credit to mrgybe too, as his viewpoint is not without merit or consideration.

Lastly, I've definitely appreciated the thoughts by a new contributor, pointster.
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