Archive for the 'government' Category

Recession Holding Back Education Too…

Great… not only is the recession hurting my income today but it is likely to have a much larger economic impact on education (and thus earning potential) of future generations.  It a NY Times article last week titled “Facing Deficits, Some States Cut Summer School” many schools are cutting back or closing their summer school programs to save money.  This is being done in spite of $100 billion in stimulus money being pumped into education and the Secretary of Education urging states and districts to keep their summer school programs open.

Summer school you say?  Who really really cares about summer school… unless of course you are talking about the classic 1987 movie Summer School with Marc Harmon and Kristy Alley.  The reality is that summer school can be critically important to those kids coming from low-income households.  In our most recent bout, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell we learned that the knowledge gap between the kids from the poorest families to the richest families is almost exclusively attributed to what knowledge is gained or lost during the summer (not technology in the classroom or classroom size).  As the Times article points out, children of working parents will be at the mall or in front of the TV instead of in the classroom preparing them for the next grade level.

If Gladwell’s analysis is correct, why is it that state governments or school districts would make such a short sighted decision?  Perhaps his research hasn’t made it back to the education establishment?

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Jon Stewart goes “mad” on Jim Cramer?

For those who missed The Daily Show last night it was awesome… Jon Stewart took it to Jim Cramer and CNBC on the lack of “financial reporting” on their supposed “financial news” cable network.  Not to be a spoiler… but there are some great video clips of Cramer off air.  Take 20 minutes of your day and watch this episode!

Franken or Coleman? Odds Favor A1.

A week later, we still don’t know who the 2nd Senator from Minnesota will be.  The margin between Coleman and Franken has shrunk over the last week to 221 or .0001% (there were 2,833,089 votes cast in the Senate race).

538.com has some excellent analysis on the probability of who is more likely to win in a recount.  It turns out that if 51.25% of uncounted votes (25,000 or 0.9%) turn out to be votes for Franken, he has a 98.8% chance of ultimately winning.

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Also, more details have emerged regarding Coleman’s friend and supporter Nasser Kazeminy improperly channeling $75,000 to Coleman in 2007 through Coleman’s wife’s employer.

Funny story: a friend of mine got a call from the Franken campaign.  They asked “are you going to vote for A-one Franken?”  Apparently, the L looked like a 1.  Ha!  Good on a steak, but for Senate?  Moral of the story: when you’re paying someone to call potential voters, you should make sure the people calling can read.

What are the responsibilities of Mayor of Wasilla?

There were a few folks after John McCain announced his running mate that drew the comparison between Sarah Palin and Teddy Roosevelt for their short time as governors and of course their leadership capabilities.  You know… leader of the First Calvary (Rough Riders) and Mayor of Wasilla… obvious conclusions.  And then there was the comment during Palin’s RNC address where she chided Obama about being a “community organizer” while she was just a small town Mayor with “Responsibilities.”  Well thank God for investigative journalism… we now know ALL of the details that the Mayor of Wasilla is responsible for… and it is a LONG list!  Watch for yourself from The Daily Show (details at the 2 minute mark).

New use for Twitter… Poll Cop?

I ust saw this one on Twitter… NPR wants you to tweet to #votereport if you “experience probs when voting, send a tweet with your zip, the tag #votereport & a description so we can investigate trends.”

What do you think?

Truth, Lies, & Taboos… how dearly do they cost us?

I have been doing a lot of think lately about several of our societal taboos… specifically talking about religion, politics, and money.  I have always been a fan of the quote “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, which refers to the benefits of openness and transparency.  There was a further suggestion from Louis Grumet, Publisher of The CPA Journal, who offered “We should not only accept criticism and suggestions, we should embrace them.  If questions from constituents, the public, or the media make leaders or other responsible parties obfuscate, the questions are usually valid and the answers are not.  People who feel uncomfortable under the bright light of scrutiny and criticism often have something to hide.”

I am suggesting that this impartive not only holds true for politicians but for all of us and that by conforming to the norms and labeling subjects as taboo we are supporting prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability – we are letting these lies survive in the dark alleyway between Truth & Freedom.  When women like Gayle Quinnell of Shakopee suggested that she didn’t trust Senator Barack Obama and called him “an Arab” at a Lakeville, MN, McCain rally we all thought wow… did she just say that in public?  My next question was, where had Gayle been “hiding” this racism?  Hasn’t she talked with others about the candidates?  Doesn’t she know that Barack is actually a Christian?  If her friends, family members, or fellow parishioners had heard her mention this idea before did no one speak up?  Did no one correct her on the facts?  When we avoid discussing our religious and political beliefs with others who do not agree with us we are protecting ourselves from having difficult or uncomfortable questions that we may not wish to face.  The latest of these taboos is the belief that we should not talk about money with friends, neighbors, or family.  A couple of stories that I thought I would share… 1) two years ago in a local fast food establishment I overheard a couple talking about how their daughter and son-in-law planned to file for bankruptcy immediately after returning from the cruise trip that they were on, 2) a year and a half ago friends were trying to sell their condo and plan for a down payment on their house – they had almost no money in savings but drove new Cadillac and Audi vehicles and spent lavishly on expensive clothes and purses, and finally 3) this weekend I overheard a few patrons talking in a restaurant about how one of them had four different vehicles in four years but had no money.  Where was the sense of responsibility from these people?  Did no one question their actions?  Did no one question their sense of accountability?  We need to again talk about our beliefs and actions… we need to expose them to the light of day… and we need to be more accepting of those who might question us or our motives… or we will continue to provide safehavens for prejudice, hatred, misinformation, lies, deceit, and unaccountability.

Payroll/Income Tax vs. Capital Gains Tax

A couple of Broken Spines members were talking Friday night with an old friend who revealed that she was supporting McCain and that she had supported Bush in the 2004 election.  The conversation went to taxes and we were discussing the “inequity” of the payroll/income tax vs. capital gains tax.  A suggestion was made that we need to move to a single tax rate avoiding the loopholes for the wealthy in our current tax structure.  We discussed Warren Buffett’s philosophy that the system isn’t fair to the middle class that his income is taxed at a lower rate than the people that he employs (their average rate is 32.9% vs. Buffett’s rate of 17.7%.).

Check out Buffet’s interview with Tom Brokow where he explains how US tax policy has tilted toward the rich and away from the middle class for the last 10 years.  Decide for yourself…


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