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Better Schools Won’t Fix America

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/11/better-schools-wont-fix-america

Pardon my nit picking, but methinks the author is using the (somewhat Orwellian) term “education” to describe training. Training serves the corporate structure just fine and need not be spread out in an egalitarian fashion to do so. In fact, disparities allow for monetary incentives to highly concentrate wealth at the top. Education, as properly defined, serves society and should be as evenly dispersed as possible, recognizing the intrinsic differences in people with regard to interest and aptitude. Let’s never confuse Voltaire with a volt.


Wait, what?
“I co-founded the League of Education Voters, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education” and you joined “an effort to pass a ballot measure that established Washington State’s first charter schools.”
Was you’re goal to provide the country it’s best example of a oxymoron?

Recon, he’s saying both those “educationist” things were misguided…

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Ain’t he one grandee self-proclaimed rich guy?

I’ve heard of ‘workarounds’ - such as are necessitated by computer program and hardware flaws. This sounds like an eminently open gates (ah-hem) hush-hush whispered computer model ‘workaround’ the vast semi-tangible universe of dark money sloshing the banks of a semi-reality based universe of CONSEQUENCES known in the vernacular as ‘Citizens United’.

OK kiddies keep those fresh little minds of yours within the envelopes and boxes so that they can be exploded, I mean exploited, upon the whim of any marketing cabal…

Yes, he’s saying that now. Since it’s not rocket science to understand these positions were at odds with each other, and went on for decades, how much damage was done to Washington’s Public School Systems with his support? I’m glad he’s finely seen the light, but this becomes a prime example of why the wealthy should pay their fair share, let the tax payers decide where money is needed, and not allow the rich to fund their “pet” projects in the public domain.

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I’ve seen the needle and the damage done. 83.51% poverty rate at my school.

I understand the author’s argument, yet if one goes a layer deeper we would find that a necessary component of changing/modifying/equalizing the economic factors in the nation must come from Congress. New tax structures, spending priorities, etc can best be controlled by an active government. A number of references are made to the wonderous '70’s, without recognition of the tax rates of that period (look them up : ) Ronnie slashed the highest tax rates not once but twice. “Good” government (in this case one whose goal is to reduce wealth inequality) must be elected by the populace of the country. We have ridiculously high numbers of “voters” who deny science, embrace notions like intelligent design, refuse to consider any logical or even modest forms of gun regulations, who grasp jargon like “trickle down” without any comprehension, etc etc. This leads one to believe that, despite higher graduation percentages and degree levels, our schools are failing to reach students nor to instill basic beliefs and information and truths that are widely accepted by most of the “industrialized world”. Why? I have, throughout my over 5 decades of prancing about the planet, met many qualified, passionate, inspired persons who have shared the idea that they would love to teach but that they would be a fool to do so. Why? Income levels of our educators are an insult to one who has worked hard to obtain an extra credential or a graduate degree. Yes, we have some of the best, most gifted, most committed human beings who work in some of our schools around the country. But we also have a high number of individuals who teach because it is the only profession they could be accepted by. That sounds terrible but I’m afraid the overall quality of educators in the US has fallen sharply over the last 3 decades. Does this play a role in income disparity and in “fixing America”? If less than qualified (truly qualified, meaning those willing and able to challenge the status quo when necessary) people are the ones who are responsible for preparing the next generations for life as knowledgeable participants in the political, social, economic, and cultural environs of our nation, then yes absolutely. If we educate our citizens, truly educate them with historical context and the ability to think critically and independently, then we might elect better (more honest, more humane, more societally empathetic) people to make our laws and set our priorities, both domestically and internationally. Rather than reduce our focus on education as a key to re-directing our wayward ship of haves and have nots, it might be better to reevaluate our commitment to our educators and to begin to truly value and reward them for the integral, indispensable part they can and should play in the overall health of our country. Obviously, any such movement toward increasing the payment and prestige of educators would result in an increase in the number of people who want to enter the profession, and thus push upward the quality of our educational system due to the simple patterns of competition

Job #1?
Get rid of all the enormous parking lots for all those cars that children drive to school. Either build schools so that they can walk or use school buses. Teaches them to learn to live together. Until we become more socially conscious we will deliver mediocre young to the capitalist maw.

I would not be so hard on this author. I can hear mutterings in Silicon Valley
and New York and Houston, " . . . traitor to his class . . ." He does here write widely denied truths. Again, he regrets supporting the charter school charade.

Thank you Mr. Hanauer and well said.

I’d like to also add that there is a glut of unemployed stem graduates all competing for a few jobs. The hiring managers are also really out of touch about what makes a good employee and there is a great deal of discrimination happening even though it is supposedly illegal to discriminate.

P.S. I’m one of those unemployed stem graduates (older - returning student w/two comp. sci. degrees) who tried unsuccessfully for 18 months to find work. Having made the choice to raise my own son (instead of a day-care provider stranger) means I don’t have the ‘recent’ job experience to go along with my degrees and remarkably, graduates don’t have 10 years experience in javascript (yet).
The outdated norm of ‘education reform’ literally means we will have more people with degrees than jobs to provide for them - AND hundreds of thousands of citizens with huge debt to boot.

P.P.S. As an entrepreneur, you might know someone hiring a web developer? /grin

Clearly what’s needed is to take “Soul Selling 101”. It worked for Trump, McConnell, Roberts, the Koch brothers (Charles and Dave),…

An admirable exercise in self-exoneration. Too bad that it’s just empty bs. Wealth equals power. Our tax laws, our wages, our economy, our environment, and our lack of necessary action on any of these is because the wealthy own and operate our society and like things just as they (temporarily) are.

One problem with selling your soul to the devil, as these folks have, is that HE makes you forget that you’re doing HIS work in establishing HIS KINGDOM.

Hello on Earth: It’s happening baby!

Nick Hanauer has published some great articles at the American Prospect magazine. I admire his work immensely. Today the Century Foundation held a panel discussion, the topic Raising Wages in America. The Economic Policy Institute has a paper on raising wage income. It is a crucial issue. It’s also very sad, the state of wages. I write a blog, http://benL88.blogspot.com, and I use a graph by an economist at the Levy Economics Institute that shows about a $2.7 trillion shift in income since 1980, about $20,000 a year for the lower-earning 90% of households (not families). The BEA.gov says that the per capita income, that is income for all humans, is $48,302 today, after paying federal taxes. (See Table 2.1, NIPA Interactive Tables) Therefore a family of four, on average, will have an income of $193,000, after federal taxes. Does that sound average? Of course not. Hanauer uses the figure $76,000. The Joint Committee on Taxation publishes an income and taxation report (Overview 2019). In their case they projected for 2019 a “per human” income of $48,000, but that is before paying taxes. Taxes are about 29.1% of average of income. The ITEP.org web page, Who Pays Taxes in America? for 2019 says that the effective (as a percentage of income) overall (local, state, federal) tax rate is 29.1%. — I know this is too complicated, but hold on. The per capita income according to my calculation, pre-tax income, is $60,759 – per person before taxes – and the average for a family of four is over $240,000 before taxes, and post-taxes it’s close to $190,000. So, I before used the figure $193,000, and now again I find it $190,000, post-taxes for a four-person family. I looked at USCensus Hinc-01, it says the median pre-tax income for a four person family is $94,000. Compare $94,000 with $240,000. Or you can divide the JCT figure by the # of households and get about $120,000, and compare that with the median household income of $61,327.
$120,000 vs. $61,372, average to the middle or median income. Find the Hanauer’s median family income is $76,000, and he says it could be $105,000. The EPI.org site “What should you be earning?” says it should be $99,024. So what does this mean? We need the PRO Act, Protecting the Right to Organize. We need a $15 an hour minimum, and a doubing of the Earned Income Tax Credit. The U.S. household net worth, (private worth of everyone) is now $104 trillion or $109 trillion (Federal Reserve Flow of Funds, page 2), and the federal government outlays last years was about $4 trillion. I conclude that we can afford to increase taxes and pay for many great programs that will ensure guaranteed employment at a living wage, Medicare for All, student deb restructuring, and many others expensive things. I take the time to write all this out of appreciation for Hanauer who is making a big contribution to the public discussion. We need an article about all the proposals coming from Elizabeth Warren and Gillibrand, and Sanders.

I admire your ethos, ideals and courage to speak out on inequality over many years - and I admire your honesty in admitting you got the causes of inequality wrong - so what course now for you?
You now consider you have identified “the core problem …that the bottom 90 percent is divvying up a shrinking share of the national wealth”- but that too is a misconception - such wealth transfer is not the core problem - it is the inevitable effect of four decades of relentless "Friedmanite monetarism - commonly known as neoliberalism.

Why did you get it so wrong - and for so long?
You ‘hate to be wrong’, and I daresay pride yourself in getting it right more often than many others. I suggest you were wrong because, like millions of others, you have been indoctrinated with unconscious macroeconomic groupthink.

From one who was similarly deluded until enlightened through MMT in recent years; the core problem is Friedmanite based ‘orthodox’ economics - your Econ101 textbook is at the very core of your mis-identification problem. Both secondary and tertiary education institutions are complicit - having been insidiously captured by the wealthy intent on advancing inequality.
Beyond the US horizon, the impact of neoliberalism is apparent in every advanced nation.

I suggest you read these three books - prove the macroeconomic statements therein wrong by any means available; but when you can’t disprove, you will have found macroeconomic truth - and that realization will then forever change your economic perspective.

  1. ‘Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy’ - Warren Mosler (.pdf)
  2. ‘Reclaiming the State’ Mitchell/Fazi - (an easy ‘eyeopener’ read on proper macro policy)
  3. ‘Macroeconomics’ MMT textbook (600 pages) Mitchell/Wray/Watts - is IMHO the most significant macroeconomic textbook of this century. An essential reference for anyone in government/finance/business.

It shouldn’t take that many words to explain the obvious.

There was a reason Bush the First called it voodoo economics.