• Mike, I didn't see the program about teachers on tv but have heard about it. I think today most teachers are good and hard working, but there are always a few who are not doing the job they should. It is too bad we are having problems weeding them out. Teachers are one of the main ingredients, not the only one, but their influence is important.

    We may not see a difference in the finished product from a good public school and a private one, but when we compare our best with the best of other nations, if we "dumb down", our best will be placing lower than otherwise.

    You are right about the left and right war. I have spent some time trying to understand the other side, and you have been helpful. I know one side is not going to win over the other. But communication may bring some sensibility to it all.

    March 14, 2011 at 7:01 p.m.

  • jbj
    I took your statement to mean that everything I write will have a liberal slant or anti- conservative. That was not the case; I was summarizing the magazine articles.

    I don't think it's liberal or conservative when it comes to tolerance.... Some people are panicky; others not so much. It's more about Keynesian & austerity.

    My daughter is a schoolteacher and tells me a lot of what is wrong with education. I think Victoria has some good schools. A couple my children went to public schools and one went to a private school and my grandchildren are divided along those lines but I can't tell the difference. .... But did you happen to see that 60 Minute segment last night where a school is paying teachers $125,000 a year but they are on constant probation. This school concentrates on effectiveness of the teacher.

    In my responses I've said I'm pretty much exhausted from the left and right arguments that never lead to anything, but that does not to say that I have abandoned my liberal roots. The blog is more about not ignoring our future, to walk and chew gum at the same time, and to the victor goes the spoils, and to try and cut the losses..... I don't expect the 112th congress to pass any meaningful legislation; they will continue to kick the can down to road until after the 2012 election.

    March 14, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.

  • Mike, I was not intending to be condescending, liberal ideas are as valid as conservative or any, in an exchange of ideas such as this site. I was referring to your comment, "don't elimate our mortgage deduction, cut preschool lunches", which may be a liberal exaggeration of views of those who are not for higher taxes, and comments regarding a Republican who prefers to use money for other than high speed rail.

    I also realize that liberals are not quite as concerned as conservatives that our country is in a critical condition regarding our finances. I am not here to say which view is more valid, but I do recognize the difference in the views.

    Another issue I would comment on is our educational system and because a considerable amount of my life was dedicated to this, I have developed some impressions that I feel strongly about. How do home schoolers and private schools outdo public schools with less funding? There is a billboard right now advertising for a local lower grade level school which turns out top students at high school graduation. Maybe it has something to do with less government invention. The teachers are not instructed to even out the test scores even if they have to bring the top ones down. They are not told not to teach division by more than two digits because some students may feel bad if they cannot do it. No, they are told to teach every student to their best potential, and this is what homeschoolers do.

    Do we need the government to decide what we eat and control the menu in schools? Maybe not, but I don't think sodas and sweet roles improve health or education and if schools are offering this, maybe we need someone to intervene. Wasn't it Reagan who declared pickles and catsup vegetables?

    March 14, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.

  • Rebecca

    Sorry for my late response but I usually take weekends off..:-) Now, for your question "Mike, what's your take on the protests in Austin? "

    Texas has a $27 billion shortfall, and the legislators are cutting education by $10 billion. That's 37% of the shortfall; not fair by my books, but republicans have the overwhelmingly majority and can do whatever. they want, so the best things the teachers can do is to try and cut their losses.

    I think John Hanning of Inez wrote a thoughtful letter to the editor titled "Simple ways to cut expenses for taxpayers he said" we can trash the antiquated, outdated, and useless "state auto inspection." He went on to say that other states have dropped and saw no increase in accidents. Then he said " we can add the $15 the to the cost of license plates.".... It's a trade-off or as they call it in government " revenue neutral."... By his calculation it would add $450 million dollars to the state coffers without any new taxes.....Compromise,compromise,compromise...

    March 14, 2011 at 11:04 a.m.

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    March 14, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.

  • Grandpa

    A great response and I agree with just about everything you posted.

    I have congratulated the GOP for their victories(to the victor goes the spoils), but I caution them,as I did my democrats " don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."....

    I agree that all governments are bloated with bureaucracy and waste and we need to start fixing the problem right now but we can't balance the budget in seven months and no one will take the Federal government seriously unless we look at defense spending and the entitlements. The amount of discretionary spending we cut is not that important right now ... As Mitch Daniels said""As a general rule, it is better practice to do the people’s business, try to concentrate on making ends meet, which Washington obviously has failed to do for a long time, and have other policy debates in other places."..The GOP house needs to strip the three riders the democrats will never vote for and then find a compromising dollar amount to cut.

    March 14, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.

  • jbj
    I guess one can interpret my blog as they wish but your comment "Your little bird appears to be a liberal" sounds condescending. I summarized some economic positions of some new governors. I said it will be interesting to look at their decisions in two years. In the meantime, I was hoping that they wouldn't lose focus and disregard future investments. That's not liberal or conservative; that's a compromising wish. That’s the reason I didn't dwell into the social issues, taxes and reforms.

    Liberals, conservatives, democrats, and republicans know that our infrastructure is crumbling. Our education is sub par, and we need a long range energy policy, even while we're making cuts. It's not a sporting event where China, Europe, India, and Brazil will take a timeout while we get our fiscal house in order.

    There are factors and variables that are common knowledge, and have no ideological bent such exports, imports, the rate of consumer savings, so this is what I was referring to.

    I was offering a temporary fix for the lack of mathematicians and scientist we graduate; not the immigration policy for low skill workers:
    The EB-1—Priority workers include persons of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics; persons of exceptional ability or with an advanced degree in the Sciences, Arts or Business; outstanding professors or researchers, and international executives and managers.
    EB-2—This category includes professionals with advanced degrees or persons with an exceptional ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business; qualified physicians practicing medicine in under-served areas of the United States.

    March 14, 2011 at 10:13 a.m.

  • 1. "We hear the misconception that collective bargaining is bankrupting several states but often it's only about 3% of the actual budget."

    This is an ambiguous statement - exactly what are you saying? Almost every government, city, county, state, personnel costs account for 70 to 80 percent of the budget. In California they tried to blow this same smoke up everybody's whatever, "

    Personnel cost in California are at least 70 percent of the budget as indicated by the attached link. “For California’s budget, salaries represent 7.5 percent of the total state budget. The costs for healthcare and pension benefits are another 3.7 percent.” This of course is a lie.

    2. "We still have the trust of the world and our borrowing costs have gone down, not up."

    People, investment firms, and countries are starting to dump US treasuries. The Fed is buying our treasuries and keeping interest rates low. In addition interest paid to the Fed is returned to the Treasury at the end of the fiscal year. So it's not surprising that our interest cost on borrowed money are low for now. But there's that little problem next year when trillions in short term debt are due - then what?

    3. "Even Franklin Roosevelt knew his New deal was a persistent, bold act of experimentation..........

    Oh please, don't even go there !!!

    March 13, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.

  • Mike, I am sure you can recognize that in the world of politics nothing ever stays the same. One thing that I have learned is that whether Democrat or Republican.... if you stray too far from center and start the pendulum swinging, you will likely see it swing back, until it resumes some sort of center (at least until the next "crisis" or significant event gets it going again). That is exactly what is taking place in national politics, and the feeling of insecurity has drifted to the local level.

    Both Dems and Repubs have displayed conservative and more "progressive" ideals at one time or another and have been successful in implementing change. The the most widely accepted and lasting endeavors are realized when such actions represent the core values of a widespread majority and do not represent disregard for the budgetary "bottom line".

    Let's recognize that nearly all Americans manage households and most of us know when we have over-extended our expenditures to match our income. I think that Americans are excercising their liberty and right to vote to support the changes that represent their assessment of the state of the national business, our government. I think the people will continue to make choices upon where they expect dollars to be saved, or spent, in the best interest of our country. No one group or one person should have that authority, that arrogance, or disregard for the public trust without answering to the voting populace.

    March 13, 2011 at 10:10 a.m.

  • Mike, what's your take on the protests in Austin?

    March 13, 2011 at 9:52 a.m.

  • A few more comments,

    We have a system for immigration and those coming in to the USA through this system are proud to be here and we are proud to have them. They bring their culture, their standards, and their strengths, and much more. If we need to change this system, we should look at that. But those coming in illegally are a problem. While the first group strengthens our country, the latter group does not, and in some cases, weakens it.

    Elderly people have paid their dues, and if dues needs to be raised or we need to raise retirement age, we will have to deal with it. But health care and retirement are expensive and this is a need most people will have. This is going to be a situation that we will have to face and make work. It is not the same old group of old people leaching on the taxpayer, this population changes daily and almost every taxpayer will be part of this group one day.

    One bird sees a need to invest more money from the government to save our country and the other sees a need to hang onto what we got and try to bring about some improvement from the private sector. One bird sees the small jump in our economy as a result of money spent finally kicking in while the other sees it as a vote of confidence from the businesses looking for stability in the economy that will bring that spending to a halt. Who knows which one has a more accurate picture?

    I have addressed a few of the topics you have brought up through the eyes of a different bird. Same views, different perpectives. And I am sure there are others out there.

    March 12, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.

  • Mike, I hope you will take these comments as I intend them, not as an antagonistic voice. Your little bird appears to be a liberal. There is another bird that others are seeing through the eyes of, and that bird is more conservative. Neither have the exact picture, but a part made up of what the person who is looking through it feels and has experienced. We are all different and can lend different viewpoints. Neither extreme is going to "win", but it will be a coming together of the two groups that will determine how we succeed or not.

    Through the eyes of that other bird, collective bargaining is not really the issue. This bird has seen unions becoming stronger in their control. This is the pendulum swinging back, taking back some of the power some people feel has allowed the unions to step over the line. Not all people feel this way, but enough did to vote this governor in and if they change their mind, he will be out.

    I am seeing some bully politics, through this bird, and it did not start with WI. I don't like bully politics, but it does bring about the correcting that comes with elections. That goes for both sides.

    We did not need a little bird to help us see how the housing market bubbled up, ballooned out of control and then burst. Housing will self correct if we let it. Part of the hot air that caused it to rise came from the misuse of lending practices. Part of it came from a false market, and governments that didn't mind at all when values soared, with the tail of that balloon being property taxes. Now if we can keep from raising taxes on housing, maybe the housing market will stabilize and we will see this market come back, allowing everyone, not just the "rich", to benefit, as that is what is happening now. If you are not in a position to notice, those who have enough money are "investing" in this buyer's market. Those who need to borrow money to buy are looking at more than a little difficulty and a government that wants to chance lending practices so that everyone pays 20% down. Ouch.

    Another little bird has seen our schools drop in effectiveness. I could write a book on how that has happened, I was in the trenches watching it, while I pulled my own children and put them in private school. I can tell you that government intervention did not and does not improve education, but brought and continues to bring about some unrealistic goals which make it harder to turn out children who have learned to their potential. They want them to be equal, not taught with regard to individual strengths. I won't go into detail but when I went to take my certification test for teaching special ed, after teaching regular ed for years, I was told to look for the answer choice that would cost the most and be the least effective among the choices given, and that is what I did. I made a 91. (to be continued)

    March 12, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.