Tuesday, May 17, 2016

American public education system cannot be fixed

It simply can't be saved.  

There is just too much money sucked up by the public education system (K-12) with too many bureaucrats who have devoted their lives to keeping the cash flowing, and indeed to increase the cash flow taken at gunpoint from their tax payers within their districts. These bureaucrats have now feather bedded each school to the point that they are nothing more than bottomless money pits that suck the very life blood out of their communities, and drive property tax rates through the roof to support such opulence, extravagance and waste.  

For each child within a typical public school, there might be in any one school district approximately .5 administrators/support staff/teachers on the public payroll making sure that the taxes freely flow in to support this child.  Two kids, one public school employee.  It is simply unsustainable in the long run.

And the long run is now here.

When I went to public school (6th grade, 1966), my school had 25 kids per class, and the elementary school I attended (Ida Patterson Elementary, Eugene OR) had two classes per grade, K-6.  That equaled 175 kids in this building from September through June, a typical school year.

The staff of this public school in 1966 consisted of the following:

  • 1 teacher per classroom, or 14 total teachers.
  • 1 principal
  • 3 administrative personnel
  • 1 school nurse, who served 4 other local schools also
  • 1 janitor/handyman/maintenance guy
This ancient school had no buses, because we walked or rode our bikes to school. There were no lunch ladies, cooks, dishwashers, cafeterias, none of that. We ate lunch at our desks, and the independent milk man delivered a case of milk to each teacher, and she charged each kid 4 cents for a carton of milk to go along with their brown bag lunch which was packed by their loving parents.

No special education/high risk student teachers, no language teachers, no truant officers, no security personnel, no bus drivers, no bus maintenance facility, no mechanics, no mechanic supervisors, no mechanical facility administrators, none of this garbage.

And somehow, we were taught the elementary subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic (the Three Rs).

My daughter's elementary school in 2013 consisted of the following staff to educate grades (K-5) of approx 150 students:
  • 35 teachers, to include special needs/education teachers, language teachers, speech therapists, physical education teachers, science teachers, librarians, and then the regular grade school general subject teachers.
  • 1 principal
  • 1 vice principal
  • 1 attendance principal
  • 4 gym/physical ed teachers
  • 2 security personnel
  • 14 general office administrators
  • 17 cafeteria staff, to include a cafeteria manager and assistant manager
  • 7 bus drivers
  • 5 bus/equipment maintenance workers
  • 10 misc. employees, whose duties are nebulous at best
The math here is not hard.  That's a LOT of public school employees, and the community is satisfied that this is the least, bare bones level of staffing that we can live with to educate our children. We simply cannot function with less.

Bond issues are voted on each year to try and increase the funding to the local schools, since they are always cash strapped.  Any attempt to reign in this profligate spending on this bloated system is vilified, and cries of 'but it's for the children!' are blasted from bullhorns held by teacher's union goons.

These public school employees are so entrenched, and have so ingrained into our conscience that we need all of this crap so that our children receive the education they deserve, there is just no possibility that a single penny can be cut from the ever growing bureaucracy.

There is simply no hope of fixing this.  It just needs to be dumped in its entirety and started again from the beginning.  But parents will not put up with any significant changes, since it is the way it has been since, well, forever.

No, it hasn't always been like this.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Why Obama's American economy is stagnant

As a small business owner (very small) and sole proprietor, I myself would just love to grow my operation, hire some folks, and really start to put my business on the map.

But that is simply not in the cards for me.  I would love to have help in a lot of the simple, low tech tasks that I have to do myself.  I could easily show a reliable but entry level skilled person how to do a lot of things that would free me up to concentrate on the skilled tasks of my business that I have spent a lifetime honing.

Not going to happen.  The daunting requirements of the federal government are simply too overwhelming and potentially fatal to my business.  If I were to hire just a single guy (or gal), I would be putting my entire business at risk of going under, considering the following:

  • The current federally mandated minimum wage here in Illinois is $8.25/hour, and this amount simply doesn't justify me taking on anyone full time.  Paying the wage itself would be OK, but that is not the only requirement levied by the feds.
  • I would also have to pay FICA taxes on any payroll expenditures, in addition to Medicare and unemployment taxes
  • Unless I hired the absolute perfect person, who never got sick or hurt, pregnant or otherwise decided to pull some sort of skulduggery as an employee, they could drag me into court over the least little beef they have with their job and ultimately tank my business.
  • And God forbid I have to deal with providing somebody with health insurance, forget that, I have plenty of headaches just providing my own dang health insurance.
  • Keeping the records of this employee that are mandated by the federal government, to include hours, wages paid, W-2s, would take me away the things that I do best.  Just too much hassle, although I really need the help.
I just can't risk hiring anybody, even though hiring a single person would probably increase my productivity by maybe 50% or more.  But that increase in productivity would not be worth the risk of that employee going south on me, and actively trying to destroy me with any myriad of potential bombs provided to them by the federal government regarding employment regulations.

And the above is just anecdotal evidence that I see with my own business.  Multiply this by the entire American economy, and you can understand why we as a national economy are just crawling along at 2% growth, if that.  Hiring people is just too dang risky, it can destroy a business if they are not extremely careful as to who they take on.

Now with the specter of a minimum wage being jacked up to $15 an hour hanging over small business owner's heads, there is absolutely no way I can even dream of hiring anybody, even though I would truly love to expand my business.

I just can't risk it.  I just can't get in bed with the federal government.  They would destroy me without even trying.  



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hillary scandals: old news or Trump campaign material?

Lately, only Hillary Clinton's email scandal and the charges of malfeasance in association with the Clinton Foundation are in the news, and really not prominently so.

These two scandals barely make page 7 in the metro section of the newspapers anymore, and of course the scandals of the past are 'old news' and never covered by any news source, ever.  Unless, of course, you consider Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin as news sources.  Some do, most don't.  Those guys bring up Hillary Clinton's most unsavory past virtually daily.

Just wait until Donald Trump starts up the presses, and begins fueling dollars into TV and other media with non-stop 'Crooked Hillary' coverage, morning, noon and night.

It will be non-stop, and the material for all of these ads is almost never ending, to include:

  • Whitewater scandal, remember Webb Hubble and the boys?
  • Vince Foster's mysterious death, and Hillary's goons cleansing the office prior to arrival of investigators.
  • Travelgate, with the sacking of the entire staff of the White House travel office, since Hillary 'needed those slots.'
  • Rose Law firm records, which mysteriously were found on a table in one of the hallways of the West Wing.
  • Bimbo eruptions, where Hillary viciously attacked the accusers of her serial philandering hubby, Bubba, destroying virtually all of these women's lives as they had known them.
  • Cattle futures, where Hillary invested a measly $1,000 bucks and miraculously cashed in $100,000.  
  • Lying about being named after Sir Edmond Hillary, who became famous for being the first to scale Mt. Everest in Nepal.  The glitch here was that Sir Edmond Hillary was unknown prior to this feat, and Hillary Clinton was born BEFORE the Everest Climb by Sir Edmond.  
  • Hillary coming under sniper fire in Bosnia, when this clearly did not happen.
  • Let's not forget Hillary's close ties to Saul Alinsky, I would bet The Donald has something to say about that.
  • How about Hillary and Bill looting the White House after they vacated in 2000?  Swiping White House china, furniture and about everything that wasn't bolted to the floor?  
  • Makes sense that they would loot the White House, since Hillary claimed that when they left the White House, they 'were dead broke.'  
Donald Trump should have a field day with all of this material to work with over the course of the next 6 months.  And we will all be watching it 24 hours a day, in ad after ad of those negative campaign spots.  You know the ones, they are usually black and white, with the grave narration of (fill in Hillary's skulduggery and malfeasance here), and the menacing cello sound track in the background.

Why the rest of the Old Guard GOP Republicans haven't been doing this since Hillary came into the national spotlight with her evil ways, that is a mystery to us all.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The GOP presumptive nominee: Donald J. Trump - get used to it

For all of you 'Never Trump' idiots who call yourselves conservatives, you will just have to get over your hatred of the GOP presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump's inevitable ascension as the Republican candidate for the general election.

I get it, I really do.  Donald has some political, economic and social warts.  Big, hairy ones.  I don't like a lot of what the guy has said and done, either.  But I am not so stupid that I will, in my hatred of The Donald, assist in the election of possibly the most damaging, dangerous person to ascend to the presidency ever: Hillary Clinton.

And if you want to pout, cry like a baby and sit home, or even dumber, write in Mickey Mouse or Marco Rubio (same guy, they are both from Florida), you will piss away an opportunity to oppose Hillary Clinton.  That would make you no better than a liberal Democrat.  If you call yourself a conservative, and do not vote against Hillary, I am not sure how you can sleep at night, in all honesty.

I had the same feelings about Dubya, when he emerged in 2000. He was NOT my guy, because his DAD was not my guy, either.  And as we all know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Doesn't anybody except me remember how 41 hated Ronald Reagan during the 1980 primaries, and called Reagan's market based capitalistic economic platform 'voodoo economics?'  The Bush regime has not done conservatism any favors during their tenure, believe you me.  And 41's little boy, George W. Bush sat in the Oval Office for 8 years while the left bashed him, smeared him, maligned him and essentially destroyed his image without lifting a finger.  Dubya did more to destroy the conservative movement's progress than anybody I can think of, simply by not fighting back the attacks of the left.

But did I pout like a baby, and vote for Al Gore?  Or John Kerry? And start a 'NeverBush' movement?  No.  I held my nose and voted against both of those Democrat ogres, even though Dubya was far from the best choice the GOP could have made.  Steve Forbes would have made a great president.  Phil Gramm even better.  Even Pat Buchanon would have been preferable to Dubya.  But Dubya was the guy, and to not vote against the liberal alternative was just not what conservatives do. 

So buck up, you Never Trump morons.  Do the right thing, or be forever known for what you will become in effect if you don't vote for Trump: a liberal Democrat.  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Good bye, Denny Hastert

As I write this, former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R-Il) is preparing to start serving his federal banking beef (structuring) sentence of 15 months in The Big House.

I do not write this with relish.  It is yet another black eye for the conservative movement, much like the day that Richard Nixon resigned.  

Denny, my former congressman whom I voted for several times as the representative to the U.S. Congress from the 14th district in Illinois (my home) has not only let me down, he has let down all of us conservatives with his felonious activities.  I don't want to get into those, as they are all heinous and deserving of punishment of the highest order.  If you ask me, Denny got off with a rap on the knuckles.

His biggest failure, however, was as Speaker of the House in 2005, during the Mark Foley scandal.  He knew of this scumbag's malfeasance for years, and chose to do nothing.  Accordingly, Nancy Pelosi used the Mark Foley scandal to beat the Republicans over the head, and rightly so painting the GOP as running a 'culture of corruption.'  And this successful campaign by Pelosi resulted in the loss of the House in 2006.  A direct result of Denny's failures.

And why did Denny not purge Mark Foley?  Likely because HE HIMSELF had identical skeletons in his own closet, and allowed the country to suffer incalculable damage at the hands of the Democrat majority in Congress for the next 10 years, rather than act to clean up the GOP's act.

I never want to hear of this pathetic scumbag again.  A pox on him and his house.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

Jacking up the minimum wage to $15/hour is just plain dumb

"A living wage" is only fair, right?  Everyone should make a 'living wage.'  It's what employers everywhere in every industry should pay, gosh darn it.  It's only fair.  And $15/hour is the minimum anybody should be paid to do anything in the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.  Period.


So wrong.  Such a dumb mistake on oh so many levels.

I sincerely wish that we would teach just basic "Economics for Dummies" in high school, or perhaps even start in grade school.  The curriculum in, say, 5th grade should include instructional techniques as to how to start up and run a lemonade stand.  Going through the basics would underscore the nature of how things work in a capitalistic, market based economy.

And it would in the most simple terms underscore that everything has a price, and that when the price of virtually anything goes up (and we shall leave out the concept of price elasticity and in-elasticity for  now), demand for whatever that is will go down. Simple economics.  Simple display of human behavior.

Wages are nothing more and nothing less than the price of labor.  And as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, if mandated minimum wages are arbitrarily set higher, then the demand for them (or employment) will fall.  Unemployment will be the guaranteed result of raising the minimum wage to $15/hour.

In a true, correctly operating market driven economy, the inarguable minimum wage is $0.00 per hour.  That is the going wage for somebody with absolutely no skills whatsoever.  Now, once you train this no-skilled person, then their value goes up accordingly.  But up to a $15/hour level?  This is only true if their output makes their employer at least $25/hour in value.  If not, then the employer is losing money, since they have to pay FICA, Medicaid, healthcare, etc. in addition to the $15.00 basic wage.  And employers are not in business to lose money.

Human behavior is such that if this mandated minimum wage is raised to $15/hour, employers will not just sit back and eat this cut in their profit margins.  They will either fire people, close businesses and simply leave the money they had invested in the business in their bank, or find other ways around the cost increase in their labor, perhaps through automation.  

There is basic data available now from a decision made last year to jack up the minimum wage to $15/hr in Seattle, Washington: unemployment is up considerably in the 18-25 year old segment of the population. 

But telling this to the $15/hour or 'living wage' crowd falls on deaf ears.  Much to the detriment of their constituents.   

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Word to the wise: 'never volunteer, son...'

I was just reading the latest news about guns from a reliable source: Virtual Mirage (http://symbolic-mirage.blogspot.com/) and had to add my own gun experience which is profoundly different than the erstwhile author LL's.

I grew up in suburban Eugene, Oregon in the early 1960's; significantly before the place was transformed into a poor man's Berkeley, where everybody is offended nowadays at the drop of a hat.  "Fredd, how dare you say 'at the drop of a hat'??!!  You pathetic neanderthal, don't you get it that hats are a male thing, and that you sound like a sexist pig spewing that hate?"  Yes, I am just a lousy hater, I've come to accept that.

My household was a gun-free zone back then.  Sure, as a little kid I was always playing cowboys and Indians (which went the way of the dinosaur decades ago as a racially intolerant activity), and us little kids emulated Vic Morrow and Rip Torn as WWII combat weary veterans in the black and while TV series "Combat."  But real guns were just not in my life.

Then I went and joined the U.S. Army at age 19.  All of a sudden, I was able to field strip and re-assemble an M-16 military combat rifle blindfolded, and was qualified as an expert marksman with this weapon.  

My dad, a WWII veteran, had warned me before I shipped out to boot camp: 'when you're in the army, son, never volunteer for anything.  Just don't do it, volunteering to anything, no matter what it is, it just never turns out good for you.'

Well, of course I volunteered as an E-6 staff sergeant to supervise an ordinance disposal detail.  Because our battalion had such bad leadership, our annual TO&E allotment of ammunition for the battalion was never used up in gunnery range training, because our leaders always had other priorities than keeping the troops' weaponry skills in order.  Then came the end of September, and thus the end of the fiscal year.  If we still had ammo left over, the brass would get less the next year since we had not used what was issued in the prior year and we all know that officers simply cannot do with less of anything, under any circumstances.

I was assigned to supervise 5 enlisted men to take a 2.5 ton truck (lovingly referred to as a 'deuce and a half') loaded with our unused ammo out to the range: box upon box of 5.56 ball ammo for M-16's, box upon box of M-60 light machine gun ammo (with tracers every 5th round), a goodly amount of M-203 grenades, a ton of .45 rounds for the M-1911 Colt pistols issued to senior NCO's and officers.  Since we were an intelligence unit, this was the extent of our ordinance, and no .50 cal rounds, fragmentation hand grenades, Claymore mines, or any of the fun stuff was issued to us 'REMF's'.  

Still, this was a ton of ammo, and I was directed to bring back the spent brass casings so that it could be accounted for.  I could hardly wait to go and blow off all of this, it was a detail that would only happen in my dreams.  

Not so fast, there, Fredd.  The first 15 minutes of popping off the M-60 rounds was great.  Changing the red hot barrels every 200 rounds or so was tedious, but still, very cool.  The next hour or two, things became pretty repetitive, and the fun of all of this was quickly disappearing.

Then we started on the bulk of our ordinance, the M-16 rounds.  Those had to be loaded into the magazines (we had banana clips which held 30 rounds), and this was also incredibly tedious.  After 5 or 6 hours of this, all of our hands were raw and blistered, holding onto and firing these weapons with no gloves.  We started wrapping our hands in 100 mph tape (duct tape in the civilian world), and it helped some, but soon nothing really helped.  We were all in agony.

Towards the end of this nightmare detail, one of the privates asked me 'sarge, I'm dyin' here, can't we just bury the rest of this shit, and get out of here?'  As good as that sounded to me at the time, I had to account for the brass and was not inclined to get busted for not coming back with the correct number of casings, so this was not going to work, either.

In the end, this was perhaps the most miserable experience I ever had in the army.  Our hands were dripping with blood, and not even the 100 mph tape kept it from flowing like water.  We were to a man completely miserable to the bone.  And to drive a stake through our hearts, we then got to the M-203 grenades.  Although there were only a few boxes of those, they had to be fired from an M-16 mount, and those rounds kicked like a mule.  It was hell trying to hold onto those weapons with bloody, blistered aching hands.  I was convince I was in hell.  I had never been more miserable.  Ever.  And this detail was supposed to be fun.  

"Never volunteer for anything, no matter how good it sounds at the time"....I still remember to this day my dad telling me that, and how I blew off this sound advice much to my detriment.

I now own a .357 magnum caliber revolver, and this gun is for home protection only, and will only get fired at somebody who is intent on doing me or my family harm.  And so far, the gun has never been fired.  God willing, it never will be fired.

I will be a happy man if I meet my Maker, never having fired another weapon as long as I live.  I've probably put more rounds down range than anyone else on the planet.  Well, other than those other five guys on that detail from hell.