Teachers Unions

If teacher’s want to be treated as professionals and to be given professional responsibilities, for their classrooms specifically and for educational policy generally, they must act like professionals in their dealings with school management and with the public. As long as they behave in their employment negotiations like interchangeable labor units, they can’t really expect to be treated as anything other than that in their classrooms.

Continue reading

“Common Sense” Policies for….

There is a small but virulent group that would ban abortion outright and that hopes to use “common sense” regulations as steps toward that goal. And there is a small but virulent group that would ban gun ownership outright and that hopes to use “common sense” regulations as steps toward that goal.

And so, those “common sense” regulations are, perhaps, not so common and not so sensible. And so, perhaps, we actually can’t agree on them.

Continue reading

Must Moral Authority come from direct experience?

Have you ever leaped into the heart of a raging fire to rescue someone trapped by the flames? Have you ever stepped into the middle of a domestic dispute to keep it from escalating into violence? Have you ever taught in an inner city classroom plagued by indifference and hostility? Have you ever tended and comforted patients with some fatal and contagious disease? Have you ever put your life on hold to aid the victims of some natural or man-made catastrophe halfway around the world? Have you even ever spent the day hauling away people’s garbage or cleaning their houses or doing some other equally unpleasant job?

I doubt you’ve done most, if even one, of those tasks. I also expect you think someone should do them; and I expect you think mayors and governors and presidents should advocate — and sometimes order — that people put themselves in harm’s way to see those tasks done, even if they have not done those things themselves.

Continue reading

The “public spiritedness” of government

Regarding the question of private vs. public agency/employee performance and, specifically, the question of “conflicts of interest” when private entities are doing public work: Why does everyone seem to assume — and why do you and most of those you invite to speak on your program grant — that “public servants” are immune to the lure of self-interest and conflicts-of-interest that are presumed to be the hallmark of “private enterprise”?

Continue reading

Rational spending: it’s a matter of (dis)trust

What assurance can you offer me that, if I go along with a robust governmental stimulus financed by debt and inflation now, then the Congress and the President will follow through with austerity programs to resolve that debt and inflation later?

Because, unless you (or someone) can provide such assurances, can convince me that our politicians and government bureaucrats will suddenly change their approach to fiscal policy and behave in the rational way that economists would advise them to do, I and many like me cannot support such stimulative policies.

Continue reading

Bias in reporting about the Tea Party?

Thank you so much for putting this all in “perspective”! What did we learn from this, even before any actual issues were discussed?

  1. If you want to find the “Tea Party”, you go to the “Bible Belt”; and you do not merely go to the Bible Belt, but you look for the Moral Majority; and you do not merely look for the Moral Majority, you seek out “Jerry Falwell’s” Liberty University, the central asylum for the misogynist, evolution-denying, gay-hating, xenophobic, flat-earth Christian Right.
  2. Tea Partiers are inherently untrustworthy. They can’t even be expected to be honest about whether or not the Tea Party has leaders. Of course it has leaders: we found them, at Liberty University! Well, technically it wasn’t Liberty University but Lynchburg, VA — but that’s the same thing, right? And, since these are the “leaders” of the Tea Party (we told you so!), what they say naturally reflects what the Tea Party stands for. In its entirety.
  3. Tea Partiers all speak in funny rural accents that good, sophisticated, intellectual NPR listeners automatically associate with ignorance, racism, parochialism, and lunatic faith. They are rustic.
  4. Tea Partiers are all fundamentally ignorant people with empty heads and no curiosity, just primed to be brainwashed by the manipulations of the right-wing media machine.
  5. Tea Partiers learned everything they know about politics and government from FOX news. Which means the Tea Party is really directed by Glenn Beck.

So, of course, having already gotten all that background, we can safely, sanctimoniously, and in good conscience, ignore everything else that is said by anyone interviewed because, well, it’s all the product of ignorance and superstition….

Do you think that maybe your pre-judgement — dare we call it “bias”? — about what the Tea Party is, what it stands for, and who supports it, might have skewed your reporting on it just a bit?

Continue reading

Citizens United

“No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry of the American revolution, an explicit acknowledgement that the role of taxpayer — the role of providing financial support to government — is an overtly political one. If corporations are not individuals for political purposes, then they should not be taxed as individual entities. If corporations are really no more than aggregates of their stakeholders, and have no right to political participation other than through those stakeholders, then political duties, including the paying of taxes, should also apply strictly and purely through those stakeholders.

Continue reading