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February 09, 2009

Comments

Two points.

First, it is hyperbole to state that NOTHING is more important than to prevent states from laying of workers. I can think a lot of things more important. One would be not laying off blue collar workers in the construction trades. I think that is more important. Take care of the construction worker and their taxes will take care of the needed government workers.

Second, it seems odd to claim that after a decade or more of booming state tax reciepts that all that many critical school rehabilitation/construction projects are left that if not done the economy is going to collapse. I don't see it, the demand isn't really that great. Spending Federal money on school construction now is just gilding the lily. That money can best be used elsewhere.

But we have already spent so much on painting schools in Iraq and to what effect? [/snark]

"Nothing is more important at a time of cascading job losses than to help states avoid the need to lay off employees as a way to balance their budgets. . "

Well, unless you find the ever climbing ratio of public to private sector employment the least bit problematic. The predator to prey ratio is getting a bit high there, maybe it IS time for a crash.

I am also waiting for a congresscritter to use the term "Reichsarbeitsdienst" on the floor in order to discredit the infrastructure projects (it's already done off the floor although people tend to confuse the RAD with the HJ*)

*Al Gore is claimed to be hellbent on a revival by e.g Glenn Beck (not a congresscritter yet)

maybe it IS time for a crash.

by all means, you first.

I'm one of the prey, our population has already crashed. It's time for the wolves in the public sector to starve down to sustainable levels, so we can rebuild our own population.

I'm one of the prey, our population has already crashed.

how will an 87% majority ever survive the aggressive predation of a bunch of civil servants (almost half of which are schoolteachers) ?!

Wolverines, grab your rifles!

The way George Bush and the GOP spent our money will be characterized by an Era of Irresponsibility and Neglect, while Obama wants to spend our money wisely and on rebuillding Americsa, if the GOP lets him. The awful truth is that One Party has destroyed America while the other Party the Democratic Party wants to restore it.

For instance: If you have a home in which you used your money to spend on alcohol, good times and neglected your roof, your bills, and now your roof is in danger of collapsing because you used your money on good times instead of the upkeep of your home and now the Argument is you are unable to borrow money to fix your roof before it caves in because you used your money foolishly in the past is also recklesslness and neglect on the part of the lender, so they let the roof collapse.

In the Bush years 30 billion was spent in Afghanistan -- 50 billion in Iraq and now Congress wants to say we cannot spend necessary money at home which has so long been neglected? States were given no money in the Bush years and now they still want to keep money out of the States on a fraudulent theory.

It is now time to for Congress to put money back in to the United States and to spend money wisely and not fraudulently, irresponsibly and in the dark as in the Bush years. Obama believes in transparancey, hence you can find the Stimulus package on line for all to see.

GOP say this money will be more of the same. It will not be more of the same. This money will be used for Americans, for jobs, to rebuild for improvement and innovations to improve life not on wars and countries which have nothing to do with American people or on big business who do not need the money.

Bush and the Republicans inherited a Surplus from the Democrats and yet the GOP has created the worst economic crisis ever. The GOP should stop hijacking the Stimulus and do the right thing and let money flow back into America again, instead of holding the Democrats hostage from their quest of bringing help to the people and restoring American again.

It's time for the wolves in the public sector to starve down to sustainable levels, so we can rebuild our own population.

Brett: I am Brett Bellmore, and I see a whole army of bankers here in defiance of schoolteachers. You have come to whine as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you whine?

Veteran banker: Whine against that? No, we will run, and we will live.

Brett: Aye, whine and you may lose your bonus, run and you'll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to
trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell the teachers that they may take our bonuses, but they'll never take our freedom?! Alba gu bra!

Hyperboyle is not going to improve this plan (or make your case). And EPI has lost whatever shreds of credibility it might have once had.

The amendment completely eliminated the Senate bill’s $16 billion for school repair and modernization.

What? Schools are still receiving more than $100 billion, much of it (mis)directed to projects that aren't needed. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123396676711659061.html)

So, we're supposed to be more convinced by a link to the notoriously biased and rarely correct Opinion Journal, a link which moreover includes a headline claiming that Milwaukee schools will receive $142 billion, then contradicts that claim in its second paragraph?

Well, I'm sold!

Yeah, von, if you can find that anywhere other than the relentlessly mendacious wsj opinion side, it would be appreciated.

i love that they got unions in there too

What? Schools are still receiving more than $100 billion, much of it (mis)directed to projects that aren't needed."

Is this in the senate or the house version? Because if you are referring to the senate version why not go all out and claim $100 Bazzilian for schools.

Hyperboyle is not going to improve this plan (or make your case).

Indeed.

Hyperboyle?

All of a sudden I'm having Young Frankenstein flashbacks.

To say 'nothing is more important' than this aid to states for public school spending just represents the opinion of those who think public education is the way we should teach our children. Some of those who are supporting this strengthened the current opposition by not supporting initiatives like education vouchers. If those who do not support public education for their children were allowed choice without a financial penalty, they then might react more favorably to this state aid.

I just love the "teachers preying on financiers" bit. You can't get much crazier.

von: when did EPI lose its credibility? Over what issue?

"Second, it seems odd to claim that after a decade or more of booming state tax reciepts that all that many critical school rehabilitation/construction projects are left that if not done the economy is going to collapse."

I can't agree with this. It is sort of a reverse sunk-cost argument. Yes it seems likely to me that in an era of booming state tax reciepts, the fact that many critical school rehab/construction projects weren't done is a bad sign about government. No, that doesn't mean that they aren't needed. Further no, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do them now as useful construction projects are the kind of thing that can be stimulus if they can be done now.

If those who do not support public education for their children were allowed choice without a financial penalty, they then might react more favorably to this state aid.

I'm all for it having no children to educate either publicly or privately.

Can you suggest some talking points I can use when I inform the local district that I won't be paying my taxes this year?

To say 'nothing is more important' than this aid to states for public school spending just represents the opinion of those who think public education is the way we should teach our children. Some of those who are supporting this strengthened the current opposition by not supporting initiatives like education vouchers.

Voucher programs? I though, empirically and theoretically, there were real problems with them.

One would be not laying off blue collar workers in the construction trades. I think that is more important. Take care of the construction worker and their taxes will take care of the needed government workers.

That's a great idea.

Unfortunately, most construction workers are privately employed, so there's not much that states can do or say about whether they are laid off or not.

The one they *can* do is to fund projects in the public sector that will give them work. I think if you read the EPI piece you'll see that those are the items that are being cut. That's actually kind of the point of the article.

The predator to prey ratio is getting a bit high there

Whenever I see a cop, a fireman, a schoolteacher, a librarian, a building inspector, a parks and highways worker, or a school crossing guard, the very first thing that leaps into my mind is "predator".

The ratio of public to private employees is a pretty reasonable thing to be concerned about and to discuss. "Predator to prey ratio" pretty much puts it in tin foil hat territory.

Brett, maybe it's time for you to load up on ammo, beans, and beef jerky, get yourself a pellet stove and a kerosene generator, and head for the hills.

Send a postcard and let us know how you're doing, assuming the predator postman doesn't mow you down first.

To say 'nothing is more important' than this aid to states for public school spending just represents the opinion of those who think public education is the way we should teach our children.

In other words, the vast majority of Americans. (Tangentially, just who is "we" and "our," kemo sabe?)

If those who do not support public education for their children were allowed choice without a financial penalty, they then might react more favorably to this state aid.

It's no more a "financial penalty" to continue to fund public schools even if you homeschool your children than it is to continue to fund the police even if you have a fence, an alarm system, a Taser and a shotgun. The community you live in benefits from having an educated populace. (I assume. You may live somewhere where stupidity is a virtue, in which case never mind.)

Phil,

It is so very clear that you have been well 'indoctrinated' to statism.

Yes, yes, my long history of family military veterans and war heroes turned me into the Maoist I am today. Would you actually like to, you know, discuss the issue, or would you like to try reading my mind some more?

(Were I you, I'd opt for the former. You're really bad at the latter.)

"Whenever I see a cop, a fireman, a schoolteacher, a librarian, a building inspector, a parks and highways worker, or a school crossing guard, the very first thing that leaps into my mind is "predator"."

Yeah, I've noticed that liberals tend to have, at best, a very Polyannish view of these protection rackets we call "governments".

Well, Brett, if you're lucky, when a horrible crime happens to you, the police will refuse to help you.

And what was your rank, Phil, 'snark first class'.

Although it's cute that you can have sat through the last eight years' worth of liberal complaining about our militarism, the Bush administration's wholesale abrogation of civil rights protection, etc., and call it "Pollyannaish." Your unbroken streak of never saying anything correct continues!

I didn't say *I* was ever in the military. See? You're not good at reading *or* mindreading.

Still, you can either defend your position, or keep this up. Me, I'm having more fun with this, but I can go either way.

You ever look at the relative death tolls during the 20th century from various causes? Government is pretty high up the list. Our's is one of the better of a remarkably bad bunch, but that could change so fast your head would spin.

"Well, Brett, if you're lucky, when a horrible crime happens to you, the police will refuse to help you."

Yeah, and as long as you pay the mob, Guido doesn't burn down you house, either, but that doesn't mean the "insurance" you're buying isn't protecting you from him. Governments are protection rackets. The Godfather would have a pretty good reputation, too, if he'd been running the schools for a century.

Here we are in the greatest financial crisis of our times and we think it's the public employees we have to worry about? I thought unmitigated private greed had something to do with this mess.

Yes, I think that, because it's the private sector that's suffering, and the public sector that's living off the private sector. The parasite load you can endure in good times will kill you in bad times.

Sorry, but the government really ought to be scaling back it's spending, too, when the people funding the government are suffering.

Public employees, per se, cause me no worry, but beware the power behind them. If I can choose between power and greed as the nature of my nemesis, I take greed.

Yeah, and as long as you pay the mob, Guido doesn't burn down you house, either, but that doesn't mean the "insurance" you're buying isn't protecting you from him.

Tin foil hat, dude.

We're not a banana republic quite yet.

Sorry, but the government really ought to be scaling back it's spending, too...

Exactly. Herbert Hoover did that, and we all know how well that worked out!

Brett,

I'm not trying to be smart-asses about this, but I'm really having trouble understanding where you're going with your comments. You sound like an anarchist, but I doubt you really are one. What functions do you think the government should shut down in the face of the current financial crisis?

Public employees, per se, cause me no worry, but beware the power behind them. If I can choose between power and greed as the nature of my nemesis, I take greed.

Jeez, GOB, do you really not appreciate the enormous, outsized power that the private sector wields?

Are we really to assume that schoolteachers represent a more formidable group in terms of exercising power than, say, bankers?

The accumulation of wealth does not occur in a vacuum, or without a corrolary accumulation of power.

Oh, but there is a difference. Didn't we just witness how fleeting the power in the private sector can be? Do you consider the bankers to be formidable now? Or consider the auto industry. Government power usually gets entrenched and is very difficult to dislodge. The movements allied with the government power likewise, witness the environmentalists.

Do you consider the bankers to be formidable now?

Hell yes!

They've gotten $1 trillion already - no strings attached, no questions asked, no pound of flesh in return. Keep your bonuses, keep the opulence. Do your thang.

And, those weak, uninfluential bankers are about to get...$ 1 trillion more!!!!

Oh, their big loss of power: maybe some caps on exec comp.

Compare to the teachers: budgets cut, teachers let go, hiring freeze.

Are we really to assume that schoolteachers represent a more formidable group in terms of exercising power than, say, bankers?

I think people are lumping together ALL government groups into a single entity (or at least all on the same level) and calling it one.

I'm not sure that's a good idea. While the lines of power and the org charts all form a single unit, in the real world, it acts more like discrete entities that are actually much smaller in scope (and sometimes much smaller than other collective organizations as corporations).

(And folks should remember that we ARE talking about collective behavior here. Corporations and government are forms of collective behavior).

They are part of the government now.

They are part of the government now.

Who is "they"?

Eric, do you really think the bankers avoided giving up a pound of flesh as their organizations approached insolvency? I suspect they had equity stakes that they thought would have a lot more value than they now do. Now its salary and bonuses only, not much equity, unless they have manage to hide it.

Eric, you know, they. The opposite of "we." Next deal?

Yeah, von, if you can find that anywhere other than the relentlessly mendacious wsj opinion side, it would be appreciated.

Well, there's the CBO estimate, which itemizes 13 billion for education for the disadvantaged, 17.07 billion or school improvement, 13.5 billion for special ed, 13.93 billion for student financial assistance (Pell Grants, I assume), and 4.2 billion for "other eduction". And that doesn't include the other provisions (via state aid and other means) for the school.

everybody's a libertarian, as soon as the Dems are in power.

What is it about school teachers that gets such a pants-wettingly frantic reaction from conservatives?

Is it the horrible specter of public education? The high unionization? The large percentage of women?

Of all the myriad things that I file as "Weird stuff conservatives do", their antipathy towards teachers probably tops the list. It's even weirder than their Fairness Doctrine crazy.

the libertarians are outnumbered here.

the libertarians are outnumbered here.

frankly, the libertarians are outnumbered within the group of people who call themselves "libertarian".

What is it about school teachers that gets such a pants-wettingly frantic reaction from conservatives?

Evolution and sex ed.

Seriously.

Oh, and not designing the history curriculum around American exceptionalism.

cleek, have you seen No Libertarians in the Seventeenth-Century Highlands?

Worth a read, and, as an added bonus, links to the origin of "and a pony".

The movements allied with the government power likewise, witness the environmentalists.

Because when I think of political movements that have shaped and dominated the American body politic, I think "environmentalism."

the libertarians are outnumbered here.

And thank Christ for that.

Eric, do you really think the bankers avoided giving up a pound of flesh as their organizations approached insolvency? I suspect they had equity stakes that they thought would have a lot more value than they now do. Now its salary and bonuses only, not much equity, unless they have manage to hide it.

No pound of flesh in return for my taxpayer dollars. Sure, they lost some of the value of their equity stakes because they ran their businesses into the severe red. But what do I get for the trillions I'm giving them?

Nada. Nunca.

That they got no strings attached. Pretty sweet deal overall, really.

Further, if the value of their equity stakes picks up after all those trillions of my money that they use up, then...they reap the reward of increased equity value.

Not me.

I get Nada. Nunca.

Eric, do you really think the bankers avoided giving up a pound of flesh as their organizations approached insolvency? I suspect they had equity stakes that they thought would have a lot more value than they now do. Now its salary and bonuses only, not much equity, unless they have manage to hide it.

Nobody took a pound of anything away from the banks. On the contrary, they've had many, many pounds of your flesh and mine as a reward for blowing their companies up.

Please read and commit to memory:

THE BANKER'S EQUITY IS NOT WORTH JACK SH*T BECAUSE THEY HOLLOWED OUT THE VALUE OF THEIR ASSETS.

And not just their own, but everybody else's too. They pissed it away. I didn't, you didn't, Uncle Sam didn't. They did, all by themselves.

Seriously, I mean no disrespect, but sometimes I wonder if we're all on the same planet.

Regarding the Fairness Doctrine, what I really, really think Obama should do is call for legislation reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine, only this time with real teeth.

He should call out Limbaugh specifically, and demand that he give one half hour of his show every day to dissenting points of view, presented without interruption.

That will give all of the Republicans in Congress and in the punditocracy something really, really shiny to go chase after.

While they are all foaming at the mouth and suffering brain aneurysms, Obama and the majority leadership will be able to get a stimulus bill passed.

Wouldn't that be fun?

Yeah, and as long as you pay the mob, Guido doesn't burn down you house, either, but that doesn't mean the "insurance" you're buying isn't protecting you from him. Governments are protection rackets.

Let's see.

Mobster: Give me money or I'll burn your house down.

Government: Give me money and if your house catches fire I'll send some people to put it out.

I see a pretty big difference in these propositions.


So, russell, I gather that you are convinced that those who have raised objections to the spending stimulus are incapable of 'walking and chewing gum' at the same time.

"Government: Give me money and if your house catches fire I'll send some people to put it out."

Government: "Don't give me the money, and I'll arrange for you to spend many years in a small room, and shoot you if you put up a fight about it."

What makes a protection racket a protection racket isn't whether it actually provides you with protection if you pay, (The mob does that, to some extent.) it's what the racket does if you decide you don't need their protection.

Brett - As opposed to:

Private business:Don't give me the money [for whatever you're trying to walk out with], and I'll arrange (via state power or a private security force] for you to spend many years in a small room, and shoot you if you put up a fight about it. Plus, you have no right of representation beyond that of an individual consumer, and hence a value determined by the contents of your wallet*.

Now, you can argue that this is a rather poor comparison, since you're not actually stealing anything, but rather are being forced to accept costly services, as if BuyMore, Inc. was demanding that you had to buy an extended warranty, at the barrel of a gun!!1!. And of course it all is a bad comparison, because you fundamentally mis-understand or -represent the nature of liberal-democratic gov't and ultimately society. The transaction isn't:
~
Gov't: Give me money and if your house catches fire, I'll send firefighters ("wolves", according to you); don't and I'll get all Ruby Ridge on your behind.
~
Instead, it's
~Gov't: Everyone, give me money, and if someone's house catches on fire, I'll send firefighters ("public servants") to put it out. If someone refuses to pay, they'll face fines and possibly jail time.**
~

And that's - if suboptimal - relatively fair. After all, if you refuse to pay your taxes, the rest of us have to pay more, not just to protect ourselves, but also to protect you, as you refuse to pull your own weight. (Of course, in particularly dense or dry areas the two are connected - if your house starts burning down, there's a good chance that it'll set the neighbors' houses ablaze as well.)
___

Re: Brett's 'starve the wolves' comment, etc., more broadly.

I wonder if part of this - which many of us seem to find almost absurdly, laughably jarring - doesn't involve experience, social circles, etc. After all, a fair number of my relatives/friends/loved ones are (local, state, or federal) gov't employees. The biggest chunk were/are (public school) teachers, all too often in situations that would make many self-declared Masters of the Universe run screaming, possibly as late as the end of the first week. (To be fair, far too many teachers only last a year or three.) It's difficult to superimpose the picture of a snarling, flesh-rending cartoon wolf over (say) recollections of my dad, a few years from retirement, snoring uncomfortably on the worn-out couch where he dozed off because another day of teaching impoverished kids just wore him out, or images of my wife spending her weekend and a fair bit of her paycheck buying supplies for the kindergartners to use.

The friend whose job involves helping veterans get their benefits (not to say the system is perfect, but . . . ) also fails to appear especially lupine; the same goes (some irony here!) for the one working for the gov't agency tasked with "measuring the government’s performance and holding it accountable for results." I suppose they might seem somewhat wolfish if you're going on accurate (much less romanticized) accounts of pack behavior, but somehow that doesn't seem what Brett was going for . . . . Fiddle with the demographics a bit, and I'd be talking about, eg, educators at our public colleges and universities; fiddle again, cops and firefighters; and again, bus drivers and postal workers. (Of course, then you'd start getting a sense of the role of (unionized) public sector jobs in helping create a strong, sturdy, broad-based middle class . . . ). On the other hand, if your life experience is perceived more along the lines of a glibertarian paradise, with such folks as strange & unfamiliar creatures, it's presumably easy to get swept up in the dollops of misdirection being ladled out by those very eager to distract folks from bloody jowls . . . .

* Granted, that last is generally the case with our gov't, too, but at least there are some countervailing forces.

** Although to be fair, with the increasing police-statism that is one of the few gov't -related things that seem to make authoritarian conservatives all slappy-happy, 'shooting your dog' and 'gratuitous, possibly fatal tasering' might be on the agenda as well. As always, these enemies of broadly-functioning gov't are also among the most convincing arguments for drastically limiting its power: when in charge, what they don't destroy ('why fund FEMA, if all they do is leave people to drown . . ..?'), they likely corrupt.

So, russell, I gather that you are convinced that those who have raised objections to the spending stimulus are incapable of 'walking and chewing gum' at the same time.

Not in the least.

I find it frustrating to the point of exasperation to hear people whose opinion I generally respect talking about the investment banking community as if they deserved an ounce of sympathy.

They made their damned bed. They can lie in it. I'll just thank them to not take the rest of us down with them.

The mob does that, to some extent

With respect, I find that I have to ask you WTF you know about "the mob".

I have family members who had to deal with organized criminals because of the industry they worked in.

I've also had many, many dealings with the government at the federal, state, and local levels. Not infrequently, for one reason or another, adversarial dealings.

There is no comparison. None, whatsoever.

There are thoroughly corrupt, lawless, violent places where the government actually does bear some resemblance to a criminal organization. We don't live in one.

OK, maybe if you live in New Jersey.

Otherwise, no.

So, you know, I'll thank you to find another metaphor.

"The Godfather would have a pretty good reputation, too, if he'd been running the schools for a century"

Well, that's a bold, counterintuitive new proposal for ed "reform". (And don't forget high-speed pizza delivery . . ..)

So, you know, I'll thank you to find another metaphor.

Great. Now he's going to go back to the Stalinist metaphors.

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