Friday, May 25, 2012

Detroit – Lights Out, Severe Budget Cuts – Flashback 2009 – Auto Industry Bailout

Government Stifling Private Enterprise Cuts Tax Revenue, Increases Blight

Detroit Streetlights - coming to a city new you? - image WXYZ

Detroit is the latest shining example of why the belief that the Government can “pay to fix” anything is nothing more than a fairytale. The fact that without private enterprise hiring workers, who both pay taxes (assuming the corporate tax rate is low enough and that small businesses are not saddled with massive regulations), which allows governments to run in the first place – seems to be lost on those who favor the theory that the government can continue to fund projects – even those deemed untouchable.

Detroit dimmed the lights on neighborhoods where crime and blight are the worst. According to Bloomberg News (via San Francisco Chronicle): “Detroit, whose 139 square miles contain 60 percent fewer residents than in 1950, will try to nudge them into a smaller living space by eliminating nearly half its streetlights.”. The article notes that other U.S. cities have shut off the lights to save money, from California, to Illinois (Bloomberg) – a possible trend for those cities that have previously relied on both Federal and State aid in the form of “Stimulus” funds.

The Mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, has proposed a budget that eliminates and privatizes some of the cities essential services. According to the Detroit Free Press: the human services department will be cut, and transportation and lighting will be handled by private firms.. There is a slight snag to finalizing this budget, the Detroit law department suggested that the State owes Detroit revenue sharing and unpaid water bills from the fairground (Detroit Free Press) However, can the State afford to reimburse Detroit, considering the State depends upon income from taxpayers, not unlike the city and the Federal Government?
The Federal Government under the Obama Administration has made several promises to Detroit in the form of “Bailouts” (Taxpayer funded programs – with an increasing loss private sector jobs, and fewer tax payers).

In 2009 The Detroit Free Press, suggested that Mayor Bing would fix the situation of blight in Detroit – where thousands of vacant properties exist. The premise was to demolish the property and encourage new businesses and housing – some were skeptical that it would work, however, “ the Free Press noted: “Even so, Bing's got the bucks to start: He's been promised more than $20 million from the Obama administration.”

However, according to Crain’s Michigan’s incentives for businesses (a glossary) includes public funding and loans – or Government bailouts, at the State level, with little thought to the consequences of spending tax payers dollars to entice (not necessary secure) private business, that, essentially failed.

The Federal governments intervention in the Auto Industry (General Motors, American-Government-Union owned) also did little to improve economic conditions in Detroit. From: Open

The federal government poured billions of dollars into Chrysler, which then went bankrupt and now is in the process of merging with Fiat. But Chrysler may never revive, thanks to absurdly generous compensation for the company’s union employees. The Obama Administration has refused to cut union wages substantially, though it had no compunction about ripping off the pension funds and other lenders who loaned money to Chrysler to try to keep it afloat. Even union members seem surprised by how little they were asked to sacrifice. (The Administration is also seeking to rip off GM bondholders to benefit the union).
Moderate Democrat Mickey Kaus, who reluctantly voted for Obama, notes that the federal bailout may yet fail because of Obama’s failure to reduce excessive labor costs:
“Before the deal, Chrysler’s UAW workers made $28 an hour. After the deal, they’ll make $28 an hour. They gave up a scheduled increase in wages, plus a couple of scheduled bonuses. That explains why Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois workers told TV station WIFR that ‘the plan is not nearly as drastic as they expected.’…. If Chrysler workers were paid, say, not $28 an hour instead of $24–still not bad–the firm might actually have a ‘chance for long term success’ through charging lower prices. But that wasn’t a sacrifice Obama was ready to ask (even if Belvidere workers were apparently willing).”
In addition to leaving General Motors and Chrysler saddled with excessive costs and union ownership, Obama harmed them by radically ratcheting up federal CAFE fuel-economy standards, which affect them more than their foreign competitors. 50,000 jobs could be lost. And his global-warming regulations will destroy countless jobs and cut “household purchasing power,” reducing auto sales and Chrysler’s chances of survival.

That fact-based op-ed treats the heart of the problem – a problem that is not only Detroit’s, but affects all urban areas in the United States – the Administrations belief that the Government will be able to do anything, Unions are reasonable and acceptable (See Wisconsin’s Recall of Governor Scott Walker for daring to institute a law designed to allow public employees an opt out of union participation), and that bailouts, from public to private (states and cities to individual unemployment compensation) somehow works. The problem, with over half the tax base in the nation gone, and companies seeking tax relief and relief from increased business regulations (Health Care Mandates to Green Energy Mandates – and costs associated) heading out of the country, or putting a hold on hiring, there is little funding to the Federal, State and Local governments. It is, in effect, trickle down government economics run amok.

The solutions are neither new, nor surprising: encourage private enterprise by reducing corporate tax rates, and excessive regulations – as it stands now – the United States cannot compete with other nations. Any form of welfare and or unemployment compensation (which is taxed) should include a requirement to either attend work training (college or school), and or work for the State (See FDR’s building of parks and infrastructure though “workfare”) - Make Union participation at any level, in any field, optional. In this wise, those employees working at an Auto Plant making $28/hr in union wages, might work alongside those non-union members making $24/hr – however, when the union strikes, and or goes into negotiation, those who are non-union do not suffer the consequences. Neither does the business who will continue to operate, and be able to continue to both union and non-union – thus saving the business, the tax base for both the City, State and Federal governments and perhaps, just perhaps, getting enough income to turn the lights back on.

Caveat on Unions: Not all unions are “bad unions”, there are times and industries which are hazardous to one’s health and a Union is necessary in order to keep wages even, and the job safe (even with OSHA) – however, those unions where one owns a master’s degree, or work in “white collar” jobs (i.e. government employees such as clerical staff, etc.), are completely unnecessary.

For the government to involve itself in private industry, no matter which side of the aisle one stands, is the worst economic decision made for the nation – it has been done repeatedly throughout our history, and it has repeatedly failed.
To recap: Private businesses, equal more taxpayers, which provide the Local, State and Federal Governments with enough money to continue to run effectively. The Governments (all combined) to do have any other source of income than the taxpayer – simple.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Romney on Education: Reforms that Make Sense – Governor Romney’s Charter School Program in MA Shining Example

Mitt Romney Announces A Chance for Every Child - image desert news

From:the Springfield Republican: “Mitt Romney: U.S. students getting 'third-world education,' proposes school choice program” speaks to Romney’s release of a prospectus on education reform from the top down – ensuring that students have equal access to higher quality education – specifically those from lower-income households. The plan shown below, highlights steps that necessary to insure the quality of education matches the price tag – and one can bet the teacher’s union’s have their panties in a bunch.

A Chance for Every Child

The plan to allow for increase Charter and online schools, pay more to higher performing teachers, and allow Federal funds that go to states to be used by the families of low income students as vouchers are a few points where trouble may arise.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not so) both candidate (President) Obama and candidate Mitt Romney are echoing some of the same themes for improving the public education system, ABC News offers: “Can Romney, Obama Learn to Share on Education?”, where both have used similar language in recent speeches.

That said Romney as Governor had increased Charter Schools in Massachusetts, and in 2005 offered legislation similar to the plan released yesterday which was met with the same “horror” from those who support the current union/federal government education relationship – the Massachusetts Legislature - (See Romney Plan Would Greatly Boost Charter Schools).

The Charter Schools do startling well in Massachusetts, with parents hoping to get their children into Charter versus public school systems. The reasoning: According to 2011 records of he Massachusetts Department of Education on Graduation Rates, the three top schools, with 100% graduation are Charter Schools: Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (Horace Mann Charter School), Foxborough Regional Charter (District) - Foxborough Regional Charter Schooland the Ma Academy for Math and Science – of the Commonwealths larger population centers, the graduation rates are: Springfield Putnam Vocational: 60.5%, Boston Monument High School: 50%, Worcester North High School, 51%, New Bedford High, 58.9%, these fall in the middle, and represent a dismal public school graduation rate record. Of the 370 schools rated, 162 have a graduation rate of 90% or higher, while 208 fall below 90%, with 73 falling below 70%. Massachusetts is a participant in the Nationwide Race to the Top program, and places first in the group of states that participate (approximately 10 out of 50). Although the schools have seen a major improvement over previous years (some rising a full 20% in graduation rates), one wonders why these schools (with some exceptions such as schools set up for the those students who have servers challenges, either have faced being homeless, or are mentally challenged.) have not had greater success as they include some of the largest school districts in the Commonwealth.

Additionally, Romney’s plan to use language immersion in schools was seen as being problematic for students – he omitted the bi-lingual education classes (whereby a student was attending classes in both their native language as well as in English) – the charge: those students would not fare well against students who are native to the language. That said, private parochial schools use the same method of immersion, and those students acclimate quickly – often surpassing those students who are native English language students. In addition, the price tag for parochial (or private schools) is often far less than those of the public sector schools, with results that are much higher. For example: Chicopee, MA public schools spend an average of $12,672 per student, while a private parochial college prep school cost per year is approximately $10,000 (includes tuition uniforms, books, sundries). The difference, 100% graduation versus approximately 70% graduation from the public school. (Note: Chicopee Graduation Rates have vastly improved over the past three years going from high 50% to over 70%). There is, not only justification, but an imperative to reexamine the way funds are spent for public sector school systems, and allow parents to have more choice where it comes to their children’s public education. This is especially true nationwide – especially considering the few school systems in the nation that are “Racing to the Top” and the results thus far.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 Update: WAPO/ABC Poll: Voters Worse Off Today, Primaries: Obama Challenged by “Other”, Clinton’s Favorability All-Time High–Missed Opportunity?

Too late? Mitt Romney - Hillary Clinton 2012 Contest - Possibly Less Boring than current projections and trends: Image: CNN

Today’s Headline from The Springfield Massachusetts Republican: “Poll: Voters feel worse off financially today than when President Obama took office”speaks to a recent Washington Post/USA Today Poll noting that, similar to the summer of 1980, the nations voters feel their dollar goes further than it did four years ago. The poll also indicates that a plurality of voters continue to believe it is the fault of former President George W. Bush – however, when one looks at the marginal’s: party affiliation is not on par with national averages, for example: the May 20th poll was comprised of Democrats: 32%, Republican’s: 22%, Independents: 38%, Other: 2%, No Opinion: 1%, (WAPO)while Pew research finds Swing voters (or independent, unenrolled, unaffiliated), over a period of 22 years, had remained actually dropped and as of April 2012 is at 23%,(Independent although there are indicators that those identifying themselves as unenrolleds has grown in parity with the major parties.

Rasmussen Reports that those identifying themselves as either Republican (35.1%) or Democrat (33.1%) (as of April of 2012), is on par with rolling three year survey – which would lead one to conclude the other third do not identify with either party. Given that a variety of surveys indicate there is a growing three way split in the electorate, the Washington Post/ABC Poll is somewhat biased. Polls, in general, are educated guesses based statistics and answers from random selections, which – to those who are not mathematicians are surprising accurate the majority of the time.

Who are the unenrolled? They identify by candidate or by party depending upon the issues facing the state and or nation at the time of any given election – and as of 2010, that includes “The Tea Party”, which would indicate there is definitely room for a third party in the United States.

This is very apparent in the recent Democrat Primaries where President Obama has been challenged by primary opponents, his vote tally is statistically lower than Mitt Romney’s on the Republican side of the primary schedule.(Yahoo News) For example: In Kentucky, “Uncommitted” received 42% of the vote, Obama 58%, in Arkansas, a primary challenger received 38.%% of the total vote against President Obama, and in West Virginia a prison inmate received 40% of the vote in the Democrat primary. (ABC News)

With Romney’s machine, now in cruise control, (the former Massachusetts Governor should officially clinch the nomination in the Texas primary at the end of May), both his organizational skills, as well as his fundraising and messaging appear to be right on target to a win in November, one that appeared almost impossible a year ago and throughout the primary process, which has, in retrospect, turned Romney into the most formidable candidate to challenge the President.

However, there may have been another challenger, one who, if they had run in the Democrat Primaries, would have bested not only Obama, a sitting President, but would have had every opportunity to best a Republican challenger – Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s favorability remains at an all time high according to Gallup polling, her current rating is consistent at 66% favorable. One can bet the house, had she taken her husband’s advice (according to the latest release by Edward Klein), she would be cruising towards clinching the Democrat nomination, and would have had the opportunity to make history as the first Women to be elected President.

During the 2008 election Democrat Primary, Hillary Clinton received the majority of the popular vote, but was denied the nomination through a process known as “Super-Delegates” at the DNC Convection. In this way, popular votes are cast aside, and Super-Delegates elect the Party nominee. It was Nancy Pelosi and her daughter, who cast the final votes to nominate Barack Obama as the party standard-bearer, in a stunning anti-feminist move by the left of center San Francisco Democrat. She insisted that Women would not suffer a setback if Clinton lost.(Bloomberg) Unfortunately, many believe that the country, women especially have suffered since then Speaker of the House Pelosi muscled the super-delegate vote for Barack Obama. This is evidenced by the overall polling of the President’s job approval and the continued high approval of one Hillary Clinton. One must ask: Is it too late for Hillary to pull an upset at the 2012 Democrat Convection in whichever state they finally settle on? Otherwise, at this point, the trends indicate Romney will enjoy a Reagan like election night victory.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Romney-Bain-Ampad -Union Strikes Begin with Romney Run Against Kennedy – Union Refuses to Negotiate – Plant Closes – Romney Left Bain: 1999

The Results from a two decade period on Ampad, Romney and the International Paperworkers Union - result 13 articles - beginning with Romney's Run against Ted Kennedy

The attack ads in this particular general election beginning with the GOP Primary and now heating up for the General, as Obama begins to attack the Presumptive Nominee, Mitt Romney, are not exactly forthcoming with “details” that would make anyone hesitate as to the accuracy of the ads. Specifically since the timing of both the strike in Marion Indiana, and the 1994 Senate Campaign is somewhat suspect. According to the Springfield Republican

”Randy Johnson, a union worker at Ampad, spoke to reporters about Romney during the primary campaign. Johnson will be speaking to reporters again Monday on a conference call organized by the Obama campaign.
According to a release announcing the call, the Obama campaign will argue that “Romney’s business values put short term profit for himself and his investors ahead of long term growth for the companies he bought and sold – destroying some of the communities where he and his partners invested.””
(One Problem)
Romney’s role, however, is somewhat more complex than the Obama video shows. USA Today reported that Romney was on leave from Bain when it purchased SCM Office Supply – and was not involved in managing Ampad. Romney left Bain Capital in 1999, right before Ampad’s bankruptcy. (Ampad emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 under new ownership.)

Therefore, on the one hand, Bain Capital made an investment in a company – which Romney had no process in the decision making as he was on leave to run a Senate Campaign, the company was purchased, and suddenly – there’s a strike.
In fact, looking at articles from the Indianapolis Star, beginning in 1979 and ending in 1995, the keywords: Ampad, United Paperworkers, and finally Romney, in three sets of queries pull only 13 articles, the oldest: “Labor Problems in Marion Strike Massachusetts Race”, (Oct. 8, 1994) the balance of the articles report on the Union going out on strike, refusing to accept compromises, and finally, that employees were hired back (a point left out of most articles and the Obama video.)
From the Indianapolis Star, (article archives: Author: Peter Key, published in Business, Jan. 5th 1995)

” The announcement came less than a week after a last-ditch mediation attempt by Gov. Evan Bayh's office failed to resolve the dispute between Ampad and United Paperworkers International Union Local 154, which has been on strike at the plant since September. Randy Johnson, a vice president with Local 154, said he wasn't surprised by the company's decision.
"I really believe that they intended to have it their way or they were going to pull out," he said.
(Referring to)
Ampad Corp. said Wednesday it will close its Marion, Ind., factory Feb. 15, ending a labor dispute that has raged since the Dallas-based company bought the paper- products plant in July.”

Therefore, Once Bain, without Romney nearby, bought the plant in Marion, the Union went out on strike, and somehow it affected the Massachusetts race, in the end, the Union refused to compromise, even with Evan Bayh’s intervention and the end result was a closure of the plant due to the Union.

Romney, who had been contacted during the campaign against Kennedy by Mr. Johnson, Professional Union Organizer (not rank and file), and Romney faxed over a letter –the copy is below. In this letter Romney speaks to the steps he took to try and rectify the situation even though he was not part of Bain, and that it all boiled down to the Union’s choice to stalemate.

This particular story of Bain and Romney was first brought up in the 2012 GOP Primary – which was rugged to say the least, and although it’s already old news, the Obama campaign has decided to go ahead and use the material – one has to wonder what else they’ve got? Anything?

For additional sources see Indianapolis Star Archives 13 articles – three in particular headlines below::
Ampad strike mediation fails to resolve stalemate, Indianapolis Star, December 22, 1994

Companies battling strikes cut 572 Indiana jobs Strikebound Ampad plant will be closed next month Indianapolis Star - Indianapolis, Ind., January 5th, 1994

Ampad workers vote to reject company's final contract offer Indianapolis Star - Indianapolis, Ind. Dec. 22, 1994

Therefore, it is no wonder that the Obama Campaign is facing criticism from Democrats ( attacking Romney on this issue. Of course, it did not work well for one Newt Gingrich, either – again – that documentary, although hard on the Romney Camp, it quickly became old news, and the media cast Newt Gingrich as the villain for unjustly attacking Mitt Romney.

One would think the Obama Campaign might have done a bit of checking round to see if there was any credibility to the Gingrich (PAC not Campaign) video, and b)what happened as a result, before rolling out Randy again.

Apparently not:

An image of the fax Mitt Romney personally sent to this Randy Johnson (click to enlarge) – offers the appearance of Mr. Johnson as political operative, while Romney does his best to explain. According to the Springfield Republican, Mr. Johnson will be holding a press conference today, apparently to rehash the problems he had with Romney in the Marion IN Ampad situation. Will the media ask Mr. Johnson, why he as a union boss, used the Marion plant, and subsequent strike in order to protect Ted Kennedy in a senate Race in Massachusetts.

Fax from Romney to Johnson: image Business Week (Click to Enlarge)

(Kennedy later used the Marion – Bain – Romney connection to effect in the 1994 Senate Campaign).

It could all be coincidence of course, however, unions will err on the side of politics, rather than what might be best for the rank and file.

Monday, May 21, 2012

NC Teacher Shouting Match with Students Over Obama’s Reelection – She Gets Facts Wrong – Dummying Down of America from the Top Down

Consider the Scores (click to enlarge): Performance Scores from Salisbury High School - On Par with the Social Study Teachers Base of Knowledge

The story began with an article in the Salibury, NC, Post, students had taped their teacher on what can only be referred to as an uneducated rant regarding President Obama. According to the teacher, (who name is being withheld by the school), if one criticizes the President, then on is subject to being slammed in jail, however, it is perfectly ok, to criticize anyone running against the President or who does not agree with the President. In listening to the audio tape, one can tell that the students find this to be on the side of hilarious – and they continue to goad the “educator” until she explodes.

A partial transcript, provides by the

The nearly 10-minute video, shot by a student and uploaded to YouTube on Monday, had been viewed more than 1,000 times by Friday afternoon.
It begins with a classroom conversation about a recent news story detailing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney allegedly bullying a classmate in prep school. It turns into a heated, sometimes confrontational debate.
One student asks, “Didn’t Obama bully someone though?”
The teacher responds: “Not to my knowledge.”
In response to the Romney story, conservatives have recently been pointing to a passage in Obama’s book, “Dreams from My Father,” in which the president writes that while in grade school he shoved a little girl, the only other black student in his grade, after other students called him her boyfriend.
When the student tells the teacher that Obama admitted to bullying a girl in school, the teacher goes on the defensive.
“Stop, no, because there is no comparison,” she says. Romney, she says, is “running for president. Obama is the president.”
When the student says they’re both “just men,” the teacher continues to argue that Romney, as a candidate for president, is not to be afforded the same respect as the president.
The teacher tells the class Obama is “due the respect that every other president is due.”
“Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom,” she says.
The student replies that he’ll say what he wants.
“Not about him you won’t,” the teacher says.
Later in the conversation, the teacher tells the class it’s criminal to slander a president.
“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?” she says of former President Bush. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”
The student responds by saying being arrested for talking badly about the president would violate the right to free speech.
“You would have to say some pretty f’d up crap about him to be arrested,” he says. “They cannot take away your right to have your opinion. ... They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”

The video is worth the agonizing listen (quality of issue) due to the insight it gives one on the tone in the classroom and the trend of students to question the authority of the educator, who, when one listens, understands the students are better educated, and on top of current affairs, than the individual responsible for taking them further in their knowledge. It tells the listeners two things: the classroom appears to have a diverse student body – yet the only one arguing for the President appears to be the Teacher, and to the point of hysterics – the students on the other hand are standing up for Mitt Romney – which infuriates the teacher. The fact that politics are brought into a Social Studies class is, on face, not unusual, as the curriculum blends geography and history into one disciplines, a broad overview of how history has impacted society, therefore a debate would not be in question. However, the fact that the teacher was not debating, in a calm and rational manner, nor backing up her claims in anything approaching honestly rather than blind partisanship – sets the stage for 2012 and the youth vote. This is not an anomaly whereby the message in high schools remains basically the same – however, there’s this backlash very similar to those students in this tape – those who are turning eighteen are either not interested in voting at all, or have chosen to vote the economy, again, if they find the time.

What should infuriate the parents and the taxpayers is that the school system has on its staff an educator who is not educated. It is no wonder that students in states where there is a “race to the top” program found that only 50 percent were able to pass the reading exam in Florida, The Florida Board of Education took the low road and lowered the test standards – graduate at any cost. The losers are the students, and then the taxpayer.

The only thing that keeps these substandard teachers on the public dole – tenure – and unless and until those Union Contracts are written in such a way as to allow public schools to fire for incompetency – then this downward spiral will continue to take its toll – additionally the backlash is that for every one bad teacher, there are thousands of good teachers who end up being painted with the same large brush. Just like politics.

The audio via YouTube below is approximately 10 minutes, but gives on the intensity of the one-sided debate going on between the teacher and students, and the disdain that the students have as well as disgust for her blind partisanship – one can bet, if this teacher is not an anomaly in this system, then these students, their parents and those taxpayers who support the student, should get a tax rebate.

Although the school is not releasing the name of the teach, the School Website easily accessable to the public, does list the staff, there are two female Social Study Teachers at Salisbury High school- from there it's anyone's guess which of these two should be shown the door.

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