Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why Wages Rise; a review of F.A. Harper's book

Economist F.A. Harper wrote his monograph Why Wages Rise in 1957 to answer the question alluded to by the title. The book is available online at Mises.org. [1]

One point that hits home is the total wage concept:

Wages have no worth except as one can buy with them
something he wants, including the investment of savings. So
no matter what the rate of pay or the form of payment, there
is no way to pay wages making it possible to have something
this year that is not to be produced until next year or the year
after.


Three key points

One: Wages only have value equal to that which can be purchased, saved, or invested. The Soviet Union, especially under Lenin, had trouble grasping this concept. During Lenin's first planned economic intervention - war communism, Soviet workers were paid more than they had ever experienced, though stores lay barren of consumer goods. Initially excited by the higher wages, the workers soon realized that their hard work was rewarded by paper, not the goods they desired. The early enthusiasm for meeting lofty production goals soon faded to a level equal to the empty, dusty store shelves.

Two: You can't buy goods today that will not be produced until next year. So, why would anyone buy the Keynesian line that inflation -- inflating the money supply -- stimulates the economy. Putting additional dollars in my hand will not allow me to purchase goods not already produced. It will, though, force prices to rise as the new dollars chase the current stock of goods. In addition, by devaluing the currency, inflation robs the value of wages earned. [2]

Three: Harper explains lost value through government taxation: Your nominal wage has no real relationship with your value wage. Under the subheading, I Spend It for You, he shows with very clear logic how the $1 taxed loses value when spent by others - government. If it were true that your taxed dollar has the same value as a dollar of your disposable income, then you would have spent the dollar as government spent it -- with government miraculously incurring no bureaucratic costs. In that odd case, government provides no real benefit. In all other case, you lose value through taxation -- government is a detrimental cost.

It's as simple as that.

Read the book. At 122 pages, it is an easy read of an important subject.


Notes:
[1] In fact it is one of a large selection of free downloadable books of economics and Liberty available at Mises.org.

[2] Of course, I could run on-and-on about the ills of inflation.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Greenhouse gases, global warming, and the magnetic field

My latest Mises.org blog post:

The local PBS station is due to rebroadcast the Nova program Magnetic Storm. The significance of the program is twofold. On one hand there is the prediction that Earth is long overdue for its magnetic poles to once again flip; north to south, south to north. On the other hand, and more ominous, there is the prediction that the Earth's magnetic field is quickly fading away.

Excerpts from the program transcripts:

NARRATOR: Mario's team now knew that Mars had once had a magnetic shield which it must at some point have lost. They began to wonder whether this might be the solution to one of the great mysteries of the solar system.

Scientists suspect that the young Mars was in many ways an Earth-like place, with a thick atmosphere and oceans which may have harbored primitive life. But then, around 4,000,000,000 years ago, the planet entered a catastrophic decline. Gradually the atmosphere and oceans of Mars mysteriously disappeared.

NARRATOR: It seems the Earth's magnetic field is rapidly fading, a puzzle that is challenging scientists around the globe.

NARRATOR: The fate of Mars suggests that without the protection of its magnetic shield, the Earth could also become a dead planet, which makes it all the more disturbing to learn that our own magnetic field is fading so rapidly.


OK, greenhouse gases and global warming have been trumped by the diminishing magnetic field. And, we have hard science to back our barren future.

This summer can I enjoy the little time left driving my SUV on frivolous trips while running the AC with the windows down? Or, do I have to await my magnetic fate suffering slow impoverishment under the socialist green agenda of an ever-encroaching assault on property rights and Liberty?

Can't PBS and Nova get the story straight for once? The magnetic field is certainly being depleted by the evil capitalist and ravenous consumer. That's the thread that holds political science - or, science of the political - together.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wrong for Ohio: rats leaving a sinking ship

It's funny, the public education system labored for years on ballot language for a constitutional amendment that would solve the ills of public education in Ohio. All the usual suspect participated in the drafting of the final wording; the Ohio School Boards Association, administrator associations, unions, and fellow party apparatchiks and nomenklatura. The proposal is their grand solution; the piece de resistance.

You would think that the party elite and sundry minions would be proud of their work. But you really have to search hard for the actual language. The website Getting it Right! for Ohio's future is the product of the PAC created to get the amendment on the ballot. Let me tell you, you really have to search hard to find the actual language. You have to wade through all the rah rah to find what the school buzz is actually about. Read it and you will be in for a treat.

The lack of open public display of the language is strange, but what's stranger is the cool public response from school superintendents, treasurers, and board members. It is as if they are embarrassed by their demand; a blank check to spend as they see fit. Like a child who is caught asking for the absurd, I think the school system is shocked at how they sound now that their true wants and desires are known by the taxpayers.

Try to find a school official who will make a strong public stand for their Kafkaesque public school funding amendment. I think they finally saw themselves as the public sees them, and the image is quite unpleasant. Like rats leaving a sinking ship, school officials are quickly distancing themselves from their product.

Sign the petition and vote for the amendment, and watch members of the school system give themselves raises like they just struck gold. Well, if the amendment passes, they will have struck gold: Your gold.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Does the Third World Need More Laptops?

My latest Mises.org article

Does the Third World Need More Laptops?
By Jim Fedako
Posted on 1/25/2006


All for the want of a dog. "What's a dog?" I inquired.

The middle-aged Jamaican smiled, "The dog is that little part down there." He knelt, pointing to the rear wheel of his broken bicycle leaning against the stuccoed cement block wall that outlined his neatly kept yard. He rose, looked me in the eye, and inquired, "Can you bring me a new one back when you return from the States?"

You see, my friend really needed a dog — the local term for the broken small part of the wheel assembly — in order to fix the bike he used for work. The local bike shops — more like bike shacks — didn't have the part in stock. And, even if they did, the price of a dog sold on the island would have been too high for a day laborer to afford.

Sure, I would have loved to have brought one back for him, but I wasn't coming back as my service in the US Peace Corps was about to end. The bike — a gift from my friend's generous, well-meaning US relative — would slowly rust against the wall in the rain and lightly salted winds, all for the want of a dog.

continue reading ...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Indoctrinating the next generation

Ever wonder what students at many universities are learning from English professors, paid for by your tax dollars? Listen to the Heritage Foundation talk given by Dr. Elizabeth Kantor, Ph. D, UNC, English; MA, philosophy, Catholic University, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature. Caution: Some of the example college classroom language is not your typical dinner table talk - though it is now standard college English Literature fare. This speech alone defeats any general welfare defense of tax-supported, state universities.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The state and children

This is a great article that explains another way that the state destroys families. The state's big lie is that it can efficiently replace the family, from raising and educating children through caring for the elderly. The state, and its minions, continues to sell the myth of state omnipotence, and, sadly, the greater majority buys that myth.

The Bible says that, "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children‘s children" (Pr 13:22a) Yet the state continues to spend our children's inheritance as it builds debt attempting to usurp the role of families; while the majority cheers.

How can we allow the theft from future generations to continue? Easy, we covet. We believe that if we - through the state - had the wealth of Bill Gates, we would solve the ills of the world. So, we covet and thieve. Yet we solve nothing, and, instead, generate more ills as we slowly destroy the family.

It has been shown for decades that The War on Poverty ended up being a war on families, with families now in full retreat. Remember, our actions may end up being the sins of the father that punish the little ones born or to be born.

Jim Fedako







Making Kids Worthless: Social Security's Contribution to the Fertility Crisis
By Oskari Juurikkala
Posted on 1/24/2007


Social security schemes around the developed world are facing a major crisis due to greater longevity, declining retirement ages and — lo and behold — below-replacement fertility rates, writes Oskari Juurikkala. Unfortunately, low fertility rates do not merely hasten the insolvency of public pay-as-you-go schemes, but lack of offspring also implies the decline of centuries-old nations. What has social security got to do with fertility rates? Actually, a lot.

Read the article ...

Then Robert McGrath strikes

note: OSU's Robert McGrath responds with the university's party line.


Dear Editor:

In his response to my letter regarding the January 10, 2007 Dispatch article on the OSU Office for Technology Licensing, "Ohio State research is a losing proposition," Richard Lupton misses the point of the article. The only product of value mentioned was the small-child immobilization collar developed and brought to market without OSU assistance by the talents and efforts of entrepreneur, Marie Robinette; no state or federal tax dollars required.

Lupton implies that I would have desired more research dollars spent at OSU should one of my family members become ill in the future. According to the list of products coming out of the decades of discovery at OSU, I would have benefited from OSU research during the past ten years only if my family members suffered from heartworms, got lost on Mars, or were in desperate need of tofu soybeans.

In the real world, it is entrepreneurs such as Bill Gate, Steve Jobs, and now Marie Robinette who bring needed products to market, while at the same time, OSU research wastes billions of hard-earned tax dollars, yielding no benefit.

In his response, Robert McGrath of OSU confounds value with expenditures. I certainly agree that expenditures were made - to the tune of $2.3 billion. And it appears that we both agree that no products of value were produced. All that McGrath can hold onto is his claim of job creation. To establish this claim, he uses the refuted Keynesian multiplier effect to impute new jobs from research expenditures.

What McGrath forgets to mention is that new jobs are not created unless value is produced. He noted the positive side of the research equation, but he failed to mention the greater number of jobs that would have been created in the private sector were it not for the level of taxation and monetary inflation required to fund the research - jobs that would have added great value to the Central Ohio economy.

To believe McGrath is to believe that OSU should spend billions more on research for the sole purpose of employing researchers to engage in efforts that produce little value, and a huge economic loss.

Jim Fedako

My reponse to Richard Lupton's letter in today's Dispatch

note: I typically do not respond in-kind, though more must be said to clarify this matter.


Dear Editor:

In his response to my letter regarding the January 10, 2007 Dispatch article on the OSU Office for Technology Licensing, "Ohio State research is a losing proposition," Richard Lupton misses the point of the whole story. The only product of value mentioned was the small-child immobilization collar developed and brought to market without OSU assistance by the talents and efforts of entrepreneur, Marie Robinette; no state or federal tax dollars required.

Lupton implies that I would have desired more research dollars spent at OSU should one of my family members become ill in the future. According to the list of products coming out of the decades of discovery at OSU, I would only have benefited from the OSU research during the past ten years if my family members suffered from heartworms, got lost on Mars, or were in desperate need of tofu soybeans.

In the real world, it's entrepreneurs such as Bill Gate, Steve Jobs, and now Marie Robinette who bring needed products to market, while at the same time, OSU research wastes billions of hard-earned tax dollars, yielding no benefit.

Jim Fedako

Monday, January 22, 2007

The results don't compute

Dr. W. Stephen Wilson has a simple study that asks, then answers, the question, "Are our students better now?" The Johns Hopkins math professor simply compared his students in 2006 with those he taught in 1989.

The surprising result: Even though the students in the two classes separated by almost two decades had very similar math scores on the SAT, the current level of performance in Wilson's class shows students ill-prepared for college-level instruction.

The real shame is that 1989 stands as the year that math education in US public schools began to become fuzzy due to recommendations from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). NCTM is an organization comprised of public school math teachers, not mathematicians or math professors.

The recommendations published in NCTM's Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (1989) opened the door for the math equivalent of whole-language. The waste product of these recommendations are programs such as Everyday Math. In addition, many schools have adopted NCTM recommendations as the basis for their curriculum (Olentangy utilizes both Everday Math and the NCTM recommendations - it's no wonder that more than 30% of district graduate require college remediation).

What's to be learned? One: Fuzzy math is an expensive and worthless means to teach math; despite what the education colleges and your local administrators and teachers claim (see previous post Everyday Math - A big waste of time and money). Two: The SAT is not the best indicator of college preparedness.

Additionally. The students in school today are your children. Get involved and ask the hard questions, and don't accept a muddled response. Demand proof that the math programs work. But don't be shocked if not valid proof can be produced, as none exists.

Finally. Don't expect much change without a fight. Absent a free market, the government school monopoly has little reason to change, especially given that public schools support the fuzzy concepts over real learning.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Watch out for TeenScreen

I typically do not copy a web page in full unless I authored the article. In this instance, I am making an exception. TeenScreen is something of great concern as it slowly moves into additional communities. The program has already entered central Ohio, so be careful and be concerned. To find out which schools are using TeenScreen, click over to this web site.

Read the article and consider signing the petition.

Jim










The Conservative Voice
TeenScreen - The Last Straw
by Doyle Mills
January 15, 2007

The TeenScreen program is in big trouble.

TeenScreen is a highly controversial child suicide screening initiative with major ties to pharmaceutical companies. It is simply a marketing ploy to funnel massive numbers of our youth into the mental health system. An Internet search will pull up literally thousands of websites, articles and blogs critical of the program. Almost daily, newspapers publish articles and letters with the message that TeenScreen is a dangerous program, aimed at turning normal teenagers into new customers for the multi-billion dollar psycho-pharmaceutical industry. An on-line petition with 16,000+ signatures, calls on state and federal legislators to "Stop TeenScreen's Unscientific and Experimental 'Mental Health Screening ' of American School Children ".

With public opinion against it, TeenScreen is on the defense. They are attempting to promote carefully crafted messages - over and over again. These "talking points" are seen every time a TeenScreen staffer is interviewed, and repeated in letters from TeenScreen's director, Leslie McGuire and local TeenScreen worker bees. With Rabin Strategic Partners, a high-dollar New York PR firm, at their disposal, such a coordinated strategy is of course expected. Yet, these talking points do not actually answer the hard questions posed by the program‘s critics. Instead they utilize a simple technique known as the “straw man argument”.

A straw man argument is a way of trying to win a debate while completely avoiding the actual subject at hand. It is done by taking a statement from one’s opponent and altering it so that it becomes ridiculous and thus easy to defeat. This is commonplace in politics. A candidate says “We need to be careful with our spending” and t he other side sets up a straw man argument by saying: “My opponent wants to cut benefits to people who really need it.” It’s a dishonest way of trying to win the battle for public opinion. It’s a sign of desperation and an admission that one cannot confront the actual issues.

TeenScreen uses a handful of predictable statements to defend themselves. Unfortunately for TeenScreen, for Rabin, and for the pharmaceutical companies, these arguments are easily shot down by anyone who is willing to do a little research and who understands the straw man argument.

TeenScreen Straw Man Argument #1:

"We are not funded by drug companies!”, a statement found in practically every TeenScreen press release. Since TeenScreen refuses to divulge its funding sources, it’s impossible to know if this assertion is true. However, it is an example of the straw man argument. Nobody is claiming that TeenScreen is funded by drug companies. What is claime d, and can be verified, is that TeenScreen's advisory board is rife with major pharmaceutical company ties. Without belaboring the point, here is just a sampling:

• Robert Postlethwait, a TeenScreen advisory board member, spent 30 years at Eli Lilly until he retired in 1999. In 2004, according to a DarPharma Inc. press release, Postlethwait joined it's board of directors. DarPharma, Inc. is a company that develops "novel" psychotropic drugs.

• Catherine "Deeda" Blair, another TeenScreen advisory board member, has earned fees or stock from at least a half-dozen drug and biotech companies including Novartis, where she still consults, according a 2004 report by Fairchild Publications, Inc.

• In 2004 Michael Hogan, another TeenScreen advisory board member, won the Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award.

You can find other TeenScreen advisory board members and their ties to pharmaceutical companies, courtesy of a website called www.TeenScreenTruth.com

Local TeenScreen operations can accept funds from drug companies or other groups that stand to make a profit from children identified as “mentally ill” by the screening process. One TeenScreen site, in Tennessee, accepted money directly from Eli Lilly, a major manufacturer of psychiatric drugs. TeenScreen’s defense is that they ”strongly recommend” that local groups do not receive drug company funding, so as to avoid the “appearance of a possible inducement to recommend treatment”. Note that they are concerned with the appearance of impropriety, not the truly dangerous situation of profit-oriented enterprises being given access to our young people.

Wherever TeenScreen pops up in various school districts, NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) can be found there pushing it. Invariably, NAMI helps spearhead the introduction of TeenScreen into schools. When local parents and civic groups speak out against the program, NAMI is TeenScreen’s most vocal defender. N AMI published a guide for its members with TeenScreen's straw man “talking points” in an attempt to counteract opposition to TeenScreen. NAMI has received millions of dollars in pharmaceutical company funding. (Note: Although TeenScreen is very secretive and will not release the names of the schools they have infiltrated, many can be found here thanks to the enterprising work of a few parents who are scouring the country hunting them down.)

TeenScreen Straw Man Argument #2:

"We don't provide treatment!" It is true that TeenScreen is not directly in the treatment business. That fact is easily proven and that’s why this straw man argument is used. What opponents actually say is that many of those students screened will be referred to psychiatric treatment (drugs). TeenScreen’s own website makes it clear that treatment is int egral to the screening process. The section entitled How to Start a Site includes this line: “Before you begin screening, a plan must be in place to manage the teens identified from the screening and ensure that they can access appropriate mental health services.”

Laurie Flynn, the Executive Director of TeenScreen, makes this point very clearly in an article she wrote, “The long-term goal of TeenScreen is not just identification, but treatment for those in need. The TeenScreen program is a five-step process ... In the final step, a case manager meets with teens and makes referrals for further evaluation and treatment.”

Treatment for those children identified by the TeenScreen program likely would include psychotropic drugging - which of course is a very profitable enterprise. Some of the drugs used to “treat” depression are known to cause suicidal ideation and induce violent behavior, and are required by the Food and Drug Administration to carry “black box” warnings s tating this danger. TeenScreen itself admits that a percentage of the kids they screen and refer will wind up on drugs. Of course, they prefer to use the more benign-sounding term "medication". According to a study recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, kids who committed suicide were 15 times more likely to have been on antidepressants. This supposed suicide "prevention" program will likely increase teen suicides. Ironic indeed.

TeenScreen Straw Man Argument #3:

"We don't diagnose!" Certainly opponents of the program are not claiming that TeenScreen's 2-day-trained screeners diagnose anyone. That would be grounds for criminal action - practicing medicine without a license. Yet, the truth is that TeenScreen personnel are involved in the diagnosis. TeenScreen's "Screening Information Form" is filled out by screeners after the suicide survey is done on a child. The form contains check boxes for Social Phobia, Gener alized Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive, Depression and Panic Disorder. No, TeenScreen does not diagnose but they do set up the child for a diagnosis. As an analogy, they are not the bank robbers; they are the get away drivers - an accomplice to the diagnosis.

TeenScreen Straw Man Argument #4:

"We require written parental consent!" Bowing to public and media pressure, TeenScreen announced in August of 2006 that they would start requiring schools to obtain written parental consent before a child is screened which crippled the program's reach. TeenScreen’s previous public stance was to allow a surreptitious scheme known as “passive consent”. If the parent did not return a form specifically saying NO to screening - parental consent was assumed. In reality, many children were screened without their parents’ consent or knowledge. Though clearly unethical and illegal per federal law, this method drastically increased the number of children who could be screened. Some schools, apparently unaware of the national controversy, still use TeenScreen's passive consent method.

The brouhaha about active and passive consent misses the point made by TeenScreen’s opponents. In a letter to the editor published in The Fort Madison Daily Democrat, Jeannie Hetzer stated, “(the school) sends home a permission slip, but the permission slip gives the parent no idea of the content of the test or the repercussions.” In her article entitled “What TeenScreen Doesn’t Want You to Know about Parental Consent”, educator Mary Collins stated, “There are federal and state laws requiring ‘informed consent’, meaning that before someone agrees to participate in any medical procedure or experiment, they must be informed of and must understand the medical facts and the risks involved…NO TeenScreen sites use full informed consent.”

Certainly, TeenScreen DOES NOT provide full informed consent on what the ramifications of screening are and does not inform parents about the national controversy and the arguments against screening.

TeenScreen Straw Man Argument #5:

"It's the Scientologists who are against us!" Although Scientologists certainly should be flattered with that honorable distinction, many of the 700 plus doctors (to date) who have signed the "NO to TeenScreen petition" found here may disagree with that straw man argument. The creator of the petition, Teresa Rhoades is a Baptist according to the Daily Oklahoman. She is suing in federal court because her child was screened and diagnosed without parental consent. Rhoades says: "What does religion have to do with it?" Christians and homeschoolers have been some of the staunchest critics of psychiatric screening in schools. Many state directors of The Eagle Forum, a family rights group, have worked on legislation against mental screening in schools. Jews, Catholics, Christians and Hare Krishna's are working against mental screening of kids in schools. Many and various religious, scientific, education, medical, anti-government intrusion, media and other groups are rebelling against TeenScreen's goal to screen every child before they graduate from high school. Parents from all walks of life, whose children have been harmed by psychotropic drugs, might also wish to be included in the opposition. Michael Hogan, director of the Ohio Mental Health Department and TeenScreen proponent, referred to those opposed to mass child mental screening as the “Curious Coalition”. Although TeenScreen proponents don't feel the need to announce their own religion when they are out campaigning to suicide screen, chances are they belong to the cult of biological psychiatry.

TeenScreen Straw Man Argument #6:

“Suicide is a leading cause of dea th in teens!" Opponents of TeenScreen don't argue that point. It can be verified by simply looking up the statistics on the internet. However, TeenScreen will not tell you the actual numbers for fear that no one will take them seriously. Suicide in young people is very, very rare. The word “suicide” tugs at the heart strings. Any suicide is certainly a tragedy and one suicide is one too many. TeenScreen's sales pitch on this point is effective in gaining sympathy from school administrators and parents who have not done their homework. If they elected to do their research on their own geographical area, they could find the low numbers from the Center for Disease Control website, which you can find here.

The solution, if there could possibly be one for the rare cases, would certainly not be to screen every child in a school, especially when many will wind up on the same drugs that carry FDA mandated Black Box warnings that these drugs carry a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects such as suicidal ideation!

TeenScreen’s claims that they are a "suicide risk screening program for youth” is a carefully worked out marketing scheme to gain support for their activity. The public at large cares about our next generation and would do anything to prevent suicide. What TeenScreen actually does is get more youth into the mental health system. They "partner" with local mental agencies and shrinks who become the recipients of the new customers and the profits. TeenScreen does not "partner" with non-psychiatric medical doctors to find a very possible physical source of a child's behavior, such as allergies, nutritional deficiencies, lack of exercise, toxicities and even side effects of psychiatric drugs!

TeenScreen is under attack, and rightly so. Our next generation is in danger and we cannot afford to let the future of this society be decided by straw man arguments. Demand that TeenScreen answer the tough questions and the real concerns. Then our lawmakers and school personnel can make the right decisions.

Doyle Mills is a freelance writer living in Clearwater, Florida, active in inter-religious and human rights work. For more information, click here.

For questions or comments, email dmills_pb@yahoo.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Petition: Stop TeenScreen's Unscientific and Experimental "Mental Health Screening" of American School Children

A great Christian weekly news magazine

Read World magazine for a Christian perspective on the news. Every media source has its own bias, so chose the bias that fits with your views. And since there are no "R" rated photos or stories, you don't have to be embarrassed leaving a copy around for kids and guests to review. The magazine contains nothing other than the national and world news reported from a Christian perspective. Refreshing, indeed.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The 30-year countdown clock is now running

Latest Mises.org blog post

Jim Fedako

AOL News is reporting an AP story with the telling opening sentence, "Thirty years after it began as just another quirky movement in Berkeley, Calif., the push to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places has reached a national milestone."

Think about all the other quirky ideas being kicked around, ideas that seem innocuous now yet are less than 30 years from being law. Vigilance over any attack on Liberty is a must. Simple movements slowly pervade the collective conscience - or, more aptly, the conscious of the collectivists - and become the next great idea for interventionism. Before you know it, the greater majority, inculcated at government schools, believe that the yoke of coercion and compulsion has always been present. And like many in the former Soviet republics, the majority begins to fear Liberty, and subsequently turns to government as the protector from that fear: Liberty.

Invite friends and acquaintances to Mises.org and let's continue to build the resource base to defend our prized Liberty against the "quirky" dreams of the do-gooders and their government allies. The 30-year clock is already ticking.

Games superintendents and boards play

The Olentangy School District claims it needs additional local tax dollars, with a levy request likely going on the ballot this November. Times are tough, or so they say. Yet, the superintendent is creating two new executive director positions when he is supposed to be looking for ways to reduce costs - in his nine months with the district, it appears he has found little cost savings.

The interesting part is that these new positions are not effective until the next fiscal year, though the board will likely create the positions this Tuesday. Why the rush? Simple, since district residents are going to be very watchful of expenses come levy campaign time, the board game - pun intended - is to create the positions now when little public attention is given to district operations. This will allow the board to avoid criticism over the positions near levy time. Nice game. Especially when it's someone else's money.

Why can't they just be honest and open? Simple, honesty would hurt their chances to win a ballot request on the claim of need.

Are the positions needed? My previous post addressed one of the positions. Read it and decide for yourself.

Note: Keep in mind that the reported salary does not include the 10% additional compensation from the district paying the employee retirement contribution for its administrators. This would be the same as your company paying your social security tax in addition to the employer contribution. So, always add 10% to administrator salaries in order to compare with private sector jobs.

Everyday Math - A big waste of time and money

Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth



This is a great YouTube.com video on the differences between traditional math and the current flavor of the constructivist, Progressive education in vogue at districts such as Olentangy. In fifteen minutes, you will understand why district students struggle through math.

You will also find yourself wondering why the administration adopted such a mess. Simply ask Jeff Brown, the new Executive Director of Elementary Learning, why the district continues to embrace failed programs such as Everyday Math. I can only imagine his response.

The video's M.J. McDermott is able to effectively explain the issue because she has not been inculcated into the current education mess. She is a successful user of math; not some educationist living the life of PT Barnum's fool.

note: When administrators such as Mr. Brown spin the party line and you find yourself thinking they are speaking nonsense, don't question your instinct. Your instinct is correct: They are speaking nonsense, and they actually believe what they are saying. The sad part: Your paying for it whether you like it or not.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ohio State research is a losing proposition

Columbus Dispatch Letter to Editor
Friday, January 19, 2007


Eighty years ago, esteemed free-market economist Ludwig von Mises proved that a society organized under socialism is bound to fail. The reason: Absent a free market and its requisite private ownership of property, planned economies cannot calculate profit and loss and, hence, are bound for chaos and poverty.

OK, that’s the theory. Now, how about the proof? The proof is evident in the Jan. 9 Dispatch article "Inventive thinking." Over the past five fiscal years, Ohio State University spent almost $2.3 billion on research that yielded $3.7 million in licensing revenue, for a loss of $2.3 billion.

A $2.3 billion loss? Think about it. That amounts to $209 in lost income from every adult and child in Ohio. Incredible. More so when you consider that this was considered a success by both The Dispatch and the OSU officials quoted in the story. They lost $2.3 billion, and they consider it a success?

Obviously the tax-spenders at OSU refuse to live by the tough rules of the market, at least when it’s someone else’s money on the line.

As government interventions in the market and our daily lives continue to expand throughout Ohio and the United States, keep in mind what economist Mises proved and OSU confirmed.

And, as Ohio continues to sell bonds for supposed investments in research and development, remember the likely return on investment: another huge loss, more money down the rat hole.

JIM FEDAKO

Lewis Center

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis Installment 7

The serial continues... here is installment seven ...

Once the full report is online, I will provide an analysis of areas where cost can be reduced.

note: click to read installments one, two, three, four, five, and six

I am posting the seventh installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

I have been asked if I could provide a .pdf version. Sorry, I only have a hardcopy document. You can ask the district to provide you with a copy through a public records request. According to Ohio law, the district cannot ask you for identification, though they can charge a slight copying fee.





Olentangy Local Schools: the tax burden

So, the question is this: How can I make sense of Appendix D of Property Tax and School Funding from the Ohio Department of Taxation?

Good question, and here are the steps:

1. Cut out Appendix D and paste it into a Notepad document
2. Remove all header lines and save
3. Open the Notepad document into a new Excel spreadsheet
4. Cut and paste cells that are not in the correct columns (hint: sort the spreadsheet so that you can do mass movements of cells)
5. Sort the spreadsheet on the total tax effort column

What you will find is that Olentangy is the 101st highest taxed district out of the 614 Ohio districts. And, Olentangy is ranked 4th out of its 21 similar districts (20 similar districts as defined by the Ohio Department of Education plus Olentangy).

You can also estimate the district's rank should the March levy pass; the district tax burden is moving in the wong direction.

Olentangy finds savings by hiring an additional administrator

Yep, that's the solution. Superintendent Davis committed to taking a hard look at the district's budget, and what does he find? The need for an additional administrator of course. I'm certain that the board will nod their collective heads in agreement at the next meeting.

What a gift to the district! The taxpayers will soon have a "new executive director of elementary learning." But, will they ever reap any benefit? Doubt it. Question: How does hiring a new executive director result in efficiencies and cost savings? Isn't elementary instruction delivered in the classrooms, and not in the administrative offices? What Davis doesn't mention is that for there to be savings, other positions must go away. He obviously missed that part of the cost savings/efficiencies story.

But, he and the board will not miss the levy request in November. And they will remember the taxpayer then.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What are they being taught?

I had tears in my eyes and had goose bumps, literally,” said Inger, who now teaches high school English in West Hartford, Conn. “I was so incredibly impressed. . . . She was so well-versed in so many issues."


This article - from the Boston Globe - is another example of the product of public education and its socialist ideal, in addition to unionist parents. I previously wrote about lunacy reaped by "the occasional band of roaming morons (who) spray paint SUVs, demand that KFC play Mozart in their slaughterhouses – yes, the chicken we eat must be slaughtered somewhere, and protest McDonalds and Wal-Mart as evil incarnate."

Back to the article ...

Well-versed in so many issues? I would say that her writings show a student devoid on any real knowledge, yet full of Progressive ranting and raving.

"... to reattach people to the problem" and to make a difference, Snow should invest some time reading a book or two on economics and scarcity. She could then educate "people" on the market and government interventions.

If Snow felt that such texts did not supply the answer, she could simply load a plane with food and supplies, and fly to the capital of the impoverished country of her choice. She would then find out how little of her good work escapes the grasps of veracious government agents.

The ills the Snow wants to cure are not the doings of the US market. In fact, US entrepreneurs would love to sell their products and services to the masses overseas, thus reducing need and deprivation. And, the investors - capitalist - would love to invest in the Third World if they were convinced that their investments would not be confiscated.

What else but government could take fertile African, Asian, and South American soil and reap a harvest of despair and starvation?

This question never gets addressed since it is a lesson missing from schools formed by two evils; government and unions.

Jim Fedako

Monday, January 15, 2007

Free books and a great blog

Go to Gary North's web site to read excellent books on the Bible and Christian thought. Not only are the books interesting, challenging, and timely, they really are free.

Or, go to Mises.org for a host of free books on Austrian Economics and the free market. You can read, or download and read, all the classics, including Human Action and Man, Economy, and State.

The Blessed Economist runs a great blog that addresses economics and political philosophy in a biblical sense. Though I'm not saying I agree with everything posted, it is all very thought provoking.

Enjoy each of these sites.

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis Installment 6

The serial continues... here is installment six ...

Once the full report is online, I will provide an analysis of areas where cost can be reduced.

note: click to read installments one, two, three, four, and five

I am posting the sixth installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

I have been asked if I could provide a .pdf version. Sorry, I only have a hardcopy document. You can ask the district to provide you with a copy through a public records request. According to Ohio law, the district cannot ask you for identification, though they can charge a slight copying fee.





Sunday, January 14, 2007

A great weekly news magazine

Read World magazine for a Christian perspective on the news. Every media source has its own bias, so chose the bias that fits with your views. And since there are no "R" rated photos or stories, you don't have to be embarrassed leaving a copy around for kids and guests to review. The magazine contains nothing other than the national and world news reported from a Christian perspective. Refreshing, indeed.

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis Installment 5

The serial continues... here is installment five ...

note: click to read installments one, two, three, and four

I am posting the fifth installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

I have been asked if I could provide a .pdf version. Sorry, I only have a hardcopy document. You can ask the district to provide you with a copy through a public records request. According to Ohio law, the district cannot ask you for identification, though they can charge a slight copying fee.

Check back for future installments of the report.




Saturday, January 13, 2007

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis Installment 4

The serial continues... here is installment four ...

note: click to read installments one, two, and three

I am posting the fourth installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

I have been asked if I could provide a .pdf version. Sorry, I only have a hardcopy document. You can ask the district to provide you with a copy through a public records request. According to Ohio law, the district cannot ask you for identification, though they can charge a slight copying fee.

Check back for future installments of the report.





draft

I checked out the offerings ... I was looking to convey a little more authority -- in a totalitarian way -- but did not find a brownshirt in a two-pocket, button-down style. Just trying to get ahead of the fashion curve ;-)

Actually, they are simply following orders.

From the Dept of Homeland Security -- given the current threat levels:

Recommended Activities

1. All Americans should continue to be vigilant, take notice of their surroundings, and report suspicious items or activities to local authorities immediately.

2. Everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves and their family, and stay informed about what to do during an emergency.


Or, maybe these folks are part of the Citizen Corp:

About Citizen Corps

http://www.citizencorps.gov/

We all have a role in hometown security

Citizen Corps asks you to embrace the personal responsibility to be prepared; to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders, disaster relief, and community safety.

Currently there are:
2,305 Councils which serve
218,927,842 people or
76% of the total U.S. population


Even I have a local council watching out for me ... I'll sleep well tonight. I assume the all of the brownshirts have been requisitioned by these folks.

Just wait until the Ready Kids grow up. http://www.ready.gov/kids/home.html

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

And you wonder why they can't teach ...

Here's the lead article from TCRecord, the online magazine out of the famed Teachers College of Columbia University:

The Tacit Media Pedagogy as Praxial Critique: A Critique of Postmodern Theory for Higher Education Curriculum

by Andrew M. Tatusko — 2005

Employing Calvin O. Schrag's response to postmodernism-transversal rationality engaged through praxial critique-the constructive side of postmodern theories can be highlighted in higher education while at the same time answering the pundits who see little to no constructive side to postmodern theories. Using praxial critique through media literacy is a proposed way to construct a curriculum that is centered around transversal rationality as a way to answer the challenges of postmodernism in a constructive way that neither dimisses nor blindly accepts its conclusions. In this way the limits of postmodern theory are critiqued. Some shortcomings of key postmodern theories are drawn out in relation to educational theory while aspects of some of these theories for a constructive employment in higher education are affirmed.


Huh?!? What ever happened to the Three R's? I assume they got lost in a postmodern-transversal. Remember this the next time that you discuss your child's future with an administrator. You're thinking about the basics while their wondering what muddled Progressive theory they can impose on your child during the upcoming school year. Talk about malpractice.

They certainly can't calculate

Eighty years ago, the esteemed free market economist, Ludwig von Mises, proved that a society organized under socialism is bound to fail. The reason: Absent a free market and its requisite private ownership of property, planned economies cannot calculate profit and loss, and, hence, are bound for chaos and poverty. OK, that's the theory. Now, how about the proof?

The proof is evident in the article, Inventive Thinking (Dispatch, January 10, 2007). Over the last five fiscal years, OSU spent $2.3 billion on research that yielded less than $4 million in licensing revenue; a loss of $2.3 billion. A $2.3 billion loss? Think about it? That amounts to $209 in lost income from every adult and child in Ohio. Incredible.

More so when you consider that this was considered a success by both the Dispatch writer and the OSU officials quoted in the story. They lost $2.3 billion and they consider it a success? Obviously the tax spenders at OSU refuse to live by the tough rules of the market, at least when it's someone else's money on the line.

As government interventions in the market and our daily lives continue to expand throughout Ohio and the US, keep in mind what Mises proved and OSU confirmed. And, as Ohio continues to sell bonds for supposed investments in research and development, remember the likely return on investment; another huge loss - more money down the rat hole.

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis Installment 3

By popular demand ... here is installment three ...

note: click to read installments one and two

I am posting the third installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

I have been asked if I could provide a .pdf version. Sorry, I only have a hardcopy document. You can ask the district to provide you with a copy through a public records request. According to Ohio law, the district cannot ask you for identification, though they can charge a slight copying fee.

Check back for future installments of the report.







Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis Installment 2

The first installment is located just below this post.

I am posting the second installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

I have been asked if I could provide a .pdf version. Sorry, I only have a hardcopy document. You can ask the district to provide you with a copy through a public records request. According to Ohio law, the district cannot ask you for identification, though they can charge a slight copying fee.

Check back for future installments of the report.










Monday, January 08, 2007

Olentangy's State Standards Analysis

I am posting the first installment of the Olentangy State Standard Analysis report since neither the board nor the administration want to discuss this in public - for whatever reason. This report on district expenditures was commissioned by the administration and completed last March - almost a year ago. I imagine that time flies when you're spending someone else's money.

This study should be serving as the basis for understanding rising costs and requisite soon-to-be-proposed property tax increases. But, the report is obviously being kept from the sunshine of public debate. The reason? I guess you will have to ask your board members why the public should not be given the opportunity to hear debate on this important report; a report funded by local tax dollars.

You'd think that with possible levies on the horizon, the board would want to get a handle on costs ... you'd think anyway ...

Check back for future installments of the report.

Click on the image for a larger, printable version. Enjoy.



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Friday, January 05, 2007

Capitalism and the Historians


This book edited by FA Hayek - winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize in economics - sets the Industrial Revolution is its proper light. Despite what is typically taught, the Industrial Revolution benefited all of society, most notably the poor.

It's important to note that before the Industrial Revolution, the rich bought tailored clothes and handmade shoes, while after the Industrial Revolution, the rich still bought tailored clothes and handmade shoes. It was the poor, and the then-small middle class, that were able to purchase the necessities of life due to the new factories.

The movement from rural areas to the neo-urban areas was not due to the coercive actions of factory owners. No, the movement was because the alternative, staying on the farms, meant continual struggles and possible starvation. The factories were the best alternative for a suddenly burgeoning population.

Yet the belief that the capitalists exploited the workers still exists, just as it has for over a century. Professor T.S. Ashton notes a student's lament, in response to an exam question, that "in the early centuries agriculture was widespread in England. Today it is confined to the rural areas."

You have to love that quote as it captures the fallacy that life before the Industrial Revolution was one of idyllic comfort. Silly, but a common view of rural life in the Middle Ages.

Ashton also notes the government interventions that lead to poor-quality housing and sanitation. As is always the case, government can not improve anything, yet it easily worsens any situation.

Read this book to understand the history of Industrial Revolution unblemished by socialist or Marxist views. It is available at the Store at Mises.org. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Asking too much of public education?

Listserve response to a gentleman whi believes that we should not "pretend it is a panacea for all human ills."

I agree with your post. The problem is, as always, government. The solution is, once again, the free market.

The issue that you address results anytime that government grants monopoly rights to a sector of the economy, whether it's education or security.

We are told, and we tend to believe, that only government can provide security for the nation. And, that they can provide perfect security. Yet, time and time again, we see where the national security agencies have failed us miserably. The very same holds for education. We are told that only government can provide a perfect education system. Yet, once again, the failings are plain to see.

Supporters of government look at the failings of the free market and say that they can do better, though history has shown otherwise.

Government has to sell the belief that it can provide the perfect since saying less would open the doors for free market solutions. The dichotomy is always the perfect versus the failed; with government as the perfect, and the free market as the failed.

Of course the monopoly education system has to "pretend it is a panacea for all human ills." If it cannot provide such an outcome, why would we stick with the current paradigm? The supporters of a market-based system openly admit that it will not be perfect, nothing ever is. It is this admission that is a basis for support of public education; since a system of private schools would not be perfect, we must build and protect government schools.

That said, the free market will unleash the creative forces that built this wonderful nation and allow the entrepreneurial spirit the freedom to improve educational choices for all. It won't be perfect, but nothing is perfect. But, the definition of perfect is purely subjective anyway.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The bias of science - a letter to the editor.

Dear The Columbus Dispatch:

In reporting the top 20 science stories from 2006 (Our Top 20 stories from Earth to Pluto, Dispatch, January 2, 2007), the Dispatch lets slip the underlying pro-evolution bias of many scientists. Under story nine, Discovery of brain evolution, Kent State anthropologist Owen Lovejoy is reported to hold the belief that Evolution "made the decision" to have the human brain develop slower than the brain of a chimpanzee. The key word is decision, and the key concept is the belief of many scientists that Evolution and DNA possess powers associated with a higher being.

The act of deciding requires more than can be attributed to a theory or nucleic acid; the act of deciding requires the ability to choose one path while forsaking others. Therefore, the act of deciding is a byproduct of intelligence.

As even Lovejoy would have to agree, nothing less than an omnipotent, omniscient entity is responsible for human brain development. While Lovejoy and others call that entity Evolution or DNA, I call that entity God. So, why is my leap of faith the product of a regressive religion while Lovejoy, et al, get to claim their leap is the product of science? The reason is simple: A scientific bias against God and the Bible.

Jim Fedako

Monday, January 01, 2007

Energy: The Master Resource



Discussions of energy tend to end up as divisive arguments. What gets lost in the rhetoric is a sense of balance and objective information. In Energy: The Master Resource, author Robert L.Bradley, along with Richard Fulmer, provide both and much more.

The book is packed full of details regarding all aspects of energy-related issues, such as: peek oil, the environment, and climate change. And, the book is an easy read, though hard to put down.

I highly recommend Energy: The Master Resource to anyone wanting to understand the issues and politics that drive the energy debates.

The Mises Institute wrote the following review of the book, available at the Store on Mises.org:


The best single primer on energy also happens to be written by an Austrian economist—-a Rothbardian even!
Author Robert Bradley, together with Richard Fulmer, have put together an outstanding book that covers this huge subject, beginning with answers to the most fundamental questions (What is energy? Where does energy come from?) through current policy applications (Are we running out of oil? Is the globe warming?). It is ideal for students and classroom use. But it is also the best book for anyone who wants to think and talk intelligently about this huge topic.

It is set up in the form of a textbook, with excellent graphics and clear text, but also contains enough documentation to provide resources for further study. The organization is outstanding and the discussion thorough. For example, under the topic of electricity, we find short descriptions of coal-fired plants, nuclear fission, natural gas, hydroelectric plants, wind power, geothermal energy, microturbines solar power, biomass, fuel cells, and more. A great merit of this book is that it discusses not just the technology but also the economics of various alternative energy sources--a point which is nearly always neglected in the usual literature.

Also not neglected is the area of energy regulation and its effects, and the authors take a free-market perspective.

Gene Callahan is precisely right: "The authors deserve high praise for having created a comprehensive, easily accessible introduction to the vast, multi-disciplinary study of the relationship between humans and energy. It is hard to imagine a better staring place from which to begin exploring the topic."

Lew Rockwell writes: "It behooves every citizen to bone up on this subject, which is sure to grow in importance in the coming years. You need Robert Bradley's book to get clear on the technological, economic, and political issues involved in energy markets."