Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Neo-Marxism in Public Education: Can't they just teach Math?

From the pollinating Marxists over at The Teachers College of Columbia University:

I would hold the view that a notion of social justice should include components of distribution, principles of curriculum justice, and should also draw attention to non-material components of equity, such as empowerment. Consistent with all three and guiding all three should be a focus on the least advantaged.
—Andrew Sturman, Social Justice in Education (1997)

But doesn't someone have to produce in order to fund massive redistribution, collectivist curriculum, and Marxian equity?

The seeds of neo-Marxism have taken root in all government schools in America. Shocked? You shouldn't be. To expect unionized government employees to furrow a fertile ground for liberty and a free market would be to expect a yoked Chimera to pull the plow.

Note: The tax producers will become slaves of the tax consumers.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

At least they didn't edit out Mises

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









At least they didn't edit out Mises
Jim Fedako

"In a free market, prices convey information. Since our markets -- though heavily regulated -- still have an essence of freedom, the prices we pay in the checkout line tell a story in themselves." (the rest is here)

Ten years ago, before being introduced to the Austrian school, this local newspaper would publish my articles as guest commentary. Now the best I can hope for is the occasional letter making the cut. What changed?

Well, ten years ago I was serving on my local government school board (forgive me) and heeding the party line. So my articles on why new taxes benefited the public good were always published. Of course, once I saw the light (after decades of epistemological sin, so to speak), my views fell out of line and out of favor. And so did my position on the page. Such is life.

But let me tell you, it's better to be crying out in the wilderness that is the letters section than to be just another jester in a more prominent part of the page.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic point stability

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









Olympic point stability
Jim Fedako

Given a fixed amount of money and increasing productivity, the value of money rises relative to the value of other goods (all caveats apply). The consumer sees this valuation change through falling prices at the checkout line.

Interestingly, given a fixed amount of points and improving performances in Olympic events, the value of each point rises relative to the underlying set of skills (jumps, spins, etc.). The viewer see this through falling points at each subsequent Olympics.

So, while Shawn White's recent halfpipe performance was valued at over 48 points, the exact same performance will be worth something less in four years.

It's a wonder that the Chicago School hasn't advocated some standard (say 5%) increase in available points per year in order to achieve Olympic point stability.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Isn't it tautological?

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









Isn't it tautological?
Jim Fedako

Bob Herbert rattles off unemployment stats in order to paint a picture to his liking. In doing so, he uses data from The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. The Center "divided American households into 10 groups based on their annual household income." Herbert then expresses shock that the unemployment rate for households with incomes below $12,499 was 20.6 percent.[1]

Given that the federal minimum wage averaged $6.87 in 2009 (or $13,740 per 2000 hour work year), it can be assumed that those earning less than $12,499 experienced at least some period of unemployment in 2009.[2]

When you think about it, isn't the $12,499 group simply a proxy for unemployment or periods of unemployment? Isn't a high rate of unemployment in that group tautological?

Missing from his article is any mention of a minimum wage: the real unemployer (to coin a phrase).


Notes:

1. I used his stat that excludes the underemployed for fairer comparison.

2. Some states have minimum wages above the federal minimum. Also, It may be that the income data are from 2008 (it's not mentioned in the article), but that only changes things a bit (the average federal minimum wage was less). Still, the $12,499 level serves as a proxy for unemployment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

But what about the cookies?

But the cookies seemed so benign -- delicious, yet benign. -- Jim

To support the Girl Scouts is to support this agenda -- their agenda:
It's Your Planet—Love It!

Justice
  • Justice—for Earth and all its inhabitants—we all know what it is. Why is it so hard to achieve?
  • Ambassadors realize that maybe justice needs a brand-new equation—their equation.
  • By "Doing the Math" with even the simplest of acts, deciphering how decisions get made, and exploring how to use scientific evidence, Ambassadors will create and then present their own unique equation for what justice asks of us.
  • Along the way, they will find they are also networking and gathering new ideas for college and careers.
  • Ambassadors can also take some time out to Nest and Soar as they ponder new inspirations from birds around the world.
    When they add the Sage Award to their list of accomplishments, Ambassadors will be confident that they are they are the wise and healing leaders Earth yearns for! Journey

Awards

On this journey to JUSTICE, Ambassadors have the opportunity to earn the prestigious Sage Award by participating in activities in the six steps to understanding environmental justice. The Sage Award takes its name from the word meaning wise person (from the Latin root sapere, to be wise) and the medicinal herb (from the Latin root salvare, to heal or to save). The award represents both the commitment and ability to be judicious, and it reminds us of the importance of healing.

While earning the Sage Award, girls explore justice (and injustice) from many angles including science, decision making and even doing a little math! Ultimately Ambassadors create and present their own unique definitions for Justice!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Are vocational schools a "good value?"

Dear Editor:

The paper just might want to look a little deeper before claiming that state vocational schools offer a good value ("Working hard," Dispatch, Feb 15. 2010).

A cursory review of the state auditor's performance audit of the Delaware Area Career Center reveals cost per pupil of $25,739. And this is considered a good value?

The state vocational schools fly under the radar so it should not surprise anyone that they are inefficient and wasteful. But I am surprised that your paper didn't even bother looking at costs before claiming that, "Vocational schools offer good value even when stresses by recession."

It certainly seems that the recession has not stressed the belts of state vocational schools in the least.

Note: The performance audit is
here (look on page 22).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Letter to the Dispatch

Unpublished. -- Jim
Dear Editor:

Just when I thought I was beyond being shocked.


As reported in The Columbus Dispatch, the Columbus government schools are trying to hook children on breakfast prepared by the state (or an agent of the state, in this case). And this is considered a great idea.

The agent of the state -- Sodexo -- is looking to turn a profit by overcharging taxpayers for Pop Tarts, etc.. But many families are not interested.

"'A lot of our students eat breakfast before they go to school. Or maybe they're not hungry in the morning,' said Joe Brown, the district's food-service director."

Now we can't have that. So the state is coercing children to eat at school.

"Valley Forge Elementary is having a contest to see which classroom can get the most children to eat breakfast. The winning room will get a visit from a chef with a waffle bar.

"'Oh, they will love that,' said Valley Forge Principal Stephanie Bland. 'I think it's a great incentive.'"

Sounds similar to a dream envisioned by the communists of a century ago -- the destruction of the family.

According to Alexandra Kollontai, "
Communist society takes care of every child and guarantees both him and his mother material and moral support. Society will feed, bring up and educate the child."

The bliss of the collective will become our utopia -- it worked so well in the Soviet Union.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Letter in the Olentangy Valley News

Letter: Price best determines overall value of resources
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 3:50 PM EST

To the Editor:

In a free market, prices convey information. Since our markets -- though heavily regulated -- still have an essence of freedom, the prices we pay in the checkout line tell a story in themselves.

By purchasing one item instead of another, the consumer sets the value for labor, capital and natural resources. And as our preferences change, so do prices.

When the demand for corn increases, price of corn and the price of farmland that produces corn also increase. This readjustment of prices in conjunction with consumer demand happens continually. And it directs and redirects resources from goods in relatively low demand to goods in relatively high demand. Economists call this process equilibration.

It follows that when two comparable goods are priced differently, the higher-priced good is produced by resources that are valued higher than the resources used in the lower-priced good. Sure, there are exceptions, but the process of equilibration works to bring them back in line.

The price of a good tells the story of the value of the resources used to produce that good.

This is important information. Why? When your goal is to go green, and you do so by purchasing products that are priced higher than their supposedly non-green alternative, you may want to think before you buy.

The reason most green items are priced higher than their comparable non-green alternatives is that the production of these green items consumes more valuable resources than those consumed by their non-green alternatives. This is true despite the reuse of materials in green products.

How can this be so? The reuse of materials is itself not resource free. So the reuse of post-consumer materials requires the use of additional resources, in many instances more resources than were "saved" through reuse -- as indicated by the price tag.

If you look only at the post-consumer content of a product and ignore its price, you are missing the value of all those additional resources consumed.

So while you may think you are helping the environment by going green and going expensive, you are actually doing the opposite.

When faced with choices, as the economist Ludwig von Mises showed years ago, let prices be your guide.

Jim Fedako

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The correct response to the census

Christopher Walken provides the correct response to the census (here). - Jim

HT: Lew Rockwell

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Hemingway makes a good read, of course

From our friends over Freedom Watch:

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the last refuge of political and economic opportunists.

- Ernest Hemingway

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It is FREE and sent to you via E-mail.
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http://fwatch.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 08, 2010

Bill Harris: Republican senator and tubby little ball of goo

Bill Harris, Ohio senate president, wants the state to test the body mass of students and then educate their parents on healthy choices.

Maybe ol' Bill needs to drop the towel after his next shower and look at himself in the mirror. Bill, that tubby little ball of goo, ain't no ball of health.

Just because he was elected to the state senate does not provide him with any right to be poking around any belt, save his own.

Harris is just another nanny do-gooders, desparate to run your life.

A sad state of affairs.

The state's destruction of the family ... and it's deemed a good thing

Just when I thought I was beyond being shocked.

As reported in The Columbus Dispatch, the Columbus government schools are trying to hook children on breakfast prepared by the state (or an agent of the state, in this case). And this is considered a great idea.

The agent of the state -- Sodexo -- is looking to turn a profit by overcharging taxpayers for Pop Tarts, etc.. But many families are not interested.

"'A lot of our students eat breakfast before they go to school. Or maybe they're not hungry in the morning,'" said Joe Brown, the district's food-service director. "'We're trying to think what other kinds of competitions can we have that'll get them excited about breakfast.'"

Now we can't have that. So the state is coercing children to eat at school.

"Valley Forge Elementary is having a contest to see which classroom can get the most children to eat breakfast. The winning room will get a visit from a chef with a waffle bar.

"'Oh, they will love that,' said Valley Forge Principal Stephanie Bland. 'I think it's a great incentive.'"

Sounds similar to a dream envisioned by the communists of a century ago -- the destruction of the family. According to Alexandra Kollontai: Communist society takes care of every child and guarantees both him and his mother material and moral support. Society will feed, bring up and educate the child.

However, do no fear: There is no escaping the fact: the old type of family has had its day. The family is withering away not because it is being forcibly destroyed by the state, but because the family is ceasing to be a necessity. The state does not need the family, because the domestic economy is no longer profitable: the family distracts the worker from more useful and productive labour. The members of the family do not need the family either, because the task of bringing up the children which was formerly theirs is passing more and more into the hands of the collective.

The bliss of the collective will become our utopia -- it worked so well in the Soviet Union.

Note: Where is the outrage!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Who still thinks that we are free?

Not Anthony Smelley, of course. -- Jim

From Reason Alert:

Police Take an Indiana Man's Money and Keep It

Reason magazine's Radley Balko writes, "The Indiana case of Anthony Smelley illustrates just how perverse forfeiture proceedings can get. Early on a morning in January 2009, Smelley, who is 22, was pulled over while driving along I-70 in Putnam County, Indiana. Months earlier, he'd been in a car accident and won a $50,000 settlement. He states in court documents that he had taken around $17,500 with him that January day en route from his home in Detroit to St. Louis, to buy a new car for his aunt. Smelley was pulled over for making an unsafe lane change and driving with an obscured license plate. He was also driving with an expired driver's license. His traffic stop should have ended with citations for those infractions. Instead, the police officer asked Smelley to get out of the car and patted him down, finding the cash. The officer then called in a K-9 unit for a sniff search of Smelley's car for drugs. The dog alerted twice. Smelley and two passengers were arrested, and the police seized Smelley's money. A subsequent hand search of Smelley's car turned up no illicit drugs, and no criminal charges were ever filed against Smelley or his passengers. Smelley produced a letter from a Detroit law firm confirming he had been awarded the $50,000 from the accident. That didn't matter. Putnam County has since held Smelley's money for more than a year."

Balko: Police and Prosecutors Won't Give Up Their License to Steal

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Let 'em bicker

Dear Editor:

Why does your paper hold out bipartisanship as a political ideal ("State of the Union," The Dispatch, January 19, 2010)?

As I see things, a Democrat and a Republican are looking to rob me once again. As long as they bicker over how to spend their ill-gotten gain, I have a chance to escape untouched. But as soon as they agree on their next boondoggle, I have four hands grabbing at my wallet.

Let them bicker and battle so that we may go about our business, unhampered by their glorious plans.
Jim Fedako

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Scott Galloway thanks himself

Good ol' Galloway. One minute he's pushing for another tax increase, the next minute he's calling himself a fiscal conservative.

Then there is this tidbit from The Delaware Gazette:
Reached Tuesday, Olentangy School Board member Scott Galloway, who is also the county Republican Party’s executive committee chair, said he was “strongly considering” a run for the commissioner seat, and that he would make a final decision in the near future.

“I’m honored to have my name in consideration,” he said.
Galloway throws his name in the hat for consideration as a replacement for Todd Hanks ... and then is honored that his name is in the hat. Amazing stuff.

With actions like that, Galloway would make a spot-on replacement.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Two favorite blogs

William M. Briggs bring statistics to life -- scary. And Robert Murphy builds his case -- a good one, at that -- that he is the next Murray N. Rothbard.

Both are interesting reads.