Monday, August 31, 2009

Should we count on the invisible hand to fight fires?

If the market is always more efficient as market fundamentalists allege, why don't we let the invisible hand fight fires?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Radio hosts use Kennedy's death to fearmonger on health care rationing

Have they no shame?

Media Matters reports: Conservative radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Tom Marr have used Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's death to attack health care reform, baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients -- like Kennedy was -- will be "denied" treatments or their treatments will be "rationed." Limbaugh claimed that Kennedy "chose to exercise as many options as were available to him to prolong his life" and asserted that "to put his name on a health care bill that denies that to other people" is "hypocrisy."

The truth is that Senator Edward Kennedy wanted all American to have the same level of health care that he as a United States Senator had. See the video below:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy 1932-2009

Senator Edward Kennedy, an unwavering champion of economic security, universal health care, and full employment, has died.

For almost half a century Senator Kennedy was an articulate voice for working people, immigrants and racial minorities. His devotion to the ideals of equality and social solidarity shaped his life and work. Senator Kennedy believed in the values that gave rise to the New Deal and programs like the Social Security, Unemployment Compensation and Fair Labor Standards Acts that reflected those values.

His eulogy for his brother Robert, felled by an assassin's bullet 41 years ago, speaks to his legacy as well. It is excerpted below:

I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world.

We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters -- Joe and Kathleen and Jack -- he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.

Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely....

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

State Rep. Grigsby opposes dismantling MPS board

Yesterday State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) issued a statement opposing a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), citing the lack of an adequate plan for changing the school district's governance structure and the need for community members to remain involved in public education.

Grigsby made the following statement in opposition to dismantling the elected MPS school board and called for a reform alternative that will provide community advocates, educators, and other stakeholders with the opportunity to be a part of improving the quality of Milwaukee's education system.

"Unless I can be convinced otherwise, I will not support a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools. MPS is failing and has been for a long time. No blue ribbon commission, advisory council, or study committee is needed to recognize that the school system in Milwaukee and the students it is designed to serve require attention and commitment. At the same time, however, there is no indication that mayoral control of our children's future would move our community in a positive direction.

As a community, Milwaukee must take bold steps to improve its education system, but action is impossible without knowledge of where that action will lead.

While stimulus dollars in the form of 'Race to the Top' funding would be valuable in the fight to reform MPS, it is necessary that all those concerned with public education in Milwaukee realize the problems we face cannot be solved with money alone.

Changing education for the better requires flexibility, innovation, and accountability throughout our entire school system. Partnership, not partisanship, is what students need today. This can be fostered by creating a grassroots coalition of parents, educators, and community organizations that are willing to work with school administration, union, and government officials to improve school culture and move MPS in the right direction.

As the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee brings a different set of challenges to educating young minds. As such, a plan to reform education in Milwaukee should include a commitment to social justice that will help rebuild our community in ways that make our streets as well as our classrooms conducive to learning. This means identifying troubled youth and having resources available in schools to meet the needs of at-risk students.

Ultimately, a true effort to reform Milwaukee Public Schools must strive for universality and equity in order to prevent the development of a two-tier education system that separates privileged youth from the disadvantaged. By developing an approach to education that focuses on the classroom and the family, as well as the student body and the individual student, we will create an education system for our children beyond what any mayoral takeover could ever accomplish."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Moore questions proposal to dismantle MPS board

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.) issued the following statement about the future of Milwaukee Public Schools:

I’m glad that so much public attention is being focused on Milwaukee Public Schools, but I’ve yet to see evidence that changing the way that the school board is chosen will somehow wave a magic wand and fix the challenges our education system faces. It’s no secret that we need to see improvement within MPS – but we overcome those obstacles by working together, not by tearing each other down.

We will not rectify the challenges facing MPS unless we talk about poverty, teen pregnancy and the perverted policy initiatives that have exacerbated this problem for our city’s public schools. MPS is working with a flawed state funding formula that sends our public dollars to private schools outside of the city. Many of our students live in serious poverty, yet according to the Education Trust, Wisconsin spends $1,118 LESS per student in districts like ours than it does in the rest of the state. How are our kids supposed to concentrate on algebra when their stomachs are rumbling? How do we expect them to earn a diploma when too many school-aged kids are having kids themselves? And how do our teachers increase classroom achievement when we also ask them to play school nurse, counselor, and gym and art instructor?

I fully believe that the Governor and the Mayor have the best intentions for MPS; however, I have yet to hear a credible explanation of how these difficult challenges get fixed by simply changing the way that our school board is chosen.

Recession causes deficit to grow

The While House released an updated estimate of the federal budget deficit, which shows it now totals $1.6 trillion or 11.2% of gross domestic product. This is $262 billion less than what was estimated in May. The Congressional Budget Office showed a smaller improvement.

The new numbers confirm that the recession has caused the deficit to increase significantly.

Lower incomes, higher unemployment, and reduced business activity have combined to produce the lowest level of federal revenues – as a portion of GDP – in more than 50 years.

Policy measures aimed at stabilizing the economy have also added to the deficit, though to a much smaller extent: Stimulus investments made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act account for only about one-eighth of the deterioration in the 2009 deficit relative to pre-recession estimates.

Some will use this report as an opportunity to call for immediate action to reduce the deficit, or to suggest that we need to abandon or delay major policy initiatives, like investments in green technologies and two year colleges and health care reform. But given that the current deficit is largely caused by the recession, any efforts to reduce the deficit would choke off a recovery. That would be self-defeating and irresponsible.