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Showing posts with label policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label policy. Show all posts

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Black Enterprise: Morehouse College President Talks ‘Education Crisis’ Facing Young Black Men

I'm sorry about missing this article from March 2014. Black Enterprise magazine interviewed the President of Morehouse College Dr. John S. Wilson. He discusses the education crisis amongst Black males:

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke to Dr. Wilson about the crisis that faces young black men and what role HBCUs like Morehouse can fill to change the direction. Here’s what he had to say:

When you speak of the cradle-to-prison pipeline, what are some of the things that can be done?

The first thing we have to do is recognize that it’s a very serious issue—some would call it a crisis—and something needs to be done. You may think that goes without saying but it’s not. There’s a numbness that people in this country—black and white and around the world—have to what’s going on with the African American male. If other groups had the kind of educational data profile that the African American male has, it would be nothing short of a crisis. But for some reason, too many people find it tolerable or natural in some way.

So, I think recognizing that it is a critical issue that goes to the productivity and security of this country is step one. Step two is developing a sense of urgency once you recognize it; and step three is organizing to get better data about it and exchange a best practices designed to do something about the challenge. In the midst of all that, we need what we haven’t had and that’s a shining beacon on the hill—an institution that’s recognized worldwide as the destination of choice for men in general and in particular African American men and that’s Morehouse College.

What can be done on a personal level?

First, I think the steps that I outlined are relevant for individuals as well as institutions. Number two, parents can address the cycle by ensuring that their sons are exceptions to the general rule. And even if you’re not a parent, there are many organizations that care about this issue and you can align yourself with them and you can become involved— politically and otherwise.

I was very pleased that the President of the United States announced a “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative designed to get at this. I think some people have recognized that. I think the President is making an attempt to sound an alarm that there is a crisis.
It's worth reading the whole interview although it seems relatively short and there are two other published questions that Dr. Wilson was asked. What more do we need to do to keep our young men out of jail and keep them in school?

While I'm sure Dr. Wilson and others want to see more young men go on to achieve that undergrad degrees, what can we do to ensure our young men will achieve their high school diplomas?

Monday, May 19, 2014

#NoPersonalStatements: Abolish the college admission essay

When I first applied to Morehouse College years ago my essay was largely about my dad and his many goals that he left behind when he died. While my mother spent many years attending DePaul University part-time, my dad struggled to get as much as his GED. Although to be sure he was of that generation who could afford to drop out of high school and still do OK!

And now I see that there's an argument to abolish the personal statement on college applications. Now could this be a mistake, or could this be a benefit? The conclusion of this article I found on Instapundit:
None of these alternatives to the traditional personal statement would eliminate subjectivity from the admissions process. But they would remove some of the politics--and much of the dishonesty. Most importantly, they would relieve applicants of the burden of being chosen for who they are rather than what they can do. In doing so, they could make an arbitrary and tortuous process just a little more tolerable.
So, the alternatives to those essays that allows prospective students to tout their own horns while being reflective isn't a good idea. Also many have written essays that may sweeten the pots as far as who our many colleges seek to attract. They do focus on the Ivy League schools as least who do seek minorities and low-income people and they use the essay to do so.

I'm proud of my essay and I used to have a copy on a floppy disk which was stolen years ago. I may have a physical copy around the house somewhere. It probably helped me get into Morehouse but beyond that if the standard had been sending in a writing sample in the field which I would like to study probably wouldn't have hurt anything.

In fact because I actually transferred to Morehouse from one of the City Colleges of Chicago perhaps writing a paper in the social science field - my major was in fact political science - shouldn't have been entirely difficult. That idea among others isn't as bad of an idea as any.

Still, aside from academic and extra-curricular accomplishments of a prospective undergrad admission officials should still consider essays that explore who their institutions future students are. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Taxes in America!

[VIDEO] This roughly 40 minute video is of an episode of John Stossel's FOX Business program on taxes in America. Basically this will be an attack on taxation and how harmful it can be to not only individuals but businesses. So basically Stossel and his various guests talks about proposals for a flat tax, the issue of state taxes, "obamacare" taxes, and even takes on those celebrities and politics who often advocate for higher taxes. Also you will see a bad IRS Star Trek parody that Stossel, former MTV VJ Kennedy, and Reason editor Matt Welch effective dismiss..

Tax season of course is around the corner and it's time for us to do what Stossel does which is pay someone else to do our taxes. The tax code is ever expanding, but only because there are those who hopes to use taxation to influence behaviors. Stossel illustrated this by driving around in a golf cart after he discovered that he could get a tax break for driving an electric vehicle. And we need electric vehicles for the environment! :P

Check out the end, Stossel and an author Amity Shlaes chronicles the policy of the 30th President of the United States Calvin Coolidge. They marvel at the fact that he not only cut spending, but also shrinked the size of government between his tenure in office 1923 - 1929. He was popular for his time unfortunately he gets a bum rap - fair or unfairly - for the economic collapse that started under his successor Herbert Hoover.

Via Newsalert!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Federalist: Abolish Compulsory Education

This is basically an attack on public education and I would consider this statment the article's thesis:
For over a century and a half, the United States has been home to mandatory education laws, beginning in Massachusetts (where else?) in the middle of the nineteenth century and spreading across the amber waves of grain and purple mountains, finally arriving in Alaska three decades before it even became a state. In other words, from the cradle of American independence came one of the more offensive and deleterious notions ever evinced by, and wholly in opposition to, the American experiment, and to freedom itself. There is no dignity in such an institution. Laws that force children to attend school should be scrapped and thrown where they, and a great many other government failures, belong: to the ash-heap of history.
 Compulsory education is simply impossible to reconcile with a free people, which is presumably why it is enforced so strictly in places like Greece and Serbia. In the United States—a nation, one recalls, where liberty is held to be not merely vital but inalienable—it is altogether puzzling and dismaying that it ever reared its ugly head, or that it ever became an acceptable state of affairs.
So...I've posted about attempts to abolish compulsory education in the past. The idea is to share how people think of public schools.

I consider myself a supporter of public education, but of public education that works. It's difficult to support failing schools and would have no problem closing them even though such an action isn't without controversy. Still this idea is much more radical than anything else proposed even if this is a fringe idea.

Via Newsalert!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

So "Obamacare" will reduce working people's income...

You know sometimes I wonder how much analysis of "Obamacare" I should believe. It's certainly a laudable goal to make healthcare more accessible financially by many people. The only question is a matter of how.

The President got dinged for his statement on if you like your coverage you can keep it. And then he got dinged on the awful roll-out last year. It's probably on many fronts that he got dinged for how this was managed.

This article by Byron York via Instapundit shows another was "Obamacare" was dinged:
Brookings scholars Henry Aaron and Gary Burtless sought to determine the law's impact on income in 2016, when almost all of Obamacare will be in effect. To do so, they adopted a broad definition of income -- not just a person's wages, but also pension income, employer health coverage, government cash transfers, food stamps, other benefits, and now, subsidies from Obamacare.

They found quite an impact. "The ACA may do more to change the income distribution than any other recently enacted law," Aaron and Burtless wrote. Obamacare provides billions in subsidies to those who qualify, expands Medicaid benefits, cuts Medicare, fines those who don't purchase government-approved coverage and levies new taxes -- all of which will change how much income millions of Americans bring in each year.

Aaron and Burtless' first finding is no surprise: Obamacare will mean more for the lowest-income Americans. It will increase income by 9.2 percent for the lowest bracket — households making below about $21,000 a year — for those in their working years, age 25 to 64.

Then the surprise. Obamacare will reduce, by an estimated 0.9 percent, the incomes of working-age Americans in the next-lowest income bracket, households making between about $21,000 and $40,000 a year. And in the next income group, households making between about $40,000 and $65,000 a year — Obamacare will reduce their income, too, also by 0.9 percent.

A 1 percent reduction in income is relatively small. But it is still a reduction -- and not at all what President Obama and Democrats in Congress promised. When the president pledged that Obamacare would make the health care system "better for everybody," it's doubtful Americans interpreted that as meaning it would reduce their income.
Why? There could be a number of factors, but the authors suggest that because the Affordable Care Act will make health care more expensive, a significant number of people who receive health coverage through their job will be affected. "Incomes fall ... primarily because the expansion in employer-sponsored insurance is predicted to cause a modest drop in money wages as employers devote a larger share of their compensation payments to health benefits," the researchers wrote.
Like I said, I'm not entirely certain how much of this to take to heart or not. What's acceptable to me is that the Affordable Care Act is a significant change that unfortunately isn't going away so easily. Unfortunately we will have to continue to deal with the fallout of the significant provisions of this significant piece of legislation.

Another piece of analysis, "Obamacare" discourages able-bodied people from working. This almost feels like piling on!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Harvard Mag: Morehouse Man, Redux

Earlier this year Morehouse College gained a new President in John S. Wilson Jr. In addition to being a Morehouse Man, he had also attended Harvard University getting his graduate degrees there hence he's interviewed by Harvard Mag. Sadly he has to state that attending an HBCU doesn't have the allure it used to since Black college students have more choices today.
“The vast majority of African-American students in higher education are choosing nonblack colleges,” Wilson says. Today, HBCUs educate only about 10 percent of that population; and of those who do enroll, he adds, 75 percent are women, “so we are in a particular crisis in educating African-American males.” 
OK another problem we've discussed here, not enough Black males are going to college these days. It might be true of a number of campuses not just HBCUs although Morehouse is an exception since it's all male. Although let's be clear there have been reports that I have seen that illustrated that a lot of college campuses are increasingly populated with women and the population of men are going down.

Before the quote Dr. Wilson also noted that Morehouse needs to build an endowment. That endowment could go to not only the campus facility because Wilson talked about "improving the campus infrastructure which, he says, 'is basically the same buildings and landscape that I left in 1979.'" Also of course the endowment could help capable & motivated low-income students attend Morehouse and hopefully stay and graduate from there.

In any case, this is still a worthwhile article and Morehouse does have it's work cut out for them.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Capitol Fax: A totally messed up system

The Capitol Fax shares with us an example of how the criminal justice system works in Cook County. Last week a group of gang members decided to shoot up a park after one of them had recently been wounded in a shooting. It's noted that he was not only on probation in another but he had merely been sent to a boot camp for gun posession. It was noted that another man had been charged with gun possession, but was forced to sit in Cook County jail for 14 months after being charged.

Also noted another man had been acquitted of burglary but still had to sit in jail for processing. He had been at Cook County Jail for two years waiting for his trial to commence. So apparently processing releases is very slow at Cook County. Something needs to change there.

BTW, here's another example that I showed on this blog a while back! Although granted showing that is a bit of an extreme.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

McArdle: Why Your Little Alma Mater May Go Extinct

If you read Instapundit you see a lot of posts about the "higher education bubble". In one recent post he found another example which explains that admissions as some schools are more selective and college enrollment has decline thanks to the job market & cost of tuition. He goes on to explain an unfortunate side effect to the changing higher education environment:
Many of the hard-hit schools seem to be historically black colleges. Here in Washington, for instance, Howard University is in the middle of a bruising board fight, thanks in part to falling enrollments. Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, vice chairwoman of the board of trustees, prophesied that "Howard will not be here in three years if we don't make some crucial decisions now." This strikes me as unlikely -- Howard was founded by a congressional grant after the Civil War, and I doubt that Congress will let it go under. But the threat is undoubtedly real for other historically black schools.

The concentration of enrollment declines among the schools that serve poor and minority communities raises some uncomfortable questions. On a positive note, this may mean that kids have access to a better class of school. On the other hand, it may mean that the schools best equipped to serve those kids fold, leaving nothing in their place. While I'm on the record as saying that we should probably send fewer kids to college, this isn't the way that I wanted to accomplish that. Rather, I wanted us to stop relying on rank credentialism, and to think harder about viable alternatives for kids who may not be academically inclined.
So to illustrate what's happening to the not so big name schools of academia the author points out an historically Black college such as Howard U.

I'm a long way from evaluating how Universities are doing, but I can only talk about myself. I don't regret getting a degree what I do regret is not being more academically inclined not just when I got to school but before I graduated from high school. My background was a long way from being a serious student.

So anyway there are a number of things to consider. What kind of students do universities want? What alternatives are available for high school seniors who don't seem inclined to go to college? What should we expect from a university other than allowing access to a university education and/or a degree?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sun-Times: Cook County sheriff’s team taking guns if FOID card is revoked

I'm no lawyer, but this strikes me as unconstitutional. As in unlawful search and seizure, surely there is someone out there who may set the record straight on this.
A new Cook County Sheriff’s team is crisscrossing the suburbs to seize guns from thousands of people whose Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards have been revoked.

More than 3,000 people in Cook County have failed to surrender their revoked FOID cards to the state. Sheriff Tom Dart said he thinks many of them continue to possess firearms.

The Chicago Police Department conducts regular missions to recover revoked FOID cards and seize guns from the holders, but there wasn’t a concerted effort to do that in Cook County’s suburbs, Dart said.

“The system is broken,” the sheriff said. “The system revokes cards, but the guns are of no consequence. . . . Our strong hope is that we will eliminate tragedies.”

FOID cards are supposed to protect the public from dangerous people. Mental illness, felonies and protection orders are grounds for the state to revoke the cards from their holders. It’s illegal to buy guns or ammunition without one.

In February, Dart assigned a sergeant and four investigators to a gun team that has recovered about 160 FOID cards and taken more than 160 guns from the cardholders.

In one case, the team recovered more than 35 firearms, including four AR-15 assault rifles, from a suicidal man whose card was revoked.
Eliminate tragedies, sounds like good propaganda for gun grabbers. Although let me take a breath, of course the last thing we would want is someone who is mentally ill have posses a gun and potentially use it. Here's another breath:
People with revoked FOID cards can’t buy guns from federally licensed firearms dealers. For any gun sale, a store must conduct a background check that will uncover a FOID revocation.

But background checks aren’t required for ammunition. Someone buying bullets must simply show a FOID card. A person with a revoked card probably would still be able to buy bullets because the salesperson wouldn’t know it was revoked, Dart said.

The sheriff said the bigger problem is that most revoked FOID card holders continue to possess guns. Dart said he persuaded the General Assembly to include new language in the FOID law that would allow sheriffs and municipal police to obtain search warrants to look for guns in the homes of people with revoked FOID cards. Dart called the provision a “hammer” for police to wield when investigators suspect people with revoked cards have guns — but the people insist they don’t.
OK, they do have a warrant to conduct a search for a weapon, but shouldn't there be a probable cause for any violent episode. I'm sure in some way doing so is justifiable.

Friday, July 26, 2013

McArdle: How Detroit Drowned in a Sea of Troubles

Bloomberg's Megan McArdle talks about Detroit. This was an unbelieable idea to present towards Detroit's decline:
Why did crime rise so much during that era? I think Kevin Drum has made a very convincing case that the answer is leaded gasoline. Lead exposure, particularly in early childhood, stunts the parts of the brain that are responsible for impulse control. And criminals, by and large, have very poor impulse control.

So it’s probably not a surprise that Detroit was particularly hard-hit by the crime waves of the 1960s through 1980s; Motown was a city created by and for the automobile. Generations of kids were growing up inhaling tiny particles of lead, making them less employable and more prone to crime and violence.
WOW! Does anyone agree with this? Not sure I could, but lest anyone over reacts to this it just underscores how very important it is to ensure clean air quality. A major city should not be built upon automobiles.

In any event, in spite of this the other arguments here as far as economics, bad government, or crime makes sense. Well the crime thing in spite of the statement you see above makes sense. It's safe to say Detroit will be saddled with this as they've filed for bankruptcy:
Jonathan Chait describes the toxic politics that Detroit’s poisonous racial history left behind:

“White and black politics were locked into mutually reinforcing pathologies. Whites fled the city, blamed blacks for its destruction and, in many cases, gloated in its failures. Hostility toward the white suburbs shaped Detroit’s politics, which frequently amounted to race-to-the-bottom demagogic contests to label the opposing candidate a secret tool of white interests, with the predictable result on the quality of government. The worse Detroit got, the more whites hated and feared, fueling black racial paranoia, which made the city worse still. (Some national commentators recently suggested that Mitt Romney be brought in to turn around the city, which is a bit like suggesting that Benjamin Netanyahu would make a great Prime Minister for the Palestinians -- hey, he’s from around there!)”
I need to see what Detroiters are really saying about this? The only picture I get is from national sources, but I could get a clearer picture from local sources that I need to find and pronto!

Hat-tip Instapundit!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sun-Times analysis: Why we’re not the next Detroit

It has been said out there although admittedly it's by people who like to criticize cities such as Chicago because of it's decades long Democratic Party dominance of city government. Chicago has many issues without a doubt, however, will Chicago be the next Detroit?

This Sun-Times analysis says no. Time can only tell, but without having to read it I can only agree that Chicago may well be a long way from Detroit. Let's hope that the people who are leading the city will do what it takes to not allow Chicago to fall the way Detroit has.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Throwing the race card...

I heard about this comment on the Mancow Muller show this morning. We're still dealing with the fallout from the Chicago Public Schools closing about 50 underutilized schools. Lewis just so happen to throw the race card.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis renewed her claim that the decision was racist because so many of the closing schools are on the south and west sides.

"When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what's in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos," Lewis asked, "no matter what the parent's income or education level?"

Lewis didn't mention anyone by name, but clearly she was taking a shot at the advisors Mayor Emanuel has assembled.
Basically Mancow took offense to this because he believed it to be racist on it's face. Lewis does have a reputation for having a big mouth since well she has generated controversy for her comments in the past. So hey she can take her shots against figures at CPS or the Mayor himself, but one could only say that she needs to use more tact in her statements. Of course, not everyone can do that and will continue to generate controversy.

Some want her to run against Mayor Emanuel or better yet use the heft of the Chicago Teacher's Union against the Mayor in 2015. Time will tell but it has been in the news within the past few months that there was a petition drive being organize at least with the help of the teacher's union. A petition drive helped out Chicago's first Black Mayor Harold Washington years ago, perhaps this time it can help the next right person to be Mayor of Chicago.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gateway Pundit: Obamacare Is Forcing Walmart to Hire Only Part-Time Employees

Walmart is just another example where a well meaning program that is causing some pain for workers. I wish I followed business news more closely to see how many businesses large and small are being affected by this new mandate to provide health care to workers or a business may have to face a fine. The link to the blog Gateway Pundit just illustrates why they believe President Obama is the worst economic President "ever". Also think I recently wrote about how well meaning proposals may prove to be bad news for entry-level hourly wage workers in the long-run.

Monday, June 10, 2013

WSJ: How America lost its way

Something to take from this article I got wind of over at Instapundit:
Why is it getting harder to do business in America? Part of the answer is excessively complex legislation. A prime example is the 848-page Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of July 2010 (otherwise known as the Dodd-Frank Act), which, among other things, required that regulators create 243 rules, conduct 67 studies and issue 22 periodic reports. Comparable in its complexity is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (906 pages), which is also in the process of spawning thousands of pages of regulation. You don't have to be opposed to tighter financial regulation or universal health care to recognize that something is wrong with laws so elaborate that almost no one affected has the time or the will to read them.

Who benefits from the growth of complex and cumbersome regulation? The answer is: lawyers, not forgetting lobbyists and compliance departments. For complexity is not the friend of the little man. It is the friend of the deep pocket. It is the friend of cronyism.

We used to have the rule of law. Now it is tempting to say we have the rule of lawyers, which is something different. For the lawyers can also make money even in the absence of complex legislation.
So where is the risk taking spirit in America? Are American's concerned that in order to go the entrepreneurship route that they'd have to cover their behinds to make it work?

Either "Obamacare" or raising the minimum wage could be said to be screwing American workers. They're both well meaning, but could both measures truly affect those who are affected. It could affect those businesses who may want to hire more people or those who are currently working, however, they may not be able to work as much time as they would like.

If only there was a will to truly hash these issues out.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reason: How Medicaid & Obamacare Hurt the Poor - and How to Fix Them

[VIDEO] Reason argues why Medicaid & "Obamacare" in fact hurts the poor. Here's a brief description:
"Most physicians can't afford to accept Medicaid" patients, says Dr. Alieta Eck, a primary-care physician based in Piscataway, New Jersey. "If you're getting paid about $17 per visit, it won't be long before you can't pay your staff or pay your rent."

Medicaid is the nation's health care system for the poor. It's funded jointly by the federal government and the states. Medicaid is either the first- or second-largest budget item in all 50 states and the program is slated for a massive expansion under President Obama's health-care reform law. Despite the program's huge and growing overall cost, reimbursements to medical providers are so low that many practices refuse to accept Medicaid patients, causing long waiting periods for treatment.
Is it better to come up with something that's expected to keep health care affordable than to just work on why health care costs are high? Or should we ask why Medicaid reimbursements are so low for doctors who serve low income patients?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Ward Room: Illinois Ranked Last In Personal Freedoms

Well how's that?
Even though Illinois has done more for freedom than any state -- one of our presidents freed the slaves, and one of our generals made that stick -- we’re ranked #45 overall for freedom, and dead last for personal freedoms. We’ve been at the bottom of that list since 2007. The reasons? It’s hard to get high and/or carry a gun around here. Illinois also has harsh asset forfeiture laws, which put the burden of proof on property owners and grant 90 percent of proceeds from seized property to law enforcement.
From the study:
In the personal freedom dimension, Illinois has the sixth harshest gun control laws in the country, though these were improved by the McDonald v. Chicago decision striking down local gun bans. The state’s victimless crimes arrest rates are very high. In 2010, arrests for victimless crimes (excluding minors) made up over 1.5 percent of the state’s population; the vast majority of these were for drugs.
However, that figure is actually an improvement on 2008. Illinois’s marijuana laws are more restrictive than Georgia’s, which is surprising for a left-leaning state. Its asset forfeiture laws are also among the worst in the nation. On the plus side, Illinois’s home school regulations were effectively as minimal as Idaho’s—a case of benign neglect, it seems. The state’s marriage freedom score will improve in the next version of the index since civil unions were legalized in 2011.
You can read the report on Illinois here. Also here's more from Reason although they don't really talk about Illinois:
Rule-bound Massachusetts inspired the line, "everything's illegal in Massachusetts" in the Mel Gibson flick, Edge of Darkness. And, if that line isn't technically true, as a former resident of the Bay State I can testify that it's close enough to capture the feel of a place so ensnared in laws and taxes that you can safely assume that whatever the hell you're doing can get you in hot water if the wrong person takes notice. So it's no surpise that the state ranks poorly in the Mercatus Center's new report, Freedom in the 50 States, published today. If anything, Massachusetts's ranking of 30 seems generous, but the place has a lot of competition in the race to the bottom. And, the Bay State offsets hideous gun laws and land-use restrictions by recognizing same-sex marriage, and keeping arrests for victimless crimes, including marijuana use, rather restrained. The state also has a modestly sized government workforce and average tax rates, which let it shine relative to states like last-place New York.

But Massachusetts, like many less-free states, is losing population to states that rank more strongly overall in their respect for freedom. Not incidentally, freer states also tend to have higher growth in personal income than less-free states. And, there's a direct link between that prosperity and certain types of freedom. Specifically, note authors William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens, "[o]ur study has found that a positive relationship exists between a state's fiscal freedom and its net migration rate and income growth."

But the top-ranked states are red states, with the exception of New Hampshire, and the usual assumption is that red states favor economic liberty and blue states favor social freedom. Does that mean that Americans looking for economic opportunity have to trade off some leeway in their personal lives? Surprisingly, not really — or maybe a little, but in return for leeway in other areas.
I just looked over at the CapFax again and I see that there may be legislation although very strict could allow for medicinal marihuana. As far as personal freedom goes in Chicago at least police are authorized to issue tickets instead of making arrests at least when it comes to possession of marihuana.

My position is that personal liberty is very important, but it must go hand in hand with economic liberty. Bad news is too many people think they know best. When it comes to economic freedom we have had many debates on that issue and look no further than Wal-Mart where opposition was mostly over how much they pay their employees.

What would it take to make the 10 least free states in our union more free?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Economist: The America that works - states v. federal government

This article from The Economist focuses on what's working here in the states. The bickering going on in Washington is one aspect of what's going on in this nation. If you want to see real progress, it's in the individual states:
Yet there is also another America, where things work. One hint comes from what those bosses like to call the real economy. Recent numbers from the jobs market and the housing sector have been quite healthy. Consumer balance-sheets are being repaired. The stockmarket has just hit a record high. Some of this is cyclical: the private sector is rebounding from the crunch. But it also reflects the fact that, beyond the District of Columbia, the rest of the country is starting to tackle some of its deeper competitive problems. Businesses and politicians are not waiting for the federal government to ride to their rescue. Instead, as our special report this week shows, they are getting to grips with the failings Congress is ignoring.

One reason for optimism is that America’s inventors are as busy as they have ever been, and its entrepreneurs are seizing on their ideas with the same alacrity as always. Investment in research and development as a share of output recently matched the previous record, 2.9% of GDP, set at the height of the space race. America is home to 27 of the 30 universities that put out the most-cited scientific research—and it is still good at developing those ideas. Although many countries possess big reserves of oil and gas trapped in impermeable rocks, American businesses worked out how to free that energy and then commercialised that technology at a rapid pace; the resulting “shale gale” is now billowing the economy’s sails.

Some of the money for fracking technology came from the federal government, but the shale revolution has largely happened despite Mr Obama and his tribe of green regulators. It has been driven from the bottom up—by entrepreneurs and by states like North Dakota (see article) competing to lure in investors with notably more fervour than, say, France.

This fits a pattern. Pressed for cash, states are adopting sweeping reforms as they vie to attract investments and migrants. Louisiana and Nebraska want to abolish corporate and personal income taxes. Kansas has created a post called “the Repealer” to get rid of red tape and pays a “bounty” to high schools for every vocational qualification their students earn in certain fields; Ohio has privatised its economic-development agency; Virginia has just reformed its petrol-tax system.

In this second, can-do America, creative policymaking is being applied to the very problems Congress runs away from, like infrastructure spending. While the federal government twiddles its thumbs, states and cities, which are much shorter of cash, are coming up with new ways to raise money for roads, bridges and schools. Chicago has a special trust to drum up private funds to refurbish decrepit city buildings. Indiana has turned to privatisation to raise money for road-building.

Even education is showing some signs of change. The states are giving America’s schools their biggest overhaul in living memory. Forty-five of them are developing new curriculums. Tests are becoming more rigorous, and schools and teachers are at last being held accountable for results. Thirty-eight states have reformed teachers’ pay, tying it, in many instances, to their students’ exam results. Forty-two now allow independently managed, but government-funded, “charter schools”. It is too soon to tell what this upheaval will yield, but a long overdue shake-up is finally under way.
Regulation, innovation, infrastructure, education: each of these is crucial to competitiveness. Put together the small things happening in the states, and they become something rather big. That is the essence of the America that works.
Of course let's note not all states are working the way you see in the examples here. Illinois continues to struggle and in fact there is even a debate over fracking here as well. This state is certainly looking for answers to jobs and economic growth and fracking is one although there are certain constituencies that want to get into the way of that.

In the meanwhile, the federal government is doing what it does and well certainly many are still waiting for leadership there.

Via Instapundit!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

VIDEO: The K-12 Implosion

[VIDEO] I'm tempted to post this to my other often neglected Shedd School blog. Just concerned that the content of this video would turn off people who hopefully have the same questions about the education system as I do. Although in my case, no kids so there are no real worries for the system on my end. It's just that the goal for our young people is for them to get the best education no matter who provides it.

I've often expressed my frustration with my experience with the public schools especially high school  - GO FALCONS! Still my view of the system isn't entirely marred as my time in elementary school is still remember fondly. It lead me to an important philosophy in life, there are going to be ups & downs.

All the same, this video bounces off of a book The K-12 Implosion by Instapundit blogger Glenn Reynolds. A case is made that our education system still has aspects of the Industrial Revolution style-education embedded. One-size-fits-all can't work anymore as there are many different vocational/career paths out there in the 21st century.

Of course this doesn't mean the schools aren't trending in that direction. It's possible that they're just not doing that good of a job. Whatever the case may be what should a 21st Century education system look like? How can we truly revamp a 19th century system?

Like I stated already I have no children, however, the young people toiling in school today needs access to opportunities that will last them a lifetime. What this means is that we want them to pursue the many opportunities that will be available to them in the 21st century. Let us hope today's education policy experts are able to steer the system in that diraction.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ward Room: Poll states Illinois is more anti-gun than rest of the nation

This is interesting:
Illinoisans are much more supportive of gun control than the rest of America, according to a poll out Tuesday from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Here in the Land of Lincoln, 59 percent of respondents think controlling gun ownership is more important than the right to own guns -- 10 points higher than the nation as a whole, according a recent Pew Research survey.

And 72 percent of Illinoisans think gun laws should be more strict, compared to 58 percent nationwide. Fifty-eight percent favor banning high capacity ammunition clips, while 62 percent want to ban assault weapons, and 92 percent want background checks at gun shows -- three cornerstones of President Obama’s gun control plan. However, only 33 percent would like to see a ban on handguns.
Granted Illinois is a state where most of the population is located near a major city, Chicago. Of course it's stated that this state is mostly urban. That's besides the point it makes me wonder if this poll measured only a certain segment of the population in this state. Perhaps out of Chicago or those who may be more favorable to gun control.

Who knows, I wish I was more of a statistician than I am now. In order to conduct this poll what questions where asked. There's a way to manipulate the results to produce what's desired.

Anyway, another question to ask. If the results of this poll are correct, then what's different about Illinois than the rest of the country? If Illinois is more reasonable on gun control or gun rights surely there are other states that feel as strongly about gun control as this state does.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The minimum wage debate...

Apparently raising the minimum-wage has become a policy goal for not only Illinois Governor Pat Quinn but also President Obama in their respective annual legislative speeches i.e. State of the State/Union. I'm sure raising it close $10/hr in Illinois and for Obama raising the federal mimimum wage to $9/hr would help out a lot of people who are working minimum wage jobs.

At the same time, there are some unintended consequences. For example not everyone has particularly generous employers who might give you the same amount of hours from week to week or whatever. Hours could get slashed because now the politicians have pushed up the price floor for labor.

The way I see it looking at the graphic I recently found on FB, the minimum wage is only a start especially for those who are just entering the workforce. The graphic is correct in many ways and basically one way of saying a minimum wage position shouldn't carry you all your live. You should be expected to learn new skills, get an education, or otherwise make some sort of contribution to your jobs. If your employer doesn't value that at all and can't help but look at their own bottom line it's time to move on.

Besides, I recognize that this is a tough economy and there aren't many jobs to be had out there. No way of mincing bones about that. Right now it's about taking what you can get and while you got the job you have continue searching for the job that will enable you to pay your bills and get you to the level you wish to be. That's what my motivation is and at the same time I recognize that not all of us will stay at the minimum wage forever.

I just hope the politicians who propose minimum wage increases realize what they're doing. It's well meaning enough sure, but what will the effects be not only on those who are currently working such jobs but the ones who are looking as well. Hopefully the politicos are looking at both sides and not just pushing this through without thinking.