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PISA Scores To Poverty

On a different topic, this correlation does show how educational scores directly correlate to poverty…  The more luxurious one’s lifestyle is, the more one learns….

That is so common-sensical it is almost laughable that America pursued the corporate get-rich-quick No Child Left Behind Approach and wasted an entire generation of talent, instead of focusing on the obvious.  (Notice I said.. almost laughable.  None of the Millennials are laughing at it these days.)

But that is not what I want to talk about right now.  I want to address the bigger picture…  I want to address why the US can’t have nice things too?

I need you to do two things…

  1. Find the US on the chart above.(The chart enlarges if clicked)
  2. Ask and answer this question to yourself, “why?”

Mexico, Chile, and Turkey, are the only developed nations having a higher percentage of families below 50% of the global medium income than the US.   Now look at some who are higher….

  1. Israel
  2. Slovak Republic
  3. Slovenia

Does anyone remember what these countries were like in the 40’s?  Why is it that the United States despite all its opportunities is barely above the status of being a third world nation?

This was reinforced earlier this week by an article using the same title I chose above, which was based off a returning Americans vision of our nation after being in Europe for a while….

It stated something like: imagine what a First World traveler must think after emerging from JFK and riding the New York Subway into Manhattan…..

That was one of those pieces that stick; I’ve been thinking about it ever since…

Why do we as a democracy, totally and fully support those who are pushing us lower and lower down on the global economic scale? What is so great anymore, really, about being an American?

Oh, I wish I could fly to the Canaries for the weekend… But I can’t.  I’m an American.

Oh I wish I could hop on the train and see you a couple of hours (200 miles away) but I can’t.  I’m an American.

Oh, I wish I could have healthy food to eat, but I can’t.  My store won’t sell it.  I’m an American.

Oh, I wish i had enough left over to go to the movies this weekend, but I can’t.  I’m an American.

Oh, I wish our schools would teach that to our children, but they can’t.  We’re Americans.

Oh, I wish someone would fix that damn pothole.  I keep asking. But they can’t. We’re in America.

Oh, I wish I had enough money to buy everyone in my family a Christmas present. I can’t. I’m American.

Oh, i wish  they’d kept those woods as a park, instead of making more trashy apartments. But, we’re American.

Oh, I wish they’d make that refinery stop polluting. But they won’t.  We’re American.

Oh, I wish we could buy food that wasn’t Gentically modified.  But we can’t.  We’re American.

Oh, i wish someone would try to save the Monarch Butterfly before it goes extinct. Nevermind, I live in America.

Just some random thoughts… proving that compared to other nations… as the chart well shows, we really do have it bad….

Now why is that so?

Why is the supposedly richest nation in the world, on it’s own accord forcing itself to live in austerity, when it has all the possibilities that have ever been open to the race of men?

Obviously other nations aren’t so picky.  They are living much better!  So why can’t we have nice things too?

Why can’t we pay ourselves enough to fly to the Canaries for a weekend?

Why can’t we invest more and build ourselves a train system equal to China’s and Europe’s

Why can’t we have healthy food to eat by having unhealthy food cost more to cover it’s future medical expense?

Why can’t we earn enough per week to have enough left over to spontaneously go to the movies this weekend?

Why can’t our teachers teach three foreign languages to all our children by age 8?

Why can’t they fix that damn pothole?

Why can’t I spend what I wish on everyone I love and still have enough to live on later?

Why can’t we keep those woods as a park? Why do we had to commercialize absolutely everything?

Why can’t we establish rules that stop pollution, or cause a non-compliant place to close shop?

Why do we have to have everything genetically modified, even if it kills us later?

Why did we do nothing and let the Monarch butterfly go extinct… when we could have easily saved it?

The easy answer is that we chose to go down that path… Putting blame on any and everything else is a cop-out. We collectively made choices and this is the choice we made….

The hard answer, the one we struggle with, is why did we make that choice?

Why did other nations not make the same choice as did we, and now have all these nice things, while we are entrapped by our poverty and have really very little to show for all our good productive work? How come they got stuff, and we didn’t?

Why does Israel, which lives with rockets falling on top of them daily, live better than do we?
Why does tiny Denmark have so many wealthy people?
Why is the quality of life in the United States more closely ranked with that of Turkey, Chile, and Mexico?
Why are all the nations called Socialist and Communist by the Tea Party and the Republican Party of the United States of America, all doing better than us, and nations where cut-throat self expression is honored, are nestled at the bottom against us?

Time for a new scatter chart…

Happiness Is A Progressive Tax Rate
Courtesy of New York Times. (Click image to read)

Riffing off a Beatles tune title, “Happiness Is A High Progressive Tax Rate.”

Those people above who are happy, who have all those nice things… aren’t Socialists. They just come from a highly progressively tax country. People with no taxes are horrifically bitter… don’t believe it; you should try living in Somalia. Of course, no taxes are great if you are wealthy… but as one takes away each tax, one reduces the number of wealthy one will eventually have left…

So when America decided to reward the rich, and let their wealth and abundance “trickle down” all over us, we chose to go down this path of austerity. Without first thinking clearly that no one gives up their money unless forced, we assumed the bounty would flow to all.

The wealthy kept the money, and it has grown immensely. For them.

So now, they can afford to pay us lower than our worth, because others will jump at the chance to take our spot.

So now, they can afford to buy those who pass laws. to make laws for them, at our expense. For what we think doesn’t matter; they can buy the election.

So now, since they can afford cabs, we don’t need trains.

So now, since they can afford private schools, public schools should be mined to earn them even more money.

So now, since they can eat healthy food, we can’t because the profit margins are higher when they serve us sawdust, instead of real protein products.

So now, with copyrights paying them across two lifetimes, they don’t need us to go to the movies as they in the past.

So now, that pothole which affects only 1000 cars a day, can wait for the intersection into their newly developed shopping center to be completed.

So now, just why should they pay workers a living wage. They’re starving. They’d work for free if we’d just let them.

So now, parks are a nuisance and an extra cost. Better to develop the land underneath and collect rent instead.

So, now because it costs money to stop pollution, we don’t. Cuts into profits too much.

So now, all food is genetically modified… Cheaper to produce and that makes it more profitable.

So now, who needs a dumb-assed Monarch butterfly? It creates no benefit, costs money to save, it should just die and decrease the surplus number of species this planet is gasping to carry…..

We made that choice. This is our legacy. The good news is that we make choices every day. This choice we once made defines us now, but does not have to define us forever…

I’ll now leave with words from Dicken’s, rather proper for this time of season….

“I see an empty place at this table. I see a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die.”

Well, I’ve said too much. I…You’re the People here. You do what you want with this thing. Just one more thing, though. This planet needs this measly one-horse institution to change its course, if only to have some place where people can come without crawling to the 1%.

Just think about it over these holidays… Why is it that the US can’t have nice things too?

Award For Delaware's Most Influental P/P/or T of The Year
The Golden Flush Award
/Click Image for Past Winners

Usually this is an after thought…” Oh, wow, year’s over, let’s get a person of the year”…  And then once we elect one,  we go… “holy crap… we totally forgot so and so….”

So to try to stir up some old simmering coals of memory, both mine and others, and perhaps even to (heaven forbid) get some debate going in the blog sphere, I thought I’d make an initial run on Thanksgiving Week, and then add people into the nominating category as others mention various ones I should kick myself for forgetting.

It will also force me to review the year which is something I rarely do… because face it, as a human being, I am slave of the moment….  If I did this last year, come December 14th the entire world would have been turned upside down and all the old priorities of 2012,  would in one day become trivial….

And so starting early gives me the chance to make the argument for each of those I decide to enroll with your kind recommendations included….

Julius Cephus:  Particularly this one man organized and stopped an end run around the Port of Wilmington.  The Kinder Morgan deal did not go through, and the Wilmington Port is bustling like never before…   Kinder Morgan was to strip the union of power, and drop the rates of pay, further dampening the economy of Wilmington proper.  It was also the first defeat of a Lavine-Markell development project, .. Fisker and Bloom had gone forward without a hitch.  Julius and other’s push back resulted in a General Assembly motion that stated they, not the governor, had final approval. It was the first time we were exposed to the current Governor’s manipulations.  They were to play a significant part across this year’s tapestry.

Steve Newton:  A blogger who has written infrequently, but effectively. His piece on SB 51  is what alerted us to the end run being performed by Dave Sokola on lowering the current standards being used for educating teachers.  It is brilliant.  It took an evening of reading the legislation line by line and cross referencing  it with Steve’s analysis, to understand the huge negative impact this bill would cause.  By the time this was done, the Bill had already passed the Senate unanimously without comment, and with an friendly amendment added that was voted upon without even being read.  Some public outcry was mustered within the House, both in committee and on the floor, but under the Governor’s direction, the Speaker of the House, pushed the bill to the floor before significant outcry could be mustered.  Only 4 House members were not on record for it’s passing.  Our educational schools now have to water down their teaching standards to meet the new law.  Steve also has brought the Highmark story to Delaware.  His research in the increase of medical costs in Western PA as a result of knocking out competition by unfair practices, leads one with a cold chill of what to expect in Delaware’s future.  We are already there.  As an insurer, Highmark is only paying medical claims in its own affiliated clinics.  As the new Blue Cross/Blue Shield owner, that is a huge percentage of Delaware’s residents.  None can go to any other hospital.  He has properly fingered Karen Weldham Stuart for not catching this prior to implementation.  Without Steve, this would have passed unnoticed.  The News Journal still has not once mentioned the takeover of Delaware’s health field under one owner.

Ernest Lopez.  If Kennedy were still writing Profiles of Courage, he should include this man.  Ernest Lopez is a conservative, and voted with Libertarian values to pass the gun legislation recommended by Markell and Biden.  Reflecting the views of his district, instead of taking the threatening message sent to him down from the NRA, he voted for his district.  A very vocal minority, who is always vocal, and always in the minority, swore they would unseat him.  He disregarded their idle threat, and voted both his and his constituents conscious.  A major billboard was put up to call him out.   His vote caused the passage of us now requiring background checks at public gun sales.  Now a certifiably insane person cannot slap cash and get a gun.  It is a no-brainer, and Ernie was the only Republican with brain enough to even know what a no-brainer is….

Cathy Cloutier:  her vote allowed gays to marry.  Again, she is a Republican who said enough is enough… Tired of voting against her conscious just so Sussex County would not flip over to the Democrats, she finally did not toe the line and voted along the lines of her own constituents, all overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage.  In doing so, she went against the entire grain of her party, who firmly feel that gays are second class citizens, even though most Republicans in office are closeted gays.

Bethany Hall Long:  on the same vote, made a viable personal decision, and also voted for the legalization of gay marriage. Unlike Cathy’s vote, this was accomplished at great personal sacrifice, for all of those in her personal life, were solidly against this policy from taking effect.  In voting for what was morally right, she had to contend against those whose influence she could not escape.  She went with the correct vote, over the easy one.   As a result, Gay marriage is now legal in Delaware.

Paul Baumbach:  gave great ammunition against the fight for SB51, and later against HB 165. Both bills which will damage Delaware’s education for years to come.  He was one of the four who put up a fight on the House floor.  Paul also arranged for the meetings in Newark to discuss the new Power plant that figured in this past week’s election.

John Kowalko:  also was against SB51, HB 165, as well, being against the power plant.  In fact, John was the first person to sound the alarm over how big the power plant would be.  Without his big voice, it may have slid through unnoticed.  The power plant has defined northern Delaware politics since September.

Kim Williams;  responsible for HB 40 which investigates Charter School’s meddling into our educational systems.  She was as an acting state representative, allegedly refused entrance into a committee hearing on education, for fear she might say something damaging to the bill being rushed through….  She brought to the public’s knowledge, that the Charter School bill was drafted illegally without public input, and the charter group constructing it, was also under FOIA, to which the private group denied.  The Attorney General backed up her assertion, that the bill was formulated illegally but their decision was moot, because the bill was passed both houses anyways.  Kim Williams also in the HB 40 task force, led the group to realize that charter schools unlike public schools, do indeed filter those entering charters to weed out those who might lower their test scores….

Mark Murphy, Rodel, Sweeney, Hefferman, and the Fake Educational Reform Establishment:  I almost purposefully did not post this.  Although the first person’s name is usually followed by explicatives whenever mentioned, it is unlike Voldermort’s, still getting mentioned.  Mark Murphy was not put in his position based on his ability. He was placed there for his loyalty to the cause of  corporatizing public education.  Markell pulls the strings, Murphy figures how to get it done…  It is hard to make a puppet the most influential person of the year… So I was going to skip him… But at the last minute, remembered that every time  he or anyone of these make an op-ed, it resonates as gigantic news. The entire community rises up to counteract each op-ed, usually with the word “lies” thrown liberally about…. So, they do exert an influence.  I looped all of them together, as the group of liars in a Greek play, who stand on the stair steps and taunt the protagonists.  Well,… they are part of the play…….

Dan Short:  Sometimes villains get noticed too.  Primarily a single issue candidate, who personally supports the NRA, he actively campaigned and organized to create enough backlash so Markell’s gun laws could not get enough votes…  Without him, there is a possibility that all four of Markell’s gun control pieces of legislation would have passed both houses of Delaware’s legislature. Dan Short should be given the credit for stopping them.

John Sigler: Single handedly by his very brief tenure as the re-elected head of the Republican Party, he pointed out through his pigeon shooting, just how inept the Republican Party was at everything else.  With his leaving, all fissures cracking the Republican bedrock, were impossible to ignore.  Blogs split. The IPOD’s split. Former candidates of the same party just months earlier, now not talking to each other. The Delaware Republican Party is dead; no it is past dead.  More dead than a pigeon shot inside a box by John Sigler, former head of the Delaware Republican Party.

Nancy Willing: Her blog, the Delaware Way, is the go-to site for local information. Whether about Dover, about New Castle County, about any of New Castle County’s associations, Nancy combs all sources and puts them down in aggregate form. Heavily involved in the Power Plant controversy, The Delaware City Rail Yard controversy, Barley Mill controversy, the Woodlawan controversy, the Kinder Morgan controversy, the Charter School Controversy, the Common Core Controversy, Nancy has who is saying “what”, and links to “why”. One can expend less energy by using her blog to follow all the stuff the News Journal neglects, in a few quick empty steps.

Amy Roe:  a head of the Sierra Club, who emerged from nowhere to lead the fight against the power plant, and give quite a run against the establishment candidate.  Becoming the face the anti- power movement could coalase behind, she gave the anti power plant movement both dignity and grace.  Coming up short only 115 votes, she has awakened Newark now politically as never before…  The power plant if it goes forward, now has a strong group of Newarkeans against it.  Hopefully they will be monitoring it regularly and helping authorities keep in in compliance with all local law.

Tom Gorden; although much quieter than his first term in office, Tom Gorden is rapidly rolling back the privileges the previous Clark administration handed over to our state’s top developers. The Barley Mill plaza which had a green light, is now parked at a red. In a big sea change, though handled quietly, community groups are now no longer persona non grata in county government. It is no longer accepted as a matter of course that the Woodlawn Trust will be gobbled up by developers. If enough fight can be mustered, it can be stopped. Furthermore, with Tom there is closer coordination with the City of Wilmington, than we have experienced anytime in our lifetimes. In the county, local policing has been stepped up, particularly in neighborhoods prone to crime…

Dennis Williams: Came in with grand expectations, which looked deliverable for a while. The tide is turning and his relevance on this list, is because every day, the headline reality in Wilmington’s streets, brings his electioneering boasts back to haunt him, like a sizzling hot branding iron.  Time, Dennis, to say “Damn the torpedoes… Their punk asses are going in jail no matter which blowhard on City Council spouts off,before mine gets tossed in jail for impersonating a mayor..”

Alan Levin:  Jack Markell’s second in command, he was instrumental in defending Markell’s position on Kinder Morgan and the port, as well as the new power plant for the data center. He also had a hand in keeping Dole in Delaware, and worked to slip the power plant past a slew of unsuspecting Newark City officials.

Jack Markell: had his hand in everything.  He was behind Kinder Morgan’s takeover.  He was behind SB 51 and HB 165.  He was behind the illegal charter group, requiring HB 40. He also was the driving force for the four rational steps to gun legislation, 2 of which were passed. He was also the driving force behind the passage of gay marriage, signing the bill in the chambers just moments after its passage. He also supported the transgender bill in its travels through the labyrinth of Legislative Hall. He as behind keeping Dole in Delaware. He was behind changing an icon in Millsboro away from pickles, over to poultry. He pushed the bill to curtail Flowers. Despite your opinion over whether these were good or bad, they still showed a ubiquitous and wide reach across the state of Delaware. Seems like nothing got done that didn’t have his fingerprints all over it.

John Young: As head of Christina board, John Young led the board in standing up to Mark Murphy and Jack Markell, by refusing the RTTT funds slated for his district. Although some hired fools, (Jea Street) tried to paint Young into a corner, it served the opposite purpose and gave Young a platform. For the fist time, Common Core was getting publicly bashed. For the first time, many were finding that aligning themselves blindly to this sham of improving standards, was probably going to hurt them politically in the next couple of years. It was the fist salvo back, so the damage estimates were not high, but it did open eyes of many who had been on the sidelines of all educational issues, making them also become vocal in fighting Common Core. His blog Transparent Christina has channelled a lot of detailed information into the Delaware market, and had made Common Core an apprehension, instead of the savior it was supposed to be….

Kilroy: Kilroy has always been haranguing over education. In fact he was doing such a good job I left that issue alone for years, because other issues for me, like the economy and elimination of guns from the hands of the mentally ill, were more important. But as the issue has shifted back into the limelight, Kilroy’s hard hitting is making its mark… Kilroy is blunt, and right now, that is the language that needs to happen. Blunt descriptions of what takes place in the stratosphere of he academic field…. Kilroy often breaks stories before the News Journal, especially ones embarrassing to the Murphy/Markell cartel of education. If you have read Kilroy over the past couple of years, you would already know that Common Core is not the panacea we have been promised. It is a power grab for taxpayer dollars, financed by Wall Street itself…. If you think otherwise, you haven’t been reading a balanced reading list….
That is what I have so far. In retrospect I am surprised that education has played so much, as even I have only come to that topic lately… But if one looks over the News Journal op eds, education really did dominate the discussion in the 2nd smallest state this year….

I may have forgotten some big ones. To reiterate, that is why I am posting this early, to catch those big mistakes as they get brought to my attention….

A. A woman, with two small children, separated from an abusive husband. He has just started violating a no-contact order, and is making threats over the upcoming divorce.

B. A father of three boys, married, lives in rural area. Owns 97 acres of woods. Has a two mile driveway. Then fifteen miles of one lane road to the nearest major highway, whose junction is 38 miles from the nearest police station.

C. A 15 year old urban dropout, who was jumped and beaten up badly when he was twelve in an act of random violence; he was in the wrong place when they were looking for something to do, allegedly to “teach him a lesson”; the reality? There was no reason for it.

D. A thirty year old man, who was raped over 100 times while a child by a neighbor, and that neighbor now is politically well connected, who boasts on talk radio of how big his arsenal is….

E. A bright, attractive professional woman of twenty five, who has a high powered job, lives alone out of necessity and convenience, lives on an international schedule, enters and exits often between midnight and 6 am.

F. A 43 year old mother, who at 18 became state’s witness and testified against her acquaintance and he, is being freed tomorrow, sentence done….

G. A 62 year old pill popping DJ, who excels at conservative talk radio, by stirring up hate, spinning lies into truth, and coining derogative names to be recycled by bitter old white me, like “femminazi’s”….

H. Pastor Washington, who has taken the calling of walking around the inner city on very cold nights, and persuade homeless people to swallow their pride and come inside to a warm shelter…

I. One day, you?

It began as an answer to a question. Why do economies crash when taxes are cut, and grow when taxes are raised?

The historical evidence is overwhelming. Tax cuts caused the Great Depression. Tax increases caused a bounce back. Tax Cuts caused the second part of the Great Depression in 1937. Tax increases almost up to 100% during WWII gave us the most booming economy in our history.

The 50’s with high taxes, were a boom for America’s business. The boom continued up until Reagan announced a tax cut was part of his platform. A recession followed. As the economy got itself back together, the lowest tax cuts ever in Americas history were enacted in 1988. A huge recession followed. Almost as soon as the Clinton return to a higher tax rate was enacted, the economy bounced back, never stopping until Clinton’s successor, began trumpeting his version of tax cuts. As they were enacted, the economy slumped. It has never recovered, because the Bush Tax Cuts have never been rescinded. One year ago, as it looked probably that the tax cuts would be allowed to expire by the Democratic Congress and President, the economy began roaring back. Then, in November, the Republicans balked in the Senate, and without enough votes, the ice cold water of more tax cuts, put out the economic embers before they could ignite the economy’s flame….

The answer is simple. When you have low taxes, there is great incentive to take money out of the economy and gamble with it….

When you have high taxes, there is great incentive to bury your profits back into the economy by expanding ones business, such as building more manufacturing plants, investing more in research and development, paying more for your employees and their benefits, for the very simple reason that if you have low profits on paper, you have lower taxes…

All that money buried in your own business, is still yours.

America signed on the the Reagan mantra that low taxes would create investment opportunities for businesses to build more plants. Had that been so, then Reaganomics might have worked.

Problem was that corporate profits went instead, to overseas, or, were used to buy existing corporations and joined two companies together, cutting excess jobs. One can see this in Delaware by the elimination of lots of small Delawarean banks that used to dot our landscape.

It seems ironic that countries on the international scale that have the Republican ideal of government, such as low taxes and no regulation whatsoever, are poor like Paraguay. Those on the opposite extreme, with high taxes and lots of rules, have a rather high standard of living for almost all of its citizens… like Norway and Switzerland.

Would you rather live well? or live poorly?

If you chose living well, you should rejoice that now, we are having the idea discussed here in this country, of raising the taxes on the wealthy, just so they choose to invest here in America, in the form of building real jobs, for the very reason they don’t want to pay those higher taxes….

The President, in Wilmington, stood under a rain drenched canopy, and welcomed the crown prince and princess of Sweden….

And from them, the chief executive accepted in “profound gratitude” a monument erected by the Swedish people on the spot where their countrymen first set foot upon the new world…

Rain, falling steadily through the night and day, brought a dreary note to the historic scene, at the junction of the Delaware and Christina Rivers. Decorative flags and buntings sagged.

Although the president’s speech was addressed to “your royal highness”, he paid tribute to the Finns who were represented too, in the 1638 colonization of Delaware.

“Finland, small in size, but mighty in honor, occupies an especially warm place in the American heart.” he said to Finnish foreign minister Rudolf Holsti, without specifically referring to that country’s lone practice, of all European debtor nations, of paying it’s installments to this country, regularly and on time….

Accepting the monument, the president said, “It will typify the close association and continued good will between our two nations”..

“To this spot, came the pioneers, but in succeeding centuries, tens and thousands have come to these shores and added their strength and fine qualities of citizenship to the American nation.”

Americans remember “with grateful hearts”, the chief executive declared, that Sweden was the first neutral European nation to negotiate a “treaty of amity and grace with our young and struggling nation.”

Turning to Delaware’s governor, the President remarked that that official, holds office in offical succession of those governors from New Sweden.

Which reminds me, said the chief executive of a rhyme descriptive of the doughty first governor Johann Printz, who is said to have tipped the scales at over 300 pounds…

“No governor of Del.
Before or since,
Has weighed as much
As Johann Printz.”

Worship in the historic Old Swedes Church, and an afternoon address by the Secretary of State Cordell Hull, followed Mr. Roosevelt’s address and dedication of the monument on the day’s program.