Education: Is Help On The Way?

For centuries ivory tower academics controlled education.  They decided what was taught, how it was taught, when it was taught, and to whom it was taught.  As public education evolved, politicians became their allies, and in some cases their masters.  Liberal politicians hand out money “for the kids”, and in return the academics advance their left wing objectives.  Consider some recent changes: reducing teaching civics and history, cutting reading the classics, and turning classrooms into laboratories for “innovative methods”.  How many different ways have academics experimented with to teach basic mathematics in the past 75 years or so?   Can kids figure out 2×2 any better today than they could back then?  Politicians are obsessed with being “fair”, so schools eliminate grades, homework, and give everyone an award for showing up.  Standardized tests are “dumbed down”.  Then parents wonder why colleges need remedial high school courses, employers wonder why young employees lack good communication and math skills, and many wonder why young people can’t handle real life (which is not fair).  Academics and politicians have third partner: textbook publishers.  Every time academics decide that the teaching methodology of a subject like mathematics has to change, those companies reap a windfall.  Likewise when politicians decide that a subject like history needs to be presented with a different slant, e.g., don’t love your country, hate it, because what happened 200 years ago is YOUR fault.  Technology companies have latched on to the “spend-spend-spend” profiteering of textbook publishers.  The kids must have absolutely the latest technology.  Does anyone care what it’s being used for (or isn’t)?  Do local school administrators even know what the latest technology is or are they buying into to sales pitches?  Since the Feds began their takeover of public education in the 1970’s the US has spent over one trillion dollars on education but it’s nowhere near number one in achievement internationally.

There are signs that the winds are shifting.  President Trump selected a businessperson for Secretary of Education.  In the state of New Hampshire, the Republican governor selected a businessperson for Education Commissioner.  Business people know that money is neither free nor unlimited.  They understand “return on investment”.  They know, as academics should, that one size does not fit all, so they’re more supportive of alternatives to public schools like charter schools, magnet school, private schools, and home schooling.  Common Core is a win for liberal politicians who seek to indoctrinate children with “common values” but a loss for states, parents, taxpayers,  and the kids.

 

But… sometimes the winds shift the other way too.  New York state was praised for requiring a literacy test for teaching candidates.  After all, literacy is the foundation of learning.  Well, the liberals are considering abolishing the test because minorities have more difficulty in passing it. One candidate complained about the test being given on a computer.  What does that person expect to see in a modern classroom?  Once again we see the best interests of the students being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

Right To Work

A “Right to Work” law says that a worker in a “union shop” can’t be required to pay union dues even though that worker benefits from the union negotiations with management.  Some states have passed these laws and they’re contested in a few other states.  I support Right to Work, not because I oppose unions themselves, but because I oppose forced political contributions .

I think unions have done a lot of good for working people (although some have gotten too powerful), and they serve an important role in labor/management relations.  The problem I see is that unions make political campaign contributions from workers’ union dues, thus forcing people to make contributions to candidates whom they may not support.  Why should anyone be forced to contribute to a socialist candidate if they don’t believe in socialism?  Unions donate almost exclusively to Democratic Party candidates.  Now today’s Democratic Party is no longer the party of John F. Kennedy; it’s the party of Karl Marx.  Democrats no longer say “ask what you can do for your country”; now it’s “ask what your country can do for you”; heck, even if you’re not a US citizen “come get the free stuff” from a struggling and declining work force.  Democrats also scrounge for every “right” that might endear them to some specific group while waging an unprecedented campaign against the most fundamental rights of all of us: the Bill of Rights. See my “Repeal the Bill of Rights” article for a discussion of how those freedoms are under attack.

Is “Right to Work” a fundamental right under the Ninth Amendment?  That’s a good question.  It wouldn’t have occurred to the authors of the Constitution to include a “Right to Work” amendment in the Bill of Rights because at that time everyone who was able to work was expected to work and neither unions nor the welfare state existed.  Rather than argue the entire issue I’ll focus on the political contribution portion, where compromise is possible.  I think that not being forced to make political contributions to any candidate IS a fundamental right.   It’s part of the right to vote itself.  I’d like to see a SCOTUS ruling that workers don’t have to pay that portion of their dues that are political contributions.  That would protect the unions’ need for funding to support labor/management negotiations and grievance resolution without forcing workers to be political campaign supporters.

As for socialists, remember the food lines in the former Soviet Union and the more recent food riots in Venezuela.  Socialists of a feather starve together, except for the leaders of course, who are more equal than the masses.

Rein in the EPA – Carefully

We have to protect the environment.  Our lives and the future of the human race depend on it.  No one wants US cities to look like Beijing during high smog events.  No one wants to drink contaminated water or see rivers full of garbage.  The EPA has a valid function so it shouldn’t be abolished.  I think it has gotten “drunk on power” under the previous administration and needs to be reined in somewhat.  It seems to have morphed from basing actions on scientific studies and cost/benefit analyses to basing actions on bureaucratic authority.  That’s often a problem with agencies that can make rules but have no accountability to the voters.  It’s particularly noticeable in that the EPA rushed through some new rules in the last few days of the Obama administration.  Was that really enough time for a thorough analysis?  The EPA’s job is protecting the environment, not bureaucratic jobs.

Rather than delve into the controversial topic of climate change I’ll discuss a local matter that can really hurt taxpayers, and that’s wastewater treatment, a subject that’s very localized.  Suppose a city has wastewater treatment plants that meet current discharge specifications.  A company develops a treatment method that is more efficient, i.e., can better clean the water, and suddenly the city gets a notice from the EPA that they must meet this new “standard” or face ridiculously high fines.  Does the EPA have to provide scientific evidence that this new standard is necessary or are they working to “as low as achievable”?  That’s not science, it’s pandering to industry.

Another issue that involves local water is the EPA effort to exert control over virtually every body of water in the country, including small privately-owned ponds and “ephemeral” water (streams and puddles that only exist seasonally).  This extension of the EPA’s original mandate along with its power to levy fines has made life miserable for some farmers and other landowners.  Unless the landowner is using those small waters to dispose of toxic materials (which is illegal anyway) this is nothing but a bureaucratic power grab.

I’m offering the following suggestions to “bring the EPA down to earth” without destroying the earth:

  1.  Temporarily freeze all regulations that were issued between January 1, 2017 and January 21, 2017 until they are adequately reviewed for necessity.
  2. Establish a “show me the science” policy for cities faced with sudden revisions to local requirements for matters like wastewater treatment that would require costly upgrades to plants that meet current specifications.  Explain to the community why the change is needed in plain English, and allow a reasonable implementation time.
  3. Reexamine the EPA authority to levy very high fines, specifically in cases involving changes to standards that are currently being met (as opposed to willful violators).  This is a power that is subject to abuse and that drains money needed to make the changes.
  4. EPA officials need to understand that with authority comes accountability.  Fire employees involved in the Animas river disaster and bar involved contractors from Federal contracts for 10 years.

Mexico City Policy

The “Mexico City Policy” is a foreign policy that prohibits US aid to other countries from being used to perform or promote abortions.  It began under the Reagan presidency and has been turned on or off every time party control of the White House changed.  Globalists have criticized President Trump for reinstating this policy, which was canceled by President Obama, while many religious and right-to-life groups have praised his action.

For those of you who don’t care about the religious aspect I’ll present a secular argument for it beginning with this question: why should women in other countries think that US taxpayers owe them free abortions?  We’re not taking care of our own citizens!  Many people still don’t have health insurance.  A recent survey revealed that 30% of people who have Obamacare policies don’t seek needed health care because they can’t afford the astronomical deductibles.  An estimated 22 US veterans commit suicide every day because they can’t get adequate health care through the dysfunctional VA.  We also have homeless veterans freezing on the streets and being attacked by street thugs.  We have children who go to school hungry every day and elderly people dying because they can’t afford their medications.  We have a drug abuse epidemic that’s destroying lives and families every day.  Now, tell me why we owe people in other countries free abortions.

As I said once before, we are not the world’s sugar daddy.  https://usagenda22.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/we-are-not-the-worlds-sugar-daddy-either/

Constitutional Rights Amendment Needed

I’d like to propose a preemptive addition to the Constitution that could prevent future erosion of our freedom.  This amendment would prohibit four things from happening to human beings in the future:

Universal marking or tracking of human citizens using implanted devices, mandatory tracking devices on their person or private vehicle,  tattoos,  branding, and/or any other personal marking or tracking technology to be developed would be prohibited.

Universal mandatory video or audio monitoring within private residences would be prohibited.

Embedding or attaching timed or remotely activated devices to humans that are intended to cause pain, suffering, immobilization, or death would be prohibited.

A universal biometric database containing all human citizens’ DNA profiles, fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition, and/or other unique markers later discovered would be prohibited.

This would not prevent maintenance of convicted criminal data by law enforcement, use of externally-worn GPS tracking devices as part of a court-ordered sentence or probation requirement, use of Tasers by police, or DNA databases for military personnel entering combat.  It would simply prevent such technology from being used to infringe on the freedom of the population as a whole.

Note: This is a revision to a previous concept.  I’ve added the word “human” to hedge against advances in technology.  While robots may look human and be given ever more sophisticated programming they will never be “human” and are not entitled to any human rights.

President-Elect Trump

Congratulations to President-elect Donald J. Trump.  His is not just a personal victory; it’s a victory for conservatives who are tired of a socialist agenda, it’s a victory for middle USA voters, and it’s a victory for freedom.  Hillary would have continued President Obama’s assault on the Bill of Rights and Soros’ globalist agenda.  Now we will have a president who will stand up for our sovereignty and put our citizens first.  We will have a president who wants to strengthen our weakened military, modernize our aging infrastructure, revitalize industry, and restore global respect to our nation.

I’ll admit I was skeptical at times, particularly when his poll numbers were climbing and then he’d say something that would rally the liberal media against him, but in the end Hillary’s own dishonesty and corruption defeated her.  After eight years of a liberal politician in the White House it will be good to give a businessman a chance at running the country.

The Electoral College system worked as it should too, giving those middle USA voters a voice that’s long been suppressed by high-population left-wing states.  California “values” aren’t everyone’s values and shouldn’t be forced on everyone.  Anyone who wants to live in California, aka Mexifornia, is free to do so.  Personally I don’t think of Che Guevera or Chairman Mao as heroes nor do I consider the former Soviet Union to be the ideal model for a state.

Those who say that Trump threatens civil rights are ignoring the fact that we have civil rights laws that a president can’t override.  No president can direct that women be paid less than men or that Blacks must sit at the back of the bus.  What he can do is rescind previous executive orders that did override existing laws and tell agencies like Immigration to do their jobs.  He and his Supreme Court appointees can also uphold the Bill of Rights, something that liberals see as an obstacle to their socialist agenda.  Maybe he could even end the leftist indoctrination in public schools that has young children frightened and holding protest signs that they don’t even understand.  Should we be training the next generation to accept serfdom?

Liberalism is socialism and socialism is total control of people and their property.

Fixing Asset Forfeiture

I discussed civil asset forfeiture in “Spoils of War” and also discussed the IRS seizure of assets for “structuring” deposits in “Repeal the Bill of Rights” under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.  I won’t say these policies should be eliminated because, in some cases, they do serve to disrupt cash flow for criminal activities, however when the NYPD boasts that they seized more cash than they can count they sound more like Blackbeard’s pirates than civil servants.  When innocent citizens have to file expensive lawsuits to recover wrongfully seized property the system is broken, so let’s fix it.  Here’s one way.

Assets seized from people not charged with a crime must be returned to the owner within one business day if criminal charges are not filed within a reasonable time, e.g., 48-72 hours.

Assets seized from people charged with a crime must be held in escrow pending outcome of the trial.  If the defendant is found “not guilty” the assets must be returned to the owner.  If the asset was cash it must have been held in an interest-bearing account and the cash returned with accrued interest.  If lawfully acquired real property (buildings, vehicles, firearms, etc.) was seized the state must preserve and maintain that property such that it can be returned intact and without loss.  If the individual is found “guilty” the judge will determine what happens to the seized property.

I think this is a reasonable balance between the needs of law enforcement to disrupt criminal activity and the rights of citizens to keep their lawfully acquired property.  When police departments consider themselves to be profit centers the entire concept of law enforcement is maligned.