Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Free The Children

Got a spare $128 million Racine? I didn't think so. But that is not stopping Racine Unified from asking, in the form of three separate referenda questions on the spring ballot.

Just say no. Anyone with half a clue knows that Racine Unified is likely the biggest obstacle to the fortunes of the Racine area. Over the years I have had countless conversations with folks considering a move to the Racine area. Not one of those persons ever put Racine Unified in the positive column. Anyone moving to Racine does so despite Racine Unified. It is time we frankly recognize this fact.

So why not pump money into Unified and make it a great school system? Well, if you have been paying attention, that is what we have been doing for the last 30 years. Per pupil spending has been increasing above and beyond the rate of inflation, yet the product is worsening. If money were the solution, we would have a first class education system in Racine and indeed, throughout the nation. We don't. The system is broken.

We have an expensive education system that serves to protect said system from meaningful reform and or competition. More money for Unified simply delays the inevitable day of reckoning.

Education reform will not come from within the public education system. Quite the opposite. It will come from people like you who demand better use of your taxes. The first step is rejecting the status quo which is quite obviously not working.

Voting no is one small step toward freeing Racine area children from the vice grip of failure that is Racine Unified.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Purchase Your Boccoli

The LA Times argues here that the Obamacare individual mandate is constitutional. Let us dissect the argument.

LA: The Constitution's commerce clause doesn't give Congress the power to force people to buy something against their will...That may be a fine boundary to set for lawmakers...but....

Me: Actually it is a fine boundary, already set. Thank you to our founders.

LA: Congress did not cross that line in the Affordable Care Act. That's because the mandate isn't merely an attempt to regulate the purchase of insurance. It's a vital part of a larger scheme to overhaul the healthcare industry, including the way medical services are delivered and paid for.

Me: So as long as an unconstitutional law is part of a "larger scheme," the requirements of our constitution no longer apply? Really, don't you folks at the LA Times have anyone capable of producing a better argument? Can I be required to purchase broccoli so long as it is only a mere part of a "larger scheme" to overhaul the food industry?

LA: There's no question that healthcare is a form of interstate commerce subject to regulation by Congress. Nor is there any question that the adults subject to the individual mandate participate in that market, whether it be buying aspirin at a drugstore, visiting a doctor for a checkup or rushing to an emergency room for treatment.... The individual mandate affects how people pay for the care they consume, but it doesn't force them into the healthcare market — they're already there.

Me: Well, you are already in the news and opinion business. Would you hold such a view if you were mandated to pay dues to the John Birch Society as part of a "larger scheme" to regulate the news business? On a more serious note, it is true that health insurance is a subset of the health business. But so are breast implants and sex reassignment surgery. Would it be OK to mandate prepayments for those services? You name the product and I will rationalize the forced purchase of said product as part of a "larger scheme." Is there anything our government can't force us to purchase, according to your reading of the constitution? The power to force purchases is the power to destroy is it not?

LA: In that sense, what's at stake isn't Americans' cherished "right to be let alone." It's whether they'll continue to be stuck in a system in which millions of uninsured people force those with insurance to pick up at least part of the tab for their visits to the emergency room and for the untreated diseases that they spread.

Me: So a system in which people are forcibly required by government to purchase health insurance and thereby pick up a part of the tab for others is better than a system where health care consumers pick up the tab for the uninsured. Why is that better? A wash at best.

LA: Shut up.

Me: No you shut up.

Thought of the Day

Just once I would like a political candidate to say he wants to spend less time with his family.

A New Deal, Replacing Raw Deal

The Scott Walker apocalypse is coming soon. Well, at least several state employees would have you think so.

In a letter to the JT today, one such employee argued that state employees are the ones who will stimulate the economy. Not the $9 per hour folks that can't afford to leave the home.

Why not have everyone be a highly compensated state employee. Now that would really stimulate the economy, right?

Of course not. The money for such largesse has to come from somewhere. It comes from the rest of us. If we pay to much for state employees, we are wasting the taxpayers money.

How do we know if we are paying too much for labor? One clue is comparisons with similar private sector employment. Another is to look at the attrition rate of state employees. My guess is that if we looked at these factors, we would find that state employees are compensated better than their peers in the private sector and that they hardly ever leave for better opportunities.

State employees should be paid fairly. Taxpayers should be taxed fairly. The best indicator of fairness in trade for products, service labor or whatever is to observe what happens when things, such as labor, are traded freely. That is, to see what happens in the private sector.

Why not peg state employee compensation to averages in private sector employment of the same type? As a generous taxpayer, I would be willing to sweeten the pot and throw in the de facto tenure for no charge. What a deal for state employees!