Archive for March, 2011

of budgets and Big Macs

March 19, 2011

PowerLine Blog does the math on the Washington Post’s notion that the GOP is seeking to “slash” the federal budget with its $6 billion in cuts.

Union educators and student achievement

March 18, 2011

This is a little old, but it’s so significant to what’s going to be discussed over the next several months in many states, it deserves to be highlighted. One of the claims about why teachers in Wisconsin should retain their union privileges is that students do so much better than in a non-unionized education system like Texas. Paul Krugman in the New York Times promoted this claim.

This led to one of the most crushing replies I’ve ever read. It is breathtaking in its elegance.

It needs to be said that the issue is not whether standardized tests accurately evaluate the process of education. In my opinion they are very unreliable guides to the effectiveness of districts, schools, or teachers. However, for the purposes of comparing student achievement in different areas of the country, what Dave Burge has done is far more useful as a comparison of Texas and Wisconsin than what Krugman offered.

There’s a follow-up post here that addresses some questions and issues raised by his first response to Krugman. It is also well worth the time to read.

Big Business cozy with the Democrats

March 17, 2011

This should put to rest the false distinction that claims Republicans are the ones transferring tax money from the working class to the corporate class while Democrats are standing up for taxpayers against the corporations. It won’t, of course, because that claim has always been largely false and widely believed apart from evidence. But it should.

The beginning of the end of the Koch obsession

March 17, 2011

When data like this begins to trickle out, we’ll be hearing less and less about Koch Industries. The whole business was bizarre from the beginning. And once again, it appears that the most emphatic accusations the Left makes about the Right are generally cases of projection. Or at least, since having ultra-wealthy sponsors with conflicts of interest like Mr. Steyer and Mr. Soros is so fundamental to left-wing activism, they assume it must be the case on the Right as well.

on morality and government

March 15, 2011

One of the intellectual trends in Christianity today I find particularly curious is the general tendency to regard government as completely benign when it is expending revenues on social welfare projects and as completely corrupt when it is expending revenues on national security or on the development of business enterprises. Unless those businesses are receiving development funds for favored endeavors, in which case it is the sort of enlightened subsidy of business government should expend revenues on.

This has been captured in recent years by a variety of slogans and concepts about what Christians should support in government action and what they should oppose. What I find curious is the extent to which those slogans and concepts align along party lines in the United States. This seems remarkably improbable, if Christian thinking stands over against earthly entities and powers.

More likely, in my opinion, is that this sort of sloganeering and advocacy represents the result of a way of thinking about the world that privileges a specific set of concerns to the exclusion of considering anything else. The concept of the moral is restricted to what advances a particular set of concerns. Concepts of morality that would lead to a different course of action are ignored or disregarded. The problem makes itself clear in short-sided considerations to the detriment of the long-term.

It is admittedly difficult to make decisions based on the fullest set of conditions and considerations as possible. Timothy Dalrymple begins to explore this complexity in this post. It’s a useful corrective to so much over-simplified commentary on how to understand the U.S. Federal Government budget, deficit spending, and debt load.

on implementing change

March 14, 2011

The administration of the high school my kids attend has announced a new arrangement for funding extra-curricular activities. Generally understood, rather than each program charging association dues and planning fund-raisers of various types, there will now be an umbrella booster club from which all the activities will be funded. The organization and formula for disbursement decisions is unclear at this point, but as you can imagine this has created a lot of anxiety among various groups, parents, and students.

One of the associations we are part of due to our kids’ activities is meeting later this evening. Hopefully more light will be shed on this deal. And I hope it’s mostly light, not heat, though the two may go together naturally in this case.

on reporting perception and bias

March 14, 2011

This brief comment encapsulates why there is so little trust anymore for what used to be news outlets. Because the descriptors they use are consistent in their inconsistency, regularly buttressing liberal narratives and undercutting conservative narratives, it has become increasingly clear to an increasing percentage of the population that the established media outlets are no longer delivering information about events, they are delivering a point of view about certain events, a point of view they want the wider population to accept.

on taxation in the United States

March 14, 2011

The government budget problem in the United States is not on the side of revenue. The amount of wealth available for a government to use is finite, but at every level in the U.S. for the past few decades politicians have been implementing programs as if it were infinite. The promises implied by those policies are now being shown to be impossible.

On Freezing a Target

March 14, 2011

It seems to me that picking the target is an important step for radicals hoping to make an important change. This is why I’ve yet to understand the obsession with the brothers Koch and their eponymous company. That in their attempt to polarize their chosen target the leftists are beclowing themselves is an additional problem. It just seems to me a lot of energy wasted when more recognizable and vulnerable possibilities exist.