Common Core: Unconstitutional, Unethical and Unnecessary

Per requests from hundreds of our concerned readers, parents, teachers, clergy and even school leaders – here is a simple and condensed version of the “3 Arguments Against Common Core”. In going through my archives of numerous notes and articles on Common Core that I have put together for the past year, I have tried to simplify this argument by coming up with these “3 bullet points” as to how know that Common Core is: 1.) Unconstitutional, 2.) Unethical and 3.) Unnecessary.

Unconstitutional

1. Education is not provided for in the U.S. Constitution, therefore, through the 10th Amendment, it is a power reserved for the states. CCSS violates the U.S. Constitution because it mandates standards from the national level.

2. There is a U.S. Supreme Court case which support the point made in (1) above.

3. Common Core is a violation of three federal statutes: (1) General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), which forbids the federal government from meddling in the state’s education programs; (2) Department of Education Organization Act (DEOA), which prohibits the federal government to develop curriculum and program of instruction, textbooks and other instructional materials, and (3) Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which prohibits the federal government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency.

4. The issue of data mining violates the 4th Amendment, in addition to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which has protected student and family privacy in the educational setting. The Obama administration unilaterally wrote this federal law without Congressional approval, violating the balance of powers inherent in our constitutional republic form of government. There are currently a few lawsuits attempting to correct this egregious violation of law.

5. CCSS violate state constitutions and statutes which empower states to develop educational policies, standards and curriculum to states and local school districts.

6. “The whole education by a national state,” Hitler wrote, “must aim primarily not at the stuffing with mere knowledge but at building bodies which are physically healthy to the core.” But, even more important, he had stressed in his book the importance of winning over and then training the youth in the service ‘of a national state’-a subject he returned to often after he became the German dictator. Folks: Common Core is a national standard education! This is not what the Founding Fathers of America envisioned for America and for good reason!

For more information on the legal ramifications of the CCSS please read this article: http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/09/06/the-case-against-common-core-state-standards/

Unethical

1. Stakeholders who pay taxes – parents – are left out of the equation. This is “education without representation”.

2. Similar to point (4) above under the unconstitutional illegal section, it intrudes on student and family privacy which is not only illegal, but also unethical because privacy is so delicate.

3. CCSS were implemented in an insidious way, without giving citizens a fair opportunity to weigh in on what they really were. The costs of its implementation is so hefty that it will place a strain on the state and local economies. This is unethical in that so many are already hurting. Their economic well being was not taken into consideration, and they are being forced to finance something that is completely against their interests. In the law, this is known as a conflict of interests and arguably is unethical. Read this article that touches upon the great expense that the taxpayers will have to pay to implement CCSS, which, as the article also suggests does not provide any benefit in exchange for a $1 billion price tag.

4. Common Core is actually a step in the process toward achieving a longtime goal of the United Nations and its supporters: a one-world education system. The UN has long sought to harmonize global educational standards and billionaire, Bill Gates – one of the primary figures behind Common Core – has expressed devotion to a similar agenda. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a Rockefeller-allied organization with a dubious history of financing everything from “population control” and pro-abortion forces to various United Nations agencies and schemes.

If you have time, please take the time to watch this video by Robin Eubanks. It is telling, and it speaks to the issue of one-world-government and how they will use education to indoctrinate the people.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/3aaw03zSPy0[/youtube]

 

5. The tax-funded “abortion giant”, Planned Parenthood, which participated in writing the National Sexually Education Standards, will be given full access to American children. They performed over 334,000 abortions in this country last year.

Unnecessary

1. It is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel of education – yet again. We should stick to the educational system that got this country to the moon! That is, a classical form of education. Reinventing this wheel is just another huge “money maker” for the parties who are dictating this form of education – and that is why Jeb & Neil Bush are pushing this harder than any two brothers on the planet.

2. It is unnecessary to create a national standard for education. What is necessary is that we abolish the Federal Department of Education. Studies show that ever since the federal government’s involvement in education has gone up, education has gone down. Again, the term Government and the term Education should never be in the same paragraph – let alone in the same business. The day that our government has total control over our education system is the day that we lost our country.

3. The increased number of assessments that will be introduced with CCSS will increase in the classroom, diminishing instructional time. This is counterproductive and actually harms the educational process. This is what awaits our beloved school teachers and as of now, they have no clue how detrimental this will be to their teaching strategies and time management.

We hope this brings some clarity and simplicity to this controversy with Common Core. Just keep in mind three powerful aspects of the makeup and face of Common Core: Big Government (backed up by the liberal Obama administration who wants to see everything “standardized” across the country). Big Money (backed up by the unethical Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who have “deeper pockets” than the Grand Canyon) / and Big Business (Planned Parenthood – the “abortion giant” – who have their eyes on every single teenager in our school system with their abortion business soon to boom when they get a hold of our beloved children).

Need I say anymore, other than, please read these messages we are sending out and share them with your family, friends, neighbors, teachers, educators, administrators, church leaders and anybody who cares about the welfare of our beloved United States of America. This is truly a TEAM effort and everybody has to do their share. I sent this same, exact message out way back in August, when the school year was just kicking off. It is still not too late to get involved. We can still “Reverse the Curse” and rid our beloved schools from this socialist disease. Please do not be left out in the cold and not know what Common Core is, as every single American citizen in our country should know by now all about this ever-controversial “unproven & experimental” set of educational standards.

And, the more experts look into it – the bigger the controversy grows, only because more and more people are now looking beyond the facade of the two other programs that lured those same 45 states into this whole mess in the first place – “No Child Left Behind” & “Race to the Top”. It was all a big, giant “smokescreen” with these two former programs posing as “baits”. Sure, the money was great and easy to collect. It was a very well orchestrated plan, and now, those “more educated” states who see “how the rabbit was pulled out from inside the hat” – want to know how that rabbit got there.

Abra Kadabra: COMMON CORE!!

And, as of recently, the Obama administration has handed out stimulus packages (e.g., “Race to the Top” grants) and handed out waivers from the “No Child Left Behind” states that have adopted Common Core. Obama has even made stimulus money available to states on condition that they would collect extensive data on children to control education decisions. A truly state-led program would not need “bullying” by the Obama administration to get support.

Since we are speaking about Education – please educate yourself and stay up on this controversial issue we call the “Curse of Common Core”. Share this message with others; try to read up on it as much as you can; ask questions at your children’s respective school; ask your children about their classroom exercises and review their homework; Be prepared and do your own homework so that there are no more “magic tricks” pulled right before your very own eyes.

And whatever you do – don’t get caught with your pants down…that’s what Planned Parenthood is counting on.

Tenth Anniversary of legalized “therapeutic” prostitution in San Francisco

Here is the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexualityagain—offering a 2004 California State approved certificate for what amounts to therapeutic prostitution. The “course” provides credits toward the PhD and all other sex ed degrees at the IASHS. Note the “baby massage” is included with the “erotic” training and remember the IASHS has sold child pornography to Hustler and has advocated child adult sex in publications and it is implicit in its mission statement. As you know, most of our “trained” researchers have been trained at the Kinseyan IASHS or by their graduates, on downward.

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For a larger view click on the image.

The World Net Daily article below includes the police view of the IASHS as establishing scientific cover for giving certificates for current open door policy to California Sexual Trafficking:

Basically, what the district attorney is saying to the pimps, the panderers and traffickers of women is, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing because we’re not going to do anything about it.'” The new law also does away with restrictions against sexually suggestive advertising and loosens restrictions on trainees. …[USING] a “culturally sensitive test to all applicants, in the applicant’s own language, to confirm basic proficiency in massage before issuing a permit.” Goodwin says the term “culturally sensitive” casts a wide net in San Francisco, pointing out that some massage schools are explicitly prostitution oriented, such as the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality’s program in “Sexological Bodywork.”

LAW OF THE LAND: Prostitution legal in San Francisco? City quietly passed measure liberalizing massage industry.

Originally posted: July 20, 2004 1:00 a.m. Eastern

Ten weeks before San Francisco shocked the nation by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the city quietly took another step in America’s cultural
revolution by liberalizing its massage permit laws to the point where some critics call it de facto legalization of prostitution.

Addressing the issue of sex workers in the massage industry, outgoing Mayor Willie Brown, with the nearly unanimous support of the Board of Supervisors, signed a new law Dec. 5 that redefines it as a public health issue rather than a matter of law enforcement.

The law went into effect July 1. By removing a requirement that applicants submit to fingerprinting and provide photo IDs, the measure opens the door to include most anyone in the massage industry, including convicted pedophiles and rapists, asserts Brian Goodwin, a massage therapist in San Rafael, Calif., near San Francisco.

Goodwin, largely through his website, has been a relatively lone voice sounding the alarm about legislation that has received scant attention in the press. “Basically, San Francisco’s new massage law is the only massage law in the world written specifically for the benefit of criminals, to help criminals to commit crimes, especially those crimes related to sex-slave trafficking, prostitution, rape, pedophilia, etc.,” Goodwin says.

After its passage, the leading public lobbyist behind an effort to decriminalize prostitution in the massage industry, David Palmer, hailed San Francisco’s “humane and compassionate” approach to the issue.

“San Francisco has not chosen to take a standard route to separate or distinguish adult entertainment from therapeutic massage,” Palmer, president of the San Francisco
Coalition of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, said in the July issue of the trade newsletter Massage Today. “San Francisco is a trendsetter,” he added. Palmer’s website acknowledges the ordinance comes at the end of a long process that began with the Board of Supervisors establishing a Task Force on Prostitution in March 1994. The task force’s final report, in 1996, admitted San Francisco “may not unilaterally legalize or decriminalize prostitution.”

Nevertheless, the panel urged the board to “remove authority for the licensing of massage parlors, masseuses and masseurs and escort services from the Vice Crime
Division’s jurisdiction and place it with agencies already qualified to grant other standard business licenses.”

At the time, the task force received wide media coverage and was roundly condemned in local newspaper editorials. Also, the first attempt to act on the recommendations, under the leadership of Supervisor Tom Ammiano in 1999, received attention. But passage of the recommendation Nov. 18, led by Supervisor Chris Daly, received barely a mention — one paragraph in the San Francisco Examiner in November, buried in a listing of recent board decisions, with no reference to the 1996 Task Force on Prostitution that inspired the changes. The item in the Nov. 21 Examiner reads:

In other actions: The board adopted a measure sponsored by Supervisor Chris Daly that transfers the licensing and regulating of massage parlors and massage practitioners from the Police Department to the Department of Public Health, in effect, saying that massage is more a health concern than a criminal one. [Supervisor Tony] Hall cast the lone vote in opposition.

Daly did not return a request for comment by press time, but in January, he told the Examiner the regulatory change would in no way affect the police department’s
jurisdiction in enforcing illegal activities such as human trafficking and prostitution, said to be an increasing problem. But Goodwin sees the city easing up on enforcement,
noting on June 24, San Francisco District Attorney Harris dropped all criminal charges in a prostitution sting operation, declaring, “Prostitution and regulatory violations at the clubs raise complex issues involving worker safety, exploitation of women, equity and fair notice.”

San Francisco Police Department Capt. Tim Hettrich summarized the city’s response: “Basically, what the district attorney is saying to the pimps, the panderers and traffickers of women is, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing because we’re not going to do anything about it.'”

Opening the door

How does San Francisco’s new massage law open the door to prostitution?

Under the old law, Police Code 27, applicants for a massage permit were required to undergo an identification process that included photographing and fingerprinting. That has been removed from the code, along with a section that prevented anyone convicted of prostitution from getting a permit. The latter omission was one of the main objections voiced by Hall. The new law also does away with restrictions against sexually suggestive advertising and loosens restrictions on trainees. Previously, the trainee could work only for the massage school in which he was enrolled, and the trainee permit could not be renewed beyond three months. The new law also has a trainee permit, but its only requirement is the payment of fees and registration as a student, and it can be renewed indefinitely.

For a full permit, the director of the Department of Public Health must administer a “culturally sensitive test to all applicants, in the applicant’s own language, to confirm
basic proficiency in massage before issuing a permit.” Goodwin says the term “culturally sensitive” casts a wide net in San Francisco, pointing out that some massage schools are explicitly prostitution oriented, such as the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality’s program in “Sexological Bodywork.”

The most drastic change, he says, is how violations are treated.

Under the old law, violators were misdemeanor criminals, threatened with revocation of the massage permit and up to six months in jail and a fine.

Under the new law’s Section 1928, however, violations no longer are crimes but simply treated like parking tickets, with “administrative fines.” The law may be violated as often as desired, as long as the fines are paid.

“The ramifications of this law have yet to be seen,” says Goodwin, who believes the previous law’s inclusion of identification requirements served as a deterrent to sex
traffickers who enslave women and children as prostitutes.

The old ID requirements also served to deter the San Francisco Bay Area’s 8,000 registered sex offenders from becoming massage therapists, he says.

But now, Goodwin contends, anyone can quickly acquire get a “trainee” massage permit by paying the fees and lying about identity.

RELATED STORIES: 

US reports rare case of woman-to-woman HIV transmission – Yahoo News

Study finds current US Penal Codes based on Scientific Fraud and Child Sex Crimes

HEALTH ALERT: Condoms never FDA-approved for sodomy

Climate Truth versus US Government Climate Policy

There are two absolutes that need to be considered when talking about the Earth’s climate.

The first absolute is that science, by definition, can never be settled. If you ever hear anyone, including scientists, say that a scientific theory, such as manmade global warming, is settled, then you know he or she is not telling you the truth.

Scientific theories are just that, theories, which must over time be tested using scientific methods, repeatedly tested again and proven using facts – not emotion.

The simple fact is that the Earth’s climate is impacted primarily by our star – the Sun. Solar activity has been theorized and proven over time to be the best predictor of changes in our climate.

Leaders, in academia, the public and private sectors, must therefore look at proven climate science models when making short and long term policy decisions. Currently, policy makers are using the wrong (CO2 Theory) model rather than a proven (e.g. Relational Cycle Theory) model to predict future climates.

A failure to use the proven model (best science) could lead to bad policy and social disruption, wasted resources, and worst case, possibly international discord, if not conflict.

The second absolute is man cannot control the weather. This is common sense. If anyone tells you that man can control the weather (climate) by changing his behaviors you should at the very least be skeptical, or better, just walk away.

Fact: The Earth’s atmosphere is made up of 0.039% parts of carbon dioxide (CO2). The proponents of bad science (CO2 Theory) say that by reducing CO2 emissions, man can control (change) the Earth’s climate.

The fact is that there were times when there was significantly more CO2 in our atmosphere than today and yet the temperature was colder. CO2 emissions come primarily from water evaporation due to the Sun shining brightly on our vast oceans and seas.

Natural global processes cannot be changed and will produce exponentially more CO2 than mankind can ever emit from any of his activities or the use of Earth’s abundant resources, such as oil and natural gas.

It is prophetic that on Monday, March 10th, 2014, about 28 US Senators stayed up all night discussing climate change on the floor of the US Senate. The question is: Did they discuss and promote good climate science or bad climate science, and therefore good climate policy or bad climate policy? The answer is sadly no.

Dr. Lawrence W. Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, wrote, “Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.”

Time will tell whether we have taken the ‘sound climate policy’ approach and headed down the road to redemption for all of mankind, or else decided to take the road to perdition.

RELATED VIDEO: Joe Miller reports, “Several hundred global warming activists converged on Washington, D.C. earlier this month, protesting the Keystone Pipeline and urging radical solutions to limit carbon emissions. Of course, those radical solutions did not include limiting their own personal carbon emissions. At least one honest interviewee, who flew from Colorado to the nation’s capital, admitted that he would not give up air travel, no matter how polluting. But some attendees were more committed to the cause, even signing petitions to lower the sun’s temperature.” Watch it all here:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/5w4VdgE9aEk[/youtube]

Wealth Inequality: Predictably Irrational by Max Borders

Note: A new video on income inequality has gone viral. In this video, the authors want us to believe that wealth inequality is far away from our national “ideal” distribution.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/QPKKQnijnsM[/youtube]

 

The following is my response to the video and the study on which it was based:

Everyone knows the social sciences are fuzzy. Economists, political scientists, and anthropologists bring their moralistic baggage into the ivory tower as soon as they decide what to study and what not to. Social science is value-laden. But there is baggage and then there is a naked agenda. In the first case you might be a victim of selection bias or other unconscious human processes that cause you to misinterpret your data. In the latter case you simply start with a political agenda along with its (often dubious) premises, and go from there.

Michael I. Norton of Harvard and Dan Ariely of Duke fall into the latter category. In a 2010 study, Norton and Ariely appear to be engaging in a kind of democracy-by-proxy. They claim that Americans really want more “wealth redistribution,” and they have the evidence to prove it.

Here’s their own description of the findings from a Los Angeles Times piece, “Spreading the Wealth.”

We recently asked a representative sample of more than 5,000 Americans (young and old, men and women, rich and poor, liberal and conservative) to answer two questions. They first were asked to estimate the current level of wealth inequality in the United States, and then they were asked about what they saw as an ideal level of wealth inequality.

In our survey, Americans drastically underestimated the current gap between the very rich and the poor. The typical respondent believed that the top 20% of Americans owned 60% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% owned 10%. They knew, in other words, that wealth in the United States was not distributed equally, but were unaware of just how unequal that distribution was.

When we asked respondents to tell us what their ideal distribution of wealth was, things got even more interesting: Americans wanted the top 20% to own just over 30% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% to own about 25%. They still wanted the rich to be richer than the poor, but they wanted the disparity to be much less extreme.

What should we conclude from this? Norton and Ariely did succeed in proving that Americans don’t know who has how much money.

Strangely, Norton and Ariely proceed to ask the same Americans who are ignorant about the current wealth distribution what their “ideal” distribution is. Those surveyed then dreamed up what they thought would be a good breakdown, even though no such ideal exists in that great Tablet in the Sky. From all of this surveying, they conclude something that cannot readily be concluded:

[O]ur results suggest that policies that increase inequality—those that favor the wealthy, say, or that place a greater burden on the poor—are unlikely to reflect the desires of Americans from across the political and economic spectrum. Rather, they seem to favor policies that involve taking from the rich and giving to the poor. [Emphasis added.]

Notice “suggest” and “seem.”

You see, Norton and Ariely can’t claim those surveyed favor coercive redistribution. They merely infer it—and in curious fashion. Absent any context, the most ardent libertarian surveyed might wish that poor people had more resources and yet not support forced redistribution. I know I do. But even if they learned most people favor redistribution at some point, we cannot conclude such desires justify forced redistribution, much less prove that redistribution is a good thing.

And this is where Norton and Ariely’s malpractice really begins.

Academic socialists with bees in their bonnets are eager to point out which quintile has what at every turn, as if concern for the poor somehow automatically translates into worries about the assets of the rich. One reason they do this is they believe laypeople are ignorant: If they were enlightened, they would change their minds and want to alter the distribution.

Somehow, though, this self-same group of distribution-ignorant Americans—when polled about a complete abstraction like the distribution of assets over quintiles—suddenly becomes endowed with a magical insight. Again, Norton and Ariely want us to think this special insight provides justification for redistributionist policies. But why should we think that Americans factually ignorant in one area would have some sort of mystical authority on the timeless and intractable questions of justice?

In other words, Norton and Ariely conclude that asking Joe Sixpack, Jill Accountant, and Barb Waitress their thoughts about an abstraction like national income quintiles limns some great truth about right, wrong, and the good. Even the venerable soft egalitarian John Rawls would likely have bristled at this, for it is an intrusion into a discipline (philosophy) that demands more than what amounts to the naturalistic fallacy dressed up in finery of Gallup and Zogby.

I wonder: Did any of their respondents have the option of saying, “I don’t think there is such an ideal distribution”? To me the whole exercise is as meaningful as asking people what should be the ideal distribution of vehicle types. Suppose for simplicity there are five categories of vehicle: cars, pickups, buses, local trucks, and transfer trucks. Someone with no concept of the function of each vehicle might say each category should have 20 percent of all vehicles—i.e., 20 percent are cars, 20 percent are trucks, 20 percent are buses, and so on. But once we start to think about what each vehicle does, we might conclude that it makes sense for there to be a different, rather unequal, distribution. Similarly, the distribution of assets in quartiles just doesn’t tell us anything substantive about the function of wealth (e.g., opportunities, quality of life, upward mobility, or what is likely to make any given person better off). The “ideal distribution” is meaningless because it is completely divorced from much more important questions about the way wealth works, which may have much more to do with human well-being than some distribution at some slice in time.

Now, speaking of Rawls, Norton and Ariely actually start their paper by claiming their study is Rawlsian: “We take a different approach to determining the ‘ideal’ level of wealth inequality: Following the philosopher John Rawls (1971), we ask Americans to construct distributions of wealth they deem just (”Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time,” Perspectives on Psychological Science 6, no. 9 (2011), doi: 10.1177/1745691610393524).” People may have good reasons to disagree with the late Rawls, but his theory is elegant and sophisticated. Norton and Ariely have no business hitching their wagon to Rawls’s A Theory of Justice.

Rawls’s theory was a product of a philosophical reasoning. His theory requires people to think about what sort of society they would want to be born into if they didn’t know what their own circumstances would be. Rawls thought people would want a high degree of political freedom, but also security; they would want the least well off to be cared for lest they themselves be born as the least well off. Most importantly, perhaps, Rawls’s theory—right or wrong—was a product of philosophical deliberation, not about opinion polls in which people simply come up with a distribution and have academics point to the results as Utopian. So when it comes to Rawls’s work, one can only conclude that Norton and Ariely are shrouded in a veil of ignorance.

Norton and Ariely also never consider the possibility that some of their respondents might want to see a different wealth distribution carried out through means other than forced redistribution by the state. For example, might we rid government of all the favor-seeking schemes that protect the assets of banking CEOs and agribusiness moguls and shift costs onto the poor and middle class? If people had greater information about the circumstances of time and place—like the effect of taking X dollars from businessman B means B can afford to hire fewer people—would they think differently about matters? Ask people for idealized abstractions and you’ll get idealized abstractions. After all, aren’t people “predictably irrational”?

Maslow’s Covered

In his own critique of Norton and Ariely, George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux reminds us that money ain’t everything:

That Americans “drastically” underestimate the wealth of “the very rich” compared to the wealth of “the poor” reveals that the difference in the number of dollars owned by “the very rich” compared to the number of dollars owned by “the poor” translates into a much smaller—that is, far more equal—difference in living standards. In other words, differences in monetary wealth are not the same as differences in living standards.

Indeed, maybe the reason Americans misjudge the actual wealth distribution is that most consider themselves wealthy in Boudreaux’s more subjective sense—at least when it comes to the things that matter. (Bill Gates might be able to fly in a private jet, but we can both fly. He might be able to afford $10,000-per-plate caviar, but we can both eat well.) Standard of living is different in important ways from the measure of assets distributed over a population.

As far as “the gap” is concerned, one of the major themes of this book is: If your goal is to alleviate poverty or perhaps to raise the baseline for what constitutes a minimum level of income that would allow most everyone to escape distress, that’s something reasonable people can talk about.

But that is not the same thing as worrying about what assets the wealthy control.

Suppose you asked the same Americans in the Norton-Ariely study, “If you could guarantee that every poor person in America had their basic needs met, would you agree to abandon your ‘ideal’ wealth distribution?” Their answers might surprise you. That’s because many people conflate the distribution of wealth and concern for the poor. Indeed, we don’t find any upper limit on income anywhere in Rawls, either. Rawls’s only criterion was that the least advantaged benefit from inequality. If you’ve ever been to North Korea or Cuba, it’s pretty obvious that they do.

Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

Legal Attack on “Buffer Zone” Protecting Planned Parenthood Abortion Facility

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, stepped-up its legal attack on a Portland, Maine city ordinance, designed to restrict pro-life speech, by adding an additional plaintiff and filing a motion yesterday for a preliminary injunction to immediately stop the enforcement of the City’s ordinance.

At issue is Portland’s Ordinance 17-108 which establishes a 39-foot “buffer zone” around the City’s only abortion facility.   Pro-life counselors are subject to a $100 fine if they enter the 39-foot radius around the facility’s entrances, including the public sidewalk. Consequently, the ordinance creates a free speech dead zone which effectively prevents pro-life counselors from compassionately reaching out to women who are contemplating an abortion or who have already had one.

The Thomas More Law Center filed the original federal lawsuit on February 12, 2014, on behalf of Marguerite and Daniel Fitzgerald, as well as two of their teenaged children. The Fitzgerald family are Evangelical Christians who have been participating in pro-life activities outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic for over a year. The buffer zone prevents them from engaging in pro-life activities motivated by their religious belief that abortion is the deliberate destruction of innocent human life.

The newly added plaintiff, Leslie Sneddon, has engaged in sidewalk counseling at the abortion facility for over a year.  The compelling and compassionate reasons for her actions as a sidewalk counselor are revealed to the court in an affidavit:  She had four abortions and now feels compelled to peacefully counsel other women against making the same life-altering, life-ending decisions she made. She understands what they are feeling and why they are contemplating abortion.  She attempts to counsel them so they may choose life for their baby. However, with the 39-foot buffer zone she can no longer have an intimate, more private conversation.

Click here to read entire motion and brief for the Preliminary Injunction

TMLC Senior Trial Attorney Erin Mersino, one of the attorneys handling the case, commented: “One of the saddest parts of this case is that Leslie who has had four abortions herself and wishes to help other post-abortive women through gentle conversation and discussion of counseling options can no longer do so.  The so-called ‘buffer zone’ makes this impossible as our client is forced to stand across a busy city street, and yell to have her message heard.  In her case, the ‘buffer zone’ has made her efforts to help women, for whom she shares a great deal of empathy, unlawful.”

Refusing to Associate Isn’t Wrong by Brian Lasorsa

I was troubled by a column that ran in The Freeman last week. Many other libertarians and conservatives were, too. Author Casey Given offered a convoluted critique of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1062, colloquially known as the “antigay bill” and the “religious liberty bill,” depending on whom you ask. Given claimed that hidden beneath the proposed legislation lurks a “homophobic push to protect the right to discriminate against gays.”

To be clear, the bill makes no reference to sexuality. Not a single line, word, nor letter alludes to sexual orientation. Given acknowledges this but, like other critics, believes that we can deduce malice through a faulty analysis of existing federal statutes. In other words, since the Civil Rights Act (CRA) only prohibits discrimination against race, sex, and religion, and since SB 1062 isn’t an override of the CRA, Arizona must be trying to take advantage of certain loopholes.

We have a term for this: cherry-picking.

SB 1062 does one thing and one thing only: It aligns Arizona state law with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, expanding the circumstances under which religious liberty can be used as a defense against claims of discrimination in court. “It does not (unlike the recent, equally controversial Kansas law) prescribe the outcomes of those hearings,” Brandon McGinley writes at The Federalist. That means, had SB 1062 passed, a jury still would have been able to find an individual guilty of unlawful discrimination if his or her religious freedoms weren’t in jeopardy of facing “substantial burden” otherwise.

The definition of “substantial burden” is a question for the courts. It can pertain to several categories of people—homosexuals, polygamists, unwed sexual partners—as well as to a diverse group of activities, including meal service and overnight accommodations. Was the legislation reactionary? Who knows? Maybe its sponsors’ actions were sparked by the Christian woman in New Mexico who declined to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony and was subsequently charged with (and fined $7,000 for) violating the state’s Human Rights Act. Or maybe they were further encouraged when a husband and wife in Oregon, citing their Christian values, refused to bake a cake for another lesbian couple’s wedding and were forced to shut down their business.

Either way, the motivations behind these laws and the laws’ effects in the real world are completely separate discussions. And to condemn a state legislature as “bigoted” while failing to elucidate the broad and comprehensive nature of the bill in question is not only a cheap rhetorical ploy but also a careless interpretation of its text.

Let’s move past Arizona’s legislation, though. Libertarianism is deeply rooted in the freedom of association. The author’s portrayal of this right as an “excuse” seemed to be the highest point of contention for readers. As one commenter explained, “The thing that bothers me isn’t different viewpoints within libertarianism. Rather, it is promoting viewpoints that try to change the meaning of libertarianism from consistent defense of liberty to something quite different.” If libertarians can defend the KKK’s right to free speech without being charged with racism, we should be able to defend discriminatory business practices—be they against homosexuals, blacks, or any other category of human beings—without facing accusations of bigotry, a criticism much more fit for the cultural realm than the political one.

Individual liberty is not a social commentary. It doesn’t aim to form a consensus on the “right” or “wrong” way to exercise a freedom; it merely acknowledges the virtue of that freedom’s existence. Discrimination is nothing except the act of making a distinction, and in our communities it can have an ordering function as effective as those which govern the marketplace.

ABOUT BRIAN LASORSA

Brian LaSorsa is a columnist in the United States. He is an advocate of the Austrian School of economics and enjoys spending money on classic literature and slasher films.

ACTION ALERT: Support Offshore Energy Exploration in FL!

Currently, Federal Government policies ban offshore oil and gas exploration and development in 87% of the offshore areas it controls. These areas have a huge potential to produce the oil and natural gas our nation needs. The first step towards making this happen is to find out how much oil and natural gas exists offshore. We can do that through seismic surveying.

Tell the Obama Administration that you support seismic surveying.

Take Action

Right now, the Obama Administration is considering whether to allow these surveys for the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. If federal officials decide against allowing these surveys, we won’t be seeing offshore drilling any time soon. It’s vital that these surveys are approved so our nation can get moving on accessing the abundant energy resources off our coastlines.

You can help ensure offshore drilling becomes a reality.

Take ACtion

Expanding offshore drilling could create 280,000 new jobs nationwide and 9,000 jobs in your state. It could contribute up to $23.5 billion to the U.S. economy every year. Let’s make sure our nation can begin enjoying these great benefits that have been blocked for decades. Let’s make sure Washington approves offshore seismic surveying.

The letter to the Administration reads:

I urge you to approve the environmental impact statement that would allow seismic surveying off Florida’s coastline.

As a resident of Florida, I want to see our state enjoying the benefits that offshore oil and gas production could bring. If the federal government were to allow offshore drilling, it could create 9,000 jobs in Florida, and boost our economy by $700 million.

Allowing seismic surveying is the first step in making offshore energy exploration a reality. The last surveys were done over thirty years ago. Technological advances since then allows surveys done today to be much more accurate. This process can be done safely and without harm to marine animals.

Our state needs the jobs and economic growth that offshore energy production would create. Our nation would also benefit from producing more energy here instead of relying so heavily on foreign imports. This is a win-win situation for our nation, but it can only happen if seismic surveying is approved.

I urge you to allow such surveying to take place.

Homeland Security Order: Retreat From Illegals and Drug Smugglers

One of our responsibilities is to provide facts on issues that may negatively affect the safety of the Republic, in order that American Citizens will be provided with the truth on issues that the Obama administration and the left of center liberal media establishment, works at covering up many of those facts daily.  The below listed published article provides complete details on our summary of the new Rules Of Engagement issued to the US Border Patrol.

On the first day of his appointment, new Rules of Engagement were issued to the Border Patrol by Obama’s newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, who has no Law Enforcement experience and is the first African American to head DHS.   The new Rules Of Engagement, bars self-defense from rock-throwers, and match the recommendation of a report by an Illegal Immigration advocacy groups and the Mexican government. They want to reduce policing of illegal immigrants trying to illegally enter the United States at the Mexican border.  Obama agrees with the new Rules Of Engagement and desires for more lenient policing of illegal Immigrants violating Federal Law at the US/Mexican border.

The report by the Police Executive Research Forum was commissioned by DHS, it encourages lawlessness at the border by Illegal aliens, puts Border Patrolmen in much more danger, bars Border Patrolmen from standing in front of smugglers’ vehicles to prevent smugglers from entering the United States, and prevents Border Patrolmen from shooting at people who are attacking them with large rocks (those rock assaults have put Border Patrolmen in the hospital with critical head injuries).

Three U.S. Border Patrolmen were killed in recent years, including one who was shot during a clash with drug smugglers carrying AK-47 assault weapons provided to them by agents of the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious illegal drug running operation (the illegal Fast and Furious gun smuggling operation continues to be covered up by Holder). The Border Patrol has been attacked 6,000 times since 2007, and they have been “assaulted with very large rocks” 1,713 times since 2010, resulting in the serious injury of Border Patrolmen.

Despite the 7,713 attacks on Border Patrolmen, they have responded with deadly force only 43 times—-or 0.00056% of the time they were dangerously attacked.

Instead of tighten up policing rules to protect the lives of Border Patrolmen, Obama’s newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security is doing exactly the opposite, he is putting them in more danger and telling them to run away, and seek shelter from attack,  if they are attacked by Illegal Immigrants.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the new rules are being challenged by mid-level DHS officials and Veteran Border Patrolmen, who argued that the new rules barring self-defense from rock-throwers “could create a much more dangerous environment, especially for agents operating in rural or desolate areas, often alone, where concealment, cover and egress is not an option.”  But Johnston overrode the internal opposition by Veteran Border Patrolmen, and forced the implementation of the advocacy groups’ new Rules Of Engagement; Johnson demonstrated his incompetence on the first day on the job by putting Federal law Enforcement lives more in danger.

The new Rules Of Engagement will encourage drug cartels and human smuggling cartels in Mexico to get much more aggressive.  These unconscionable new Rules Of Engagement, should be grounds for Speaker Boehner to take action against DHS for  intentionally putting the lives of Federal Law Enforcement Officers in danger, and creating fear for the families of those dedicated Federal Law Enforcement Officers.

Obama is doing to Federal Law Enforcement Officers what he did to US Combat Forces in Afghanistan, forcing new and very dangerous Rules Of Engagement on them (those new and dangerous Rules Of Engagement in Afghanistan increased personnel Killed In Action by casualties by 458%).

If the Speaker of the House doesn’t take “immediate” and “firm” action to oppose these new and dangerous Rules Of Engagement for Border Patrolmen at the Mexican Border that are preventing them from defending themselves and telling them to “run”, like the speaker has failed for 17 months to establish a Select House Investigative Committee with subpoena authority on The Battle of Benghazi, there should be a change in leadership in the House.

RELATED COLUMN: DHS Orders Border Control, Retreat From Illegal Throwing Rocks and Drug Smugglers Vehicles

What do IRS Form 990s tell us? Public education is being wrested from the public!

One of the panel discussions in which I participated at the first annual Network for Public Education (NPE) conference was on investigative journalism. I chose to use my twelve minutes to only touch the surface on using IRS 990s (the tax forms for nonprofit organizations) as a research tool.

In this post, I would like to continue my tutorial. The information I include here I learned by my own wits and through the suggestions of others. My purpose is to assist those who wish to utilize information from tax forms in order to support their arguments in fighting corporate reform.

This will be one dry read– but a useful read for those seeking to improve their knowledge of nonprofit tax form navigation.

The Nonprofit Tax Form Search Engine

First of all, let me introduce a wonderful search engine for locating those nonprofit 990s: citizenaudit.org

One can search any term, including organization names and even names of individuals. I suggest putting quotation marks around search terms so that the search results include the exact term.

Sometimes the search engine boots out “404-not found” or a page noting “0 results.” If I am sure the org or person exists, I refresh the search and often get a result.

The search results include both the 990s for the organization itself and also a list of other orgs that connect to the search term.

Keep in mind that the common name of an organization might not be the formal name used on the tax forms. For example, “American Federation of Teachers” (AFT) is actually “American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO Parent Organization” (Go here then here to see the AFT tax forms.) Also keep in mind that many nonprofits have other nonprofits associated with them. For example, the search results for the term “American Federation of Teachers” yields numerous tax forms for the local-level unions.

Search engine users should check to be sure that they are viewing forms for the intended organization. This is especially important for organizations with generic-sounding names, such as “Education Trust”.

(For an organization with such a generic name as Education Trust, I find it helpful to search for the CEO– in this case, “Kati Haycock”. Searching for the CEO yields a more precise search result.)

Finally, the listing of 990s for the organization is followed by a cross-referenced listing of other nonprofits whose 990s include the searched term. For example, a search of “Center for Union Facts” includes a cross-listing for the Gleason Family Foundation.

The cross-listings are helpful in identifying donors to the nonprofit of interest.

One can also use the search engine to investigate individuals’ involvements. For example, “Gideon Stein” is tied to Eva Moskowitz’s Harlem Success Academies and Green Dot charters (renamed Future Is Now). Another example is “Steve Barr”, who is connected to both Green Dot charters (renamed Future Is Now) and Parent Revolution (a spin-off from Barr’s Green Dot).

Navigating the 990

The 990 form was changed in 2008 (a different form is used for more recent returns). For my discussion, I will take my examples from more recent 990s.

Page One

The first page of the 990 includes the fiscal summary (Part I) and the signature block (Part II). The first info I note is the calendar or tax year of the return. For example, this 2011 Harlem Success Academy 5 form is actually for July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. I also look at the organization status. Most are 501(c)3 nonprofits. (This info is printed near the top of the form, in small print.)

Click here for types of 501(c) nonprofits, and here for the difference between 501(c)3 and 501(c)4.

Next, I notice when the form was filed (bottom of first page, next to preparer signature). In this case, the 990 was filed 04-23-13.

I might need to know these dates to determine if I am reading the correct form for, say, receipt of a Gates grant, or to determine when a key individual joined or left the organization.

The first page also includes a brief mission statement of the organization.  (In this case, the reader is referred to Schedule O for continuation of the mission statement, which would not fit in the space provided. This is Eva Moskowitz’s school, and Eva usually has a lot to say.)

Other info on page one includes information on the current year and the prior year financial summary of the org. I can see how much the organization has gained or lost from one year to the next. I can see the org’s total assets (line 20) and whether the org is spending more than it is taking in (revenue less expenses– line 19).

It is possible for a multi-million-dollar organization to slowly be spending more than it is gaining in revenue (see AFT’s 2012 990 as an example). Thus, an organization might say that it can do without certain reform-connected donations; however, if the organization has been consistently outspending its revenue over the course of years, then in order to forego the questionable donations, the organization must compensate by either curbing its expenditures or otherwise raising its revenues.

In comparing organizations that share common board members, it is also useful to compare organization addresses. For example, the supposed “grass roots” Los Angeles Parent Revolution shared the same CEO and, initially, the same physical address as Green Dot charters.

Page Two

The second page (Part III: Statement of Program Service Accomplishments) has a more detailed mission statement (one can still need that Schedule O in order to elaborate– page 2 has a box to check if such is the case).

Page 2 includes information on the top three greatest expenses for the organization that tax year. (Grant money also needs to be identified here if such is part of a specific expense.) This information is important in determining the organization’s priorities. I find the descriptors on this page very helpful in determining an org’s prioritized actions (and, more important, the motives behind the actions).

From page 2 of the Harlem Success Academy 5 return, I learn that Moskowitz spent $2.8 million educating “approximately 241 students” (she reported using no earmarked grant money). That’s approximately $10,300 per student. PLUS she reported earning $3.65 million in revenue– thus exceeding her expenses by $850,000. (No other priority expenditures were noted on the page.)

In contrast, a review of page 2 of the 2012 990 for Education Trust shows me that Ed Trust did not earn revenue from its top three ventures– which underscores its dependence upon philanthropic cash as noted in this post.

Pages Three and Four

Pages 3 and 4 of the 990 are Part IV: the checklist for required schedules.  This section includes 38 “yes/no” questions about activities of the nonprofit. A “yes” response requires a detailed answer– a “schedule” must be completed.

Applicable schedules are in alphabetical order at the end of the 990.

If a “yes” is indicated yet the associated schedule is not part of the return, or if it is left blank, something is fishy.

Of particular interest is item 4, on lobbying (requiring Schedule C). The American Legislative Exchange Council, known for  neglecting to note its lobbying activities on this 2009 990 and some others, sometimes acknowledges its lobbying (as it did in on its 2012 990) but then notes that its lobbying cost nothing.

Fishy. ALEC is a corporation-legislator dating service.

Also of interest is item 23, a reference to a subsequent section on compensation from unrelated organizations (Part VII, question 5). An answer of “yes” requires completing Schedule J, which is the document that enabled me to know that Eva Moskowitz’s salary is partially funded by another nonprofit, MRM Foundation/Julia Greenblatt (recorded on the 2012 990 for her charter management organization, Success Academy Charter Schools, Inc).

Pages Five and Six

Of interest on page 5 (Part V: Statements Regarding Other IRS Filings and Tax Compliance): Item 2a indicates the number of employees; 4a is about “interest in or authority over a bank account in a foreign country” and could be useful for unmasking foreign-run charters. (The item requires naming the foreign country.)

Page 6 (Part VI: Governance, Management, and Disclosure): Item 1a is a count of the voting members of the governing body, including clarification on how many are “independent” (not compensated as an independent contractor, and more).

Item 2 concerns multiple family/business relationships; item 3, delegation of management duties to a management company. These items help determine conflicts of interest.

Item 8 asks whether meetings are documented. If an organization is engaging in questionable practices, including bypassing their own protocol, such info might come in handy if the organization denies having a record of a certain meeting. A discrepancy between the organization’s “nonexistent” documentation and its reporting on its 990 could be useful for enforcing records requests.

The second section f this part includes questions of enforcing conflict of interest policies (requiring explanation on Schedule O). I find that most 990s post some generic declaration in this section regardless of the activities in which they engage. A pat conflict of interest policy does not preclude information that flags conflicts of interest elsewhere on the 990.

Pages Seven and Eight

Page 7 is Part VII: Director, Employee, etc. Compensation. Here’s where one can find board members, officers, and employees; their hours, and compensation, if any.

Also included in Part VII (Section B) are the five highest-compensated “Independent Contractors.” For Moskowitz’s Harlem Success Academy 5, for example, one learns that Moskowitz paid her management company $282,630 to “manage” this co-located school of 241 students.

Those listed as independent contractors must provide an address– which, for the self-employed, is often a residence. In the case of Los Angeles Parent Revolution CEO Ben Austin– who was also an independent contractor for Green Dot charters– his address was listed as Beverly Hills even as he portrayed himself as a grass-roots “Los Angeles Parent” in his astroturf Revolution (see Schedule A of this 2007-08 990 for Austin’s Beverly Hills address– note that this return follows an older format).

It is this Section B on the union-bashing Center for Union Facts (CUF) 2012 990 that one reads of CUF CEO’s Richard Berman paying his own company a disproportionate amount of money as a “contractor.”

Also, in this section are three questions regarding excessive or unrelated compensation requiring Schedule J (discussed above re: Moskowitz’s salary from MRM Foundation).

Pages Nine thru Twelve

On page 9, Part VIII: Statement of Revenue, one can see info on government grants and other gifts.  Page 10 includes Part IX, a complete breakdown of spending. I found this information particularly useful in my writing on Moskowitz. I could compare her spending breakdown to her assets as recorded on Part X: Balance Sheet, item 1o, land, buildings, and equipment, less depreciation (depreciation is a write-off). (Land, buildings, etc., is detailed on Schedule D, Part VI.)

The 990 has additional information, much more than I discuss in this post; however, what I have included is information I have found useful in exposing the extravagant and questionable spending of so-called reform-promoting nonprofits.

The 990 PF

Private foundations complete a 990 PF. The primary interest in 990 PF’s is likely the listing of the foundation’s contributions in the form of grants and loans. For example, the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) is known for its support of “choice” (charters and vouchers). This WFF 2011 990 includes the details of numerous loans made to charter schools (often in the form of an unsecured “revolving fund”).

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has extensive 990s that list all grants paid out in a given year. An example is this Gates 2012 990. It is worth noting that Gates grants are not always fully paid in the year in which they are issued. Thus, one can compare grant information from the Gates grants search engine to the disbursement information for a specific year as noted on Gates 990s to roughly determine grant payment installments.

Time for My Exit

If I include Walton and Gates in my 990 PF discussion, it is only fitting to include the last of the Big Three, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation (here’s its 2012 990).

Let’s close this post with a bang.

From Broad (as in Broad Superintendents Academy), most of the larger, six- and seven-figure donations are for education privatization, not the least of which is $3.5 million to Students First, $2.3 million to KIPP charters, $1.5 million to Success Academy Charters, over $1 million dollars to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), $775,000 to Green Dot charters, $600,000 to New Schools Venture Fund (whose CEO is now the proposed US Undersecretary of Education, Ted Mitchell); $345,000 to Parent Revolution, $334,000 to Rocketship charters; $300,000 to Teach for America (TFA), and $215,000 to Education Trust.

What can 990s tell us?

Public education is being wrested from the public. It is being handed over to those who wish to make major money by those who have major money.

Let’s continue to write about it, using evidence to support our work.

IRS 990s never looked so glamorous.

RELATED COLUMN: Common Core-frustrated teacher’s resignation letter: ‘My profession … no longer exists’

Good Businesses Respond to Facts, Not Ads by Lawrence W. Reed

“Move here, expand here, or start a new business here and pay no taxes for ten years!” So goes the slick, nationally-broadcast television ads on which the State of New York is spending a small fortune.

Sounds like an attractive offer but the devil is in two big details the ads omit: One, when the ten years are up, you’ll get socked with the highest tax burden among the 50 states; and Two, taxes are just one of many reasons New York is too costly and unattractive to many entrepreneurs. It’s also home to high rates of unionization and a hostile regulatory environment. In the most recent study of state-by-state economic freedom from the Mercatus Center, New York places dead last. Georgia ranked a very healthy #9.

This raises yet again a longstanding question about economic development: Which is better for business, a friendly overall environment with no special favors or an unfriendly environment offset by “incentives” for particular firms or certain activities? It ought to be a no-brainer but sadly, it isn’t. Count me in the first camp.

Imagine a bad restaurant with high prices, lousy service and an awful menu. What would you think if the owner decided that the solution to declining sales was not to fix anything but to go out in the street, cherry-pick passersby and offer them a discount? For every new customer he might get, who could blame any of the old ones who would resent the discrimination and leave in a huff? If the restaurant owner really wanted to put his business on a sound footing, he would cut his high prices, improve his lousy service and replace his awful menu—for everybody, not just a favored few.

Well, New York is a bad restaurant. Expensive television ads are the politicians’ cowardly way of saying they don’t want to make the tough decisions to actually fix their state’s problems. They either think business people are dumb enough to ignore the facts and be suckered by a TV spot, or they just don’t understand the most basic lesson of economic development: The really good entrepreneurs you should want are the ones attracted by economic freedom, not by short-term favors and empty political promises.

States can foster superior and sustainable growth if they spend less energy on a few trees and care instead for the forest as a whole. Subsidies, tax breaks and other targeted, discriminatory “incentives” are not good substitutes for fixing the fundamentals. They’re also unfair to those without the political pull to get them. The states that get it right don’t have to squander money on advertisements—whether true or deceptive—because any entrepreneur worth his salt will know where to go and what places to shun.

A version of this article appeared in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

20130918_larryreedauthorABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

Um, Scarcity? by Sandy Ikeda

The new mayor of New York wants to make city streets safer. According to The New York Times:

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday unveiled a sweeping set of proposals aimed at improving street safety in New York City, pledging considerable police resources and even precious political capital in Albany to a most ambitious goal: eliminating traffic deaths.

Not just lowering traffic deaths, mind you. Eliminating them.

I posed the following question to my students: If His Honor did manage to eliminate all traffic deaths in the city, how might that policy actually raise the total number of deaths? The answer lies in understanding a very basic lesson in economics: Scarcity matters.

What Is Scarcity?

Scarcity is what gives something economic value. Scarcity results when our wants exceed available, want-satisfying resources. The air we breathe outside is ordinarily not scarce, while the air we need to breathe underwater usually is. Consequently, to those who want air to breathe, the value of outside air is low while the value of underwater air is high.

Although we are often tempted to ignore scarcity, it’s impossible to escape its consequences. For example, there are not enough hours in a day to consume as much leisure as I want and also to earn as much income as I want. But the more I work the less time is left for leisure, and vice versa. Scarcity entails trading off some ends for other ends.

Now, if I’m spending my own private resources to pursue ends of my choosing—to buy a shirt for myself or a gift for someone else—scarcity is hard to ignore. But it’s much easier to overlook if I’m spending someone else’s valuable resources—when someone else is footing the bill. And because modern governments sustain themselves precisely by spending other people’s resources (acquired through taxation or inflation), public officials are far more likely to ignore scarcity and its consequences than a private person is. They may not be aware of the costs of a choice, but those costs always fall on someone, somewhere.

I argued recently that you can almost define economics as “the science that explains why passing a law won’t get it done” because the unintended consequences of a government intervention tend to frustrate what its advocates want to achieve. In that essay I emphasized how an intervention generates unintended consequences because society is so complex. But often the problem is simply that public officials ignore the existence of scarcity. If they spend more of the government budget on traffic control, that means spending less on preventing violent crime, and they may not like the results.

Political Rhetoric or Social Science Fiction?

So when I read about de Blasio’s plan, it caught my eye. The article goes on to say:

The 42-page plan is rooted in a Swedish street safety approach known as Vision Zero, which treats all traffic deaths as inherently preventable. Perhaps the most significant changes involve the New York Police Department, whose officers will increase precinct-level enforcement of speeding.

I’ve developed a soft spot for Sweden lately because it has taken major steps at the macroeconomic level toward a freer economy.

We here in the United States should learn from these steps. So I visited the website of Vision Zero and found much to like in their approach, which tries to take into account the imperfection of human behavior. They claim that safety in Sweden has improved, presumably as a result of Vision Zero.

The trouble begins when you look closely at the underlying philosophy.

The first is the idea that “no loss of life is acceptable” if it’s caused by traffic. But why stop there? Why should traffic deaths be less acceptable than deaths by poisoning or by drowning or from the flu or from a myriad of other causes? The same arguments they make for eliminating traffic deaths could be made for those. But Vision Zero doesn’t make them, perhaps because if they did it might direct scarce resources away from their pet project, or because at some level they realize that it’s too costly to eliminate all accidental deaths.

Second, Vision Zero places the bulk of the responsibility for safety not on the imperfect driver or pedestrian but on the less imperfect “professionals” in charge. Aside from the uncomfortable paternalistic overtones of that attitude, as I explained in the column I reference earlier, making driver “safer” can cause more accidents. In order to minimize accidents, the driver and pedestrian must bear the costs of their actions, otherwise they have an incentive to act recklessly.

At any rate, in each of these cases the VZ folks can’t possibly mean what they are saying because it utterly ignores scarcity. The spokesperson says that people should be able to demand (and presumably get) freedom, mobility, and safety all at once. Since what Vision Zero is purportedly aiming for is perfect safety—which is what is supposed to make the approach novel—then he must also mean perfect freedom and perfect mobility as well. In world of scarcity, that’s fantasy, or to be more precise, it’s social science fiction.

Surely, it’s only political rhetoric. At least I hope so. But there’s another problem with Vision Zero.

Ought Implies Can

If drivers and pedestrians who put their lives at risk still make mistakes, why should we assume that traffic professionals who don’t have as much to lose won’t also make mistakes? They can’t possibly anticipate every contingency, nor would we want them to if the cost is going to be sky high. Everyone makes choices that might contribute to an accident.  But why can’t an accident, even a terrible one, simply be an accident? Why does it have to be somebody’s fault, every time? I think this is wrong-headed.

I’m not saying that lowering traffic deaths isn’t a good thing. But making it a moral problem, by placing the main responsibility for saving lives on experts, is confused. Morality is related to economy, of course, but probably not in the way its proponents think.

As my colleague Steve Horwitz put it, “Ought implies can.” Economic concepts such as scarcity help us get a handle on what’s possible, the set of feasible choices, from among which we can choose. The “eliminate deaths” approach ignores the feasible and goes right to what we would like to see. Sure, bringing the number of traffic deaths to zero would be great, if it could be done at a reasonable cost. But I can say with assurance that the cost would not be reasonable.

That’s because “pledging considerable police resources” to eliminate traffic deaths necessarily means drawing police and other resources (for narrowing streets or installing devices that will penalize taxis for speeding) away from other areas, such as monitoring thefts or preventing violent crime and so on. In that way, Vision Zero could wind up taking away more life than it saves. The total effect would be an empirical question.

The mayor points out that last year there were 176 pedestrian deaths in the city. That works out to about 2.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is significantly higher than the national average of 1.58 deaths. Now, New York City has an above-average number of pedestrians per 100,000 persons, which might explain much of the difference, but it might be a good thing anyway to try to lower that number to somewhere closer to the national average. And that’s where people get uncomfortable with economists because we’ll often talk about the “optimal” number of deaths in such a case.

But when we say something is optimal, we’re not trying to morally justify those deaths. We’re only trying to make it clearer what the realm of the possible is—what we can do. Can we do better with existing resources? Almost certainly; our knowledge is never perfect and there’s always room for improvement. Can we increase government resources by increasing taxation and through inflation? Yes, we can!

That won’t solve the fundamental problem though. Even with a bigger budget, scarcity and the hard choices it entails won’t go away. The sooner real-world governments and their supporters realize it the better.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?

What Freedom of the Press?

In a February 10 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who occupies one of the Republican seats on the commission, broke the news that the Obama administration was planning to place inquisitors in the newsrooms of television and radio stations across the nation.

Titled the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the FCC program proposed to send researchers into TV and radio newsrooms to interview reporters, editors, and station managers about how they decide which stories to cover… or not cover. As Pai described it, the stated purpose of the CIN was to “ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about ‘the process by which stories are selected,’ and how often stations cover ‘critical information needs,’ along with ‘perceived station bias’ and ‘perceived responsiveness to undeserved populations.’ ”

As a guideline for their research, the FCC planners selected eight major categories for their investigators to delve into:

  • Emergencies and risks – immediate and long term,
  • Health and welfare – local health information and group specific health information,
  • Education – the quality of local schools and choices available to parents,
  • Transportation – available alternatives, costs, and schedules,
  • Economic opportunities – job information, job training, and small business assistance,
  • The environment – air and water quality and access to recreation,
  • Civic information – the availability of civic institutions and opportunities to associate with others,
  • Political – information about candidates at all relevant levels of local governance, and relevant public policy initiatives affecting communities and neighborhoods.

In addition, the FCC identified two broad areas of critical information needs associated with each of these categories: 1) Those fundamental to individuals in everyday life, and 2) Those that affect larger groups and communities.

But this is all pretty boring stuff. If the FCC was interested in conducting a study on which topics and which stories were most likely to put TV viewers and radio listeners to sleep, it’s pretty clear they were really onto something. There have always been much more interesting stories to report.

Although everyone but the fascist thugs of the Obama administration and the brain-dead rank-and-file of the Democratic Party were immediately horrified at what the FCC proposed, for the first time in history conservatives and the lawyers of the American Civil Liberties Union threw their arms around each other. The thought of someone marching into the newsrooms of television and radio stations and demanding to know how they conducted their business was roundly denounced by conservatives and honest liberals alike.

Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public interest law firm, cautioned: “The federal government has no place attempting to control the media, using the unconstitutional actions of repressive regimes to squelch free speech.”

Without doubt, Sekulow had the Obama administration in mind when he cautioned us against “repressive regimes?”

Commentary magazine equated the proposed FCC study to the dangers of, say, a federal shield law. The principal danger of a shield law is that, in order to legislate protections for a specific group… i.e. the “press”… it is first necessary to define that group. Therefore, the government would be placed in the position of deciding who is a journalist and who is not. As Commentary suggests, “The government could easily play favorites and have yet another accreditation – not unlike an FCC license – to hold over the heads of the press.” Given the Obama administration’s unprecedented use of the IRS to thwart its political opponents, is there any doubt that a shield law in their hands would be a very dangerous thing?

Commentary concluded that it is such rules that the FCC’s CIN calls to mind. It opens the door to increased government scrutiny of the press, with an implicit threat to a broadcaster’s license. It does so under the guise of “public service,” “quality control,” “fairness,” and other terms that usually hint the government is up to no good. Left unchallenged, the CIN would support the premise that “news judgment is the FCC’s business.”

The FCC quickly issued a statement saying that Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler was in agreement that “survey questions in the study directed toward media outlet managers, news directors, and reporters overstepped the bounds of what is required.” An FCC spokesman added that “any suggestion that the FCC intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America’s newsrooms is false.” 

However, what is most noticeable about all of the moral indignation directed at the FCC’s CIN program, whether from the left or from the right, is that it is all premised on the notion that we actually have a free press in the United States when, in fact, we do not. Few conservatives, the most “under-served population” of all, would deny that because of many decades of leftish propagandizing by the mainstream media, any opportunity to get inside the newsrooms at the major networks to expose them for the charlatans they are would be far too tempting to ignore.

For example, in 2004, CBS newsman Dan Rather created a national stir when he charged that George W. Bush had been AWOL during a part of his service in the Texas Air National Guard. Unfortunately for Rather, the documents used to support his charge turned out to be forgeries. The documents, which Rather claimed were memos from one of Bush’s senior officers, contained superscript characters which

were not available on typewriters at the time. In truth, the documents that Rather hoped would ruin Bush’s reelection chances were created on a modern computer using Microsoft Word software, and artificially aged to make them appear authentic.

Nevertheless, the networks and major print media devoted hundreds of hours of airtime and countless lines of newsprint to the bogus story. It would have been interesting to learn how the networks decided to spend that much time and effort on the phony Bush AWOL story.

Conversely, just three years later, when it became evident that Sen. Barack Obama would be a viable Democratic candidate for the presidency, legal scholars complained that, because Obama failed to meet the basic requirements to be a “natural born Citizen,” as required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, he would be ineligible to serve. And although there was ample evidence to support the charge, the mainstream media all but ignored the story.

And when the Maricopa County, Arizona, Cold Case Posse, under the direction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, provided irrefutable proof that the long form birth certificate uploaded to the White House website on April 27, 2011, was a poorly crafted forgery, that his draft registration card was a forged document, and that his Social Security number was stolen and would not pass a simple Social Security Administration E-verify test, the left-leaning newsmen of ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and NBC looked the other way. They simply ignored the story.

It would be interesting to have editors, producers, and reporters at our major networks explain why a few days absence by George W. Bush from his Air National Guard duty station should be a major national news story, while the constitutional ineligibility and the forged documentation of the country’s first black president deserved nothing more than to be swept under the rug.

These are not isolated incidents; they happen every day of the week, on every conceivable kind of issue, foreign and domestic. The only constant is the fact that the reporting is almost always slanted in favor of liberal/socialist orthodoxy and against traditional conservative views.

Given that so much of the Obama administration invites favorable comparison to Hitler’s Third Reich, it was only to be expected that the FCC’s CIN study would quickly attract comparisons. Marilyn Assenheim, writing for the Patriot Update, suggests that, “What (Obama) is establishing is a redo of historical absolutism. The German National Socialist government could not have aspired to better.”

Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, reminds us that “Arbitrary power is ugly and vicious, regardless of what pious rhetoric goes with it. Freedom is not free. You have to fight for it or lose it.” “But,” he asks, “is our generation up to fighting for it?”

Humorist Frank J. Fleming has said: “I think Obama is learning. By the end of his presidency he’ll have gone from less than useless to achieving parity with uselessness… In America, we love rooting for the underdogs, so maybe a gigantic decline in our nation is just what we need to believe in ourselves again.”

Perhaps a close brush with fascist dictatorship will be enough to wake us all up to the realities of the terrible dangers that Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi represent.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of Press Freedom Monument, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines by Mark Gio Amoguis. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The use of this image does not imply in anyway endorsement of the author or contents of this column.

RELATED COLUMN: Liberal Blogger & Journalist Shows How Most News Is Controlled For Political Purposes

IRS: Two Fifths Doesn’t Solve Anything

Two very important things happened at yesterday’s short-lived House Oversight hearing investigating the IRS targeting of nonprofits.

First, IRS former senior manager Lois Lerner again invoked the 5th Amendment. In January, her attorney said she would testify if given immunity. That same attorney now states, Lerner cannot testify because she fears for her life.

Second, graphics were apparently displayed that showed previously disclosed communications of Ms. Lerner. However, when viewed in the context of testifying under oath, well, as Fox News Greta Van Susteren said in her Facebook Post, “THESE EMAILS ARE HORRIBLE! Lois Lerner is in a heap of trouble — and these emails (below) are really bad.”

Lois graphic

Just who is “everyone” and “they” and is this why Ms. Lerner is so afraid to tell the American people the truth?

More importantly, why isn’t the news media falling all over themselves to get answers to these and other important questions regarding this scandal – just as they did with the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals?

And why isn’t every member of Congress demanding the appointment of a special prosecutor just like they have done in the past?

And the most important question of all – who is standing up for and defending the taxpayers of America – the ultimate and perennial victims of the IRS?

The answer is simple – nobody.

Taxpayers, the very people who paid for Ms. Lerner’s salary, pension and most likely, her attorney; who pay the salaries, benefit plans and perks of the IRS employees who carried out this political weaponization; who underwrite the lavish lifestyles of Members of Congress appear to not be even an afterthought in this escalating political cat and mouse.

This can change. If Congress enacts the FairTax® Plan, the American people will have a tax code that is fair, simple and truly represents them – not a plan that is used by a Congress bent on partisan manipulation and retribution.

More importantly, with the FairTax, the IRS is gone – no more scapegoated federal employees to do partisan political bidding and no more cowering by taxpayers from enforcers who act like brown shirt thugs instead of public servants once sworn to uphold the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

No citizen – most certainly no American citizen – should ever feel the need to cower before their government or any of its representatives.  As John Adams said in 1776, “Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.”

Perhaps that is why a majority of Americans want the FairTax passed, the IRS defunded and disbanded and the 16thAmendment repealed.

FL Common Core: A Schneider Debriefing on Weingarten

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, I participated in a much-publicized Common Core (CCSS) panel with four other individuals as part of the Network for Public Education (NPE) first annual conference in Austin, Texas. (A 40-minute video of the CCSS panel can be found here; a five-minute video excerpt of my seven-minute opener can be found here.)

[youtube]http://youtu.be/4abuqu3tmeQ[/youtube]

One of the panel members was American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten. Weingarten was the only panel member in favor of CCSS. The rest of us, including moderator Anthony Cody, were against CCSS.

In this post, I would like to reflect upon my involvement on the CCSS panel, especially in connection with Weingarten. Much of what I have written is not available on video because the events and/or reflections occurred outside of the CCSS panel itself. Some of what I have written involves responding to Weingarten’s words here since there was neither time nor opportunity to do so during the panel session.

My Position on Weingarten

First, a clear word on where I stand in regard to Weingarten. I think she chooses to be involved with the likes of Bill Gates and Eli Broad because she likes them. I believe that the money they bring is a reason, but a lesser reason, for her sustained relationship with them. These two men bring with them power, and connections, and influence. Weingarten likes to be “at the table,”– their table. And their table is one that promotes the privatization of public education.

I believe that Weingarten’s continued involvement with Gates and Broad and their extensive network of moneyed, powerful cronies is destroying the union. The destruction shows itself in every pro-privatizing decision that Weingarten makes– and such decisions appear to be countless. It seems that every time I dig deeper in researching a Weingarten decision, privatization is the winner.

I believe that Weingarten is at least partly motivated to continue her Gates/Broad relationships because she always has an eye to the “where next” of her own career. She became a teacher temporarily in order to become a teachers union president; she was willing to jump into Hillary Clinton’s open senate seat in 2008 after having just been elected AFT president, and she continues to seek the next avenue in her career rise. The result is that Weingarten is willing to sacrifice the health and security of the union for her own career aspirations.

It is always my hope that Weingarten will forsake her allegiance to her corporate reform connections and focus on the well being of the union. However, with each new decision she makes, what I must face is the reality that Weingarten must be pushed into a political corner in order to eke out a couple of drops of concession that are for teachers (and, by extension, for the union) and against her beloved corporate reform connections. This reluctance showed itself in the CCSS panel regarding discontinuing Gates money for the AFT Innovation Fund (more to come on this) and it show itself in Weingarten’s dealings with New Jersey in the week prior to the NPE conference. (See this link for Weingarten’s letter to NJ Governor Chris Christie accompanied by my “deeper dig.”)

I have heard the excuse that being AFT president is a “difficult” job, insinuating that Weingarten should be excused for her reckless and repeated union-damaging decisions. I do not excuse her. She sought the job of teachers union president; based upon AFT’s 2012 990, she makes almost eight times my salary (W-2 and/or 1099 MISC have her compensation at $454,416), and she was elected to serve public school teachers.

If elected to serve us, then let her be accountable to us.

Schneider Has a Weingarten Vendetta (??)

I have actually had the term vendetta used to describe my interactions with Weingarten. First of all, a vendetta involves seeking revenge for a single wrong, perceived or actual. I am not seeking revenge. What I am doing is exposing Weingarten’s continued pro-privatizing dealings as I learn of them in the course of my research.

Yes, I am angry at Weingarten’s wrecking of my union and my profession. However, I am not cruel in my dealings with her.

Pointed, yes; cruel, no.

It’s called accountability. Perhaps she will begin to think about how her corporate-reform-friendly bent will come back to haunt her in my posts and elsewhere. (The education blogger network has become a force in its own right, and the press should provide a healthy pressure on those whose decisions impact the masses.)

Allow me to present some behind-the-scenes dealings to underscore my balanced motivations in interacting with Randi Weingarten.

When  I agreed to participate on NPE’s CCSS panel, there was no mention of Weingarten as a panelist. So, I did not agree in an effort to have a “showdown” with Randi Weingarten. Anthony Cody invited me to participate because of my extensive writing on CCSS.

On December 30, 2013, I received an email from Cody telling me that Weingarten had accepted an invitation to appear as part of the NPE CCSS panel and that she did not yet know I also invited.

I phoned Cody to be sure that my appearance would be no surprise to Weingarten. I wanted her to experience no daytime-television-sensationalized shock at my being there. Cody assured me he had no such intention and that Weingarten would know that I was a panelist long before the event.

People with vendettas do not guard their opponents against shock.

On February 4, 2014, Cody asked my thoughts on the format for the CCSS panel. I asked him if Weingarten would be the only pro-CCSS panelist. He said yes; so, I proposed that she begin a structured seven-minute presentation time and be allowed three additional minutes at the end.

People with vendettas do not offer generous concessions.

One of my fellow bloggers told me that she assumed Weingarten demanded the extra time. Weingarten did not. I suggested we incorporate it since she was alone in her position; the remaining panel members agreed.

But there is another piece to this story. There was some email discussion over a conversational format for the panel. I did not believe this would work well with five people, and I noted as much. “Conversational hijacking” was too much of a possibility, and some panelists might be completely omitted from the discussion. However, my principal concern was for my own self control. I phoned Cody and told him as much: In an open format, I was much more likely to rip into Weingarten, and I did not want this panel to degenerate into the dregs of an ugly encounter. I asked Cody to “save me from myself” (my exact words). He assured me that he felt more comfortable with the structure originally proposed and to which Weingarten had initially agreed. (She later wanted the more open format.)

People with vendettas do not ask others to help them maintain control against potentially unruly, “vendetta-related” upset.

Prior to the NPE conference, I had not met Weingarten. I wanted to do so in a low-key manner. So, after serving a chauffeur on Saturday night (the first conference night and the night before the CCSS panel), I introduced myself to Weingarten, who was at the Mariott at a reception for NM Governor Howie Morales. The reception was ending– it was 10 p.m.– and I walked up to her, said my name, explained that I wanted to introduce myself before tomorrow, then excused myself and left. No fanfare. No showing off in front of a group of friends. Just a moment of ice breaking in an effort to make tomorrow’s introduction a smoother moment.

People with vendettas do not “break the ice” via low-key introductions.

So, yes, my intention was to confront Weingarten’ pro-CCSS position but to do so in a professional and controlled manner.

(An aside: Before I published my open exchange with Weingarten in November 2013, I not only informed her that I was writing an open letter to her; I sent the letter to her and gave her a full week to respond if she chose to prior to my posting the letter. Then I sent the finished post to her prior to publishing, including her response, and told her the exact time and locations of the posting. And let us not forget my December 2013 defense of AFT against the Center for Union Facts. No vendetta.)

Schneider Was Too Controlled (??)

Allow me to address the pendulum as it swings to the other side, namely, that I was too controlled. Some audience members expected me to rip into Weingarten. First of all, my intention was to destroy her logic for supporting CCSS– not her. I believe that this was accomplished not only by me but also by the other three anti-CCSS panel members.

There were some addiitonal Weingarten statements on which I would have liked to comment in real time. Nevertheless, time did not allow for all panelists to say all that they wanted during the panel. We had a schedule to keep.

That Sunday afternoon, I was able to elaborate on my position regarding the influence of philanthropy dependence  (the money as well as the power and connections) as such concerns Weingarten and others receiving philanthropic “assistance” to a packed room as part of the philanthropy panel discussion. Plus, I am writing my candid “debriefing” as part of this post.

Should Randi Weingarten and I ever engage in a one-to-one discussion of AFT involvements with those known to actively promote the corporate reform agenda, my discussion will be much more direct– never cruel– and likely without much raising of my voice– but like the skilled and precise slicing of a surgeon’s scalpel.

The Weingarten-BAT Incident

In this post, I wish to respond to Weingarten’s words during the CCSS panel. First, allow me to sidestep to her auditorium entrance.

Her privatizer-friendly positions make Weingarten a polarizing figure. And she is very much the politician, seeking to be regarded as a member of whatever group whose opinions she is trying to sway.

(In planning for the NPE conference, fellow blogger Jon Pelto created a group for conference panelists. A number of bloggers were on this list and were trying to arrange a bloggers meeting. At one point Weingarten entered the conversation and asked, “So am I a blogger? Or just a participant?” I wanted a clear boundary. I responded, “Randi, you are a participant.”)

On the morning of the NPE CCSS panel, Weingarten wore a BAT (Bad Ass Teachers) t-shirt.

Apparently Weingarten passed the BAT table and asked for a t-shirt. A BAT took her photo and created a meme. The entire event disturbed blogger Kris Nielsen, who responded on March 3 with this post. The next day, March 4, blogger Denisha Jones answered Nielsen. I particularly like what Jones notes here:

…Taking a picture of Randi Weingarten in a BAT t-shirt did not make BAT’s suddenly reverse their stance on CCSS. And let’s be clear, Randi Weingarten put on the BATs t-shirt. BAT’s did not put on a Randi Weingarten t-shirt and allow themselves to be photographed. [Emphasis added.]

The BATs did not endorse Weingarten. One simply gave her a t-shirt.

I am careful about my associations. My education reform writings have made me popular with a variety of groups, some of which I would not otherwise choose to ally. Anyone may choose to reblog my work. However, I am careful where I choose to become actively involved, be it webpage, or magazine, or blog, or speaking engagement.

And I never don a logo in order to mimic belonging.

Weingarten’s Opener (And My Written Commentary)

In her opening remarks, Weingarten equates “national standards” with CCSS.  She admits that she “believes in national standards.” However, the push for CCSS is that they are not “national”– they are “state-led.”

If the public were fine with “national” CCSS, there would be no push to “rebrand” in an effort to trick the public into believing the standards are unique to individual states.

In my opener, I state that “national standards” does not equal CCSS, and that “national standards” must be voluntary.

In her opener, Weingarten also acknowledges that AFT “was approached” to “review” CCSS.

Not “write.” Not “develop.” Only “review.”

Not to mention the passive voice, “was approached.” Top-down.

She adds, “There was a bunch of give and take, and they changed the standards in a lot of different ways.”

Note the top-down “they.” “They” have the power. “They” have the final word. And in the end, “they” decided to make CCSS rigid.

Weingarten admits that she believes CCSS is “inappropriate for K thru 2″ and that she knows this “because people have used them how inappropriate they are.”

No mention of the need to pilot before implementing. No mention of the damage to student, teachers and schools for forcing implementation of untested CCSS.

How about grades 3 thru 12?

Weingarten jumps to the “real problem is the testing, which comes from No Child Left Behind (NCLB).”

The real problem is that all of Race to the Top (RTTT) attempts to be a “standardized NCLB”– rigid standards so that curriculum and test makers can pattern their wares after the CCSS template. Testing is the offshoot of the CCSS hub.

Weingarten states that the “problem” is that “testing has conflated with everything else that happens in school.” She does not admit her contribution to the destruction brought about by testing dependence, not the least of which is her taking money from Gates for VAM and not declaring VAM problematic until the month following the expiration of the Gates grant. Neither does Weingarten acknowledge her contribution in tying Newark teachers into VAM (see Newark link above).

Weingarten maintains that it is the testing emphasis that makes “people feel like they have no voice whatsoever.”

It is not the testing alone. It is the entire spectrum of reforms intentionally and strategically pushed down the collective school and community throats by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the National Governors Association (NGA).

Weingarten focused her argument on “finding a way to break through on the fixation on testing and the fixation on test scores.”

The way to destroy the CCSS tests is to destroy CCSS. In my opener, I offered the advice for teachers to form committees and to start shuffling CCSS around. Doing so sabotages CCSS as a template for testing.

The through answer is to obliterate CCSS. No CCSS, no CCSS tests.

AFT and Gates Money

During Weingarten’s second time speaking (recorded at end of video), Weingarten attempted to defend AFT’s accepting Gates money by noting that it was one percent of the total AFT budget. (According to the AFT 2012 990, AFT spent $190 million from July 2011 to June 2012. About.com has AFT’s annual budget at “over $170 million.”) She offered the audience the concession that at the July convention,she would ask members to vote on a five-cent dues increase in order to continue the AFT Innovation Fund. She asked the audience if that would be okay. The audience applauded.

Weingarten implied that “so little” Gates money does not matter. However, it apparently does since not accepting “the next round” for the AFT Innovation Fund means a dues increase. The current Gates grant for the Innovation Fund and CCSS ($4.4 million) expires in May 2015.

Note: There was no mention of returning any Gates money. There was also no agreement to not accept Gates money in the future– just not for the Innovation Fund.

The Gates money matters to those who take it. However, the connection to Gates and the power that such connection brings matters to those benefiting from his circle of power more than does his money.

A five-cent annual annual dues increase for all 1.5 million AFT members yields $75,000 in additional revenue.

A two-dollar annual dues increase for all 1.5 million AFT members would yield an additional $3 million in AFT revenue.

I would like to challenge Weingarten to offer AFT members the total amount that AFT dues must rise in order for her to say no to all corporate-reform-associated philanthropic money given to AFT.

I would also like to challenge her to stop making contributions out of AFT money to those who openly advocate the corporate reform, corporation-benefiting, test-driven, teaching-profession-undermining agenda.

In Closing

At the close of the NPE CCSS panel, Weingarten spoke last. She reiterated that she likes CCSS and added that her reason was “personal” and connected to her time “as a teacher.”

Two points:

First, as the president of a national teachers union, the “bottom line” for continued support of CCSS cannot be “personal.” Weingarten is the leader of 1.5 million union members. Support for any program must put union membership ahead of personal preference.

Second, Weingarten concluded her time “as a teacher” in 1997. Thus, she has been away from the classroom for seventeen years. In a conversation over dinner, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis observed to me, “I have been away from the classroom for only three years, and I am out of touch with what is happening there now.”

I returned to the public school classroom in 2007 after teaching at the university level. My 2007 return is worlds away from what I know as a classroom teacher in 2014.

For me, CCSS is indeed “personal,” for it is very much associated with my daily classroom experience. But may I always offer a more detailed, factual, research-based reasoning for railing against corporate reform and its ardent supporters than to simply note, “It’s personal.”

RELATED COLUMN: Conspiracy Fact: Obama Budget to Cement Common Core

EPA Attacks World’s Largest Copper Mine

I could write every day about some new obscene Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to thwart energy the nation needs, forcing the shutdown more coal-fired plants and the mines that supply them. Goodbye thousands of jobs, goodbye electrical energy. The White House has delayed the construction of the Keystone Xl pipeline to transmit oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Do you wonder, still, why there are millions of Americans out of work or who have stopped looking because every effort to build the nation’s economy is attacked by some element of the Obama Administration.

We can now add another attack on natural resources because the EPA has announced its intention to restrict, if not prohibit, the development of Pebble Mine in Alaska. The mine could be one of the world’s largest sources of copper.

Beyond the economic benefits the mine would create, it would not only produce copper, but strategic metals like molybdenum and rhenium. Daniel McGroarty, the president of the American Resources Policy Network, noted in a July Wall Street Journal opinion that these two metals “are essential to countless American manufacturing, high-tech, and national security applications.”

Copper is one of the most important minerals used today because it is a good conductor of heat and electricity—second only to silver in electrical conductivity. It was discovered thousands of years ago in prehistoric times. Methods for refining copper from its ores were developed around 5,000 CE and, though too soft for many tools, when mixed with other metals, the resulting alloys were harder. The entire Bronze Age owes its name to the mixture of copper and tin. Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc.

McGroarty pointed out that “The irony here is that renewable-energy industries that environmentalists champion, like solar and wind, rely heavily on copper. More than three tons of it are needed for a single industrial wind turbine.” Solar panels depend on copper as well. And electric cables, usually made of copper, transmit the energy these two favored “renewable energy” sources. Together, though, they represent less than 3% of the electricity generated.

Expecting environmental groups to make any sense or even to tell the truth is a waste of time. The Pebble Mine is opposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, and Trout Unlimited. The EPA claims to have researched the environmental impact of the Alaskan mine and concluded that it poses a serious risk to the salmon fisheries and native tribes in the Bristol Bay area.

EPA research is so wretchedly flawed that the Agency is still insisting that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for “global warming” even though the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996. None of the children born since then have ever spent a day experiencing a warming cycle.

The EPA has been engaged in its own interpretation of the Clean Air and Clear Water Acts. The Supreme Court, which erroneously ruled that CO2 was a “pollutant” in April 2007—it is vital to all life on Earth, providing for the growth of all vegetation—has just heard oral arguments for a case that could further ruin the nation’s economy. Environmental groups and the Obama administration argued that the EPA has the authority to require that power plants and other industrial facilities must get permits to emit carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases even though they have no effect at all on the Earth’s climate.

I often wonder why most Americans are so clueless about global warming. AKA climate change, and the rape of the nation’s economy by the EPA.

So we can anticipate that, when the partnership of those seeking to open the Pebble Mine does apply for a permit, we already know that the EPA will reject it. Gina McCarthy, the current EPA administrator, has made that clear. You can be sure that the EPA’s “research” has predetermined that outcome.

That’s not science. That’s just more environmental lies.

Those lies are a large component of why the nation is enduring an economic stalemate that is beginning to look like the next Great Depression. Those lies will try to stop the Pebble Mine and shut down more coal-fired plants. Those lies are the reason why so many potential new industrial and business enterprises are not being created.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED STORY: Wyoming welder faces $75,000 a day in EPA fines for building pond on his property | Fox News

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of Rob Lavinsky / iRocks.com. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.