UnFair the Movie – FairTax Hits Theaters on October 14, 2014!

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” – Benjamin Franklin

On Thursdays, Facebook fans have adopted a growing ritual affectionately known as “Throw Back Thursday.” Users post their favorite remembrances from the past – a childhood picture, a tattered piece of high school memorabilia, news clippings of a place where the locals once gathered.

For Facebook, taking a walk down memory lane has proven to be a popular activity for many users. For the FairTax® campaign, taking time to look at the past provides a possible window into understanding the journey that has gone before us and lies ahead.

The FairTax legislation, first introduced in Congress 15 years ago, represents the greatest transfer of power from the Congress to the people since the Founding Fathers began drafting the Constitution in 1787. Some people say they love the FairTax but don’t think it will ever become law. Others believe that we have to repeal the 16th Amendment, and because repealing an amendment takes a long time, there is no reason to push the FairTax now.

It is important that doubters consider these historical facts:

  • While the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, may have taken less than a year to be ratified, the decades leading up to its passage divided the nation and engulfed it in a bitter and costly civil war, but its supporters persisted and it was enacted.
  • The 27th Amendment, which prohibited increasing or decreasing the salary of Members of Congress until the next term of office begins for the House of Representatives, was introduced in 1798 and even though it took 202 years, 7 months and 12 days to ratify, its supporters persisted and it was enacted.
  • The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, began as a serious movement in the mid-19th century. Congress passed the legislation in July 1919, and ratified it in August 1920. As noted by the National Archives, “Few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920,” but it was enacted.
  • The 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 years of age, was debated for thirty years, but took three months and eight days to ratify after being passed by Congress.

Fulton Sheen said, “Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”

Those who seek to protect the control, power and abuse they have carved out with the current income tax system believe that if they just keep throwing up roadblocks and ignore the FairTax movement, we will eventually join the doubters and give up and go away.

We have a message for them.

Never underestimate our patience as being a lack of action. Never doubt our unwavering principles in our quest for simple and fair taxation for all. Never question that we understand the concept of timing, and we are confident our time will come.

What our opponents fear the most is that the FairTax is the right and the best thing to do for America. Many of them instinctively know the truth of what Victor Hugo said so long ago,  “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

To further help educate people on the FairTax, in just four days; one of the biggest FairTax events in 15 years will take place in theaters across the nation. The 90-minute movie, “UnFair: Exposing the IRS,” will be showing for one night only on October 14 at 7:00 p.m. across all time zones.

UnFair The Movie: Trailer from Unfair Movie on Vimeo.

This groundbreaking documentary promises to do what no other movie has done before – tell the stories of betrayal, corruption, intimidation and the harsh personal, economic and political realities of America’s income tax system and the IRS. More importantly, it presents the FairTax Plan as the only real solution!

Don’t delay. Buy your ticket today. And call your friends, family and neighbors and invite them to join you at the movies. Go to http://www.unfairmovie.com/tickets/ to locate theaters near you and to buy advance tickets. And if you are interested, click here to check on Theatre Captain opportunities in your hometown.

See you at movies!

Entrepreneurs Make Science Work: Getting breakthroughs out of the laboratory by Matthew McCaffrey

Science doesn’t necessarily mean progress until it moves out of the lab and into the market.

Consider graphene: This major scientific breakthrough was discovered by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their work on the substance. Graphene is a layer of pure carbon just one atom in diameter, making it the thinnest existing material — essentially two-dimensional. And it’s remarkable in other ways, as well: it’s the lightest known substance, the strongest compound, the best conductor of heat at room temperature, and the best conductor of electricity. Because of these special properties, graphene, along with similar materials, is being touted as the Next Big Thing in science — and maybe in business too.

Since the initial results were produced, research to commercialize graphene has taken off in a big way; for instance, the University of Manchester announced it will be devoting £60 million to develop applications of the technology, and other universities and firms are following suit with similar ventures.

The story of graphene is a useful heuristic for scientific achievements in general, because when it comes to human progress, people tend to overlook one enormously important point: scientific discoveries and technological advances do not in and of themselves improve the welfare of humankind.

For science to improve our lives, it has to be part of them first. A scientific breakthrough in a laboratory, however technologically revolutionary, does not immediately benefit most people. In fact, the majority of scientific results are simply consumption goods for researchers and the institutions they work for. Universities and other publicly funded organizations, operating outside of most market forces, don’t usually produce lasting value in the marketplace. It’s only when entrepreneurs spread breakthroughs through the market that they begin to change lives for the better.

The role of markets can’t be emphasized enough, because it’s the profit-and-loss system that reveals the ultimate worth of an invention. It’s unlikely that the average consumer will see any real benefit from the vast majority of publicly funded research — and that’s one reason to be suspicious of the incessant calls from the scientific community for more subsidies. Still, is more research really a bad thing? Don’t public organizations get it right sometimes?

The Internet is usually held up as a classic case of government research that greatly benefitted humanity, proving that public organizations can produce path-breaking innovations just as market innovators do. But economists point out that the Internet wasn’t actually very useful until the market brought it to consumers. GPS navigation was another government science project that’s now a part of everyday life only because it was eventually commercialized. And so it goes with all manner of inventions and innovations: until entrepreneurs find ways to bring them into our daily lives, even the best ideas languish in obscurity.

Yes, public science sometimes turns out to be valuable to consumers — even a stopped clock is right twice a day. But science outside the sphere of entrepreneurial calculation lacks any direction in its search for lasting value, whereas inside the nexus of calculation, profit and loss push ceaselessly toward consumer satisfaction. Without the threat of loss, there is little reason for researchers to produce results with serious practical value. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, don’t just have an incentive to spread useful science throughout society; in many ways, their livelihoods depend on it.

Government interference in the market, however, puts hard limits on what science can do for humanity. Take medical research as an example: if the regulatory cost of drug development is so high that some valuable research becomes impossible (it is), or if intellectual property laws prevent drugs from going to market at realistic prices (they do), then science as such can do little to help anyone. But entrepreneurial competition can increase the quality and quantity of drugs, lower the price, and ensure they get to the consumers who need them most urgently.

In other words, if we are going to be serious about scientific progress, we have to realize it goes hand in hand with entrepreneurial progress. When barriers to entry are eliminated and individual sovereignty rules the market, entrepreneurs can increase welfare using whatever scientific means are at hand. What’s more, their success in turn encourages the production of more and better research.

Our task is to do what we can to help entrepreneurs work with the top minds of science for the benefit of all. A good start would be to eliminate regulatory requirements that drive up the cost of R&D, along with the intellectual property laws that prevent competition in ideas. Once the barriers between research and enterprise have been broken down, we can use markets to get the best of both worlds.

matthew mccaffreyABOUT MATTHEW MCCAFFREY

Matthew McCaffrey is assistant professor of enterprise at the University of Manchester and editor of Libertarian Papers.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Obama’s Climate Legacy DOA?

We are told that Barack Obama hopes to leave a legacy of stopping global warming/climate change/climate disruption as his major accomplishment in his last term. If so, even Obama must be discouraged by his latest failure, along with the many others that have occupied the media in the last two weeks. The People’s Climate March (September 21st, 2014) was a dismal failure, the Climate Summit at the United Nations (September 23, 2014) was even worse.

The fiasco began with a lengthy article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal by Dr. Steven Koonin, a former Undersecretary for Science in Obama’s Energy Department, titled “Climate Science is Not Settled.”

In the article Dr. Koonin was refreshingly honest in admitting that decades of computer modeling (and $150 billion) have brought us no further in understanding or predicting the climate. Climate models simply don’t match actual climate data. There has been no global warming – measured by ground thermometers and by satellites and balloons – for 18 years. Antarctic sea ice is at a record high; Arctic sea ice is coming back to normal levels (in spite of official forecasts of an ice-free Arctic in 2013). Major hurricanes hitting the US are at a record low (since 2005’s Wilma); tornadoes are far below average for three years in a row. Increasing CO2 demonstrably doesn’t cause warmer temperatures.

Below is a plot of atmospheric temperature differences from average as a function of CO2 content. Temperature goes up, goes down, and, on the whole, stays the same as CO2 increases. Do you see a correlation here? The correlation (R2) coefficient is 0.002; this is laughably irrelevant. Thursday’s WSJ contains a rebuttal letter from Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore Labs, insisting that terrible climatic events are obvious. Dr. Santer’s insistence is not a substitute for data.

CO2tempcorr

For a larger view click on the chart.

end-capitalism-2a

The People’s Climate March in New York City. For a larger view click on the image.

On Sunday 100,000 socialists showed up for the People’s Climate March in New York City. The picture on the right demonstrates their understanding of climate science:

“Capitalism is the Disease; Climate Change is the Symptom; Socialism is the Cure.”

Good luck with that one, kids; socialism has never helped the world’s biggest problem – poverty. Ask the Indians, ask the Chinese. I watched the People’s March on television where several of the marchers proudly identified themselves as illegals who came from some third world country to tell you and me how to improve America.

On Tuesday (September 22, 2014) the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lectured Foreign Ministers from 120 countries on the importance of stopping Climate Change, which is more dangerous than the Islamic State (ISIS). According to Kerry the Islamic State is only a local problem, but “climate change affects the whole world.”

unsummit_climate

United Nations climate summit.

You may rightly wonder why the diplomats came back on Wednesday to hear Barack, but there’s a good reason – money.

Remember the Climate Conference in 2009 at Copenhagen, that President Obama had to flee hurriedly to get back to the White House ahead of a blizzard? Before he left, he promised to contribute to a Green Climate Fund; wealthy countries (you know who that is, right?) promised $100 Billion. So far, the Green Climate Fund has $2.3 Billion, of which $1.3 Billion was raised last week. Did I mention that the deal is for an annual $100 Billion to help developing countries? Even with global warming, Hell will freeze first. But the UN marches on. The next meeting is in November, in Lima; the goal is to raise $10 Billion for the Climate Fund.

In the meantime, China has stated it has no intention of reducing its CO2 emissions (now 28% of the world’s total). India has made the same declaration. To quote Prime Minister Narendra Modi:

“The world had agreed on a beautiful balance of collective action – common but differentiated responsibilities. That should form the basis of continued action. This also means that the developed countries must fulfill their commitments for funding and technology transfer”.

Mr. Modi is quoting from the Kyoto Protocol, which died because of China and India’s refusal to limit their emissions. But it’s still our obligation to send money and technology. Sure!

In short, I think Mr. Obama’s “Climate Legacy” is dead, especially if the Polar Vortex returns this Winter.

But diminishing America’s technological and commercial leadership – by shutting down our fossil fuel energy advantages – fits well in the Obama ideology of trashing America. He’ll keep trying.

And speaking of the Polar Vortex, New England utility National Grid has announced that household natural gas prices will go up by 37%, about $33 per month over last year. This sounds like a cruel joke; natural gas prices are going down, because of fracking, right? Yes, but because of the low price, everyone wants all the natural gas they can get – i.e., demand is way up. But the region’s two major natural gas pipelines are already practically filled to the brim, constricting supply and sending already-elevated rates ever higher.“We’re a stranded region,” says Gilbert Metcalf, an economics professor at Tufts University. “We have a major bottleneck for getting natural gas into New England.” The EPA’s efforts to shut down coal-fired generators adds to New England’s problem.

Elsewhere, the Bardarbunga volcanic vent in Iceland continues pouring out molten lava, throwing it 130 meters into the air. Yes, that’s the report – 130 meters. For comparison, the Statue of Liberty, from ground to torch, is 93 meters; the Brooklyn Bridge is 84 meters above the water. The smell of sulfur in the air is evident as far away as Paris. How long will this continue? The Laki eruption in 1783-1784 went on for eight months, and caused extremely cold weather around the world. It also caused thousands of deaths.

And, in Japan, a volcano erupted without warning, killing a number of Summer mountain climbers. Suspicion is growing that this increased volcanic activity is caused by, yes, you guessed it, global warming. According to the National Post:

19,000 years ago the glaciers of the most recent Glacial Age (i.e., the Wisconsin Glaciation) began to melt, lifting billions of tons of ice off Earth’s crust and weakening the ability of the crust to resist the flow of magma from below. The magma from the mantle then was able to surge up and out. This is demonstrated by the numerous volcanoes in the British Isles and Scandinavia, which were heavily glaciated in…oh, wait!

However, in spite of the disappointments at the People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Conference, the Administration is bringing out the heavy guns – yes, Vice-President Joe Biden has added his voice to the scientists warning us of the dangers of anthropogenic climate disruption.

The VP recently reminded us of “the 161,000…fathers, mothers, brothers, grandparents….lost” in the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri in 2011. Not to mention the “thousands of cars tossed around like leaves.” Incidentally, Joplin’s population is about 50,000. That, friends, is the man who’s a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Not to be outdone, the Brits have a rival to Biden. Ebola may be more dramatic, but climate change is a bigger threat to public health. That’s the conclusion of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, publishing since 1840. This week it ran an editorial calling on the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) to declare climate change a public health emergency.

“Deaths from Ebola infection, tragic and frightening though they are, will pale into insignificance when compared with the mayhem we can expect for our children and grandchildren if the world does nothing to check its carbon emissions,” said the editorial, written by the magazine’s editor in chief, Fiona Godlee.

I don’t make this stuff up, folks, I just report it. But I figure quoting these people – occasionally – is as good as trying to argue with them.

Miami-Dade Schools: See Something, Say Something?!

On Monday, September 29, 2014, Miami-Dade County Public Schools unveiled their “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign in response to four middle school students bringing loaded guns to Brownsville Middle School.

Alongside their anti-bullying and “Do The Right Thing” campaigns, it smacks of hypocrisy given the retaliatory and punitive actions taken against me in my case stemming from Adobegate at Miami Norland Senior High School.

On April 4, 2012, I saw something and said something as Mr. Willie Gant, vocational teacher, told me of, and later showed me, a student confession and cheat sheets that lead to a massive case of standardized test cheating causing a vastly improved school grade and a payout of almost $250,000 in Federal and State performance incentives to Norland teachers.

Unlike the student involved, I was not thanked for my efforts but transferred twice and wound up in court.

As President Obama said on August 7, 2014, when he signed the Veterans’ Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014:

If you engage in an unethical practice, if you cover up a serious problem, you should be fired. Period. It shouldn’t be that difficult. And if you blow the whistle on an unethical practice, or bring a problem to the attention of higher-ups, you should be thanked. You should be protected for doing the right thing. You shouldn’t be ignored, and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.

Unfortunately, the M-DCPS hierarchy did not get that message as I was ignored for the most part and I was punished by displacement and other means as outlined in my civil suit even though I was correct as two teachers were disciplined with great disparity.

I am glad that the student fared much better though.

Then again, the cases are different subject matters but both are very important.

Given the actions of M-DCPS, a reasonable person may conclude that it is permissible to report gun crimes and related possible incidents but not test cheating where students, with teacher assistance, learn to bilk the Federal and State accountability systems that leads to better school grades and six figures worth of incentive payouts by the Federal and State governments for the benefit of school administrators and teachers with a blind eye from those in a position to hold those involved accountable but fail to do so.

Apparently, by taking adverse action against me, M-DCPS wants their teachers to be frightened and quiet.

On their internal Employee Portal where it has a link to “Report Fraud” they ought to put a disclaimer: “We really don’t mean it- and be prepared to sue us if you do!”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of the Miami-Dade School District Superintendent is courtesy of WSVN Channel 7 News, Miami.

Creating More Homeowners Without Building a Crisis

Wealth Building Home Loans are fixed-rate, 15-year loans that build equity much faster than a 30-year mortgage.

By William M. Isaac and Edward Pinto

Sales of existing homes in August were down 5.3% year-over-year. The housing lobby says credit is too tight. The commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration and the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ) have called for lenders to further loosen lending standards.

While the housing market needs a shot in the arm, the financial crisis in 2008 taught us the extreme danger that loose lending standards—poor underwriting, risky loans and government-backed credit expansion—pose to homeowners and the economy. We think there is another way.

For most of the past 50 years, U.S. housing policy has relied on ever looser underwriting standards in an attempt to lift homeownership and stimulate the economy. The focus has been on attracting more low- and moderate-income home buyers in an attempt to build wealth for these households. Yet the homeownership rate has changed little since 1960, while homes in the past half-century have proved to be highly volatile assets. This is particularly the case for lower-priced homes bought by low-income households with highly leveraged 30-year loans.

A better option is what we call the Wealth Building Home Loan—a 15-year, fully amortizing, fixed-rate loan that will build equity much faster than a 30-year mortgage. The WBHL concept was unveiled in early September by Mr. Pinto and his colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, Stephen Oliner. The market embraced the idea, and WBHL-style loans are already being originated and distributed by the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America (NACA), a national nonprofit based in Boston that works primarily with low- to moderate-income borrowers. Citigroup and Bank of America have signed on to fund NACA’s 15-year mortgages.

In the first three years of a WBHL, 77% of monthly mortgage payments pay off principal while in a 30-year loan only 32% goes toward principal. After 15 years the home is owned free and clear, and starting in year 16 the family has cash flow available for life-cycle needs such as their children’s education.

The big question is whether a 15-year mortgage can be affordable. We think it can. First, the rate on a 15-year loan is already below that for a 30-year loan. Further, studies by Fitch Ratings, the Urban Institute and others indicate that 15-year loans have half the risk of similar 30-year loans. Add common-sense underwriting features such as gauging a borrower’s ability to repay by evaluating his entire budget, as opposed to looking at a monthly debt-to-income ratio that ignores such items as income taxes and living expenses. Today only the Department of Veterans Affairs considers a borrower’s total household budget. We estimate these steps will result in a two-thirds reduction in a lender’s foreclosure risk.

Another feature of the WBHL would allow a home buyer to use some or all of his down payment to “buy down” the interest rate on his loan. These differences allow the WBHL to provide more than 90% of the home-buying power of a 30-year fixed-rate FHA loan with a monthly payment almost as low.

Because of the rapid increase in equity and the dramatically lower risk of default, a WBHL can be safely offered with little or no down payment to a wide range of prospective home buyers. Within 10 months, this loan, even with no down payment, has a lower loan-to-value ratio than an FHA loan with 5% down. After the 41st month, the loan-to-value of a WBHL drops 80% while the it is still over 90% for an FHA loan.

A safe, sustainable version of the WBHL designed specifically for low-income borrowers can provide 96% to 100% of the home-buying power available with an FHA mortgage, the most common loan type used by low-income first-time home buyers. A modest subsidy to the home buyer provided by a foundation or the federal government could accomplish this goal.

So what’s standing in the way of offering WBHLs to as many qualified lower-income borrowers as possible? Regulations designed to promote sound lending that end up standing in the way. One is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “ability to repay” rules that ignore the benefits of evaluating the borrower’s entire budget. The other is the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s mortgage-insurance-company requirements that fail to consider the much lower default risk of a 15-year loan compared with a 30-year loan.

If regulators learn anything from the mortgage meltdown that led to the 2008 financial crisis, it should be that the goal of increasing homeownership—particularly among lower-income Americans—cannot safely be advanced by loosening lending standards. It can be by the Wealth Building Home Loan.

William M. Isaac

William M. Isaac

ABOUT WILLIAM M. ISAAC

Mr. Isaac, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., is senior managing director at FTI Consulting and the author of “Senseless Panic: How Washington Failed America” (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). Mr. Pinto, former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, is co-director and chief risk officer of the International Center on Housing Risk at the American Enterprise Institute.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

The School Voucher Audit: Do Publicly Funded Private School Choice Programs Save Money?

One of the pillars of Dr. Milton Friedman’s school voucher idea was that it not only would expand personal freedom and improve student achievement but also save money.

To see if that is indeed the case, this paper presents a cautious, rational estimate of the overall fiscal effects of school voucher programs that have been established over the past 24 years. It is not to lay claim that this analysis is a definitive, to-the-penny calculation of the fiscal impact incurred by every state government and local public school district where those voucher programs are in effect. That arduous undertaking would take too long and add too little value to the broader public policy debate to justify the immense effort and cost. That’s a task best addressed at the individual state level.


The School Voucher Audit: Do Publicly Funded Private School Choice Programs Save Money? from The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

For the 10 school vouchers programs examined in this report, a cumulative total savings of at least $1.7 billion has been realized since 1990-91, the first year of the historic Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), through 2010-11, the end of this paper’s review period. During that same timeframe, participation in school voucher programs grew from 300 students to nearly 70,000, an increase of over 230 times.

Beyond just calculating the cumulative savings realized from school vouchers, this report strives to substantially elevate the reader’s understanding of how school choice savings are measured. The most relevant relationship in calculating the fiscal impact of school choice is the difference between: (1) the amount of financial assistance (i.e., the voucher amount) provided to participants and (2) the current cost of educating those students in the public school system. If the average voucher amount is less than the average per-student educational cost, a savings is realized for those students that use a voucher to leave a public school to enroll in a private school. It’s that simple!

What can complicate the task of calculating potential voucher savings are other factors that can affect the results:

First and foremost, eligibility for a voucher program may include some students who would have enrolled in a private school even without the vouchers’ financial assistance. This “private school propensity” effect is an incremental public cost that must be taken into account.

Second, the voucher amount typically varies among students, requiring an average voucher amount be calculated to generate a reasonable savings estimate.

Finally, the many nuances and complexities of the K-12 federal-aid allocation formulas and each state’s school finance laws and policies often cause confusion about school choice savings. But they really shouldn’t. Although this complex web of formulas, laws, and policies determine whether the savings are captured or reallocated and precisely how the finances of the federal government, state government, and local public schools are affected by school choice, it does not change the total amount saved by school vouchers.

Frequently, a state’s school finance laws are written in a way that results in much of the savings from a school voucher program being passively reallocated back to the public schools. A common example is provisions that protect public schools’ revenues amid declining enrollment. In other words, a public school’s funding remains constant, or nearly so, even as their cost burden for educating students is reduced. Opponents of school choice, then, often claim that no savings ever occurred. That is simply not true. The financial fact is that the savings were automatically distributed back to the public school that the voucher recipient left. That is, the public schools are still paid for students they no longer serve. So, instead of taxpayers receiving those savings, or the government spending them to improve, say, roads or parks, the public school system keeps the savings.

It was Dr. Friedman’s view that, by expanding school choice, the basic economic principle of competition would work to temper cost growth over time. Today, private school tuition is typically much less than the amount spent to educate a student in public school. Granted, that is true, in part, because of private schools’ extensive fundraising efforts. It’s also hard to predict how broader private school choice, facilitated by taxpayer funding, would impact both giving to private schools and tuition levels in the future. But what is certain is that, with more parental choice, spending for all schooling will move more quickly toward its proper level. Whether that level is more or less than what the current system generates is unknown. However, what is known is that the current government-sanctioned monopoly tends to drive up overall spending while under-rewarding excellence.

Hayek: The Knowledge Problem by Jeffrey A. Tucker

We must stand humble before complexity and order without planning.

F.A. Hayek is an epic figure in the history of human freedom. He stood for liberty at a time when most intellectuals in the world embraced ideologies of command and control. His literary legacy continues to provide some of the most powerful arguments ever made for the depoliticization of the social order, including its commercial life.

But, in my personal experience, he can also be one of the most difficult thinkers to grasp.

After F.A. Hayek died in 1992, for example, a magazine commissioned me to do a final tribute to his life and work, summing up his main contributions. It was supposed to be for a popular audience. There’s nothing like such a writing assignment to reveal how much you actually know — or do not know — about a subject.

I thought it was going to be a snap. I covered his biography and politics just fine; I mentioned his business-cycle studies and his work on capital theory. But of course his main contribution to the world of social science is summed up in the phrase “the knowledge problem.” Even though I read most of his major work, and read his seminal articles on the problem of knowledge, I was stunned to find myself with writer’s block.

What I came to realize is that I didn’t understand, much less appreciate, his writing on this topic. So I covered the basics (the knowledge needed to run the social order is distributed in individual minds and inaccessible to planners), but my heart wasn’t in it. That’s where matters stood for me for about twenty years.

I tried to make an effort to get how it was that Hayek was able to write vast literature on this one subject, why his seminal article “The Use of Knowledge in Society” was the most cited article in the second half of the twentieth century, why innumerable dissertations have been written on Hayek’s insight, and why he has influenced countless scholars in so many disciplines for so long.

Part of the problem is that Hayek did not always write with his logic and conclusions on his sleeve. His rhetorical style is not so much hortatory or doctrinaire as it is searching and exploratory. You get the sense that he is thinking through an issue as he writes, struggling to find the right combination of words, the right phrasing, the right examples, to capture his insight — which always seems to be unfolding in real time rather than stated like a final product for consumption.

For someone who is looking for final answers and pure theory, this type of writing can be frustrating. There was the additional problem that Hayek can just be downright annoying in places, contradicting himself by endorsing political programs at odds with his own theory. He also has a habit of backing away from the hardest conclusions of his own narrative. If you seek a clear definition of ideas like freedom or property rights in Hayek’s work, you will come away disappointed. He often seemed so consumed by the complexity of the world that he shied away from clarity for fear that he had missed something. For readers looking for ironclad deductions and arguments, his approach can give the impression of being an elaborate display of obscurantism.

In order to understand Hayek and to learn from him, you have to be prepared to think alongside him as he writes. His work presumes an open mind that is ready to think about complex topics, most often from the inside out. He is asking and seeking to answer a completely different set of questions than most people are even willing to consider. Most readers are not prepared to consider them. This is a point it took me many years to understand.

What changed for me? I needed a visual application of the knowledge problem, something that connected the theory with reality. This happened to me at a bar atop one of the highest spots in São Paulo, Brazil, a spot where you could make a complete turn and see the lights of the city as far as you looked. It was a world without end, in all directions.

I was overwhelmed at its utter incomprehensibility. It was too much for my mind because it is too much for any mind. The revelation hit me like a truck: this is an order that no one can possibly comprehend in either its totality or its parts, and, as such, an order that no one can possibly control. It cannot be built by anyone in particular; it is built only by an extended and hyper-complex process that is driven by individual minds that takes many generations to unfold.

It can only be harmed by those who would presume to control it — and the bureaucrats and politicians in this city surely do. The regulators can pass regulations. The planners can order buildings built and torn down. They can loot those who are willing to comply. But, in the end, in this city of more than 11 million people, even in the presence of overweening government, society somehow takes its own course. How this happens and why cries out for explanation.

“The knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form,” explains Hayek, “but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess.”

I came to realize, right there, that this is not just about São Paulo. It’s about any city in the world. In fact, it’s about every social setting, large or small. It’s about the whole world. Only individuals possess the knowledge that nearly all social scientists — and bureaucracies — imagine that they can, must, and do possess. Anyone who seeks to control the social order is presuming that the unanswerable questions are already answered and proceeds from that point. Hayek is digging deeper to observe that we cannot possibly know what we must know if we seek to design much less rule the world. The knowledge is dispersed and, by its nature, uncollectible.

Is Hayek describing a world of disconnected chaos and uncoordinated randomness, a nihilistic social order of swirling unpredictability? That is not the world in which we live. Why not? Because of the existence of institutions like prices, mores, habits, signaling systems of culture and learning — of knowledge that we all possess, not always consciously but mostly inchoately. They are institutions that we ourselves have not created, but they assist us in making the most of our lives.

“We make constant use of formulas, symbols, and rules whose meaning we do not understand,” writes Hayek, “and through the use of which we avail ourselves of the assistance of knowledge which individually we do not possess. We have developed these practices and institutions by building upon habits and institutions which have proved successful in their own sphere and which have in turn become the foundation of the civilization we have built up.”

As I stood at the same bar in São Paulo looking all around me, my vision changed from macrocosm to microcosm. I observed two people standing close by. They were embracing, kissing intimately. I wondered whether this was a first date or if they had been together for many years. I had no access to that information, and nothing they did gave me the answer. They seemed to be courting each other but at what level and in what way I could not know. And yet this information was foundational to everything both of them were thinking at the time. To truly understand this relationship, I would have to know not just something but countless bits of information I could not really know.

What’s more, even this two-person society was not comprehensible to the two people themselves. Part of the spark of their relationship was the emotional dance they were engaged in right there on the spot. Their intimacy was their means of accessing, however incompletely and briefly, the true spirit of the other’s intellectual and emotional state of mind. They can come close, through every means available, but never entirely achieve that oneness for which true love strives.

Even so, both people in this two-person society were seeking longingly and lovingly for the ideal, coordinating their actions through shared cues, language, and symbols. And in so doing, they created their own micro-order right there, as had everyone else in that bar, as has every one of the 11 million people in that city, as has every one of the 7 billion people on this planet.

We all seek some form of individuality but also a connection to others. We can create institutions to make this possible, but mostly we embed ourselves within them. The institutions emerge from within the structure of our shared experience, chosen and not imposed, and we gravitate toward those who work and eschew those who don’t, in an ever-evolving process of discovery.

Let’s say you set out to plan the world. “If we possess all the relevant information,” writes Hayek, “if we can start out from a given system of preferences, and if we command complete knowledge of available means, the problem which remains is purely one of logic.” We only need to plug in the right data into our calculus and issue orders. The problem is that this solution presumes that the unsolvable problem — gaining that information — has already been solved.

What is the significance of this revelation? It lays waste to a century — or many centuries — of intellectual pretense. The social order is built by the coordination of plans. If those plans are always individual plans, radically individuated and subjectivized, coordinated only through evolved institutions created by no one in particular, the dreams of every would-be master of the universe come crashing down.

The most obvious conclusion is also the most powerful one from a political point of view. The source of order is not the government, even though people continue to believe that despite all evidence. The bureaucratic class and the politicians who empower that class are no more or less smart than you and I are. They are just people with no special insight. Because of government’s legal right to plunder, the government is corrupt and exploitative. It takes stuff from people. That’s about the whole of it. It is not the source of anyone’s order.

What then is the source of social order? It is our individual minds, however imperfect they may be in making judgments about our world. Freedom is the only real option there is. Anything else is based on a lie — a “pretense of knowledge,” as Hayek would say. Anything that subverts that freedom, which means any state at all, amounts to an attack on the very source of social order.

“If we can agree that the economic problem of society is mainly one of rapid adaptation to changes in the particular circumstances of time and place,” Hayek concludes, “it would seem to follow that the ultimate decisions must be left to the people who are familiar with these circumstances, who know directly of the relevant changes and of the resources immediately available to meet them.

We cannot expect that this problem will be solved by first communicating all this knowledge to a central board which, after integrating all knowledge, issues its orders. We must solve it by some form of decentralization. But this answers only part of our problem. We need decentralization because only thus can we insure that the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place will be promptly used.

I’m drawn to Hayek’s use of the terms “immediately” and “promptly.” With these words he introduces the ultimate enemy of all those who would control the world: the passage of time. With the existence of time comes change, and with change comes new and different knowledge. Even if it were possible somehow to gain a complete snapshot of the world with all its existing knowledge, by the time it could be used for any purpose to bend the world from its course to another, that knowledge would be outdated and hence useless. Even under the best circumstances, the planners would only be planning the past.

Here, then, is the knowledge problem. It is about more than the ability to plan an economy. It is about the whole of our lives. It is about the ability to plan and direct the course of civilization. That capacity to manage the world, even the smallest part of it, will always and everywhere elude our grasp. That’s a beautiful insight, because it reveals the truth about human freedom.

Freedom is not just one way to organize society. It is the only way.

20121129_JeffreyTuckeravatarABOUT JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Jeffrey Tucker is a distinguished fellow at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Miami-Dade Schools: Giving Students the Shaft

Borrowing from the saying of my mentor, Ira J. Paul, and as rightly inferred by T. Willard Fair in his recent op-ed in The Miami Herald, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which prides itself in its motto of “giving our students the world” is giving our students what a reasonable person may conclude, especially in School Board Districts 1 and 2, the shaft.

Mr. Fair details the “what” in his article and proposes a solution, but he does not address the “why” as this article will do just that.

The “what” is that the schools of School Board Districts 1 and 2 have the least experienced teachers and the least “highly effective” teachers than the schools of other School Board Districts.

Mr. Fair is correct in referring to this as an injustice and a problem, but to fix this problem requires more than involuntary transfers as he suggests – which would do more harm than good.

However, he should keep in mind that while he was on the State Board of Education, that body and the FLDOE encouraged, as part of Jeb Bush’s A+ Plan and No Child Left Behind, involuntary transfers at failing schools.

As a result, verified by my own experience, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and principals at Miami Central Senior High School and Miami Norland Senior High School (as well as at other Zone/ETO schools) targeted outspoken veteran teachers and replaced them with new teachers (primarily Teach For America teachers; or as former UTD president Karen Aronowitz termed them “Teach For Awhile” teachers) so as to have a submissive, compliant workforce that would not dissent.

As someone who has worked full-time various instructional positions in both School Board Districts 1 (8 years) and 2 (6 years), I can readily identify the problems through my insightful knowledge based on experience as I was transferred from both schools for those very reasons.

In conversation over the years, I heard assistant principals at Norland gloat that they liked TFA teachers as “they will do whatever we want.”

Never mind that Ceresta Smith was an activist that obtained a $10,000 Michael Jordan grant that brought Dwayne Wade to Norland and money for FCAT instruction and that she was a National Board Certified Teacher; she had to go as she spoke out against questionable curriculum decisions and numerous contractual violations as I had to go for exposing massive test cheating known as Adobegate.

Numerous teachers like Ceresta and I were moved out under “the best interests of the District” clause of the Contract as apparently it is in the best interest of Miami-Dade County Public Schools for teachers to be quiet and fearful and not to speak out for the best interests of their students or to expose standardized test cheating.

Since her departure three years ago, Norland has not had a National Board Certified Teacher or an English teacher of her caliber at Norland who brought in grants and motivational speakers for our students.

Since my departure last October, the Library Media Center has been closed, students visited me at Crestview telling me they cannot check out books whatsoever, and as a result (perhaps alongside little to no cheating given increased oversight) FCAT Reading scores declined three points.

During my tenure at Norland, FCAT Reading scores went up consistently; how is removing me, other than to keep Norland teachers quiet, to the detriment of the students and their right to read, in “the best interests of the District?”

Besides TFA teachers who have a two year commitment with an already accepted slot at a graduate school somewhere in conjunction with the payoff of their student loans after their tenure at M-DCPS, who would want to work at schools like Central and Norland where you are forced to compromise your ethics and morals and are denied liberty of conscience?

District and Norland actions sends what a fair-minded person may assume is a warped message to the students they purport to serve: the honest school librarian cannot serve them in the Library Media Center at Norland, but Mrs. Brenda Muchnick can teach them business education even though she was suspended for her part in Adobegate while her colleague, Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin, was fired for doing the exact same thing.

We wonder why students in America who go into the military partake in the various cheating scandals that have plagued the naval and air force nuclear forces?!

Mr. Fair, and others, need to realize we need to have honest and ethical school principals and value teachers based on merit and willing to highlight curriculum and contractual flaws as opposed to the status quo that disdains the outspoken veteran teacher who knows best in favor of the compliant warm body that sees, hears, and speaks no evil who rides off into the sunset two years later to graduate school and a different career path.

Of course, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is in denial and highlights so called “improved graduation rates” as proof that their detrimental policies and hardline against outspoken veteran teachers are working.

Upon closer inspection, a reasonable person may conclude that these graduation rates do not hold muster and are indeed funny math.

Think about it: Norland has never cracked beyond 30% proficiency on the FCAT Reading exam- a graduation requirement; that being the case, how can there be a graduation rate of over 80%?!

Miami-Dade County Public Schools and their messengers must think people are really stupid.

The answer lies in the ever shrinking senior class as explained in USDOE graduation rate guidelines.

Norland always had a sophomore class (FCAT exit exam class) of between 400-500 students during my tenure, with Grade 10 FCAT Reading scores being between 14-30% during my time (2007-2013) there.

For the sake of the argument, apply the highest Grade 10 FCAT Reading score, 29%, to 400 students, with the answer being 116 students passed the test give or take.

That is the baseline for the graduation rate for that graduating class two years later.

According to the USDOE guidelines, if members of that class transfer, die, or leave the country, the graduation rate is not affected- meaning, if students cannot pass the FCAT and go to a private school without the FCAT requirement, the school is not penalized:

Compared to other measures of graduation rates, the ACGR (adjusted cohort graduation rate) is considered the most accurate measure available for reporting on-time graduation rates (Seastrom et al. 2006b). A 4-year ACGR is defined as the number of students who graduate in 4 years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class. The term “adjusted cohort” means the students who enter grade 9 plus any students who transfer into the cohort in grades 9–12 minus any students who are removed from the cohort because they transferred out, moved out of the country, or were deceased (34 C.F.R. § 200.19.” (Page 8).

Thus, Norland (and other schools) were rewarded as the graduation rates went up as the results were incorporated into the School Grades which resulted in the Federal and State performance incentives that were paid out.

Suppose the same 116 students who passed the FCAT and are cleared to graduate stay at Norland over the next two years but 200 students who cannot pass the FCAT or the new FSA exams transfer their credits to a private school in their junior and senior year to graduate-that leaves the class with a total of 200 students and the graduation rate skyrockets to 58%.

Further student departure would only increase the rate only if the students who passed the FCAT or the FSA exams stayed.

It is very legal but very misleading, and I know of a Norland faculty member who had children at the school that could not pass the FCAT take advantage of this loophole so they can graduate and go to college on academic scholarships.

When I was at Miami Central about ten years ago, I knew of students who could not pass the FCAT that went to a private school; they transferred in their credits, spent a few months there, graduated, and went to a community college in Minnesota to play football.

More food for thought: quantity. I remember the large graduation classes that Miami Central and Norland use to have, about 300- 500 some odd students. Funny with these current unprecedented graduation rates over the past four years, graduating classes at Central and Norland have been less than 200 students.

That’s funny Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ math for you, and it’s a system that rewards failure as astronomical graduation rates are being obtained simply by a whittling down of a given senior year class via student transfers to private schools for purposes of graduation to evade the FCAT and the soon to be new Florida Standards Assessments.

Congress and/or the USDOE should revise the graduation rate criteria to eliminate this deception and count student transfers against a school’s graduation rate if they graduate from private schools with little to no accountability as they could not pass the FCAT exam at a public school with accountability.

Furthermore, the Florida Legislature should regulate private schools and only allow them to award a valid state-recognized diploma only if their students can pass the mandated state assessments or an equivalent nationally recognized exam like the ACT or SAT to gauge student learning and progress.

Climate Reality Conveniently Lost in New York City

When former Vice President Al Gore helped lead a parade of the faithful down New York’s Sixth Avenue this past Sunday in the “People’s Climate March,” it was lamentable to see how deluded so many have become about the real causes and effects of climate change. The fearful souls who confidently joined Al in the march either are unaware or unconcerned with how utterly lost they are between what is real and what Al and the President are telling them about climate change. Climate reality it seems got conveniently lost in the Big Apple this week.

Their President Barack Obama, in his address to the UN Climate Summit, continued to stress the need to eliminate an atmospheric trace gas for the sake of saving the planet. So committed are the flock that follow preacher Al and preacher Barack, that they simply have divorced themselves from the climate reality that surrounds them, a reality that is about to make life on planet Earth for much more difficult.

What is this ‘new climate reality?”

Climate-Change-March

People’s Climate March, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in New York. AP Photo/Mel Evans.

Here are some of the life changing facts not discussed by the President, Al or others leading the climate festivities this week:

  1. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING! The battle to end global warming has already been won – there has been no growth in the Earth’s average temperatures in the troposphere (where we live) for over eighteen years! Congratulations Mr. President you actually did fulfill one of your campaign promises. The cruel irony is of course, you had nothing to do with it. The faithful continued the march even though for most of the last two decades we have heard about global warming, there wasn’t any!
  2. The planet’s oceans and atmospheres are not in the so-called “pause” ready to restart warming at some future date – they are in fact COOLING! For eleven years now the oceans have been cooling and the atmosphere for most of that time. This is fundamental and not subject to negotiation. The cooling of the planet is a total violation of the UN’s failed CO2 driven climate models. On the other hand these climate trends are in complete accord with the significantly more reliable solar activity models that use natural cycles to predict climate. As a result of following this ‘best available science,’ my Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) has racked up what at least one PhD investigative journalist has said, is the best track record of climate prediction in the United States.
  3. The most vital piece of information which the leaders of the global warming (a.k.a. climate change) religion failed to disclose to their followers was that A NEW POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS COLD CLIMATE HAS BEGUN. The public is intentionally being kept in the dark by the current administration in Washington on the matter of this new, hazardous, cold epoch. Unfortunately, if it repeats as similar past cold periods, it will be devastating for the planet’s agriculture. The one billion who already struggle daily to find enough food to eat are about to face their worst trial for survival in recorded history! If prominent Russian climate scientists are correct and the cold is at the level of the “little Ice Age” then the global suffering will be ‘biblical’ in scale.

For the ‘church of climate blindness,’ their high priests, and their happily self-deluded flock, this news of an impending dangerous cold climate will likely go un-communicated by the US government and their complicit media co-conspirators. History has also shown that those who make decisions based on what they want to believe instead of what the facts tell them, are the ones who pay the worst price. They are the ones who are least prepared for the adversity that the facts tell them is about to strike.

So, in what may be the most public display of cognitive dissonance in US history, a large portion of the American people celebrated along with those marching in New York City this week, reinforcing their belief that mankind controls the climate. They remain oblivious to the all-powerful Sun that it is about to inconveniently lower the boom on that notion, with a vengeance!

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is a Union of Concerned Scientists banner at the People’s Climate March in New York City, 20 September 2014. SOURCE: Kate Cell, UCS.

Goodbye Eric Holder

In a nation where there is a scarcity of good news, hearing Eric Holder give a farewell speech upon his announcement that he will be leaving as the Attorney General was surely welcome in some circles. I was never a fan of his because he was in my opinion always more of a politician than someone with the responsibility to enforce the laws of the nation.

I first took notice of Holder when, in the pre-dawn hours of April 22, 2000, as the deputy attorney general serving under Janet Reno, he oversaw the seizure of Elian Gonzalez, a seven-year-old whose mother had died in an effort to escape Cuba and find sanctuary in the United States. Holder was doing what he had to do after a court ruled that Gonzalez be returned to his father in Cuba, but I thought then and still do that Gonzalez should have been allowed to remain with his U.S. relatives.

When Barack Obama became President, he selected Holder as his Attorney General. Both had made history being the first blacks to hold either job. Within three weeks or so, Holder was saying that Americans were “cowards” for not addressing issues of race in America. That told me all I needed to know about him. Whatever would follow would frequently be judged on the basis of race, not justice. I wouldn’t want a white attorney general to act in that fashion, but a black one nursing feelings of victimization despite his personal achievements did not bode well.

I have not been alone in my misgivings. On news of Holder’s announcement, The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, called on some of its advisors for their opinions.

Ronald D. Rotunda, the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at Chapman University, had his own memories of Holder:

“Mr. Holder is leaving the office, but he cannot so easily leave the controversies that have surrounded his tenure, including: the scandal surrounding the IRS, the missing emails, and his role in investigating the scandal; the ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal, which made him the first cabinet member in U.S. history that Congress held in contempt; his decision to drop a prosecution against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation, after the Department of Justice successfully secured an injunction; and the unprecedented decision, which Holder personally approved, to subpoena, monitor, and issue a search warrant involving James Rosen, a Fox News Reporter” “Holder will leave the office, but is unlikely to leave the national stage because these controversies remain,” said Prof. Rotunda.

Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of the Association of Physicians and Surgeons, said:

“The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons first got to know Eric Holder when he represented the government in our lawsuit about the illegal operations of the Clinton Task Force on Health Care Reform. The pattern then was stonewalling and obfuscation. Even when task force members finally turned over some documents on court order, many of the floppy disks were blank. Holder declined to prosecute Ira Magaziner, head of the Task Force Working Group, for perjury.”

‘It seems,” said Dr. Orient, “that some government officials never learn that the cover-up can be worse than the underlying conduct,’’ Judge Lamberth added. ‘Most shocking to this court, and deeply disappointing, is that the Department of Justice would participate in such conduct… This type of conduct is reprehensible, and the government must be held accountable for it…The pattern has only worsened with Holder as the highest law enforcement officer in the land. Who will ever hold him and the White House accountable?”

Jesse Hathaway, Managing Editor of Heartland’s Budget & Tax News, said:

“Eric Holder’s resignation represents an opportunity for the President to appoint an Attorney General willing to end what some have seen as a witch-hunt against American banks. Under Holder, the Department of Justice shook down Bank of America for billions of dollars, as punishment the bank’s alleged crime of complying with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and lending money to individuals unable to repay. The CRA mandated that banks must make bad loans, the banks complied with the bad policy, but the bank is not at fault for the results of that bad policy.”

“Hopefully, said Hathaway, “whomever replaces Holder as ‘top cop’ will understand how causality works, and end the practice of shaking down the finance industry as punishment for following Washington DC’s orders.”

Holder’s instincts as Attorney General generated a huge public outcry when he decided to try the September 11 plotters in a New York courthouse within walking distance of the destroyed Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Lawmakers, New York City officials, and some of the victim’s families thought that was a very bad idea and Holder reversed the decision and sent the cases to military court. 9/11 was clearly an act of war, but neither the President, nor Holder saw it that way.

Holder made a bit of history when he refused to defend a law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He made more history when, refusing to hand over documents regarding Fast and Furious, a scandal involving gun trafficking to Mexican drug cartels, Congress voted to hold him in contempt, the first time an attorney general had been censured in that way. Holder, however, held onto his job because the President had thrown a cloak of “executive privilege” over the scandal, stonewalling Congress.

To be fair, Holder has been lauded for policies that were applauded for reducing crime during his tenure in office and urging a revision to sentences that did not reflect the crimes, reducing the nation’s prison population in the process.

In the end, though, it seems like everything was about race for him and the President. Holder inserted himself into the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting of a black youth by a white police officer and, while the facts are still being investigated, the likelihood is that it was justifiable self-defense. And the President, speaking at the United Nations last week also mentioned Ferguson as an example of America’s racial bias. What happened in Ferguson was about law enforcement and justice, but neither saw it in that fashion.

What America needs now for the remainder of Obama’s term in office is a colorblind Attorney General.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED ARTICLE: Obama: Holder ‘Opened Door’ to Same-Sex Marriage by Refusing to Defend Law

Florida’s Deceptive Common Core Implementation and Teacher Training

Despite Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order (Executive Order 13-276) replacing the Common Core and withdrawing Florida from PARCC, teachers are still being trained in Common Core as the Florida Standards are essentially the Common Core State Standards with another name, slight renumbering of standards, and a few additional standards.

In an email sent to me from Cheryl Etters (FLDOE Spokeswoman) as a response to a media inquiry, she termed my assertions rooted in fact as “opinions,” which is one of their dismissive tactics when the FLDOE and State officials are called on to explain their deceptive and misleading campaign to stealthily implement the Common Core State Standards in Florida schools and the continued training of Florida teachers in the Common Core State Standards.

Why are Florida teachers, including me, being trained in the Common Core State Standards a year after Gov. Scott’s executive order when they were replaced by the Florida Standards?

The simple answer is that they are one and the same with minor differences- a plan meant to appease President Obama, Jeb Bush, and the testing industry (AIR, Pearson).

To satisfy your own mind, read and compare for yourself: Common Core ELA Standards and the Language Arts Florida Standards (LAFS); and Common Core Mathematics Standards and the Mathematics Florida Standards (MAFS).

It’s amazing that Gov. Scott, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and FLDOE personnel cannot come clean and respond whatsoever to these claims- because they cannot in an honest fashion!

I have been waiting about a week for a response to our media inquiry; but when faced with fact and evidence, a response is difficult for them to formulate.

Beacon Educator, through FLDOE regulation, is the largest online provider of professional development courses and still offers training in Common Core but not (and has not as of yet) the Florida Standards.

Why is Beacon Educator not offering professional development courses in the Florida Standards? By continuing to offer professional development courses in the Common Core, is this an admission by the FLDOE and the State that the Florida Standards and Common Core are one and the same?

Ms. Etters’ response was: I’m not quite sure how to respond to your opinions. A mention on Beacon Educator – they appear to be a private vendor and are not associated with the Florida Department of Education. What do you mean by “through FLDOE regulation?”

            If Ms. Etters consulted the Beacon Educator website, she would know.

Concerning Beacon Educator, Beacon has three disclaimers suggesting they adhere to/meet FLDOE requirements and that it received past funding through the FLDOE:

Beacon Educator provides facilitated online courses for busy educators. These courses comply with the National Staff Development Council Standards, Florida Department of Education Professional Development Protocol Standards, and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates.

Forming a consortium with other districts including Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Gadsden, and the PAEC districts, Beacon Learning Center received the U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant (2000-2006). Other funding sources included Bay District Schools and the Florida Department of Education through grants including the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, (1997-2000), Florida Goals 2000 (1998-99), and other Florida Department of Education grants (2002-2003).

Furthermore, Beacon Educator is not a private vendor, but a public one: “Beacon Educator, the professional development division of Beacon Learning Center, is a self-supporting, internet-based enterprise within Bay District Schools.”

Given that, the Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development and Retention within the FLDOE approves each school district’s Master Inservice Plan to offer professional development: “The master plan shall be updated and approved by local boards on an annual basis by September 1 of the current year with written verification submitted annually to the Commissioner of Education by October 1 of the current year.”

Bay County Public Schools has an approved Master Inservice Plan from the FLDOE, hence FLDOE regulation, and thus offers professional development through their owned entity- Beacon Educator.

Doesn’t Ms. Etters and the folks at the FLDOE know this?

Notice the attached Weekly Briefings (May and August 2014) from Miami–Dade County Public Schools and the associated flyers (May and August 2014).

Both briefings offer the exact same courses, but the Briefing from May, under Online Modules, says in the second bullet: “New Florida State Standards (Common Core).”

The proof is in the pudding! I took all of the courses and earned credit in them per my Beacon Educator transcript and M-DCPS Staff Development (SD) Record– eight months after Gov. Scott’s executive order supposedly ending the Common Core in Florida.

Notice the credit entries say “Common Core” and not “Florida Standards.”

There’s no denying- Common Core is going full steam ahead with disastrous results unless appropriate action is taken.

By appropriate action, I mean taking action at the ballot box: Adrian Wyllie for Governor.

Both former Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Scott support Common Core and its implementation.

Charlie Crist gave us Common Core; Rick Scott is implementing them.

Crist, who likes to be liked, stands for nothing and forced it on Florida to appease President Obama and Jeb Bush.

Gov. Scott, like Crist, is implementing Common Core, and lying to us in the process, under the guise of the Florida Standards to appease Jeb Bush and the testing industry- his base and support. He has to under false pretenses (Florida Standards) for political survival and in a way that is acceptable to both president Obama and Jeb Bush.

Moreover, both of them do virtually nothing to those caught cheating on standardized tests, and you know cheating will take off like wildfire on these new Florida Standard Assessments.

Therefore, if you are in true opposition to Common Core, then the appropriate course of action is to vote for Adrian Wyllie unless you want Common Core under Gov. Scott or Common Core and PARCC under Gov. Crist.

IRS: Spinning A Cover-Up?

“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration.  But as time goes by, what is true is revealed.”  – Ismail Haniyeh

In May of 2013, the IRS targeting scandal began to unfold after Lois Lerner leaked that the IRS targeted certain conservative groups and individuals for special treatment by the IRS. Congressional investigations were launched.

The Washington, D.C. spin machine went into overtime and eventually the IRS started admitting they were having one heck of a time with hard drives that were just magically wiping out key employee’s emails. Even the President felt a need to boldly declare on national TV that there “wasn’t even a smidgen of corruption” at the IRS.

It’s been said that the original scandal isn’t what gets most people in trouble, it’s the attempted cover-up. From lost hard drives to pleadings of the Fifth Amendment, to Committee members feigning outrage over investigation questions, the magnitude of perceived cover-up is astounding, and shows what we have sadly come to expect from the Washington elite who believe that nothing they do is wrong because it is “for own our good.”

And just last week, in a classic gotcha moment, U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Brian Fallon called House Oversight Committee staff stating, “the department wanted congressional staffers to get documents to selected reporters so that officials could comment on them before the majority did.”

There was just one problem.

Fallon thought he was calling the staff of the Ranking Minority Member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings. He in fact called the staff of the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa. Oops.

As The Hill reported, after Issa’s staff informed Fallon whom he was talking to, Fallon came back on the line and said there was a change in plans. Ya think!

Perhaps this is why the U.S. House just passed three resolutions limiting the authority of the IRS.  They are:

  • H.R. 5418: To prohibit officers and employees of the Internal Revenue Service from using personal email accounts to conduct official business.
  • H.R. 5419: To provide tax-exempt groups the right to an administrative appeal relating to adverse determinations of tax-exempt status.
  • H.R. 5420: To permit the release of certain information to victims regarding the status of investigations into leaks of their personal taxpayer information.

While we applaud the House’s actions, it is tantamount to plugging a hole in the Hoover Dam with a wad of chewing gum! Nice try but no cigar.

All the House did was to give the appearance of trying to solve a problem while secretly protecting the status quo. If Congress really wants to end the nightmare of IRS abuse – as the American people want them to – then they must demand the FairTax® Plan be immediately passed.

The FairTax replaces the income tax and defunds, disbands and eliminates the IRS. Now that’s a game changer!

Members of Congress only fear one thing – being thrown out of office by their constituents. They listen most to groups who have the largest number of paid members and who represent the largest voting blocks within their district or state. That’s why we’ve set a goal of 1 million new AFFT paid memberships. If you agree, go to our website and become a member today.

Time to fire John Boehner!

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) joined forces early Wednesday evening as the House passed a continuing resolution that will fund the government after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30th, and that will permit funding for Planned Parenthood (the nation’s largest abortion provider), the entirety of Obamacare, and an amendment requested by President Barack Obama “to train and equip appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.” 

These are the good terrorists.  They don’t videotape their be-headings.  Now tax payer money will be used to vacuum suck unborn children from pregnant moms and arm nice terrorists who will try and kill us later after they get rid of their opposition.

The bill passed 319 to 108 with four members not voting. But there were not enough Republican members to pass the bill without significant support from Democrats.

While Pelosi sided with the Republican leadership and voted for the bill, 53 Republicans joined with 55 Democrats in voting against it.

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Florida’s Answer to Common Core Test Cheating in Miami-Dade?

By the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General and the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General’s refusal to investigate possible and suspected test cheating at Crestview Elementary School in the Miami-Dade School District, they may have given the citizens and taxpayers of Florida a glimpse into the strategy to handle the onslaught of test cheating due to transpire with the new Florida Standards Assessments (Common Core): Pass the buck, skip any Office of Inspector General, and let the ultimate arbitrator be a department(s) of the offending school district.

A reasonable person may very well assume that as the State and Miami-Dade County Public Schools were caught off guard by the test cheating scandal of Adobegate at Miami Norland Senior High School that they colluded to create this tactical response of passing the buck and delay and deny and that this is their response and the lesson they learned from Adobegate.

Why can’t their response be to acknowledge the problem, deal with the perpetrators in an appropriate manner, and ensure that this problem never arises again?

The complex answer seems to be, given the State’s and M-DCPS response to Adobegate, that cheating is quietly condoned as the solution to the overwhelming burdens and unrealistic expectations posed by Florida’s version of the Common Core and its impact on teacher evaluations, contractual status, and salary.

The FLDOE took no action as of yet against the individuals involved in Adobegate or Miami Norland Senior High School, and M-DCPS in a bizarre twist fired one of the accused cheaters, Mr. Emmanuel Fleurantin, and reinstated the other, Mrs. Brenda Muchnick, at Norland last January.

When one reads that document and theDepartment of Administrative Hearings brief, issued by the School Board Attorney on January 8, 2014, justifying Mr. Fleurantin’s termination, one can reasonably conclude that Mrs. Muchnick is equally culpable and a reasonable person would think her employment was up for termination as well.

A reasonable person may well conclude that the disparity in punishment between Mr. Fleurantin and Mrs. Muchnick suggests a cover-up; the illegal and retaliatory actions taken against me are meant to keep Miami-Dade and Florida teachers quiet and to keep the truth from coming out and to prevent exposing other like improprieties throughout M-DCPS and the State as they arise in the future.

Furthermore, the inaction of federal and state officials to investigate encourages such misdeeds and criminal behavior and shortchanges teachers, students, and the general public alike.

On the heels of Adobegate, Miami Norland Senior High School led the state in FCAT invalidations, 13 total, the following school year (2012-2013).

Given Adobegate in 2012 and leading the State of Florida in FCAT invalidations in 2013, a fair-minded person may well conclude that the only thing the students at Norland are learning are how to bilk the Federal and State governments out of test performance incentive funds.

Florida school districts and the FLDOE do not want to see the disastrous results that befell New York State and Kentucky.

After Mr. Guthrie disclosed information to me about suspected test cheating at Crestview Elementary, I forwarded those concerns to Education Commissioner Pam Stewart later that evening.

After further correspondence with an employee of the FLDOE OIG, I got the following response: “Thank you Mr. Colestock.  Our office will close this correspondence as information only.  Should you have any further questions, please contact our office.”

She also directed me to disclose these concerns to M-DCPS, which I did as I submitted and official complaint to the Superintendent.

Apparently, the school district is not interested as I was emailed a memo that the Miami-Dade Office of Inspector General declined to take action and deferred investigation and handling to the District’s Office of Professional Standards and the Office of Assessment and Program Evaluation.

Both entities report to Enid Weisman, the Chief Capital Human Officer for M-DCPS, who is responsible for disciplinary practices in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

She led the effort to remove me from Norland; fired Mr. Fleurantin while reinstating Mrs. Muchnick at Norland though they both were charged by M-DCPS with the same offenses word for word

The principal of Crestview Elementary, Mrs. Sabrina Montilla, was only one of a handful of principals that gave a campaign contribution (page 6) to Mrs. Weisman’s mayoral campaign.

A reasonable person may ask if giving Mrs. Weisman a campaign contribution negates impartiality of any District-led investigation and gives her an unfair advantage and indicate that the foxes are investigating the incident at the hen house.

The State defers to the District; the OIG says no dice; and now we expect the principals and District administrators to police themselves.

At a minimum, the Miami-Dade OIG should undertake the investigation of Crestview akin to the thorough investigation it undertook at Norland; however, given the District response and a lack of

impartiality, the FLDOE should conduct an exhaustive investigation and uncover the truth.

As it currently stands, the Florida taxpayer has to subsidize test cheaters ($250,000 for Norland’s cheating; $45,000 for possible Crestview cheating) and unresponsive Offices of Inspector Generals at the state and school district level.

It should be an either or proposition in favor of the latter and not the former.

However, if the FLDOE and school districts turn a blind eye to test cheating and do nothing, state leaders should assist the taxpayer and shutter the offices of FLDOE and school district OIGs and/or shift that funding to teacher salaries and/or school libraries.

Given the horrid track record of Common Core exams across the country and past instances of cheating in Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida needs to have an ethical and a responsible approach to future instances of test cheating as it surely will arise in the near future as it has in Georgia, Texas, California, and recently in Pennsylvania.

Moreover, Florida politicians need to have the courage and morals to act accordingly, like those in the aforementioned states, especially Georgia, and put the perpetrators of test cheating where they belong – in prison.

FP&L’s Smart Meter Woes: Billing for Services Not Performed & Threatening Shut Offs to Disabled Veterans

Billing for Services Not Rendered

It was a busy time last week fielding phone calls from irate FP&L customers. In June 2014, FP&L began billing customers who did not want a smart meter installed on their home for what they call “NSMR” fees (Non-standard Meter Rider). The fees consist of an upfront one-time payment of $95 and monthly payment of $13.

Why the calls? Well part of that $13/month fee is the cost of FP&L sending a meter reader to actually read the meter so the customer can be billed properly. Several customers I spoke to are pretty irate because the bill they received was “estimated”. That means FP&L did not come out and read the meter. Upon calling FP&L customer service they were told that FP&L is within the Florida Public Service Commission rules to issue estimated bills up to 6 months. Despite cries of foul play, FP&L refused to issue them any credits.

The FPSC Order No. PSC-14-0036-TRF-EI clearly states on page 9, that of the $13.00 monthly fee, $6.81 is for a monthly manual meter reading and $.05 is the associated meter reading OSHA and V Accident costs. One would think that if FP&L does not roll that truck and employee to your home, they should be obliged to credit you the $6.86 since they did not perform the work, no? Apparently, not!

I guess that is something for me to take up at our protest hearing scheduled for September 30th in Tallahassee. Perhaps others will come with signs “No work, No Charge”.

I did check with this customer and there are no access issues for his property, that is, no locked gates or ferocious dogs. This customer also just got his second estimated bill. Twice billed for services NOT rendered.

FP&L Threatening Shut-Off to Disabled Veteran

Some people who refused to take the smart meter are also refusing to pay the extortion fees. They are paying for their electricity, but are not paying the opt-out fees. Well, collection notices and shut-off threats have started to go out causing more anguish.

One customer, Irving Friedman, an 88-year old disabled WWII veteran, who is also recovering from recent heart surgery, received his threatening shut off letter. When his daughter called FP&L on his behalf and explained his medical conditions and also stated that his electricity portion was paid in full she got nowhere. It was only a call to a reporter at the Palm Beach Post and that reporters’ phone inquiries to FP&L that made FP&L back off from their threats to shut off this veterans electric.

FP&L now states they will hold off any shut-offs for those withholding payment of opt-out fees until the FPSC makes a decision on the tariff case pending. That decision should come out some time in November.