A Philosopher's Blog

Is America Education as Bad as They Say?

Posted in Philosophy, Politics, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on July 12, 2013
Seal of the United States Department of Education

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a professor I have grown accustomed to the litany of doom regarding American education. We are repeatedly told that American schools are failing, that colleges are not teaching, and that the students of today are not as good as the students of the past.

There are, of course, problems with the education system. Because of economic disparity, some schools are significantly better than others and the ideas of equality of education and equality of opportunity are cruel jokes. However, the mere fact that there are some serious problems does not entail that all the dire claims are true.

One stock claim is that America has fallen behind the world in education in terms of performance on various tests. While the fact that America is behind other countries is a point of concern, there are at least three points worth considering here. The first is the above-mentioned disparity which will tend to result in lower performance when taking the average for America. The second is that many countries have put considerable effort into improving their education systems and hence it is worth considering that America’s decline is also due to the improvement of others. The third is the matter of the measures—do they, in fact, present an accurate picture of the situation? I am not claiming that the data is bad, I am merely raising a reasonable concern about how accurate our picture of education is at this time.

Another stock claim is that American students are doing badly on standardized tests. While there is clearly value in assessment, it is reasonable to consider whether or not such tests are a proper and adequate measure of education. It is also worth considering whether the obsession with these tests is itself causing damage to education. That is, as teachers teach to the test and student learn for the test, it might be the case that what is being taught is not what should be taught and what is being learned is not what should be being learned. My view is that standardized tests seem to exist mainly to make money for the companies that sell such tests and that their usefulness as a tool of education is dubious. However, such a claim would require proper support, ideally in the form of a properly funded assessment of these assessments.

It is also claimed that schools are failing and that even colleges are not providing worthwhile education. I do agree that the cost of college education has become ridiculous and there are problems in the entire education system. However, it is certainly interesting that along with the mantra of “public schools are failing” there has been a strong push to funnel public money into private and for-profit schools. Now, it could be the case that the for-profit and private schools are merely being proposed as solutions to the alleged problems. But, it seems worth considering that the “public schools are failing” line is being pushed so that people will support and favor shifting funding from the public schools to the for-profit and private schools. Interestingly, while traditional private schools generally do well, the for-profit schools have been plagued with problems, as I have written about in earlier essays.  As such, the idea that for-profit schools will save education seems to be a dubious claim.

One last matter I will consider is the idea that students are worse now than ever. After hearing colleagues and professionals say this over and over, I almost began to feel that it was true. However, my familiarity with history saved me from this fate: such claims about the inferiority of the current generation goes back at least to the time of Socrates. Every generation seems to claim that the next is inferior—think of all “when I was kid” claims that people make. “When I was a kid, people respected their elders.” “When I was a kid, we did our homework.” “When I was a kid, we studied hard.” While kids are different in some ways today (they have Facebook and smartphones), the idea that they are inferior must be considered in the context of the fact that people always make that claim. Now, it might be that every generation is right and that we have reached the lowest point in human history. However, going back and considering actual facts in an objective way should show that the kids today are a bit different but they do not appear to be any worse than the other generations.

As a professor I do often hear other professors lament about how kids get worse every year (I have been hearing this for about 20 years). However, there is an alternative explanation. I do admit that the work of students, such as papers, does seem worse than it did in the past. But, this could be due to the fact that I am better at my job rather than the students being worse. When I look back on my own work as a student, I can see the same bad writing and mistakes I see in my students today. I improve each year, but each year I get new students and it seems reasonable to consider that they seem worse because of this and not that they must actually be worse.

I do admit that changes in technology are probably impacting the students of today. They do labor under the delusion that they can multitask effectively (they cannot—they can just multitask poorly) and they also have more distractions than I faced as a student. However, the students seem to be about the same as when I was a student years ago.

Overall, I do not claim that there are not problems in education. However, I am concerned that the litany of doom and despair may contain consider hyperbole. I am also suspicious regarding some of the motivations behind the doomsayers. While some are no doubt sincerely concerned, it is worth considering that some people are motivated by political or economic agendas rather than the needs of students.


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  1. T. J. Babson said, on July 12, 2013 at 8:50 am

    “Because of economic disparity, some schools are significantly better than others and the ideas of equality of education and equality of opportunity are cruel jokes.”

    Mike, have you given any thought as to what makes one school “better” than another?

    • Nal said, on July 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Whether they teach philosophy or not?

    • T. J. Babson said, on July 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      Here is a thought experiment. Take two schools, A and B. A is “significantly better” than B. Now, take all the students from A and put them in B, and all the students in B and put them in A. Which school is better now?

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm

        Students are a factor. Schools are like sports teams in that their being better or worse depends on everyone involved. If you swapped the players from the worst school team with the best, that would be like swapping the best school’s students for the worst school’s.

        On major flaw with putting the burden of education solely on the teachers is that it fails to consider who the teachers have to work with. This is like putting everything on a coach.

        • WTP said, on July 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm

          Those schools also have coaches. You swap out the coaches and things change also. Though it should be noted that coaches who were “great” in one environment often fail to achieve equal success in another. Think. BTW, I take it you don’t comprehend much of what goes on in major college sports. Much is put on the coach. Teams fail to perform, the coach is let go much faster than the players.

    • WTP said, on July 14, 2013 at 11:13 am

      A big factor in the failure of our education system is the failure of many, many educators to actually educate. To some extent we will always have this problem due to the old adage: Those who can, do…Those who can’t, teach. I think that higher education, even at the high school level, would be improved greatly if more educators had some significant work experience.

    • WTP said, on July 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      David Thompson makes this comment in regard to UK schooling:

      In May 2012, while professing his own “belief in social justice” and calling for the “banning” of private schools, Monbiot wrote, “Rather than opting out of the state education system, they would be obliged to fight for its improvement and better funding.” Unfortunately, the shortcomings of comprehensive education aren’t just, or even chiefly, a matter of funding; it’s also an issue of intake, disorder, behaviour and ethos. Money won’t change the bell curves of ability and aptitude and it won’t shift egalitarian ideology, which, in my experience, was the major problem. Giving socialists more funding won’t inhibit their socialism.

      Emphasis added.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      A great deal. Money can help acquire some of what makes schools better (technology, labs, desks, teachers, etc.) but money is not a sufficient condition.

      Good teachers and students can overcome a dearth in regards to economics, but it is a significant factor-even in regards as the impact of proper nutrition for the students.

  2. ajmacdonaldjr said, on July 12, 2013 at 8:56 am

    You make some good observations: standardized tests are not helpful, but harmful, and privatized schooling, as opposed to traditional private schools, is designed for certain peoples to profit off the miseducation of our young people.

    I recall you having written about this past year having being the first time in your career that your new students appeared to have fully embraced moral relativism. I do believe this generation has the most malformed conscience we’ve seen to date, and your experience seems to confirm this.

    There’s a difference between schooling and education. Today, our public schools school our youth in that they discipline and indoctrinate our youth to conform. They do not educate. The are trained to be obedient workers.

    The private schools, which the wealthy and powerful elite ruling class’ children attend, educate.

    The public schools, which the middle and lower classes’ children attend, indoctrinate conformity, obedience, and wage slavery to the wealthy and powerful elite ruling class.

    The wealthy and powerful ruling class elite’s children attend Sibley Friends, Georgetown Prep, and Georgetown University… then go on to executive positions in government and military industry.

    The middle and lower class’ children attend public school, state universities, and go on to jobs at Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Labor Ready, or no job at all.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 17, 2013 at 12:37 pm

      We are becoming an increasingly class stratified country with less upwards mobility.

      I won’t advocate redistributing wealth by the coercive power of the state, but more equality of opportunity is needed. Without this, we will see social instability and actual class warfare. People want to move up and if they blocked by an ossified system of privilege, they do revolt. Just ask George.

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm

        Mike, I’ll bet your Department Secretary has a bachelor’s degree. Can you explain why she needs a bachelor’s degree? Now you should be able to understand the forces leading to decreased social mobility.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 18, 2013 at 6:00 am

          She is working on her bachelor’s degree now.

        • T. J. Babson said, on July 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm

          Point I was trying to make is that a lot of phony credential barriers are thrown up that often prevent perfectly well qualified people from getting good jobs.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 18, 2013 at 6:33 pm

            It is reasonable to wonder whether a job’s requirements are legitimate. It is also reasonable to wonder what level of education schools are providing. That is, does a job really require a BA or is it that the BA is equivalent to a high school degree.

      • WTP said, on July 17, 2013 at 2:56 pm

        Puh-lease…Mike advocates redistribution of wealth by the coercive power of the state all the time. It’s contained within his “equality of opportunity” concept. He just denies that taxation occurs without any sort of “coercive power”. He’s made such arguments numerous times. I’m pretty sure you were here TJ. He’s playing games with words, but you let him slide.

        • WTP said, on July 17, 2013 at 3:06 pm

          Hell, now that I think of it, Mike’s very income is derived via a redistribution of wealth by the coercive power of the state. But of course Mike considers education to be a public good, in defiance of the meaning of the phrase. And again, I refer you to:


          The default rate for student loans at US colleges and universities, courtesy of the US Departement of Education. Perhaps this should be an indicator of the value of an education at these schools. Of course much depends on what one chooses to study.


          Some sample data, e.g. default rates for various institutions:

          Harvard 1
          Yale 1.4
          University of Miami 2.7
          University of Florida 3
          Florida State 5.2
          Ohio State 5.6
          University of Maine 7
          Webster University 8.2
          Full Sail University 11.8
          Webber College 18
          FAMU 18.3
          University of Phoenix 26.4

  3. T. J. Babson said, on July 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Democrats at work. This cant be good for the kids.

    Detroit—The city of Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history Thursday afternoon, culminating a decades-long slide that transformed the nation’s iconic industrial town into a model of urban decline crippled by population loss, a dwindling tax base and financial problems.

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130718/METRO01/307180103#ixzz2ZQlaYpLo

    • WTP said, on July 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Money is racist.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Detroit has been in a death spiral for a long time, but why see this as the work of Democrats?

      Do places that have Democrats in office and do well thus owe their well being to the work of Democrats? Does the same hold for republicans?

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        “Do places that have Democrats in office and do well thus owe their well being to the work of Democrats? Does the same hold for republicans?”

        Absolutely. We should judge policies by their results. If Democratic policies drive a city to bankruptcy those policies should be called out.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm

          But what counts as a Democratic policy? Is it just any policy that originates with any Democrat? What if the policies of various Democrats contradict each other? Likewise for Republicans.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 19, 2013 at 6:58 am

          To be clear, do you mean that a Democratic policy is any policy that is enacted/put forth by a Democrat? Similarly for Republicans?

          Do all Democrats “own” these Democratic policies?

          • T. J. Babson said, on July 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm

            It’s always the same story. Imams don’t represent Islam, and Democratic mayors have nothing to do with the Democratic party.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm

              It is a reasonable concern to consider who defines the values of a group. For example, some feminists lump all men together and define us by the worst of men. That is both unfair and poor reasoning.

            • WTP said, on July 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm

              Yes, it is a reasonable concern. Yes it is. Something really should be said. Detroit has had Democrat mayors for 51 years. One stayed in office for 20 straight years. I’m sure it’s now the Republicans’ fault for not running “viable” candidates.

      • WTP said, on July 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm

        Detroit has been in a death spiral for a long time, but why see this as the work of Democrats?

        This statement alone should disqualify one from teaching in the arts of thinkology. Naive beyond belief.

      • WTP said, on July 18, 2013 at 8:01 pm

        BTW-the last time Detroit had a Republican Mayor was 51 years ago.

    • WTP said, on July 22, 2013 at 11:08 am

      So TJ, do you recongnize this work of “fiction”? Here’s a philosophical question, at what point does fiction become prophecy?

      A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away; but some human beings had remained. The empty structures were vertical rubble; they had been eaten, not by time, but by men: boards torn out at random, missing patches of roofs, holes left in gutted cellars. It looked as if blind hands had seized whatever fitted the need of the moment, with no concept of remaining in existence the next morning. The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins; the smoke of their chimneys was the only movement visible in town. A shell of concrete, which had been a schoolhouse, stood on the outskirts; it looked like a skull, with the empty sockets of glassless windows, with a few strands of hair still clinging to it, in the shape of broken wires.

      Beyond the town, on a distant hill, stood the factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Its walls, roof lines and smokestacks looked trim, impregnable like a fortress. It would have seemed intact but for a silver water tank: the water tank was tipped sidewise.

      They saw no trace of a road to the factory in the tangled miles of trees and hillsides. They drove to the door of the first house in sight that showed a feeble signal of rising smoke. The door was open. An old woman came shuffling out at the sound of the motor. She was bent and swollen, barefooted, dressed in a garment of flour sacking. She looked at the car without astonishment, without curiosity; it was the blank stare of a being who had lost the capacity to feel anything but exhaustion.

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

        Just as 2 + 2 = 4, Democrats–when left unchecked–produce Detroit.

        • WTP said, on July 22, 2013 at 9:46 pm

          Yeah, but do you recognize it? The source/writer?

          Also, you gonna let Mike slide on his July 19, 8:10 reply? Yet another responsibility dodge.

          • T. J. Babson said, on July 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm

            Didn’t recognize it. I read The Fountainhead years ago, but never Atlas Shrugged.

            Mike’s July 19, 8:10

            It is a reasonable concern to consider who defines the values of a group. For example, some feminists lump all men together and define us by the worst of men. That is both unfair and poor reasoning.

            WTP is right. There is a big difference between being born a man and spending years studying to become an Imam or a losing all sense of shame to become Democratic pol.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

              As another example, consider the remarks about “legitimate rape” made by a specific Republican. To take him as defining the entire Republican party would be the same error. The same can be done with any group.

              While it is true that one is simply born a man and one becomes a Republican, Democrat or Muslim, the point I am making is about deciding who defines any group, regardless of whether group membership is biological or social.

              In the case of chosen groups (although the extent of choice can be debated in some cases) it is still fair to consider which views/doctrines/theories are the definitive ones.

              People tend to focus on the most negative representatives of groups they dislike and tend to see this as perfectly fine, be the group Democrats, women, men, Asians, whites, Republicans, Tea Party members, runners, gamers, or CEOs.

            • WTP said, on July 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm

              And so it goes…

              Mike: As another example, consider the remarks about “legitimate rape” made by a specific Republican. To take him as defining the entire Republican party would be the same error. The same can be done with any group.

              Notice the word play. “Another example”, as if he has already provided a viable one. Never admit you’re wrong, Mike. That’s the way of The Big Man. Not that this “example” suffices either. The vast majority of conservatives and/or Republicans expressed disagreement with those rather meaningless remarks. The meltdown in Detroit came about with the complete compliance and under the watchful eye of the mainstream Democratic party over half of a century and destroyed possibly the most industrious city in the history of the world. Apologies to the few rational Dems who may have disagreed with such policies, perhaps a Sam Nunn or a Scoop Jackson. Though I don’t recall any publicly stated disagreement from them or any other Democratic party moderates. That’s because while the Democratic party in Detroit eventually moved further and further to the left, those in that region still sought out and received tacit approval from the mainstream of the party. To pretend that the policies endorsed by much of the Democratic party were not a big part of the problem is specious at best.

              Mike: People tend to focus on the most negative representatives of groups they dislike and tend to see this as perfectly fine, be the group Democrats, women, men, Asians, whites, Republicans, Tea Party members, runners, gamers, or CEOs.

              He states this as if he’s not one of the more guilty parties in this regard. Mike rants against CEOs, Wall Street, big banks, and many other institutions that he doesn’t understand.

              Of course, Mike’s livelihood depends on the same destructive policies that destroyed Detroit and are dragging down cities across the country, and some states may not be far behind if not the federal government itself. Borrowing money you can’t pay back, loaning money to people who can’t pay it back, all to support unsustainable policies cannot result in anything but ruin. Mike likes to argue that he’s “fiscally conservative”, by which he means taxes aren’t high enough. If Mike really cared about fiscal matters, he’d be much more concerned about FAMU’s 18.3% student loan default rate. Mike gets paid, not just via the tax dollars that support public education, but also via these unsecured student loans backed by both taxpayers and the few bankers foolish enough to put their own skin in the game. When those bankers go under, who covers their depositors? Taxpayers. How long can that go on? As the Iron Lady said, socialism is a wonderful thing until you start running out of other people’s money.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 23, 2013 at 10:36 pm

              Actually, I have wondered what caused the brouhaha about the “legitimate rape” comment. It was pretty clear Aikin was contrasting it with consensual statutory rape, and he further clarified that he meant forcible rape.

              This is about at the same level as “binders of women.” Was the problem with the comment itself or the people willfully misunderstanding the comment?

              In any case, there is a huge difference between an off the cuff comment by one (unelected) Republican, and thousands of Imams around the world who claim that homosexuals deserve death. Can you not perceive the difference, Mike?

            • WTP said, on July 25, 2013 at 9:57 pm

              So, TJ, which do you suppose is better fodder for a brouhaha, Aiken or Filthy Filner?


              Not much ha ha brewing in the media there. Inquiring minds might want to know why. Try to find such in the MSM or academia. Go ahead. Try.

            • T. J. Babson said, on July 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm

              It’s too bad the Republicans are too dumb to take advantage of these opportunities.

            • WTP said, on July 25, 2013 at 10:38 pm

              While I agree that they’re strategically challenged, they also don’t have virtually the entire education system and media kissing their rumps. Saves the dems a good volume of resources. Hopefully one day they’ll get a clue. The dems will either become so obviously deprived that they lose market share or they take the country down with them. It’s a loosing battle for the dems either way.

    • WTP said, on July 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      C’mon TJ, every “educated” person knows Detroit was the Republicans’ fault:

      ED SCHULTZ: Michigan used to be a symbol of industrial strength in manufacturing in this country. But thanks to a lot of Republican policies, the city is now filing for bankruptcy. Now, it’s the largest public sector bankruptcy in U.S. history, and the consequences could be devastating if you care about people. The already small force of police, firefighters and EMTs are in danger of future layoffs, that’s only going to make it worse. Roughly 30,000 retired workers are concerned about their pensions. You know, what they’re counting on.

      Ironic parody can’t be writing itself, you know. Or perhaps it can. Ask Mike. He’s educated and he knows. He certainly had a point stating Detroit had nothing to do with Democrat theories. Ed Schultz, he figgered it all out. Now all Mike needs to do is parrot it back to his minions as one of the enumerated fallacies.

      • T. J. Babson said, on July 26, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        In politics, it is always the lesser of two evils. I do not particularly like the Republicans, but the Democrats are far, far worse.

        The lack of intellectual integrity among Democrats is simply astounding. I have never seen a group of people pay so little attention to facts and pass off so many fabrications as the truth.

        Anybody who cares about the truth should be appalled by the Democrats.

        • WTP said, on July 27, 2013 at 7:47 am

          A bit further off topic, but on topic in regard to the intellectual integrity of the dems, this piece of work popped up the other day from many years ago…2003 I believe, but stunning enough for the ages,

          Boston Globe reporter Charles Pierce commented, “If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age”

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm

          I would match individual to individual. There are Republicans I respect more than Democrats and who I would vote for over an inferior Democrat. I’m a Democrat because being an independent would cut me out of the primaries. I’d rather not just pick between whoever the parties get on the ballot-I like to pretend I have a role in determining who gets there.

          • WTP said, on July 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

            Name one Republican whom you would prefer, in the same context, same district, running for the same seat over a Democrat. But that’s the easy question.

            Mike, you repeatedly tilt your criticisms hard against the slightest Republican error, yet look the other way when Dems screw up. You’re only fooling yourself here. If that. Notice the minimal discussion of the numerous Obama scandals, the Wieners, the Filners, the Massas, the obvious over reactions in the Zimmerman case, etc. etc. etc., but hey look at that Aiken! The only people who see your perceptions as balanced are those who are significantly to the left, just like yourself. Cut the BS. Cut the lies. It’s inconsistent with someone who says one of his purposes is to “preserve humanity”. Do you even understand the concept of self-awareness?

          • WTP said, on July 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

            An interesting hypothesis

            Dishonesty reduces applied intelligence: re-wires the brain

            Surveying the modern intellectual scene, the world of public discourse among the educational elites, I conclude that dishonesty does not only reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of thinking – but it actually reduces applied intelligence – probably by re-wiring the brain.


            What I am suggesting is that, although the fundamental efficiency of neural processing is an hereditary characteristic which is robust to environmental differences and changes (short of something like destructive brain pathology – encephalitis, neurotoxin, head injury, dementia etc) – habitual dishonesty (such as is mainstream among the modern intellectual elite) will generate brain changes, and a long-lasting (although probably, eventually, reversible) pathology in applied intelligence – such that what ought to be simple and obvious inferential reasoning becomes impossible.


            I mean impossible.

            Habitual dishonesty (most notable political correctness) is a form of learning; and learning strengthens some brain pathways and brain connections; while allowing other pathways and connections to wither and (perhaps eventually) perish.

            Therefore, even on those rare occasions when a typical modern intellectual tries to be honest and to think straight – they cannot do it, because their reasoning processes have been sabotaged by their own repeated habits of dishonesty – their attempts at honest thoughts will be inhibited, and instead channelled down the usual lying pathways…


            Thus, in modern intellectual life, honesty is punished and dishonesty is rewarded; honest brain pathways decay, dishonest brain pathways enlarge.

            After years and years of conditioning in dishonesty, the typical modern intellectual (whether journalist, scientist, lawyer, teacher, doctor or whatever) becomes physically unable to think straight.


          • T. J. Babson said, on July 28, 2013 at 11:15 am

            “I would match individual to individual.”

            OK, Mike. Congress passed a law in which the employer mandate was supposed to kick in on Jan 1, 2014. Obama has announced that he will not enforce that law.

            Do you believe presidents have the right to pick and choose which laws they enforce? What kind of precedent does this set, that Obama has decided that he can decide which laws to enforce? Do you not see that Obama has set himself above the law, and above the Constitution?

  4. T. J. Babson said, on July 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Question for Mike.

    When you respond to a student who sends you an email, how do you sign your email?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Dr. Mike LaBossiere

      Or, for my elite socialist students: Comrade Dr. Mike LaBossiere, Champion of the Worker.

  5. T. J. Babson said, on July 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Excellent video on why even innocent people should never talk to the police. Sorry, Magus, wherever you are.

  6. T. J. Babson said, on July 20, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Democrats at work. Further bad news for the kids.

    Having closed 11 percent of the city’s public schools in May, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has now been forced to fire 2,000 employees, including 1,000 teachers—half of whom were tenured.


    • WTP said, on July 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Yeah, but Chicago has been in financial difficulties for a long time,


      but why see this as the work of Democrats?

      Just because the city has had Democrats for mayors for the last 80+ years, does it owe its well being to the work of Democrats?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on July 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      So much for the commitment to education.

      • WTP said, on July 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        Yes, the commitment to education was “Overcome By Events” due to the far more sacred commitment to educators’ contracts/pensions. Rahm Emmanuel (Dem) is fighting with the teachers’ union (mostly Dems or worse). It’s the unions who are failing the commitment to education. But of course, Mike will blame “funding”.

  7. T. J. Babson said, on July 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Democrats at work. Mathematics was created by a bunch of racist white guys.

    Early this year, the Pew Center released a survey showing that 61 of the nation’s largest cities — limiting the survey to the largest city in each state and all other cities with more than 500,000 people — had a gap of more than $217 billion in unfunded pension and health care liabilities. While cities had long promised health care, life insurance and other benefits to retirees, “few … started saving to cover the long-term costs,” the report said.

    Public-sector pensions, given a municipality’s supposed ability to raise taxes and set its level of services, were expected to be secure all the same. Corporations might seek relief from pension and health care costs in bankruptcy court, but laws in many places are supposed to protect public-sector pensions. Michigan’s constitution, for instance, says they constitute “a contractual obligation … which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

    But, barring a settlement now with public-sector unions, it’s hard to see cuts not being part of Orr’s plan in Detroit: relying on a bankruptcy judge to rule that federal law trumps the state constitution.

    And such a ruling, once made, could change how public employees across the country see their futures, how their unions negotiate contracts, and how their retirees — some of whom, like police and firefighters in Michigan, don’t contribute to or receive Social Security benefits because their pensions were expected to be guaranteed — pay the bills.

    Last week, Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, noted that public workers aren’t protected by federal pension insurance, like many private-sector employees. He openly wondered whether Gov. Rick Snyder and Orr want public employees “to have to work until they die.”


  8. T. J. Babson said, on July 26, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Democrats at work.

    Change.gov, the website created by the Obama transition team in 2008, has effectively disappeared sometime over the last month.

    While front splash page for for Change.gov has linked to the main White House website for years, until recently, you could still continue on to see the materials and agenda laid out by the administration. This was a particularly helpful resource for those looking to compare Obama’s performance in office against his vision for reform, laid out in detail on Change.gov.

    According to the Internet Archive, the last time that content (beyond the splash page) was available was June 8th — last month.

    Why the change?

    Here’s one possibility, from the administration’s ethics agenda:

    Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

    It may be that Obama’s description of the importance of whistleblowers went from being an artifact of his campaign to a political liability. It wouldn’t be the first time administration positions disappear from the internet when they become inconvenient descriptions of their assurances.

    Obama’s vision for lobbying transparency has similarly been discarded along the way, but the timing here suggests that the heat on Obama’s whistleblower prosecutions has led the administration to unceremoniously remove their previous positions.


  9. T. J. Babson said, on July 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    3 felonies per day.

    Congress recently made a bureaucratic ruling eliminating consumers’ right to use their device as they see fit after their contract expires. This Congress is now forced to act to protect the rights of the owners of wireless phones to use them as they choose.

    This critical issue affects millions of Americans and ultimately the future of the wireless market.

    “Unlocking” is a simple software patch where a user plugs their phone into a computer and runs a computer program. This process allows their phone to use SIM cards from other carriers – and thereby easily use an older phone on another carrier.

    At the end of January, a ruling by the Librarian of Congress went into effect that made it illegal, and potentially a felong, for users to run this program or to input a code into their phone.


  10. T. J. Babson said, on July 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    The Diplomad nails it:

    Life in Obama’s America

    There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to — The Outer Limits.
    Opening voice over from the original Outer Limits TV show (1963-64)

    I think about that opening monologue by the “control voice” almost every day in Obama’s America.

    We wait. The One has the word. The Greatest Leader Ever to Bless our Benighted Land will speak. His kindly face fills our TV screens daily. He will tell us what we need to know: when a scandal is worthy of outrage and when it is just phony; when we can be against gay marriage and when we can be for it; when a criminal is an innocent child and when an innocent man is a criminal; who is black, who is white and who is Native American; how to deal with the growing terror of white violence against black men; how Ho Chi Minh was a devotee of Jefferson; when we can support raising the debt limit and when it is unpatriotic to do so; when a coup is a coup and when it is not; when to blame Bush, well, in fact, we must always blame Bush for he is our Leon Trotsky, our Emmanuel Goldstein; the loss of jobs is really a gain of jobs; we must spend to reduce the deficit; a crazed Muslim terrorist with a gun is really just a sad example of workplace violence . . . The One will tell us, there is no need to worry, He knows The Way, He will not let His eye off the ball . . . He will protect us and feed us and care for us when we are sick; He will watch over our communications to make sure we do not fall into bad company. We are blessed by The One.

    He will lead us to the Outer Limits.



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