Category Archives: CommonDreams.org

What Are Teachers Worth?

I found this commentary from talk show host Laura Flanders interesting, it is posted over at the website Common Dreams.org and asks what is the worth of a teacher? According to a study published in the NY Times a ” stand out” kindergarten teacher is worth $320,000 a year.

It’s to bad that teachers here in NJ are being made out to be the evil scapegoats by Governor Christie and local governments, who see them only as the reason for the continually rising property tax rates in many the municipalities and a drain on resource rather than the true professionals that they are, who care for and nurture the minds of our children:
What are teachers really worth?

That’s the question, as the Senate puts off a vote on $10 billion for state and local governments to prevent teacher layoffs. Senate leadership wanted the bill to be deficit neutral—a line never applied to war funding, where no spending’s too great because we’re killing for peace. Estimates are that it costs $1 million per soldier per year to keep troops in Afghanistan. But enough of that.

Last week, David Leonhardt at the New York Times cited a study that showed that teachers can make a huge difference in the lives of children as early as kindergarten. The study found that a “standout” kindergarten teacher is probably worth $320,000 a year—that’s the value that good teachers can add to the life of their students. When researchers left standardized testing out of the equation, they found many more benefits added by teachers.

Of course, this study plays into the idea that every individual teacher’s responsible for the performance of the kids they teach, regardless of socioeconomic status, home life, class-size. Listen to Diane Ravitch on this program for more on that.

But it also brought to the front page of the Times the idea that our teachers, far from being laid off because of Senate politics, should be paid better and given more support.

If we can’t find $320,000 a year for kindergarten teachers, perhaps we can at least find a way to keep them from losing their jobs entirely. Scratch that. If we can’t find a way to pay living wages for kindergarten teachers, who are we ? And just where in our picture of “national security” do we place our kids?

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Filed under CommonDreams.org, Laura Flanders, NY Times, Teachers

President Obama: Replace Rahm With Me …an open letter from Michael Moore

Posted from Common Dreams.org

by Michael Moore


Dear President Obama,

I understand you may be looking to replace Rahm Emanuel as your chief of staff.

I would like to humbly offer myself, yours truly, as his replacement.

I will come to D.C. and clean up the mess that’s been created around you. I will work for $1 a year. I will help the Dems on Capitol Hill find their spines and I will teach them how to nonviolently beat the Republicans to a pulp.

And I will help you get done what the American people sent you there to do. I don’t need much, just a cot in the White House basement will do.

Now, don’t get too giddy with excitement over my offer, because you and I are going to be up at 5 in the morning, 7 days a week and I am going to get you pumped up for battle every single day . Each morning you and I will do 100 jumping jacks and you will repeat after me:

“The American people elected me, not the Republicans, to run the country! I am in charge! I will order all obstructionists outta my way! If the American people don’t like what I’m doing they can throw my ass out in 2012. In the meantime, I call the shots on their behalf! Now, Congress, drop and give me 50!!”

Then we will put on our jogging sweats and run up to Capitol Hill. We will take names, kick butts, and then take some more names. If we have to give a few noogies or half-nelson’s, then so be it. In our pockets we will have a piece of paper to show the pansy Dems just how much they won by in 2008 — and the poll results that show the majority of Americans oppose the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and want the bankers punished. Like drill sergeants, we will get right up in their faces and ask them, “What part of the public mandate don’t you understand, soldier?!! Drop and give me 50!”

I know this is the job Rahm Emanuel was supposed to be doing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have always admired Rahm Emanuel (if you don’t count his getting NAFTA pushed through Congress in the ’90s which destroyed towns like Flint, Michigan. I know, picky-picky.). He is what we needed for a long time — a no-apologies, take-no-prisoners fighting machine. Someone who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and pound the right wing into submission. Far from being the foul-mouthed bully he has been portrayed as, Rahm is the one who BEAT UP the bullies to protect us from them.

That’s certainly what he did in 2006. After six long, miserable years of the middle-class getting slaughtered and the poor being flushed down the toilet, Rahm Emanuel took on the job of returning Congress to the Democrats. No one believed it could be done.

But he did it. Big time. He put the fear of God into the party of Rush and Newt. They had never been so scared. More importantly, though, he instilled a sense of hope in the Democrats that they could actually score the mother of all hat tricks in 2008 — and with you, an African American no less, in the pole position!

It worked. The Darkness ended. The vast majority of nation wept with joy on the night of the election (those who weren’t weeping went out and bought a record number of guns and ammo). Unlike the last president, you didn’t “win” by 537 votes in Florida (although Gore won the popular vote by a half-million), you beat McCain nationally by 9,522,083 votes! The House Democrats got a walloping 79-vote margin. The Senate Dems would caucus with a supermajority of 60 votes unheard of in over 30 years. The wars would now end. America would have universal health care. Wall Street and the banks would, at the very least, be reined in. Hardworking citizens would not be thrown out of their homes. It was supposed to be the dawning of a new age.

But the Republicans were not going to go quietly into the night. You see, instead of having just one Rahm Emanuel, they are ALL Rahm Emanuels. That’s why they usually win. Unlike most Democrats, they are relentless and unstoppable. When they believe in something (which is usually themselves and the K Street job they hope to be rewarded with someday), they’ll fight for it till the death. They are loyal to a fault to each other (they were never able to denounce Bush, even though they knew he was destroying the party). They dig their heels in deep no matter what. If you exiled them to a lone chunk of melting polar ice cap, they would keep insisting that it was just a normal “January thaw,” even as the frigid Arctic waters rose above their God-fearing necks (“See what I mean — this water is COLD! What ‘global *warming*’?! Adam and Eve rode dinos…aagghh!!… gulp gulp gulp”).

We thought we were all done with this craziness, but we were mistaken. Like a beast that you just can’t cage, the Republicans convinced not only the media, but YOU and your fellow Dems, that 59 votes was a *minority*! Precious time was lost trying to reach a “consensus” and trying to be “bipartisan.”

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Filed under capitalism, CommonDreams.org, Health Care, Michael Moore, President Obama, Rahm Emauel

Open Letter to President Obama on Consumer Protection

I am no fan of Ralph Nader, but today he posted an open letter to President Obama on the CommonDreams.org  website which makes perfect sense to me. In his letter, Nader expresses his concerns over the economy and the need for consumer protections against fraud and deceit:

Dear President Obama:

Underneath many of our country’s economic problems is the thirty-year collapse of consumer protection-both of the regulatory kind and of the self-help kind known as proper access to justice.

Last month major consumer groups sent you a letter proposing action to rein in exploitation of consumers as debtors, as buyers of oil, gas and electricity, as patients needing health insurance and as eaters wanting safe goods.

Under the Bush regime, the words “consumer protection” were rarely uttered and the Bush administration almost never initiated any pro-consumer efforts, even with massive evidence before it, such as predatory lending and credit card abuses.

You need to recognize and elevate the GDP significance of fair consumer policies along with their moral and just attributes at a time of worsening recession.

I suggest you focus on the state of the poorest consumers in the urban and rural ghettos. As you know from your days with the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) and as a community organizer in Chicago, the consumers in these areas are the most gouged and least protected. That the “poor pay more” has been extensively documented by civic, official and academic studies, and numerous local newspaper and television news reports.

Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the Executive branch have paid adequate attention to the tens of millions of people who lose at least 25 percent of their consumer dollars to multiple frauds and shoddy merchandise. You should establish special task forces in the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission on their plight and on the many proven but unused remedies to assure a fair marketplace with effective enforcement and grievance procedures.

Working with and galvanizing local and state agencies to enlarge their capacity and staff-with stimulus monies-can produce a triple-header-making the federal effort more effective, providing valuable jobs and freeing up billions of consumer dollars from the financial sink-hole of commercial crimes.

It requires the visibility and eloquence of your personal leadership to launch this long-overdue defense of poor people.

A second area of action is simply to update major areas of regulatory health and safety that have been frozen for thirty years. These include modernizing standards for auto and tire safety, food safety, aviation and railroad safety and occupational health and trauma protection.

New knowledge, new marketing forays, and new technologies have accumulated during this period without application. It is the obsolescence of so many safety standards hailing from the fifties, sixties and seventies that permits the tricky, corporate advertising claims that products “exceed federal safety standards.”

Note for example that the SEC has never come close to regulating the recent explosion of myriad collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). The massive speculation in this area is destabilizing the national and world economies.

Third, you need to articulate and provide a high profile to what western Europeans have long called “social consumerism.” Citizens are consumers of government services for which they pay as taxpayers. In return they are entitled to prompt, accurate and courteous responses to their inquiries and to their perceived needs as embraced by the authorizing statutes.

To begin with, Americans need to be able to get through to their government agencies and departments. Being put on hold interminably with automated messages to nowhere, not receiving replies of any kind to their letters, and generally getting the brush-off even with the deadlines explicated in the Freedom of Information Act have been a bi-partisan failure.

However, under the Bush regime, not answering serious letters from dedicated individuals and groups on time-sensitive matters of policy and action-as with the Iraq war and occupation-became standard operating procedure-starting with President Bush himself.

This stonewalling has turned people off so much that they do not even bother to “ask their government” for assistance and that includes an astonishingly unresponsive Congress (other than for ministerial requests such as locating lost VA or social security checks.)

As you shape the Obama White House, bear in mind that the “change you can believe in” is one of kind, not just degree.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

 

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Filed under CommonDreams.org, Congress, consumer protection, deception, fraud, GDP, open letter, President Obama, Ralph Nader, Securities and Exchange Commission

>Open Letter to President Obama on Consumer Protection

>

I am no fan of Ralph Nader, but today he posted an open letter to President Obama on the CommonDreams.org  website which makes perfect sense to me. In his letter, Nader expresses his concerns over the economy and the need for consumer protections against fraud and deceit:

Dear President Obama:

Underneath many of our country’s economic problems is the thirty-year collapse of consumer protection-both of the regulatory kind and of the self-help kind known as proper access to justice.

Last month major consumer groups sent you a letter proposing action to rein in exploitation of consumers as debtors, as buyers of oil, gas and electricity, as patients needing health insurance and as eaters wanting safe goods.

Under the Bush regime, the words “consumer protection” were rarely uttered and the Bush administration almost never initiated any pro-consumer efforts, even with massive evidence before it, such as predatory lending and credit card abuses.

You need to recognize and elevate the GDP significance of fair consumer policies along with their moral and just attributes at a time of worsening recession.

I suggest you focus on the state of the poorest consumers in the urban and rural ghettos. As you know from your days with the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG) and as a community organizer in Chicago, the consumers in these areas are the most gouged and least protected. That the “poor pay more” has been extensively documented by civic, official and academic studies, and numerous local newspaper and television news reports.

Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the Executive branch have paid adequate attention to the tens of millions of people who lose at least 25 percent of their consumer dollars to multiple frauds and shoddy merchandise. You should establish special task forces in the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission on their plight and on the many proven but unused remedies to assure a fair marketplace with effective enforcement and grievance procedures.

Working with and galvanizing local and state agencies to enlarge their capacity and staff-with stimulus monies-can produce a triple-header-making the federal effort more effective, providing valuable jobs and freeing up billions of consumer dollars from the financial sink-hole of commercial crimes.

It requires the visibility and eloquence of your personal leadership to launch this long-overdue defense of poor people.

A second area of action is simply to update major areas of regulatory health and safety that have been frozen for thirty years. These include modernizing standards for auto and tire safety, food safety, aviation and railroad safety and occupational health and trauma protection.

New knowledge, new marketing forays, and new technologies have accumulated during this period without application. It is the obsolescence of so many safety standards hailing from the fifties, sixties and seventies that permits the tricky, corporate advertising claims that products “exceed federal safety standards.”

Note for example that the SEC has never come close to regulating the recent explosion of myriad collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). The massive speculation in this area is destabilizing the national and world economies.

Third, you need to articulate and provide a high profile to what western Europeans have long called “social consumerism.” Citizens are consumers of government services for which they pay as taxpayers. In return they are entitled to prompt, accurate and courteous responses to their inquiries and to their perceived needs as embraced by the authorizing statutes.

To begin with, Americans need to be able to get through to their government agencies and departments. Being put on hold interminably with automated messages to nowhere, not receiving replies of any kind to their letters, and generally getting the brush-off even with the deadlines explicated in the Freedom of Information Act have been a bi-partisan failure.

However, under the Bush regime, not answering serious letters from dedicated individuals and groups on time-sensitive matters of policy and action-as with the Iraq war and occupation-became standard operating procedure-starting with President Bush himself.

This stonewalling has turned people off so much that they do not even bother to “ask their government” for assistance and that includes an astonishingly unresponsive Congress (other than for ministerial requests such as locating lost VA or social security checks.)

As you shape the Obama White House, bear in mind that the “change you can believe in” is one of kind, not just degree.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

 

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Filed under CommonDreams.org, Congress, consumer protection, deception, fraud, GDP, open letter, President Obama, Ralph Nader, Securities and Exchange Commission

Puffing up John McCain, POW

Back in February, syndicated columnist Ted Rall wrote an article about how John McCain uses his Vietnamese POW status to puff himself up in the eyes of the media. The tale of John McCain, War Hero prompts a lot of people turned off by his politics–liberals and traditional conservatives alike–to support him.

Click on the headline to read the article posted on CommonDreams.org then check out the following article also from Ted Rall about War Hero Myth that surrounds John McCain

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Filed under CommonDreams.org, John McCain, POW, Ted Rall, Veitnam, War Hero

>Puffing up John McCain, POW

>Back in February, syndicated columnist Ted Rall wrote an article about how John McCain uses his Vietnamese POW status to puff himself up in the eyes of the media. The tale of John McCain, War Hero prompts a lot of people turned off by his politics–liberals and traditional conservatives alike–to support him.

Click on the headline to read the article posted on CommonDreams.org then check out the following article also from Ted Rall about War Hero Myth that surrounds John McCain

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Filed under CommonDreams.org, John McCain, POW, Ted Rall, Veitnam, War Hero