February 16th, 2012

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Men in Black

Here is a picture from today's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing about the Obama administration's birth control mandate:

The first row are the allowed witnesses.

All those people a couple rows behind them? Well... those witnesses just don't fit in.

That's why most of the Democratic women on the committee walked out of the room.

Just now, Oklahoma GOP representative Jim Lankford implied that these men in black were being "berated" by the committee. In fact, they've mostly been getting strokes just short of full-body massages from most of the remaining committee members. This hearing is such a transparent and over-the-top, right wing extremist attack on the administration (one Representative invoked those dastardly laws against smoking in public buildings as a sign of the slippery slope the administration has set up) that clips from it should be used by Democrats in the upcoming election.

I cannot imagine any reasonable and honest person watching this hearing and not being appalled.

Partially crossposted from Thoughtcrimes


Scott Pilgrim the Canadian Education System!


Ontario’s education system would be set back a decade if the province were to implement the tough measures recommended by Don Drummond, warned educators who were left reeling by his call for cuts to full-day kindergarten, larger classes and even charging some students to ride the school bus.

The report also suggests charging students who take a “victory lap” fifth year of high school to brush up their marks, and making sweeping cuts to support staff from psychologists to guidance counselors.

This is the first I've ever heard of a "victory lap" 5th year. I'm okay with charging for this. But as a teacher I can't help but look at the rest of these ideas in horror. Charging kids for the bus!? The point is to actually have the kids in school! Parents of all income levels depend on the bus system to get their kids safely to school. You can't mess with that and not throw the mother of monkey wrenches into the lives of thousands.

Drummond argues in the report there is no proof smaller classes improve learning — even though test scores have climbed since the Liberals cut class sizes — and suggests primary classes could grow from 20 to 23. In grades 4 through 8, he suggests hiking the average to 26 from 24.5, and in high school the average could rise to 24 from 22 without affecting student learning or the dropout rate.

Now THIS is insane. No evidence that smaller classes improve learning? Bull! I'm pretty sure there's been loads of educational studies that prove the opposite is true. And any teacher will tell you the same.

All I can say is that this is madness. This Drummond guy is an economist. He's looking at numbers and not what will actually work for living people. I hope the folks in Ontario don't take any of these recommendations seriously or the kids there are in for a rough ride.

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The Captain's Prop

An Introduction To Greenbacks

I recently shocked montecristo by dropping a name not many bandy about: Ellen H. Brown. Ms. Brown is the author of the blog Web of Debt and has published an informative book of the same name. She is also one of the names associated with a new economics movement focusing on monetary policy. It's so new, in fact, a rallying name has yet to be, er, coined, though "monetarist" and variations thereon pop up from time to time. The goal of these thinkers: to cut through the years of economics education that has allowed graduates to achieve even doctorate level educations without understanding the basic principals of monetary creation that I briefly outlined in my last post. When it comes to books about how money works, they are few and far between.

In the shocked comment, montecristo asked if I were a "Greenbacker." I honestly don't know if I am or not; though I enjoyed Ms. Brown's book and have had a few email exchanges with her, I'm too aware of gaps in my understanding to embrace her entire philosophy without first trying to learn what backs it and of what value it might be. I admit I lean in her direction, but that's really neither here nor there. Today, I would like to share in Collapse )