Originally published at caesarrodney.org
Posted in Health Care, Healthcare | Tagged Affordable Care Act, bureaucracy, Caesar Rodney Institute, Delaware, doctor, health insurance industry, healthcare, lack of access to doctor, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, physician, surgery | Leave a Comment »
Kevin Ohlandt, parent’s rights activist, posts a letter on Scribd in regards to the U.S. Department of Education and funding of charter schools.
Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:
The United States Department of Education released a “Dear Colleague” letter to charter schools and State DOEs in regards to charter school responsibility for spending of Federal funds issued to them. It also warns about board oversight and conflicts of interest. Something that never happens in Delaware, right? This page on my blog is in the process of being updated in the next few days, and it is huge!
This letter goes out on the same day the US DOE gave away $157 million to US charter schools. But read the letter. Count the many ways in which Delaware charter schools are out of compliance with this guidance:
Bernice Whaley, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), recently provided a glowing assessment of Delaware’s economy in a News Journal article. Ms. Whaley cites a current unemployment rate of 4.7% and growth over the last two years of 4% in Delaware jobs and 6.5% in personal income. And she notes recent increases in high technology employment in the state.
It might be helpful to put these statistics in perspective relevant to the average Delaware household.
The Delaware unemployment rate has thankfully fallen from a high of 8.7% in 2009 to 4.7% today. Two things are worth noting. First, in the year prior to the recession the state’s unemployment rate was 3.4%. Second, according to the most recent Census data, the percent of Delaware residents age 16 to 64 working dropped from 80.7% in 2009 to 76.7% in 2013. In other words, one major reason for a lower Delaware unemployment rate is that a large number of working age individuals have simply stopped looking for employment.
Total jobs in Delaware have expanded by almost 4% (2% per year) over the past two years. While it took more time to get there, this is similar to the job growth rate following the last recession in Delaware. Many of the jobs being added, however, are lower paying positions in such industries as temporary services and restaurants. The result from the Census is that between 2009 and 2013 the inflation adjusted median earnings of working Delaware residents with a high school degree has dropped 7% while that of residents with a bachelor’s degree or more has dropped almost 3%.
The earnings of Delaware workers are on average moving backwards.
Delaware personal income has grown at least 6.5% over the past two years. This compares to 13.8% growth following the last recession. More disturbing, the slowest growing component of Delaware personal income during the past two years has been earnings by residents while the fastest growing component has been transfer payments (e.g., Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, TANF).
Finally, growth in high technology industries in Delaware is positive, but it provides few opportunities for the almost two-thirds of working age Delaware residents who have less than an associate’s degree. Tests of Delaware public school students from 4th grade through high school evidence that the majority of students are not proficient in reading or math.
Obviously it is the job of DEDO to be positive and sell Delaware. And in all fairness DEDO has little control over the poor performing public schools, the green energy policies that have driven Delaware electric rates 35% above the nation, and the lack of a right-to-work law.
Nevertheless, a victory lap seems premature.
From time to time CRI likes to open the floor to guest columnists to share their views. Below is one on Dennis Phifer on the Iran situation. If you would like to submit a guest post for our blog, please e-mail email@example.com.
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved.
America’s domestic and foreign policy has been sacrificed to the goal of enabling Shiite Iranian regional hegemony. Everything from Obama’s opposition to the Keystone pipeline, to the failure to support El Sisi in Eqypt, to the failure to arm the Kurds, to the stand-down on Syria, to the failure to arm the Ukrainians, to the “idee fixe” insistence on an unverifiable nuclear deal with Iran – all of these support this assertion. To the outsider, our Iran Nuclear Deal negotiations seemed more like begging than bargaining. Russia wants to sell arms to Iran. It needs cash and wants to expand its geopolitical
Despite their protests to the contrary, I am sure that Russian uranium– uranium purchased from the United States in a deal approved by his administration–will eventually find its way into Iranian centrifuges. Neither Russia nor Iran have given any indication that they are particularly wed to truthiness. Europe needs oil and gas. It buys it from Russia. The Keystone pipeline would offer Europe another “friendly” energy source. It would, in effect, liberate Europe. By opposing the pipeline, we are forcing Europe to stay on the short leash of an expansionist and increasingly aggressive Russia. We don’t support El Sisi in Eqypt. We merely tolerate him. He deposed the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood was tied into the political authority of Iran. Shortly after winning a “democratic” election, it began deconstructing the constitution, limiting personal freedoms, persecuting Christians and other minority faiths, and was moving toward the establishment of a theocracy. For several decades now, Egypt has been a responsible partner for peace in the region. From Sadat to Mubarik, we had an ally in Egypt. Israel had someone it could work with. El Sisi, a man of great courage, clarity and principle, wants to remain an ally of the United States. He does not appear to pose any threat to Israel. Still, we keep him hanging–perhaps in the hope that he will hang–as if we prefer instability that would support the resurrection of the Muslim Brotherhood, even if the instability is caused by, or supported by, the further advance of ISIS in Egypt.
Our failure to support the Kurds is similarly telling. The Kurds are an effective fighting force in the region and have a history of being pro-American. They want what we want. They have been our proxy boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS. Still we refuse to give them the weaponry they request–weaponry that would be the tactical equivalent of that used by the opposing ISIS armies. We insist on sending our military equipment through the Shiite Iraqi government for distribution to the Kurds. The Iraqi government either keeps it for itself or abandons it to ISIS. Iraq does not want a powerful Kurdish army and an independent Kurdish nation-state.
As a result, the Kurds are fighting ISIS fighters who are armed with American weaponry that they, themselves, cannot get. The valor of the Kurds thus far has bridged the gap in tactical weaponry, but at what cost to humanity and to their greater mission success. We continue to suppress the vigor of a long-time ally at the insistence of Iraq and Erdogan’s Turkey, both undependable allies with agendas inimical (at least on paper) to our own. All of this has been the pretext for Iran to expand its militarism into Iraq with the approbation of the United States.
Iran is supporting Syria in its civil war, as is Russia. Russia leases the deep-water port of Tartus from Syria. Russia needs Assad, its landlord, to stay in power. Iran wants to buy defense systems from Russia. Russia wants the money. Russia and Iran are a strategic item, an axis of evil and convenience – allies for the moment, each an enduring enemy of the United States. What unites them, beyond the interests of their aggressive multi-focal expansionism, is their common hatred of the United States. Russia has been hostile to the United States since Gorbachev left office. Iran has been hostile since the Islamic Republic overthrew the Shah in 1979.
Obama put a “line in the sand” in Syria saying that the United States would take action against it if used chemical weapons against its people. It did use chemical weapons. We did nothing. When Iran and Russia asserted its support for Assad in Syria, the United States walked away. This reinforces the nature of the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” The Iran Nuclear Deal’s aspiration, anticipation and realization has controlled every domestic and foreign policy decision of the United States since Obama took office.
Russia has moved west into Ukraine seizing Crimea and seeking more territory in the area surrounding the port city of Mariupol in an effort to give Russia “lebensraum” (remember the Nazi term for ‘additional territory’ needed for national survival?) and to reconstitute both the size and grandeur of the old Soviet Union. Ukraine, an inordinately Christian country, was denied the protection of NATO in the face of Russia’s opposition. Europe, needing Russian energy to survive its harsh winters, has stayed out of the fight with the Russian separatists. Ukraine has been left to fight the power of Russia with valor and slingshots. They have asked for weaponry. We have offered no lethal aid, only blankets and MREs. Always, it’s the Iran Nuclear Deal first and foremost.
All in all, it’s brilliant. Like any good novel, remote and seemingly insignificant actions early in the narrative come together in the end with compelling and telling force. Iran’s Shiite theocracy, if unopposed, will in time create its own Islamic Union, a union that will be the functional rival of Putin’s erstwhile Soviet Union. Sunni nations beware – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan – you are all in the crosshairs. Once that trigger is pulled, expect the crosshairs to take a sharp veer toward the West.
It would make sense that Putin and Iran have had some “fantastical” conversations – or at least some vivid imaginings — about how they would divide up the Eurasian and African continents. European Islamic immigration is the predicate for theocratic Islamic expansion in Europe. European secular humanism has been its unwitting accomplice. Now it has a problem and it can’t find a politically correct way to solve it. Putin’s cunning is exceeded only by his megalomania and his synergistic sense of historical authority and historical necessity for taking these actions. He probably believes he can handle the Islamic threat. That would be a mistake. Islam is a master consciousness that has, in its view, a theological duty to make the world submit. Holy Mother Russia may have met its match in Jihadist Islam. Russia has a growing Moslem population and is bounded by several Moslem countries. Putin may be buying time, but he’s not buying lasting peace.
Even putting our foreign policy in its best light, I think it is a gross miscalculation to believe the Iranian regional hegemony will be content with being merely regional. It is in the nature of Islam to expand, not by appealing to the heart but by appealing to the sword. In the near term, the world is on track to be led by an oligarchy of nations in functional parity with one another. Chief among them would be the United States, Iran, China, and Russia. Of course, at the outset, Iran will not have an economy as large as ours or the others, but – thanks to the Nuclear Deal — it will have immense liquidity, growing markets, expanding proxy states, and strong alliances with China, Russia and other nations.
On the other hand, our socialist underbelly and our prodigious national debt will constrain the nature and extent of our investment in the development of needed defense systems and future foreign operations in support of our geopolitical interests. Accelerated Islamic immigration has continued apace under the radar screen since this president took office. It is virtually a free rider in the larger immigration debate. There is no problem with a Moslem who wants the freedom America offers. There is a problem if that Moslem wants to be an Islamist in America. Our worldviews, in the later instance, are incompatible. We must insist on assimilation. History instructs that Trojan horse immigration is fatal to the host.
Without a radical shift toward traditional culture, Europe is but a few generations away from being transformed by Islam. Secular humanism, for the moment at least, has largely eclipsed its cultural identity and its survival instinct. A new world order is taking place, and our president is chief among its artisans. Under this administration, American exceptionalism is the exception and not the rule.
The president may think he’s right in this, that a greater good is being served by the minimization of America, but I don’t see it. He may believe that what’s good for the world – in his view — is good for America. I believe that what’s good for America is good for the world. Our historical cultural and religious traditions support the institutions of freedom. Our foreign and domestic policy should reflect and further those traditions.
Dennis Bruce Phifer
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved.
Posted in Guest Post | Tagged America, Dennis Phifer, egypt, El Sisi, guest post, Iran, iran deal, iran nuclear deal, ISIS, Islam, islamic republic, islamic state, Moslem, Muslim, nuclear deal, putin, russia, ukraine | Leave a Comment »
Today’s post is on income inequality. Since we’re heating up in election season, candidates are pushing forth their economic plans for America.
The dangerous separation of the American upper middle class
For many, the most attractive class dividing line is the one between those at the very, very top and everybody else. It is true that the top 1 percent is pulling away very dramatically from the bottom 99 percent. But the top 1 percent is by definition a small group. It is not plausible to claim that the individual or family in the 95th or 99th percentile are in any way part of mainstream America, even if many of them think so: over a third of the demonstrators on the May Day ‘Occupy’ march in 2011 had annual earnings of more than $100,000.
For others, the most important division is at the other end of the spectrum: the poverty line. The poor have not fallen behind the middle class in recent decades. But they have not caught up either. There is a case to be made that whatever is happening towards the top of the distribution, the gap we should care most about is between families struggling to put food on the table and those with adequate, middling incomes.”
Senator Bernie Sanders has made addressing income inequality one of the principle components of his campaign, and even other populist candidates like Donald Trump have called for raising taxes on the rich, or at least certain groups of wealthy Americans. Most voters, particularly Republican voters, oppose raising taxes on the rich, but here’s the question:
Is income inequality a problem in America?
The answer is, it could be: One of the ways America has been able to become the most powerful nation on earth in such a short period of time is because we are one of the few societies where economic mobility is possible. Someone born poor, even without tremendous musical, athletic, dancing, or tech genius talent can still earn a solid living and move from the bottom 10% to the top 1%. Herman Cain and Ben Carson are two such examples. Abraham Lincoln went from being born in a one-room cabin to President of the United States. That gives people hope that they too can achieve the “American Dream”, however it is defined for them. For some, earning a salary of $250,000 or more per year is unrealistic. But they may find happiness moving from $20,000 a year to $60,000 a year.
However, the American Dream only works if people believe economic mobility is feasible for them. And right now, many Americans do not believe it’s possible, or at least is becoming more difficult. Some Conservatives and “1%ers” will just say those people don’t work hard enough, or make poor decisions which cause them to stumble. Those may be true for some people, but not for all.
And that’s not the point of this discussion. It’s ‘do you believe you can move up the economic ladder’? And if people are answering no, then the question is, ‘why?’ and if people think the system is rigged against them, populist candidates like Sanders and Trump will absolutely win because the “hard work+perseverance=success” mantra will ring hollow to people who believe we are slowly moving away from an economically mobile society to one based primarily on who your parents are or who believe some people are ‘privileged’. That’s part of the reason entrepreneurship activity is down overall. Onerous government does hamper economic activity, but if people do not believe they can succeed, most will not even try.
This is something both major political parties will have to come to terms with. Certainly no productive society can function under Communism, where everyone (except the Party leaders) is equally poor and miserable. But too much inequality fuels populist and radical candidates who promise to fix the problem.
So take a look at the above graphic and try to answer for yourself, “is income inequality a problem in America”?
Posted in Economy | Tagged Abraham Lincoln, ben carson, bernie sanders, brookings institute, conservative, donald trump, economic mobility, economics, economy, herman cain, income inequality, jobs, middle class, occupy, wealth | Leave a Comment »
Some background: In November 2012, voters approved a referendum to establish as many as 40 charter schools in the state. Charter school opponents became “Alarmed over the lack of local accountability and fiscal impacts of the Act” and filed a lawsuit against the network. The Washington State constitution says funding must be given to “common schools”, which were essentially defined as traditional public schools. The main complain is, charters and other school choice options are “selective” and force traditional schools to take “problem students.” The schools must also be “uniform”, or the same. If charters have lotteries and restrictions public schools do not have, then the schools are no longer uniform and charters cannot be provided public funding.
Education Savings Accounts by themselves will not improve our education system, but they will move us forward when parents realize they do have the power to improve their children’s education if they want to. It’s parents, not school boards, not school districts, not teacher’s unions, not elected officials, not employees of the state Department of Education, not employees of the U.S. Department of Education, not private sector companies, who ought to have the final say in how their child is education. With a more competitive education system in place, one which empowers teachers and principals to do what is right, one which allows parents to have choices beyond what is in their zip code, education will improve.
And for those who say it won’t, look at our university system. We have arguably the best system on the planet, and there are plenty of public and private schools to go to. Oh, and public schools receive plenty of funding and are in no danger of going under, even though the government provides student loans to students who might go to a private school.
Posted in Education, Education Savings Accounts | Tagged Affordable Care Act, charter school, charter school lawsuit, common core, Department of Education, education, education freedom, Education Savings Accounts, home school, opt out, parent rights, parents, private school, public education, Public Policy, public school, SAT, school choice, smarter balanced, Union, Washington | 4 Comments »