How The Japanese Multiply (Numbers)

MLK On Poverty, Re-post

Forty years ago smart people knew that poverty was not a symptom of something else, but rather, the problem itself, exacerbated by the rich and the controllers of wealth. Eliminate poverty, and you are on your way to a decent, fair, art-filled society. MLK knew it, and preached it, and wrote about it in his last book. The Seattle Times published this from MLK's last book:
Where We Are Going

King's 1967 book "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?"

In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: There are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.

Up to recently we have proceeded from a premise that poverty is a consequence of multiple evils: lack of education restricting job opportunities; poor housing which stultified home life and suppressed initiative; fragile family relationships which distorted personality development. The logic of this approach suggested that each of these causes be attacked one by one. Hence a housing program to transform living conditions, improved educational facilities to furnish tools for better job opportunities, and family counseling to create better personal adjustments were designed. In combination these measures were intended to remove the causes of poverty.

While none of these remedies in itself is unsound, all have a fatal disadvantage. The programs have never proceeded on a coordinated basis or at a similar rate of development. Housing measures have fluctuated at the whims of legislative bodies. They have been piecemeal and pygmy. Educational reforms have been even more sluggish and entangled in bureaucratic stalling and economy-dominated decisions. Family assistance stagnated in neglect and then suddenly was discovered to be the central issue on the basis of hasty and superficial studies. At no time has a total, coordinated and fully adequate program been conceived. As a consequence, fragmentary and spasmodic reforms have failed to reach down to the profoundest needs of the poor.

In addition to the absence of coordination and sufficiency, the programs of the past all have another common failing -- they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective -- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.

Earlier in this century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual's abilities and talents. In the simplistic thinking of that day the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber.

We have come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands it does not eliminate all poverty.

We have come to the point where we must make the nonproducer a consumer or we will find ourselves drowning in a sea of consumer goods. We have so energetically mastered production that we now must give attention to distribution. Though there have been increases in purchasing power, they have lagged behind increases in production. Those at the lowest economic level, the poor white and Negro, the aged and chronically ill, are traditionally unorganized and therefore have little ability to force the necessary growth in their income. They stagnate or become even poorer in relation to the larger society.

The problem indicates that our emphasis must be two-fold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available.

In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote, in Progress and Poverty:
"The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature, and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves, driven to their task either by the lash of a master or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who perform it for their own sake, and not that they may get more to eat or drink, or wear, or display. In a state of society where want is abolished, work of this sort could be enormously increased."
We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor transformed into purchasers will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay. Negroes, who have a double disability, will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle.

Beyond these advantages, a host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life and in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he know that he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts between husband, wife and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on a scale of dollars is eliminated.

Two conditions are indispensable if we are to ensure that the guaranteed income operates as a consistently progressive measure. First, it must be pegged to the median income of society, not the lowest levels of income. To guarantee an income at the floor would simply perpetuate welfare standards and freeze into the society poverty conditions. Second, the guaranteed income must be dynamic; it must automatically increase as the total social income grows. Were it permitted to remain static under growth conditions, the recipients would suffer a relative decline. If periodic reviews disclose that the whole national income has risen, then the guaranteed income would have to be adjusted upward by the same percentage. Without these safeguards a creeping retrogression would occur, nullifying the gains of security and stability.

This proposal is not a "civil rights" program, in the sense that that term is currently used. The program would benefit all the poor, including the two-thirds of them who are white. I hope that both Negro and white will act in coalition to effect this change, because their combined strength will be necessary to overcome the fierce opposition we must realistically anticipate.

Our nation's adjustment to a new mode of thinking will be facilitated if we realize that for nearly forty years two groups in our society have already been enjoying a guaranteed income. Indeed, it is a symptom of our confused social values that these two groups turn out to be the richest and the poorest. The wealthy who own securities have always had an assured income; and their polar opposite, the relief client, has been guaranteed an income, however miniscule, through welfare benefits.
John Kenneth Galbraith has estimated that $20 billion a year would effect a guaranteed income, which he describes as "not much more than we will spend the next fiscal year to rescue freedom and democracy and religious liberty as these are defined by 'experts' in Vietnam."

The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.

The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

John Meachum, Gun Owner, On Gun Control: We Need It

I am not a huge John Meachum fan, but I respect his intelligence and this intelligent, reasonable, short, to the point, video.  Basically, we need to reinstate the assault weapons ban.  Duh.  Too bad he needs to say it.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Saturday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Blood Libel Edition

Saturday Cartoon Fun: Hello, Everybody Edition

To All Those EduExperts Out There (AKA Ignoramus's)...

This may be the best take-down of "the business model of education" that has ever been written.
Mike Jacobson says:
01/15/2011 at 10:55 am

To all of those experts out there:

The business world is always trying to hold the world of education to their standards. As educators we believe that it is time to hold businesses to the same standards that we are responsible for upholding.

So from this moment on, this is what we expect from the business world! We would like your business to be held accountable for the success of other businesses that purchase your product.

When you are selling your product to other businesses we demand that you are accommodating the needs of your customers so that you can meet the demands that each of your customers have. We would like you to design your sales presentations to fit the needs of nonreaders, visual buyers, auditory buyers, kinesthetic buyers, deaf people, blind people, people in wheel chairs, people with all physical and mental handicaps, people that speak every other language other than English.

We would like to base your pay and your compensation on how successful the people that use your product are! It is your job to prove your success with real sales data and numbers.

We would like you to find a way to sell your product to all customers regardless of their income, their intelligence, and how successful they are in using your product. And we are mandating that you must do this for all of the above mentioned people and make it against the law if you do not fulfill these conditions.

We would also like to hold you accountable for selling your product to people that have no use for your product, and that have told you right up front that they have no use for your product. And we mandate that you must make up your sales presentation to all customers that do not show up to your sales meeting regardless of the excuse such as family emergencies, personal health issues, or any other reason even including that they just didn’t feel like it!

We demand that you must try to sell your product to other companies even if the boss of their company thinks that you are a complete joke and have no value to anyone! We also demand that you try to sell your product to customers that have unrealistic expectations as to how your product should work or actually does work.

We demand that you must consider the input of your customers even if they tell you how to run your company and you know their ideas are bad ideas!
We demand that you have no choice who you can sell your product to.

We say that it will be OK if the public distorts the truth about how your company works and that it is OK to put these distortions all over the media in anyway that the public chooses and they may release these opinions for every one to see. There shall be no connection to reality when it comes to spreading opinions and it should make no difference how inaccurate these opinions are because that is the freedom of speech and it is exactly what our forefathers would have wanted!

If someone with no knowledge of how your product actually works or is produced, you must let their opinion take priority over what you know as an expert on your product even if you have been building and selling your product for more than 20 years!

We demand that you must try to sell your product to customers that are not even having their basic needs met. You must try to sell your product to starving people, people with no shelter, and to people living in horrific living conditions. We demand that you sell your product to people that are abusive, that are criminals, that could care less about anything but drugs and alcohol!

Your performance rating on all of the above conditions will depend on how you well you meet all of the above stated conditions! And lastly your pay will be determined by your success! In addition, any additional costs that may be incurred meeting these conditions shall not be reimbursed, you must take it out of the company budget!

This is the world as an educator sees it and maybe people would have compassion for educators if they could see the world through the eyes of a teacher!

A concerned teacher in 2011!

How Ed-Reformers Lie, Cheat, And Lie Some More

To justify their campaign, ed reformers repeat, mantra-like, that U.S. students are trailing far behind their peers in other nations, that U.S. public schools are failing. The claims are specious. Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty. And as dozens of studies have shown, the gap in cognitive, physical, and social development between children in poverty and middle-class children is set by age three. [emphasis mine]
Dissent Magazine

CDC Report Indicates Doctors Suck As Much As Teachers

From the new CDC Report (PDF):
¶Babies born to black women are up to three times as likely to die in infancy as those born to women of other races.

¶American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to die in car crashes as any other group.

¶More than 80 percent of all suicides are committed by whites, but young American Indian adults have the highest suicide rates by far — 25 per 100,000 population at age 21, compared with 14 for whites, 10 for blacks and 8 for Asians and Hispanics.

¶Overdoses of prescription drugs now kill more Americans than overdoses of illegal drugs, the opposite of the pattern 20 years ago. Overdose death rates are now higher among whites than blacks; that trend switched in 2002, after doctors began prescribing more powerful painkillers, antidepressants and antipsychotics — more easily obtained by people with health insurance.

¶Blacks die of heart disease much more commonly than whites, and die younger, despite the availability of cheap prevention measures like weight loss, exercise, blood-pressure and cholesterol drugs, and aspirin. The same is true for strokes.

¶High blood pressure is twice as common among blacks as whites, but the group with the least success in controlling it is Mexican-Americans.

¶Compared with whites, blacks have double the rate of “preventable hospitalizations,” which cost about $7 billion a year.
NYT h/t Teacher Sabrina

Brian Jones Discusses Martin Luther King's Advice For Eliminating Achievement Gap

GRITtv: Brian Jones: Following King's Lessons for Students
Uploaded by grittv. - Up-to-the minute news videos.

It Gets Better (Or, F*ck Those Guys!)


Arne Duncan Is A Liar, And Mike Klonsky Found Proof!

Writing in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, [Vivek] Wadhwa argues:
"Much is made of the PISA test scores and rankings, but the international differences are actually quite small. Most of the U.S. ranking lags are not even statistically significant. The U.S. falls in the second rank on some measures and into the first on others. It produces more highest-performing students in science and reading than any other country does; in mathematics, it is second only to Japan. Moreover, one has to ask what the test results actually mean in the real world. Do high PISA rankings make students more likely to invent the next iPad? Google? I don't think so."


Michelle Rhee's Policy Agenda Translated

The above is part of the introduction page to Students First's "Pretty Policy Agenda."  I have no idea why the file has such a silly name.  Perhaps "pretty" is all the good they could claim it contains?  Weird.

I will translate the bullet points for you:

1.  Value is a euphemism for (or did she just shorten) evaluating teachers based on the test scores of students.

2.  Real choices means vouchers.

3.  Spending taxpayer's money wisely means make states change laws to allow for more charters, which have been shown to be no better, and often worse than traditional public schools.

Her job is to privatize education for her benefactors.


Sunday Cartoon Fun: The Republican Mindset Edition

I Can't Let It Go (*Updated)

*Thanks to H.Hertzberg
Last Friday night I was in a debate on The Total Tutor's radio show along with a fellow liberal and a couple conservatives. I want to talk about one of the conservatives, A Conservative Teacher, and what I see on his blog as well as on some other right-wing blogs. U.S. passport applications have substituted "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" for "mother" and "father" to the consternation of the religious right, and A Conservative Teacher:
People who voted for Obama and the Democrats did indeed vote for a change in America- they voted for a brave new world where it is 'old' to have a mother and father, and where it is an 'improvement' to instead have 'parent 1' and 'parent 2'. The attack on the traditional family continues, and rather than a family structure built as God intended with a mother and a father parenting children who honor them we are having the government (provided for by taxpayers like you) push for a family structure where parent 1 and parent 2 have children who call them impersonal names like parent 1 and parent 2.
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's I ran a small summer day camp for a local temple. It was considered (and still is) one of the premier day camps in town. It was a temple camp, so it was affiliated with the congregation, but it was not a religious camp experience. Not at all, especially during my time there, as the Jewish atheist director.

Anyhoo, the applications had a space for the names of the parents--mother and father. The problem was that I knew of more than a couple gay families where there were two fathers or two mothers. I knew these people, liked them, respected them, and felt it was a rather silly thing to have an application where an assumption was made that was wrong--that a particular child had a mother and a father raising them.

So, without fanfare (or committee approval) I changed the wording on the application to Parent 1 and Parent 2. Nobody seemed to care--until one of the gay families came to me to say thank you for my sensitivity, to tell me it was unnecessary, but very much appreciated. That was the end of it, and it remains to this day, 20 years later.

A Conservative Teacher is clearly a right-wing religious fanatic, and he teaches children. Let's hope his intolerance doesn't seep into his instruction (you know it does).

In another post, and on a different topic, ConTeach (as I will now call him) is up in arms about Obama's lack of "natural grace, dignity, and energy" that apparently was on display during the Bush administration.

Is this guy for real?  He is a union buster.  He is a right-to-lifer.  He is intolerant.  He teaches children.

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