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top

Obama Makes a Push To Add Time To the School Year

Brass Cannon Re:Waste MORE time!? (1073 comments)

Ha! That's perfect.

I agree that it's not just the knowledge that makes you money that has value. I do think though that as the cost of education rises more and more people will forgo a liberal education in favor of one with a high return (money wise).

I think you could also make a case that a lack of a well rounded education will make people less interested in the political / economic forces that led them (me) to a vocational education in the first place. Less interest, less involvement, less control.

I'm sure those dissidents had it coming.

Take care.

more than 4 years ago
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Obama Makes a Push To Add Time To the School Year

Brass Cannon Re:Waste MORE time!? (1073 comments)

Re: your second point - Homer is referring to working as an employee. From that standpoint he is dead on. I think the national mythos you refer to focuses mainly on the idea of entrepreneurship. In this regard the meritocracy idea is viable. You either succeed or fail. Trust me, there's not much coasting.

Try, Libertarianism: Individual responsibility, minimal government, states rights, sound money, fiscal conservatism.

more than 4 years ago
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Obama Makes a Push To Add Time To the School Year

Brass Cannon Re:Waste MORE time!? (1073 comments)

I think you are way off on this. First, what's wrong with expecting a monetary return on your education? College costs are thru the roof. To spend 4 years studying Elizabethan Poetry may be very fulfilling but you will most likely not be able to pay the student loans. I went to school for Engineering & got almost no liberal arts education. However, at the risk of sounding like a presumptuous jerk, I am able to converse on just about any subject. history, science, art, politics, economics literature. I think that nurse's lack of knowledge on Freud and Stalin says more about the nurse personally and less about her formal education. And I think your choice of Freud and Stalin to make your point says quite a bit about you.

more than 4 years ago
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Schooling, Homeschooling, and Now, "Unschooling"

Brass Cannon Re:The Underground History of American Education (1345 comments)

Glad to see a few out there who have read Gatto. It's one thing to read a book and sympathize with the ideas. It's another entirely to realize that it's about you.

At every turn, government removes parent choice from education.

If you ever get a chance check out what happened to the DC Voucher program.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/08/AR2008060802041.html

From the article:
"The groundbreaking federal voucher program that enables nearly 2,000 D.C. children to attend private schools is facing an uncertain future in the Democrat-controlled Congress and may well be heading into its final year of operation, according to officials and supporters of the program.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said this week that she is working on a plan to phase out the controversial D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the first in the country to provide federal money for vouchers. Norton said she wants to proceed in a way that will not harm recipients. But she added that she regarded the program, narrowly approved in 2004 for five years by the then-Republican majority, as on its last legs.

"We have to protect the children, who are the truly innocent victims here," said Norton, who like many Democrats opposes vouchers as a threat to public school systems. "But I can tell you that the Democratic Congress is not about to extend this program." "

Then check out the statistics on how those in the program performed vs those in public schools.

Gatto is completely correct. Those kids performed better than their public school counterparts and the $7500 voucher credit cost the taxpayers less than if the kids had gone to public schools.

more than 4 years ago
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Sending Astronauts On a One-Way Trip To Mars

Brass Cannon Re:...would increase the likelihood of a resupply (917 comments)

If someone had asked you in July of 1969 what would be the state of the US space program in 2009...

Colony on the moon? Definitely.

Humans on Mars? Sure.

The USA unable to resupply it's own space station?

Armstrong will be dead before we get back to the moon.

Shame.

more than 4 years ago
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Sending Astronauts On a One-Way Trip To Mars

Brass Cannon ...would increase the likelihood of a resupply (917 comments)

- "What was the overall success rate for getting a mission to mars? 50%? It'd suck to wait a year for a supply launch to be readied and launched, just to miss, and continue to drift off into space. There are other errors too. They could miss the landing zone by 1,000 miles."-

Of course you are right, it could burn up. But having people there waiting might actually increase the likelihood of a supply ship successfully landing. The colonists could set up a homing beacon that the supply ship might lock on to, eliminating many navigation problems over the long journey.

I think it's funny that this is a serious for a Mars mission but the "Mars Direct" guy was labeled as an extreme kook. Mars direct planned to launch a return vehicle and fuel processing station (unmanned) to refine fuel from the Hydrogen in the Mars atmosphere. This way, the first astronauts would not even leave Earth until the return ship were safely there and fully fueled.

Combining the two ideas, the ready fueled return vehicle could itself be the homing beacon that the manned ship locks onto.

more than 4 years ago
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UK Plans To Link Criminal Records To ID Cards

Brass Cannon Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (359 comments)

OK - I like the idea of debating this topic with someone who actually lives under another government & tax structure but...

I suggest that the elimination of the personal income tax would set the scope of my government back a mere 5 years and you paint me as an anarchist? Seriously.

Think of the cost benefit analysis. 99% of the people in the USA would not even notice the change in scope but would gain over 20% of their income back. What would stimulate the economy more, bailouts and car purchase programs or $1.1 Trillion invested back into the economy at the local level?

And yes, I realize that tax is influenced by many factors. The effective spending point is debatable. Look up "the broken window fallacy of economics." Government is great at breaking your leg, giving you a crutch and saying "see, if it wasn't for government, you wouldn't be able to walk."

What I am saying is that taxes will go no where but up over the long term. More data means more programs can be refined, improved & expanded. More expansion means more taxes, which leads to the need for more data.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

more than 4 years ago
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UK Plans To Link Criminal Records To ID Cards

Brass Cannon Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (359 comments)

Why not do away with SS & taxes altogether? Is that so insane? People assume that if the government were not doing something that it would not get done. Things that need to be done will be done. I am simply saying that government is not always the best one to do it.

As far as taxes go.

Last year the federal government received $1.1 trillion in revenue from personal income tax.

The budget submitted by President Obama for 2010 is $3.6 trillion.

If you eliminated the personal income tax the federal budget would have to shrink to $2.5 trillion.

What year, you ask, was the federal budget last at $2.5 trillion?

Why that was way back in 2004. ($2.4 trillion actually but what's $100 Billion between friends?)

Does anyone seriously think that the size and scope of the federal government was too small back in 2004? No more personal income tax means less reason to track people personally. Not no reason of course, there is always a reason for governments to track their citizens, I am just saying the less the better.

As far as your thought that government is not motivated by money... I think that's naive. They are both equally motivated by money. At least with industry, you can vote it away with your money quicker than you can an administration. Most new businesses fail within the first year. They have to actually bring value to make it longer than that. Not so with governments.

And I would not want to pay taxes in my country either but I bet they are still lower than yours.

Strange, I assume that you think your government will be more efficient with the national ID card and mine less efficient without it. Do you think as government becomes more efficient your taxes will go down? USA mean personal income tax <30%, UK personal income tax - mid 30's, Sweden approaches 50%.

I prefer slower progress & inefficient government to outrageously high taxes.

more than 4 years ago
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UK Plans To Link Criminal Records To ID Cards

Brass Cannon Re:I am not sure where is the privacy problem here (359 comments)

The problem I have with your argument is its initial premise.

"How is a government supposed to do everything it needs to do if it cannot accurately keep track of its citizens?"

Once that statement is accepted, everything you say follows logically. But recheck your initial assumption. What exactly does government "need" to do? I am not asking what is your government currently doing. I ask what does it absolutely need to do. Detecting tax & benefit fraud for instance. If people relied on government for less benefits they would probably pay less taxes. There, I just reduced what your government needs to do by two things.

I don't live in the UK or Sweden so I don't know everything your government is currently handling. I would be willing to bet that there are many things that your government is doing that could easily be handled better by private industry.

Of course the government needs a way to quickly and easily identify people... It's doing so much for so many. Having the national ID will allow it do do even more, leading to ever increasing levels of information to be collected about you along with new and interesting ways for it to be used.

Despite the current economic conditions, times are relatively good now. Goods and services are readily available and the national ID is needed to better dole them out. How will the national id be used when / if times are worse?

I am from the US and we have our own national id legislation. What you have now, we will have soon.

Privacy and anonymity don't scare me, efficient governments do.

more than 4 years ago
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Emergency Government Control of the Internet?

Brass Cannon Re:Backwards (853 comments)

Well said.

The bill is HR 1207 - The Federal Reserve Transparency Act.

Like you said, the bill has over 280 co sponsors in the house. It has been on deck for about 6+ months and has not been brought to the floor for a vote. Barney Frank is the chairman of the House committee on financial services in which it now resides.

By contrast the "Cap & Trade" bill had 2 co sponsors and was introduced, reviewed by committee, brought to the floor and passed in less than a month.

In my opinion, HR 1207 this is the most important piece of legislation out there right now. Whether your left or right, many, if not all, of the issues people are complaining about (war, imperialism, government takeover of health care, printing money and dumping it into the economy etc...) would simply not be possible if the Fed were under control.

Auditing them is the first step.

Write your congressman & senator. It really does work.

more than 4 years ago
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Global Warming To Be Put On Trial?

Brass Cannon Re:They are NOT Denying Global Warming (1100 comments)

<quote><p>The figures for vacation weeks per year and life expectancy are mysteriously absent from your post.</p></quote>

I think I've got it... (your point i mean)

1 - Cap & Trade makes it so difficult for businesses to operate in the EU that they need to relocate to countries with no restrictions...

2 - This helps the EU generate far less CO2...

3 - Businesses are then forced to shut down and lay off EU workers...

4 - EU workers are then able to take loads more "vacation"...

5 - Therefore, as a direct result of cap & trade, EU citizens are living 6 months longer, albeit unemployed...

6 - PROFIT! oh wait. that part probably doesn't enter into it at all...

more than 4 years ago
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Global Warming To Be Put On Trial?

Brass Cannon Re:They are NOT Denying Global Warming (1100 comments)

... And a point is mysteriously missing from yours.

Cheap shot, I know, but if you are going to lob them over the plate people are going to swing!

OK

Life expectancy USA = 78.11 years
Average days vacation = 13

Life expectancy EU = 78.67 years
Average days vacation = 23

I am not sure where you are going with this but from what I can see, still not a good argument for the cap & trade policy that the EU has implemented (phase 1 being from 2005 to 2007) and that the USA has just passed after less than a months debate in congress.

I don't think you can make an argument that within 4 years of implementation, the EU's cap & trade program has caused any effect on the life expectancy of its citizens.

more than 4 years ago
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Global Warming To Be Put On Trial?

Brass Cannon Re:They are NOT Denying Global Warming (1100 comments)

USA GDP per capita = $46,859 USD 2008
USA CO2 emmissions = 5.8 Billion Metric tons / year

EU GDP Per capita = $31,783 USD 2008
EU CO2 emmissions = 3.9 Billion metric tons / year

OK so they produce 33% less CO2 and their GDP is roughly, wait for it, 32% less per capita than the USA.

Doesn't seem like much of a victory for the cap and trade philosophy does it.

more than 4 years ago
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Feds May Soon Be Allowed To Use Cookies

Brass Cannon Re:No problem (181 comments)

What I think is interesting is that the general sentiment here seems to be:

"I am smart enough to block cookies so it's OK that the government tracks those other "dumb" people."

Well, those people are only dumb because they don't know enough to block cookies (or how to do it).

BUT

They are probably smarter than you on something else the government is doing.

So basically you are taking the "They are not coming for me so I am not concerned" approach. This is a very dangerous philosophy.

Oh, and if you think the government will ever make what they are doing clear, try reading the healthcare bill (HR 3200).

about 5 years ago
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What If the Apollo Program Had Continued?

Brass Cannon Re:Sorry, I know off topic (389 comments)

This is a good debate and I would like to continue it. Sorry if I came across as adversarial before.

The basis of your argument seems to be this: society, thru it's encouragement and infrastructure enables us to succeed. It is because of this that society is entitled to set the ground rules for how we utilize the skills we acquired as a direct result of societies help.

I agree that no one get where they are alone. We rely on education and infrastructure etc... That's your first point and we agree.

Your next paragraph makes a couple of points. First, you disagree that a doctor is entitled to squeeze his patients no matter what. I agree with you that there is a limit to what he can charge but we disagree on how those limits should be set. I believe that a doctor, and anyone else for that matter, is entitled to charge whatever the market will bare.

Suppose that there is one and only one surgeon that can perform an operation that will cure a horrible condition. Suppose further that his fee is such that no one can afford to pay. People don't get the surgery and die. Bad for them but also bad for the surgeon because he does not get the fee. Less bad arguably but bad just the same. He has priced himself out of the market. He will be forced by market conditions to lower his fee just to get some work. After lowering his fee, he can only do so much and so mostly chooses to work on those who can pay the most money. I say mostly because I can't believe that a person goes into medicine just to make a lot of money. There are far easier ways. His morals will win out and he will balance his greed as you call it and his desire to help others. If he has no morals and is just a greedy bastard as you say then do you really want him to operate on you? Go back my Any Rand reference.

Now what happens if we handle it by allowing government to step in and take control? I read a very good analogy by Salvatore J. Durante about just that...

---

Let's say we all agree that hats are worth having, or even a necessity, and that all Americans have a right to them. We pass a law stating that the government will pay for everyone's hats, through taxpayer dollars. What happens? First of all, hat sales skyrocket. I'm not particularly fond of hats, but if I can get them for free or below cost, why not?

Lesson One: there is no limit to demand, if those who get the product or use it are not paying, directly or in some way they can see. This is unavoidable. The freeloaders will try to get all they can, and most of the rest of us will want something to show for our tax dollars.

If such a law passed, most hatmakers would be delirious with joy. Everyone wants hats! They expand their shops and produce as many hats as they can. What happens next? The average price of hats shoots through the roof. Why?

There are two reasons. First, of the hats now being sold, the more expensive ones - the ones only a few people could afford before - will now be in much greater demand, since the individual hat-buyer no longer has to pay from his own, limited resources. If the latest style is a platinum-plated beret, anyone who wants one will now get it.

The other reason for the rising prices is competition: specifically, lack of it. New products, such as the first cam-corders or the first compact disc players, are usually expensive. Prices drop because more people want to make money from a product: they try to come up with cheaper and more efficient ways of producing it, so they can sell the product more cheaply and grab some of the market. Our unlimited government funding of hats has completely cut out the need for competition. Any hat maker can stay in the business, no matter how high his prices.

Lesson Two: prices will skyrocket if there's no limit to how much people can spend on a product. If anyone who wants the product can buy it, price no object, there is absolutely no reason for the manufacturer to try to cut his prices, and no reason for the buyer to control how much he spends.

The government, and only the government, can give people virtually unlimited amounts to spend on a product. In short, it is not the greed of the manufacturer or the consumer, but the mere fact of the government funding of hats that is making hat prices exorbitant.

Next step: the government, and hence the taxpayers, are faced with enormous hat bills. Mrs. Smith may have confined herself to one hat, but Mr. Jones wanted five, and Mrs. Imelda wanted 52 Paris originals. The government knows it can't continually raise taxes to pay for hats. Assuming it wants to keep the hat-program intact, it has two choices: restrict the number of hats any one person can buy, or restrict the price of hats. In political jargon, that means rationing or price controls.

From a politician's point of view, setting limits on the price of hats is the obvious way to go. There are fewer hatmakers who vote than there are hat-wearers, and it's easy enough to paint the hatmakers as greedy exploiters of the hatless. So a new law is passed: no hats can be sold for more than $15, even if the buyer is willing to use his own money. The immediate result will be that the best quality, most expensive hats become unavailable. No more Paris originals.

Lesson Three: you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Good materials and good workmanship cost money. Yes, competition among manufacturers in a free market will cut prices in the long run. However, legislating a lower price for a product is not a short-cut to cheapness. It merely makes those who were selling more expensive goods go bankrupt, before anyone has time to work on price reduction.

We could try some complicated and devious maneuvers to lessen the effect of price controls. For instance, we could slap a $5 tax on shoes and use the money for the hat program. Then we could have a maximum hat price of $15, but still pay the hatmakers $20 per hat. That would mean, of course, that some poorer people wouldn't be able to afford shoes, and the government would end up subsidizing shoes, too. Even so, price controls on hats will have to be instituted in some form, because demand is so high. Remember that it is government spending for hats that made the demand and the prices so high in the first place: nothing except removal of the government's money will get the situation back under control. But let's keep trying.

We've now legislated a maximum price for hats. Nevertheless, Mrs. Imelda has bought another 35 hats, and the rest of us are still trying to get our taxes' worth of hats. Not surprisingly, the amount that taxpayers are shelling out for hats hasn't significantly decreased, despite our price controls. The next step? Well of course, restrict the number of hats each person can buy: ration them. Now what happens? A lot of hatmakers go out of business, is what. They can't sell hats for more than the maximum price, and they can't make up for the loss in income through selling more hats. Bureaucrats demand forms in triplicate and slap fines on them at every turn. The best hatmakers soon leave the field in disgust. We are now facing a decreasing supply of hats, if not an actual shortage, because there are far fewer manufacturers.

But hats are a necessity, aren't they? So we will have to pass a law forcing hatmakers to remain in business, whether they can make a profit or not. However, even a government order can't make a business run for long at a deficit, whether it's a hatmaker or a child's lemonade stand or a bank. The hatmakers will go out of business, one by one.

The government will have to step in and make hats. Given the quality of most government products, you can imagine what kind of hats we'll get. And given the efficiency of most government manufacturing operations, we won't be surprised if we're told we can each have one hat, in our choice of 4 styles, every other year.

What began as a seemingly praiseworthy law - to provide all Americans with hats - has ended up driving the hatmakers we know and trust out of business, and given us government-produced hats of considerably inferior quality and very limited numbers. This result is absolute, inevitable and non-negotiable: none of the economic rules above can be avoided, and they can only be temporarily circumvented by allowing the government to interfere in yet more private business.

Lesson Four: what the government pays for, the government has to control. Government funding of hats led to government control of hat prices, hatmakers, and finally everyone who is even remotely connected to hats. The only cure would be to end government funding of hats.

--

Do you see the logic of it? We have seen this already with medicare & medicaid driving up medical costs not to mention the effect of government loans and grants on the price of a college education. When the government helps or pays entirely, demand, and price, go up rapidly. Years ago, my uncle worked his way thru an ivy league school hanging drywall during the summers. Not today. Why? Because government funding has far more people going to college (high demand). The result is that prices are out of control and jobs that were once done by a high school graduate now require a college degree. If we continue along this line, I can see a day when we will not be able to choose our doctor or the hospital we go to. We see the beginnings of it with "in network doctors" now. We have only to look at public education to see the endgame. If you think education is truly public, try sending your kids to a better public school in another district and see what happens.

I agree that people should pay for what they get and the infrastructure they depend on. They do. The doctor you mention pays for his education, the police and roads already just like you and me. In fact, he probably pays more than we do since he pays higher taxes. Does he owe even more because he provides an essential service? God help you and me if they ever decide we provide something essential. They owe us nothing.

I agree that society can set the price and determine if something is being done properly. I just don't want to replace "society" with "government". They really are not the same.

more than 5 years ago
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What If the Apollo Program Had Continued?

Brass Cannon Sorry, I know off topic (389 comments)

...but this post requires a response.

First if you think that what we've had in the last 40 years even remotely resembles unchecked capitalism you should try starting your own business (as I have). And no, I don't mean IT consulting. I mean a business that actually makes a product. Government is everywhere. Regulations, taxes, insurance, audits, min wage, overtime, unemployment tax, etc. They interfere at every turn and have driven manufacturing away. What they haven't driven out, they are taking over. The USA could do with a few decades of unchecked capitalism. By unchecked I mean no interference & no bailouts.

You say the markets are not rationale? They are far more rationale than the state. The state that is now propping up a failed automobile industry that the market would have fixed or done away with years ago. Check your premises.

As for health care... You mention people in South America with better health care. Bunk. In 2006 alone, Bush signed a foreign aid bill that sent $20.6B to South America. TANSTAAFL.

You have no right to health care or a job or a living wage or a house. You have no right to the fruits of someone else's (doctors & nurses) labor. You have the right to your life, your liberty and to pursue happiness, not to actually be happy. That's up to you.

I can think of no one who said it better than Ayn Rand. Yes, Ayn Rand. People quote it because it's relevant. Criticize it when you've read it.

From Atlas Shrugged...

"I quit when medicine was placed under state control, some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill?

That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun.

I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward.

I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything - except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the "welfare" of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, only "to serve".

That a man who is willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards - never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy.

I have often wondered at the smugness with which they assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind - yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands?

Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors their system will now produce.

Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it - and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."

Atlas Shrugged, 1957
Book 3, "A is A"

more than 5 years ago
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Why Is It So Difficult To Fire Bad Teachers?

Brass Cannon Re:Simple answer (1322 comments)

OK - Point taken. There are both Bad teachers and Bad students. The teachers have a mechanism by which they tell students and parents that there is a problem with the student. Grades. Your post points out all of the problems that teachers encounter in their job. All good points. What's missing is your suggestion on how teachers should be measured or even how most schools do it now. I would be interested to know how it's currently done and any better ways that might be out there.

more than 5 years ago
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New Ads That Watch You

Brass Cannon Re:Where is the "Opt-out" button or list for this? (238 comments)

Sorry for the second reply but slightly different topic... You skip commercials. So do I. What has it gained us? Nothing. In fact the situation is worse. Knowing that we skip the commercials during their allotted time, the advertisers are now broadcasting their commercials DURING the show. It used to be just a channel logo in the corner. Now The guy from Burn Notice runs from one end of my screen to the other. The ad takes up 1/4 of the viewing space. Let me know when you've written the script to digitally remove any anomalous images from the show and I will see about illegally downloading it from a P2P site.

more than 5 years ago

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