Tidbits Quotations
To Accompany the July 18, 2011 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

It is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program's effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.
"Time to Ax Public Programs That Don't Yield Results," Liberal Columnist Joe Klein, Time Magazine, July 26, 2011, Page 27 ---

Barack Obama has been accused of "class warfare" because he favors closing several tax loopholes — socialism for the wealthy — as part of the deficit-cutting process. This is a curious charge: class warfare seems to be a one-way street in American politics. Over the past 30 years, the superwealthy have waged far more effective warfare against the poor and the middle class, via their tools in Congress, than the other way around. How else can one explain the fact that the oil companies, despite elephantine profits, are still subsidized by the federal government? How else can one explain the fact that hedge-fund managers pay lower tax rates than their file clerks? Or that farm subsidies originally meant for family farmers go to huge corporations that hardly need the help?

Actually, there is an additional explanation. Conservatives, like liberals, routinely take advantage of a structural flaw in the modern welfare state: there is no creative destruction when it comes to government programs. Both "liberal" and "conservative" subsidies linger in perpetuity, sometimes metastasizing into embarrassing giveaways. Even the best-intentioned programs are allowed to languish in waste and incompetence. Take, for example, the famed early-education program called Head Start.
(See more about the Head Start reform process.)

The idea is, as Newt Gingrich might say, simple liberal social engineering. You take the million or so poorest 3- and 4-year-old children and give them a leg up on socialization and education by providing preschool for them; if it works, it saves money in the long run by producing fewer criminals and welfare recipients — and more productive citizens. Indeed, Head Start did work well in several pilot programs carefully run by professionals in the 1960s. And so it was "taken to scale," as the wonks say, as part of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.

It is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program's effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.

According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. These results were so shocking that the HHS team sat on them for several years, according to Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who said, "I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive. They couldn't."
(See how California's budget woes will hurt the state's social services.)

The Head Start situation is a classic among government-run social programs. Why do so many succeed as pilots and fail when taken to scale? In this case, the answer is not particularly difficult to unravel. It begins with a question: Why is Head Start an HHS program and not run by the Department of Education? The answer: Because it is a last vestige of Johnson's War on Poverty, which was run out of the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The War on Poverty attempted to rebuild poor communities from the bottom up, using local agencies called community action programs. These outfits soon proved slovenly; often they were little more than patronage troughs for local Democratic Party honchos — and, remarkably, to this day, they remain the primary dispensers of Head Start funds. As such, they are far more adept at dispensing make-work jobs than mastering the subtle nuances of early education. "The argument that Head Start opponents make is that it is a jobs program," a senior Obama Administration official told me, "and sadly, there is something to that."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at


"What Difference Has RomneyCare Made?" by John C. Goodman, Townhall, July 9, 2011 ---

. . .

On paper, it looks as though the state has made major progress in insuring the uninsured. From 6.4% of the population in 2006, the uninsured hover around 2% today. However, one study found that nearly all of the newly insured are either on Medicaid, in a state-subsidized plan or in an employer subsidized plan. Only 7% of the newly insured, or about 30,000 people, are directly paying their own way. It’s relatively easy to get people to sign up for insurance when coverage is free or almost free. And it’s not very expensive if you pay for the subsidies using money you would have spent anyway on free care for those who can’t pay their medical bills.

But aside from moving money from one bucket to another, have any real problems been solved? The evidence isn’t positive.

There are three major problems in health care all over the world: cost, quality and access. Since nothing in the Massachusetts reform addressed the problems of rising costs and less than adequate quality, those problems have remained more or less unchanged. What about access to care? Surely, newly insured people have more options in the medical marketplace.

The trouble is that almost all of the newly insured are in health plans that pay doctors and hospitals a lot less than what private insurance pays. Like other places around the country, Massachusetts Medicaid (called MassHealth) pays providers so little that patients often turn to hospital emergency rooms and community health centers for their care when they can’t find doctors who will see them. People in the newly subsidized private insurance plans aren’t faring much better because these plans pay only slightly more than what Medicaid pays.

The only solid analysis of what has actually happened to patients at this point is a study by Sharon Long and Paul Masi published in the journal Health Affairs. According to the study:

• There has been no significant change in the number of Massachusetts patients seeking care in hospital emergency rooms since the reform was implemented, and there has actually been an increase in emergency room use by people with incomes below 300% of the poverty level.

• There has been an increase in doctor visits but no change in visits to specialists and an actual decrease in “medical tests, treatment and follow up care,” which I assume is care for the chronically ill.

• There has been no change in the percent of the population reporting a failure to “get needed care for any reason within the past 12 months” and remarkably that includes one-third of those with incomes below 300% of the poverty level.

The problem with counting up doctor visits is that a visit is not always a visit. Nationally, in the state children’s health insurance program (CHIP) doctors have responded to an increase in the demand for their services by scheduling more appointments, but spending less time with patients. Also, you would think that the Massachusetts reform would shift health care resources from the general population to those with less income. But there is no evidence that has happened. On measures of access, the gap between the poor plus the near poor and everyone else appears not to have changed at all!

Ask yourself why you care whether other people have health insurance? The most likely reason is that you want people to have access to health care. But lack of access to care is a huge problem in Massachusetts right now. As I previously reported more than half of all family doctors and more than half of all internists are not accepting new patients. The wait is more than a month before a new patient is able to see a family doctor, and the wait to see an internist averages 48 days. The average wait in Boston to see a family doctor is more than two months.

What I am now reporting will be different than what you may have read in the newspapers or at other health blogs. MIT Professor Jon Gruber calls Massachusetts an unqualified success, citing some of the very same studies I am citing. But since Gruber was one of the architects of the Massachusetts health reform, this is like a student grading his own exam.

What about elevating the Massachusetts reforms to the national level in the form of ObamaCare? As I have previously reported, ObamaCare is likely to result in less access to care for our most vulnerable populations: the disabled and the elderly on Medicare, the poor on Medicaid and the near poor in newly subsidized private insurance. But that is only the beginning.

ObamaCare threatens a federal takeover of the practice of medicine. It threatens to cost millions of people their jobs. It threatens to cause a wasteful restructuring of American industry in a way that will make us less efficient and less competitive in the international marketplace. It will cause millions to lose their employer sponsored insurance. And it threatens to create health plans with perverse incentives to underprovide care to the patients most in need of the miracles of modern medical science.

ObamaCare will be anything but benign.

Bob Jensen's threads on healthcare insurance are at

"The Jobless Summer:  Why only one in four teens is employed," The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2011 ---

Perhaps you've already noticed around the neighborhood, but this is a rotten summer for young Americans to find a job. The Department of Labor reported last week that a smaller share of 16-19 year-olds are working than at anytime since records began to be kept in 1948.

Only 24% of teens, one in four, have jobs, compared to 42% as recently as the summer of 2001. The nearby chart chronicles the teen employment percentage over time, including the notable plunge in the last decade. So instead of learning valuable job skills—getting out of bed before noon, showing up on time, being courteous to customers, operating a cash register or fork lift—millions of kids will spend the summer playing computer games or hanging out.

The lousy economic recovery explains much of this decline in teens working, and some is due to increases in teen summer school enrollment. Some is also cultural: Many parents don't put the same demands on teens as they once did to get out and work.

But Congress has also contributed by passing one of the most ill-timed minimum wage increases in history. One of the first acts of the gone-but-not-forgotten Nancy Pelosi ascendancy was to raise the minimum wage in stages to $7.25 an hour in 2009 from $5.15 in 2007. Even liberals ought to understand that raising the cost of hiring the young and unskilled while employers are slashing payrolls is loopy economics.

Or maybe not. The Center for American Progress, often called the think tank for the Obama White House, recently recommended another increase to $8.25 an hour. Though the U.S. unemployment rate is 9.1%, the thinkers assert that a rising wage would "stimulate economic growth to the tune of 50,000 new jobs." So if the government orders employers to pay more to hire workers when they're already not hiring, they'll somehow hire more workers. By this logic, if we raised the minimum wage to $25 an hour we'd have full employment.

Back on planet Earth, the minimum wage increase has coincided with the plunge in the percentage of working teens. Before the most recent wage hikes, roughly seven million teens were working. Now there are closer to five million with a job and paycheck.

Black teens have had the worst of it, with their unemployment rate rising to 41.6% in April from 29% in 2007, faster than almost any other group. A 2010 study by economists William Even of Miami University of Ohio and David Macpherson of Trinity University found that as a result of the $2.10 increase in minimum wage, "teen employment dropped by 6.9 percent. . . . For the teen population with less than 12 years of education completed, teen employment dropped by 12.4 percent." For teens priced out of the labor market, their wage fell to zero.

The great tragedy is that even discussing the role of the minimum wage in teen unemployment seems to be a political taboo. The other day we saw ABC's George Stephanopoulos baiting Michele Bachmann on the minimum wage, as if refusing to raise it would be some epic political gaffe. Ms. Bachmann didn't back down from saying that the minimum wage has contributed to unemployment, though she didn't explain why.

Continued in artricle

"The Only Reform That Will Restrain Spending:  All 47 Senate Republicans now support changing the Constitution to balance the federal budget," by Olympia Snowe and Jim Demint, The Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2011 ---

Whatever happens when President Obama meets with congressional leaders of both parties at the White House today, no long-term solution is on the table for the spending habits in Washington that have endangered the prosperity of future generations. With our federal debt exceeding $14 trillion—nearly 100% of our gross domestic product—fiscal calamity is jeopardizing our standard of living and undermining our national security. And President Obama recently requested that we add an additional $2.4 trillion to our debt.

There has to be another way, and there is. Republicans in the Senate are united in our concern about our nation's fiscal future. Before we consider saddling our children with even more debt, we must enact significant spending cuts and enforceable caps on future spending. For the long term, to prevent both this Congress and its successors from hijacking the promise of American prosperity, we also need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, like the one we and all 47 Senate Republicans have introduced.

The American people who will vote on such an amendment understand the basic financial rules that Washington has been breaking. In the real world, if a household brought in $44,000 annually but spent $74,000 by borrowing $30,000 each year to sustain its spending habits, such behavior would be considered reckless and irresponsible.

Nonetheless, the federal government is doing exactly that on an unimaginable scale, running historic deficits in excess of a trillion dollars for three consecutive years and borrowing 40 cents for every dollar spent. Our government has balanced its budget only five times in half a century.

The U.S. currently spends an astounding $200 billion per year just to pay interest on its debt, an annual amount projected to reach nearly $1 trillion by 2021. Money spent on debt-interest payments is money not invested in our economy, jobs, infrastructure or education. Economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have found that gross debt levels above 90% of GDP slow economic growth by 1% per year. First-quarter GDP growth this year was already abysmal at 1.9%. At that rate, China would surpass the U.S. economy in size even before 2016, the year recently forecast by the International Monetary Fund.

If Congress increases our national debt ceiling next month without permanent, structural budget reforms, we will signal to taxpayers and bond markets alike that Washington is still in denial. Whatever agreement is reached, everyone will know that future Congresses are not obligated to follow it. As a result, the only way to compel lawmakers to maintain their responsibility forever is a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Why will this approach work where others have failed? For one single reason: As senators and representatives, we take an oath to uphold the Constitution. By amending the Constitution, Congress will be forever bound to match our nation's expenditures with our revenues. Toothless resolutions and statutory speed bumps have proven easy to evade or ignore. Indeed, the reason many lawmakers don't want a balanced budget amendment is the exact reason why we need it: It would permanently end the types of legislative trickery that have now brought our country to the fiscal brink.

The last time the Senate considered a balanced budget amendment was on March 4, 1997—and it failed to pass by one vote. On that day 14 years ago, the nation's outstanding debt was $5.36 trillion. Today it is $14.3 trillion, or nearly three times that amount.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Even if the the GOP wins a majority of seats in the Senate and the House, an amendment like this has zero chances of being passed among the liberal states like California, New York, and Vermont.

Hundreds of Atlanta K-12 Teachers and Administrators Caught Revising Student Test Scores for Personal Gain
They met in large groups for more than a decade and cheated in Score Revision Parties --- it was fun to game the system

Changing a student's test score is so much easier than teaching that student how to read the test questions.
And these are the role models for honesty and ethics of our children.
What says even more about society is the current effort of parents and unions not to punish the cheating teachers.
Do these parents and teachers unions really care if the K-12 students cannot read?
Who really cares if high school graduates in Atlanta cannot read a newspaper or convert 523 inches into feet?
You will never see liberal Hollywood make a movie critical of this type of teacher cheating!
When I watched this on ABC News I became depressed to the point of changing from scotch to gin.

"Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible."

"Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level," by Heather Vogell, The Atlanta Joiurnal Constitution, July 6, 2011 ---

Across Atlanta Public Schools, staff worked feverishly in secret to transform testing failures into successes.

Teachers and principals erased and corrected mistakes on students’ answer sheets.

Area superintendents silenced whistle-blowers and rewarded subordinates who met academic goals by any means possible.

Superintendent Beverly Hall and her top aides ignored, buried, destroyed or altered complaints about misconduct, claimed ignorance of wrongdoing and accused naysayers of failing to believe in poor children’s ability to learn.

For years — as long as a decade — this was how the Atlanta school district produced gains on state curriculum tests. The scores soared so dramatically they brought national acclaim to Hall and the district, according to an investigative report released Tuesday by Gov. Nathan Deal.

In the report, the governor’s special investigators describe an enterprise where unethical — and potentially illegal — behavior pierced every level of the bureaucracy, allowing district staff to reap praise and sometimes bonuses by misleading the children, parents and community they served.

The report accuses top district officials of wrongdoing that could lead to criminal charges in some cases.

The decision whether to prosecute lies with three district attorneys — in Fulton, DeKalb and Douglas counties — who will consider potential offenses in their jurisdictions.

For teachers, a culture of fear ensured the deception would continue.

“APS is run like the mob,” one teacher told investigators, saying she cheated because she feared retaliation if she didn’t.

The voluminous report names 178 educators, including 38 principals, as participants in cheating. More than 80 confessed. The investigators said they confirmed cheating in 44 of 56 schools they examined.

The investigators conducted more than 2,100 interviews and examined more than 800,000 documents in what is likely the most wide-ranging investigation into test-cheating in a public school district ever conducted in United States history.

The findings fly in the face of years of denials from Atlanta administrators. The investigators re-examined the state’s erasure analysis — which they said proved to be valid and reliable — and sought to lay to rest district leaders’ numerous excuses for the suspicious scores.

Deal warned Tuesday “there will be consequences” for educators who cheated. “The report’s findings are troubling,” he said, “but I am encouraged this investigation will bring closure to problems that existed.”

Interim Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis promised that the educators found to have cheated “are not going to be put in front of children again.”

Through her lawyer, Hall issued a statement denying that she, her staff or the “vast majority” of Atlanta educators knew or should have known of “allegedly widespread” cheating. “She further denies any other allegations of knowing and deliberate wrongdoing on her part or on the part of her senior staff,” the statement said, “whether during the course of the investigation or before.”

Don’t blame teachers?

Phyllis Brown, a southwest Atlanta parent with two children in the district, said the latest revelations are “horrible.” It is the children, she said, who face embarrassment if they are promoted to a higher grade only to find they aren’t ready for the more challenging work.

Still, she doesn’t believe teachers should be punished.

“It’s the people over them (who wanted her kids to be able to read) that threatened them (the cheating teachers), that should be punished,” she said. “The ones from the building downtown, they should lose their jobs, they should lose their pensions. They are the ones who started this..”

AJC raised questions

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered the inquiry last year after rejecting the district’s own investigation into suspicious erasures on tests in 58 schools. The AJC first raised questions about some schools’ test scores more than two years ago.

Continued in article

Wow:  97% of Elementary NYC Public Students Get A or B Grades --- There must be higher IQ in the water!
"City Schools May Get Fewer A’s," by Jennifer Medina, The New York Times, January 28, 2010 ---

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, criticized the decision to reduce the number of schools that receive top grades.

Continued in article

"Culture of cheating breeding in schools across U.S. Poor test scores risk teachers’ jobs," by Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times, July 14, 2011 ---

Those sneaky students in the back of the classroom aren't the only cheaters.

Teachers and school leaders are getting in on the scams by boosting test scores not through better instruction, but by erasing wrong answers, replacing them with the right ones and hoodwinking parents in the process.

Nowhere was the corruption more widespread than in Atlanta, where a recent probe found that 44 schools and 178 teachers and principals had been falsifying student test scores for the past decade. Suspected cheating also is under review in the District, and the Department of Education's inspector general is assisting with the investigation.

In Pennsylvania, reports that surfaced this week show suspected cheating in at least three dozen school districts. State Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis on Thursday ordered those districts to investigate the suspicious scores and report back within 30 days. He also asked a data company to analyze 2010 scores, according to the Associated Press.

Similar charges of cheating have been discovered in Baltimore, Houston and elsewhere.

Although the details differ, education specialists think each scandal has a common denominator.

"There's a very simple cause: consequences," said Gregory Cizek, a professor of educational measurement and evaluation in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Any district where you've got kids who are at risk of not succeeding ... there are problems as big as Atlanta, as big as D.C., as big as Philadelphia. The more stakes there are involved, the more you're going to see it."

The Atlanta probe found that "cheating occurred as early as 2001," the year the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted. Mr. Cizek and others argue that the greater accountability schools face, the more likely that teachers and administrators are to, at best, turn a blind eye to cheating. At worst, they encourage it.

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was named superintendent of the year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009. She retired last month and told USA Today on Wednesday that she "did not know about the cheating."

Under No Child Left Behind guidelines, schools can be labeled "failing" if student test scores don't meet state benchmarks. Poor results are embarrassing for teachers and often cost principals, superintendents and school board members their jobs. By contrast, high scores on reading and math tests equal praise for those in charge.

In the face of such pressure, teachers and administrators sometimes go with their "natural reaction," said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

"The teachers and principals who changed test scores did something unethical and probably illegal, [but they were] caught between a rock and a hard place," he said. "We've created a climate that corrupted the educational process. The sole goal of education ... became boosting scores by any means necessary."

The Education Department has estimated that more than 80 percent of schools could be labeled as "failing" this year under No Child Left Behind, and congressional leaders are working on overhauling the law.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has passed the first three pieces of its five-step reform process, and Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican and committee chairman, has said the final legislation will change the accountability process and free schools from the testing mandates.

"One of our primary goals is to put more control in the hands of state and local education officials who can properly monitor and address situations like this to ensure students are not being cheated out of a quality education," Mr. Kline said.

Investigations of suspected violations often move slowly.

Until recently, education officials in Pennsylvania apparently were unaware of a 2009 analysis of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment that identified "testing irregularities" at schools in Philadelphia, Hazleton, Lancaster and elsewhere. Former Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak, who served under Gov. Edward G. Rendell, has denied seeing the 44-page document, the Associated Press reported.

Continued in article

Jensen Question
Egads --- let's blame the people who wanted Phyllis Brown's children to be able to read for the problem.
Why doesn't anybody care that New York City teachers give A and B grades to over 97 percent of the children attending public schools?

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment ---

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who let students cheat ---

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who cheat ---

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates ---

Please Don't Shoot the Messenger This Time (I'm not forwarding this tidbit for political debate or to make a political statement)
With all due respect to my good friend and poet Neal Hannon, the Harvard Business Review published an item from a somewhat condescending  Haavud media "expert" who does not think so much of AskObama
I don't think Haque's criticisms have anything to do with liberalism versus conservatism in this particular instance since Haque's Harvard Media Lab most likely is more liberal than conservative or it would be driven out of that side of the Charles River. Haque calls this Twitter stunt "digital dumbification.."

"AskObama Is a Meaningless Marketing Stunt," Umair Haque, Harvard Business Review Blog, July 6, 2011 --- Click Here

So, what are you asking President Obama? Why not more stimulus? Why did he choose to bail out the banks? What about the deficit, China, the euro, youth unemployment, and the future? All worthy themes for today's Twitter Townhall.

But perhaps you should reconsider. Me? I'm asking him nothing. Consider it a tiny one man protest. Maybe, just maybe, AskObama is less 21st century transparency — and more like a tiny dose of digital dumbification.

I find the exercise cynical at worst, and at best, even if nobly well-intentioned, a tiny symbol of exactly how and why the 20th century's stopping the 21st from being born. I'd say that the Obama team, a little bit panicked with the growing sense of disappointment, disenchantment, and just plain outrage amongst the general populace, that decision-makers decided to mortgage the future of pretty much everyone worth less than $5 million not for, for example, tomorrow's moonshots, great achievements, or grand public works, but to save the skins of zombie fatcats and vampire investment bankers (sorry, did I say "save the skins of"? I mean "bestow fortune upon", because the super-rich have actually, while most people have gotten poorer, gotten richer during this great crisis) — headed off to hurriedly, nervously confer with their skinny-jeaned, sunglass-wearing, spiky-haired marketing droids. Who smoothly said something like: "Duuudes. Chillax! If you want loyalty, you need engagement. You know what's a killer move to build engagement with 'the digital consumer' (we've got that poor sucker's brain in a jar in our lab, and we've already scanned it into our MacBooks)? You know what really builds marketing synergies, and drives brand equity? Social media!! We've got it--let's let people ask President Obama questions!! On Twitter!! Look: think about it: it'll only take a day, and you'll be seen as a hero. It's perception over reality — and that's what it's always been about."

I hate to rudely interrupt this pulsing brainwave of an amazing epiphany with a hard dose of duh, but, well, I'm really sorry. You can't buy my "engagement" for a few bucks, you certainly can't have my "loyalty" (because though I might be a mutt, I'm not a pet). And you sure can't win my respect with lowest-common-denominator marketing "stunts" that makes the predictably tedious not-so-creative output of Madison Avenue's glorifiers of toxic, dispiriting, self-destructive, mass-made junk look like John Lennon met Michelangelo in the fifth dimension and they had offspring.

Why not? Because (welcome to the 21st century) you've got to earn it.

Now, it could be that my telling of the tale's totally, completely wrong. Maybe Obama dreamt the whole thing up himself, or maybe the Dalai Lama or David Hasselhoff did. Who knows? My point is that without a working, viable, lasting, participatory link to the who, what, when, where, and how of policy-making, the event is just that: a one-off marketing stunt, with little enduring significance or meaning.

Nearly every aspect of our democracy is in danger of being broken. Voters are apathetic, the judiciary seems toothless, the press rarely uses its much-vaunted freedom, checks and balances don't seem to check or balance much, the two parties that exert iron-clad control over Washington have about as much meaningful difference between them as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, our fiscal situation is blowing a hole in our future, and we fail, over and over again, to invest in stuff that matters most.

It's marketing over substance, hype over reality, spin over reform — as usual. The dismal truth is that pretty much all of yesterday's institutions — from banks, to "the corporation," to credit ratings, to schools — are just as broken as our political institutions are. And I'd say using the very, very awesome Twitter to solicit "questions" from citizens in this environment is a little bit like earnestly running a focus group about the best color for your next pair of $2000 loafers — while your boardroom's on fire.

Yet, all is far from lost. Here's the good news. While our democracy might be in disrepair, we're also the pioneers of a set of radically disruptive tools that have the power not merely to repair or restore it — but to reimagine and reinvent it.
It's not that we don't have the tools to reinvent democracy. If you can trade stocks from Kathmandu on your iPhone, my guess is we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible for 21st century democracy. Given today's panoply of powerfully disruptive social technologies, it's within the realm of the possible to create polities that slash coordination costs, erase information gaps, achieve a thicker consensus, build shared values, amplify audience costs, forge more imaginative policies, and heal yesterday's festering wounds. Sure, it's not going to be easy, straightforward, or automatic. It will take focus, effort, investment, and time. But perhaps for the first time in human history, it's possible to envision something like a real-time, organic, decentralized, sophisticated, multiparty, multipolar democracy — instead of the lumbering, plodding, top-heavy, simplistic, monolithic monster that's chasing us straight into a Great Stagnation.

The promise of social technologies is to fundamentally reimagine and reboot yesterday's crumbling institutions
(and disempower the bumbling beancounters who run them). In political terms? They should be used — right now, right here, right this very second — to build a deeper democracy, one where via deliberation, citizens have a bottom-up impact on policy-making, which as it stands today is totally disconnected from and unresponsive to the general populace and unable to do much of anything about anything. They should be used to help ignite an authentic prosperity, by redrawing the boundaries of political freedom for the underprivileged and the powerless — and to blow apart a polity that protects and props up the privileged and the powerful.

What we don't need is more of this: "People tuning out? Great — instead of actually improving stuff, hit 'em with some marketing!!"

Sorry, Mr President: you've got the pundits, talking heads, and powers that be right where you want them (judging from the response you've gotten so far), but little old me? I'm not buying into your latest "campaign." I'm not a "target." I'm a citizen of a generation whose future is going up in smoke faster than you can say "credit default swaps." And what you're really telling me is this: in some parts of the world, social tools can fuel the revolutions that topple dictators. Here, in the nation that invented them? They're used for marketing stunts.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on social networking and Twitter are at

"Sorting the Real From the Phony Spending Cut Options:  A balanced budget amendment will be hard, but block-granting Medicaid and food stamps to states would be a good start on reform," by Fred Barnes, The Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2011 ---

Simple lessons from the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan point to what's likely to be the only successful approach to containing government spending in the Barack Obama era.

In FDR's time, a surge in spending by Washington was a cornerstone of New Deal efforts to lift the country out of the Depression. But unemployment never dropped below 14% in the 1930s and rose to 19% by the end of the decade. "Now, gentlemen, we have tried spending," Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury secretary, confessed to House leaders in 1939. "We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work."

Mr. Reagan understood this lesson when he confronted a recession in 1981, his first year in the White House. He restrained domestic spending (while funding a robust military buildup), and overall spending actually declined in 1987. But the cuts were temporary. Mr. Reagan's only lasting curb on spending was a gradual, scheduled increase in the Social Security retirement age to 67.

Since 1988, Mr. Reagan's final year in office, spending has escalated to an estimated 25.3% of GDP in 2011 from 21.3%. The national debt has grown by nearly $4 trillion in Mr. Obama's presidency. Yet a sharp hike in spending has worked no better for Mr. Obama than it did for Mr. Roosevelt. And now we face a borrowing and debt crisis caused chiefly by the spending binge.

So here are the two relevant lessons for the ongoing discussions on raising the debt ceiling between Congress and the White House: 1) spending does little to spur economic growth and job creation and 2) cuts are fleeting and quickly overwhelmed by more spending. Thus the solution to the spending problem is straightforward: Rather than temporary cuts, what's needed are a permanent cap on spending and structural changes in entitlement programs.

The key word is "permanent." And to work, a cap must be enforceable.

Caps on spending come in different sizes, all of them likely to be opposed by Mr. Obama and most Democrats. The Republican Study Committee, the caucus of House conservatives, wants a cap at 18% of GDP—the average level of tax revenues in recent decades—with automatic cuts if spending exceeds the cap. To waive the cap, a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress would be required.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee has proposed a cap of 20.6% of GDP, the average level of federal spending over the past 40 years, also with a two-thirds vote of both Houses required to override the cap. The Corker plan has some Democratic support in Congress. Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, favors a cap at roughly that level.

As part of their strategy of seeking spending cuts to offset the $2 trillion hike in the debt limit sought by Mr. Obama, Republicans are demanding a vote on a balanced budget amendment. A deficit, under the amendment, would be erased by spending cuts. A tax increase would require a two-thirds vote.

For now, a constitutional amendment to balance the budget is a nonstarter. In the unlikely event it succeeded in winning a two-thirds vote in the Senate and House, it would face the steeply uphill task of gaining approval by legislatures in three-fourths of the states. At best, that could take years.

And a spending cap is not the answer to escalating entitlement obligations. Social Security and Medicare spending would blast a hole in a cap unless they are revamped. Restructuring them would be an unenviable but not impossible task.

Continued in article

"The Year of School Choice:  No fewer than 13 states have passed major education reforms," The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2011 ---

School may be out for the summer, but school choice is in, as states across the nation have moved to expand education opportunities for disadvantaged kids. This year is shaping up as the best for reformers in a very long time.

No fewer than 13 states have enacted school choice legislation in 2011, and 28 states have legislation pending. Last month alone, Louisiana enhanced its state income tax break for private school tuition; Ohio tripled the number of students eligible for school vouchers; and North Carolina passed a law letting parents of students with special needs claim a tax credit for expenses related to private school tuition and other educational services.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made headlines this year for taking on government unions. Less well known is that last month he signed a bill that removes the cap of 22,500 on the number of kids who can participate in Milwaukee's Parental Choice Program, the nation's oldest voucher program, and creates a new school choice initiative for families in Racine County. "We now have 13 programs new or expanded this year alone" in the state, says Susan Meyers of the Wisconsin-based Foundation for Educational Choice.

School choice proponents may have had their biggest success in Indiana, where Republican Governor Mitch Daniels signed legislation that removes the charter cap, allows all universities to be charter authorizers, and creates a voucher program that enables about half the state's students to attend public or private schools.

Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma have created or expanded tuition tax credit programs. North Carolina and Tennessee eliminated caps on the number of charter schools. Maine passed its first charter law. Colorado created a voucher program in Douglas County that will provide scholarships for private schools. In Utah, lawmakers passed the Statewide Online Education Program, which allows high school students to access course work on the Internet from public or private schools anywhere in the state.

Even in the nation's capital, and thanks largely to House Speaker John Boehner, Congress revived the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a voucher program for poor families that the Obama Administration had wanted to kill at the behest of teachers unions.

One notable exception is Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Corbett and the Republican state legislature bungled passage of a state-wide voucher bill. Mr. Corbett promised during his election campaign last year that he'd make the reform a priority. Instead, Republican legislative leaders dithered for most of the spring, and Mr. Corbett got engaged very late. The session ended last week without passage of the voucher bill and several other school choice measures, including an increase in charter school authorizers. The Pennsylvania State Education Association is no doubt delighted by the failure.

Continued in article

"The Rise and Needless Decline of the Golden:  State John Steele Gordon writes in The Wall Street Journal that more Americans left California than arrived in the last decade. What caused this great migration? Politics," The Wall Street Journal, by John Steele Gordon, The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2011 ---

If you want to know why Hollywood became Hollywood, you need to look at geography, not show business.

The movies were born in the New York City area. Thomas Edison set up the world's first film studio near his laboratory in West Orange, N.J., in 1893. But electric lighting at that time was not powerful enough to expose movie film adequately, putting a premium on sunlight. Nor is the New York City area particularly diverse in its scenery or benevolent in its weather.

And so the movie business soon migrated 3,000 miles—and a four-day train ride—to southern California. There, sunlight abounded throughout the year and shoreline, mountains, ranch land, desert and agricultural areas were all within easy reach. It was not the first nor the last industry to find the lure of the Golden State irresistible.

There is probably no 150,000 square miles on the planet more God-favored than California. Its geographic diversity, its climate, its scenic wonders, its incredible mineral wealth, its agricultural abundance are all without equal. No wonder it was a magnet for immigrants for 150 years.

The area was remote from the centers of world power until the mid-19th century, remote even from its nominal owner, Mexico, whose heartland lay far to the south, on the other side of a vast desert. In the 1840s its European population was only a few thousand, centered on a string of 18th-century Spanish missions along the coastline.

The discovery of gold early in 1848 changed everything. California became American territory that year when the Mexican War ended. But because California was so far away, it was not until late in the year that news of the discovery reached the East Coast. On Dec. 8, 1848, President James Polk sent Congress a message regarding it, accompanied by a guaranteed-to-get-everyone's-attention piece of evidence, a gold nugget that weighed fully 20 pounds.

In the next two years, nearly 1% of the American population, about 180,000 people, set off for the new gold fields, despite a harrowing six-month journey overland or one as long by sea around Cape Horn. Men flooded into California from Australia, China, Japan and Europe.

In 1851, as gold fever still raged, John L.B. Soule wrote in the Terre Haute Express, "Go west, young man, go west!" a phrase soon expropriated by—and now usually attributed to—the far more prominent New York journalist Horace Greeley.

By 1850, when California became a state, its population was 92,000—90% of them male. It lay 1,000 miles west of the nearest American state at the time, Texas, and tying it firmly to the Union became a major political goal of the federal government. Within a little more than a decade, a telegraph line reached across the continent and within two decades (and despite the Civil War) a railroad line did as well.

California, which had been six months away in 1850, was now only a few days. Even as the gold rush subsided, immigration sharply increased and the population rose more than 300% in the 1850s and grew between 40% and 50% in each of the next three decades as the state's economic potential blossomed.

But it was in the early 20th century that California's population soared. In 1900, there were 1.5 million Californians. Thirty years later there were 5.7 million. And while the depressed 1930s saw the smallest percentage increase in population in the country's history, 7.3%, California's population grew by 20%. Much of that increase came from migration from the drought-stricken Middle West, as depicted in John Steinbeck's immortal novel (and the equally immortal movie) "The Grapes of Wrath."

In the 1940s, millions of soldiers and sailors from all over the country passed through California on the way to and from the war in the Pacific. Many of them fell in love with the place and moved their families there. The state's population grew by 53% in the 1940s and 48% in the next decade. By 1961, California had overtaken New York as the most populous state.

This vast migration brought with it ever-increasing political power. In 1940, California had 4.7% of the votes in the Electoral College. By 1970 it was 7.8%, and in 2000 10.2%.

In the first decade of the 21st century, however, California's population grew by only 10%, the smallest population growth in its history as a state. It will not gain any seats in Congress or electoral votes for the first time in its history. Much of its population growth in the last 10 years came from immigration from Mexico, both legal and illegal. For the first time, California had a net outflow of population among American citizens.

Continued in article





Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

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Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

·     With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier

·     With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams

·     With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR

·     With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave  --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTAR.htm
By Bob Jensen

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The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


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